Redecorating a sitting room is an exciting prospect but it can also prove a little daunting. The sheer wealth of living room inspiration available can make it hard to pinpoint an aesthetic you truly love, as well as a design that works for your practical needs. How do you put together a colour palette? What should you consider when planning the position of living room furniture? How can you ensure that a neutral scheme doesn’t look flat? Here, we take on the role of interior designer, providing useful tips to help guide you in your choices. From creating a mood board to working texture into a sitting room to thinking about the role a rug can play, we give you the living room ideas that will help you create the dream project…
10 top tips for styling your living room
Start with a mood board
The much-loved tool of the interior designer, a mood board is a fantastic way of collating your living room ideas. It offers the chance to carefully curate the fabrics, paints, furniture, and accessories you truly love, providing clarity when we are bombarded with so much choice. A piece of A3 card will suffice, or even a side table or a large tray. The point is that you need to be able to look at it and revisit it over several days, swapping swatches and images in and out and perhaps even moving your mood board around the living space to see how your choices look in different lights.
Our mood board for this sitting room scheme started with an arresting fabric, a luxurious printed velvet called Double Dragon which we used to cover a high-backed sofa. From that we took the soft olive hue in the print to select the paint colour and curtain fabric, adding bold emerald swatches which became accent trims for the curtains and a cushion. Natural elements such as plants, a rattan table and a seagrass rug provide a counterpoint to the richer living room ideas, ensuring it doesn’t become too formal.
Use rugs to tie the living room colours together
Some interior designers swear by starting a sitting room scheme with a rug; others like to choose it last, once all the other design elements are in place. What they all agree on, however, is that a rug is a vital piece for pulling a colour scheme together, tying in fabrics, accessories and furniture and helping to ground them in the space. In this uplifting living room design, a punchy patterned rug picks up the accent hues of the lamp shade and cushions – Tango Velvet, Tangerine – and beautifully offsets a pair of armchairs upholstered in our Leckford herringbone weave in Ember. Note the generous scale of the rug, which helps to zone the living space within this large open plan room.
Perfect positioning is essential
When you are devising a scheme, perfecting the layout of living room furniture is important. Do you want to position seating around a focal point such as a window or a fireplace? Does your furniture need to be arranged to encourage socialising? And if you are designing a family room with a television, will everyone be able to easily view it? Before ordering pieces, it can help to mark out the dimensions with masking tape on the floor, to get a better picture of how they will work in the space – and how you can move around them. Also think carefully about how your living room furniture looks from every angle, particularly if you are seeing the back of a chair or sofa when you enter the room. Here, a decorative rattan chair and a sofa featuring scrolled arms offer a pleasing view on entering the sitting room; both pieces, as well as the cushions and curtains, beautifully showcase our sustainable Elba linen in Cayenne (chair) and Ochre (sofa). It is dyed and tumbled for a relaxed look that works perfectly with this breezy aesthetic.
Consider an accent wall if your living
room is neutral
If your living room ideas don’t stretch to papering a whole room, yet you are keen to introduce some pattern, a feature wall may be just the answer. And you can be a little more imaginative than simply papering one of your four living room walls. Consider making a focal point of a chimney breast or hanging wallpaper in the alcoves either side of it. Wallpaper can also look fabulous hung behind shelving or at the back of a shelving unit. Our wallpaper designs span abstract prints to flamboyant tropical designs, such as Kahanu in Nocturne (left) and Miji in Navy (right). The sweeping brushstrokes of Mountain Retreat in Ink (centre) are a lovely way to introduce a decorative element to a more neutral space.
Warm up a monotone colour scheme
with wood flooring
A simple monotone scheme remains one of our favourite living room ideas, providing a soothing haven you can look forward to relaxing in at the end of the day. Natural materials such as linens, wools, stone, and timber are key to successful monotone living rooms, with a wooden floor being your perfect starting point. Extremely durable, hygienic, and easy to clean, timber flooring brings intrinsic warmth to a sitting room, lending subtle texture to the space. Here, we have enhanced the tactile quality of natural oak boards with a sofa upholstered in Sienna in Almond, a glorious bouclé fabric that combines linen, cotton and viscose for an inviting, cosy feel. A living room design that will never date.
Use two or more shades of the same colour
If you love the idea of using colour in your living room design but are a little nervous about how to combine different hues, consider restricting yourself to different shades of the same colour. In this vibrant living room, blinds and a sofa are picked out in a fresh green, while scatter cushions in a chartreuse hue pop against the upholstery. A rug echoes the shade of the sofa and introduces another tone, a more muted olive, to the ensemble. The fabric used here is Juno in Mantis, a stunning range of plain weaves made from a linen blend and available in more than 100 hues – perfect for working with nuances of the same colour.
If all else fails, consider black and grey
Timeless, understated and oh-so-chic, a monochrome scheme is one of those living room ideas that will never go out of fashion. The latest way to work monochrome into a sitting room is by using slightly more graded shades: dial down black to anthracite or charcoal and team it with pale grey or putty hues, rather than stark white. The result is that little bit softer, and a tiny bit warmer. This sofa is covered in Alpha in Dusk, a luxuriously soft velvet fabric. The plushness of the velvet – which has the advantage of being stain resistant – nicely complements the deep pile rug, while pale grey tongue and groove adds another layer of texture. The result is calming, inviting and elegant.
Pile on texture
We have said it before, but we will say it again: one of the best tips for interesting living rooms is to introduce different textures. Careful layering of materials will elevate the look and – equally importantly – the feel, of a sitting room, giving it depth and a sense of warmth. Vary the palette with materials in timber, stone and rattan and layer on the textiles: here, a gorgeous marble coffee table sits on a deep pile Moroccan rug, which offsets a sofa upholstered in our contemporary-style damask, Miletto in Ocean. Drawing on the skills of Italian weavers – who have produced the best damasks since the early 1800s – this design is woven using a mix of linen and viscose yarns to highlight the refined beauty of the stylised botanical damask pattern. Cushions featuring a cut ruche trim add to the tactile quality of the scheme.
Aim for clean lines
It is possible to introduce pattern to a sitting room whilst channelling a contemporary aesthetic, and one simple way to do this is to favour clean lines. This formal living room sees a richly textured jacquard weave – Leo in Shell – used on a simple, angular sofa to create a sophisticated scheme that emanates elegance. The curtains, which showcase another jacquard, Nova in Pearl, hang to the floor to emphasise the height of the windows. A masterclass in considered restraint.
Don't be afraid to mix eras
If you are on the hunt for eclectic living room ideas, mixing eras is a brilliant way to start. Don’t feel that the architecture of your home needs to dictate your choices: it is more important to consider the scale of living room furniture, and to check that the palette works in harmony to form a common thread. The generous proportions of a classic Victorian sitting room beautifully complement this curvaceous 1950s sofa, while its rich velvet upholstery – Moonlight Serenade, which is based on a document from the 1930s – is offset by the warm plaster pink of the living room walls. A vintage mirror and a resolutely contemporary coffee table and pendant add to the pleasing mix of styles.
Choosing the right living room furniture
The adage: buy once, buy well is particularly apt when it comes to choosing your living room furniture. If you buy good quality pieces in designs that suit your way of living, they will last you for years and provide you with a space that is a joy to be in. Read on for our tips for finding the right living room furniture.
Go for multipurpose furniture
Our living rooms are places in which we want to relax, socialise and sometimes even work, so we need to put some thought into getting the right furniture. Multipurpose pieces are your best friend for creating a flexible space and are particularly relevant for small living room ideas. Could a pretty table double as a desk in the daytime? Can an occasional chair serve as an extra dining chair when guests come over? And should your living room storage combine closed cupboards – to hide away clutter – and open shelves to display decorative finds? This upholstered ottoman is the perfect multitasking piece: with the addition of a drinks tray, it serves as a useful coffee table and when the room is full of guests, you have an additional perch that can be moved around with relative ease. Covered in our chic plain weave, Juno in Leaf, it chimes nicely with the greens in the exuberant linen print of the sofa and curtains, Mandai in Primrose.
Make your sofa the focal point
The sofa is usually the largest piece of furniture in your living room, so it is worth considering making it the focal point of your scheme. A plain sofa can be transformed with vibrant cushions or, braver still, opt for a standout print that will ensure the sofa is the showpiece of your room. For eclectic living room ideas, combine a classic print with modern elements: this lovely vintage style sofa is covered in Kitty in Spring Green, a glorious large scale linen print that takes on a more edgy feel when teamed with a mid-century lamp, a colourful jute rug and a weathered painted coffee table. Gorgeous cushions featuring very of-the-moment ruffle trims add another burst of energy to the scheme.
Invest in standout coffee tables
– and don’t forget mirrors
The humble coffee table is a vital piece within our living rooms, not just providing a surface for drinks but sometimes offering more living room storage as well as the opportunity to bring another decorative element to the scheme. Think about introducing a different texture with a design in wood, marble, or rattan, and give some careful thought to the shape of your coffee table – this circular steel design with a mirrored top is easy to circulate around and offers a nice counterpoint to the linear shape of the sofa, which is upholstered in our vintage style Luna weave in Mineral. And speaking of mirrors, don’t underestimate their transformative qualities: when strategically placed, a mirror can dramatically improve the scale of a sitting room, providing a sense of depth and light that is particularly useful for small living room ideas. Opt for foxed or antiqued mirror for a subtle reflection.
Equipped with these living room ideas, you can create a space that is a joy to spend time in, somewhere that inspires you and encourages relaxation. Most importantly, don’t be swayed by trends: opt for the designs you love, and you won’t go far wrong. Happy decorating.
What is the easiest way to decorate a living room? One of the best living room ideas for an instant transformation is paint or wallpaper. The introduction of colour or pattern can completely change the look of a space, adding warmth and depth, particularly in the case of wallpaper.
How can I make my living room look smart? Creating a sense of symmetry is a good way to achieve classic elegance. Centred on a focal point such as a fireplace, a symmetrical furniture arrangement brings a calming, grounded effect. Other ways to achieve a smart look including focussing on clean-lined pieces and using a restricted colour palette such as monochrome.
How do I style my living room? Accessories such as table lamps, cushions and decorative items will all help add personality to a space. Choose textural pieces – a table lamp with a tactile ceramic base, for example, or cushions with a ruffled trim – to add another layer of interest. And don’t underestimate the power of plants for instantly enlivening a sitting room.