How to create your ideal living room

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Regardless of whether you refer to it as a sitting room, a lounge or a living room, the area where the family generally spends the most time needs to be comfortable as well as functional.

Experts will tell you that the shape of the room is absolutely vital and if it isn't right, you'll never be able to furnish it properly. This doesn't mean that you should refuse to buy or rent a home because it has an unusually-shaped living area, but it does mean that you are going to have to plan a little more carefully in order to make the space work.

Utilising dead space

Built-in units and bookcases are a terrific way to utilise ‘dead’ space. Pot plants also disguise a dead space beautifully and an array of well-placed plants can add welcome colour to the room. Be careful not to give in to the temptation (as most of us are wont to do) to treat the area as the perfect spot for your clutter.

Over crowding

The layout of a lounge is particularly important because it is one of the most public areas of the house and how it is decorated can set the tone for the entire home. However, it is also the room that is most often crammed full of ‘favourites’ which, although they may look good on their own, tend to get lost in the desire to put everything on display.

The focal point

The focal point of a room doesn't have to be a piece of furniture - it could be a fireplace or the gorgeous view on display. Basically, it's the first thing that the eye is drawn to when one enters the room. One of the most important things to remember is that not all the furniture has to be arranged around or facing the focal point. The same goes for the centre of the room. Traditionally, coffee tables command centre stage, but there's no reason why two centre spaces can't be incorporated into a larger room. In these instances, one area is usually larger than the other and while one may well be set around a coffee table, the other uses the focal point as the centrepiece.

Furniture choices

The choice of lounge suite is a personal one, although care needs to be taken that the furniture isn't too big or too small for the room. A couch is inclined to create a more intimate seating arrangement because people are basically forced to sit next to each other - it also increases the number of people you can squeeze into the room when entertaining. Many have chosen to forgo the traditional three seater, two seater and an armchair approach and are now mixing and matching couches and armchairs. Armchairs help break up a room and, because they tend to be covered in a different fabric to the couches, add interest and colour to the room.

Selecting furniture that is multifunctional is also a good way of adding interest to the room and using space effectively. An ottoman for example won't only look terrific in the lounge, it can be used as extra seating when needed. Nesting tables are ideal as a space saver given that they can be tucked away when not in use. A sideboard can be used as a server or a bar when entertaining.

Creating different effects with walls

The walls in the lounge may be regarded as a blank canvas, but this doesn't mean that every inch needs to be covered. Grouping photographs or pictures together on a single wall makes a bold statement. Mirrors are a great way to reflect light and to make a room appear bigger. Again, less is more and mirrors should be used sparingly.

Using lighting to create atmosphere

Lighting is also an important aspect to consider as it helps create the perfect atmosphere. Ideally the room should boast a mix, including ceiling lights, sconces and table lamps.

There's a good reason why lounges are so often called living rooms - it's the place where families spend most of their free time. Creating the perfect room shouldn’t be as important as finding something that works for you and your family.

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