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The living room is a major part of any home. It’s a gathering space, a social space, and a relaxation space. You use it for parties as well as by yourself. Good living room decor makes a living room both functional and pleasant to look at.

This might seem simple, but once you start seriously looking at the many living room ideas out there, you’ll soon see that it isn’t.

The best way to decorate a living room depends on many factors. Here are some great living room ideas, tips, and tricks to help make your living room into the perfect place for your family and friends to spend time.

Table of contents

How to decorate a living room
How to decorate a small living room
How to decorate a large living room
How to decorate a corner in a living room
How to decorate a living room wall
How to decorate a long living room
How to decorate your living room on a low budget
How to decorate a living room with a fireplace
How to decorate a small living room apartment
Conclusion

How to Decorate a Living Room

Arranging Furniture

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Arranging living room furniture is harder than it appears at first. You need to give people room to sit, to put their food and drinks, and to move around.

You need to orient your living room furniture around the room’s focal point (often the TV). Often, people push a sofa against one wall and a few chairs against another. However, while simple and easy, this is not an optimum living room furniture arrangement.

Give the layout of your living room some thought before you move furniture. Consider the traffic flow and the focal point. Create conversation areas. Your living room furniture arrangement needs to be organic, not simple.

Area Rugs

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Image source: Cornerstone Architects

Area rugs are a mixed bag. They can cause a lot of trouble or they can be very useful. It’s important to recognize when they fo one or the other. There are few rules of thumb for using area rugs in a living room design.

First of all, you need to think about the area rug size. An area rug that is too small will make the whole living room design look disjointed.

You should always measure an area carefully before you buy a rug for it. Also, all the furniture should sit on top of the area rug. Ideally, there should be about 10 to 20 inches of bare floor between the edges of the area rug and the living room walls.

Art

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Art is often just the thing to make a room feel complete. Empty walls always make a room seem unfinished, even if it is filled with nice furniture and perfect accessories.

You don’t need to fill every inch of wall space with art, but adding art to your living room walls is very important.

Despite what you might think, it does not need to be very expensive. Everyone’s tastes can vary, but you can find something great for any budget and preference if you just look around. Follow your instincts.

Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important and most complex aspects of any room. For living rooms, it is less utilitarian than it is in many other spaces, like the kitchen and bathroom.

You still need to give it some thought, however. You need to have at least a bit of each of the three types of lighting: ambient, task, and accent.

You also need to place your lighting at different levels throughout the room, like overhead lighting, table lamps, floor lamps, and wall sconces.

Paint Colors

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Paint makes a huge difference in the feel of your living room. The color can radically alter the atmosphere and even make your living room seem larger or smaller.

A lot of people have a problem selecting a paint color, though. It’s important to not pick paint first. Instead, select the most important and expensive pieces of furniture and/or decor in your living room first, then pick out your paint color.

Important Measurements

The most important thing you can do in your living room is getting accurate measurements. You should memorize them, even, or at least note them down on your phone or in a small notebook so that you can have them on hand when making purchasing decisions.

There are many rules for ideally proportioning things in a living room design and you need to have accurate measurements to make everything fits both physically and visually.

Eyeballing it is not going to work very well. Remember, that even though there are rules, there is a lot of flexibility in living room design and breaking some rules can give great results.

How to Decorate a Small Living Room

A small living room is a particular challenge. Without a lot of space to work with, you have to plan very carefully. Every element should be about making the most out of the room you have to work with, while still having a pleasant and functional living room.

Use these living room decorating ideas to transform your small living room from a cramped cave or sparse void into a relaxing and comfortable space.

Ignore Elbow Room

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Embrace the innate coziness of a small living room. Seat multiple people on smalls eats packed closely together rather than on a sectional sofa. A loveseat and two chairs give more seats than a three-seater sofa, as it turns out.

This helps turn the small living room into an effective gathering space. Try to keep all of these living room furniture pieces light. Avoid large wing chairs and pieces with heavier arms. Instead, search for chairs that have straight sides that can be placed right next to each other. Armless slipper chairs are ideal for a small living room.

Make Use if The Architecture

Take advantage of the ways that your small living room offers to expand its style and function. It might have a nook or cranny that is not being used very much, for instance.

Tuck a desk or bench in there to make better use of the space. If you have an intriguing feature like a fireplace or a coffered ceiling, give it some decorative treatments to draw people to it.

Hang a chandelier to draw attention to the ceiling, or place striking artwork above the fireplace mantel to make it stand out. You could play up windows using elegant curtains that highlight their unique and interesting shape and size.

Work from the Bottom to the Top

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Emphasizing height will make your small living room seem bigger. Wall space that is just below the ceiling is still a good place for decorative attention, even though it is unconventional. Mount your window treatments up that high to make any window in the small living room look grand.

Group art or photos so that they reach up to the ceiling. Consider attaching picture-rail molding around the room at around 18 inches down from the ceiling and then painting the wall above that railing a coordinating color.

Use Layers

The small size of a small living room means that space is at a premium, so more conventional furniture arrangements are not necessarily going to work here. Try nudging one piece of furniture in front of another.

This will allow you to create a functional space and build up storage if you need it, even though this is a tiny living room.

Add a console table or low dresser against the back of your sofa for extra table surface that can be used for lighting, décor, or a place to put drinks or food.

Tuck floor pillows under your coffee table to extra seating you can pull out easily when you need it. Include a bookcase arranged with books and collectibles as an elegant backdrop for any sofa or desk.

Tie it Together

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Living rooms often serve multiple purposes, working as entryways, home offices, and dining spaces. You need to find a way to smoothly integrate these functions together, which is even harder for a small living room.

In order to make this work, keep the color palette consistent and similar. This should carry through with the decorative touches, like your entry rug and your living area rug, or your seat cushions and your sofa.

Use Lighter Colors

Lighter colors open up a room, while darker ones will make it feel like a cramped cave. Your paint color can make a big difference in your living room. Stick with only two or three complementary shades for the best result.

If you are renting and your lease and landlord allow it, try painting the living room ceiling a shade lighter than the walls to make it seem higher, which will make the tiny living room seem more light and airy.

Cooler shades, like green, blue, gray, and beige, work well and are complements to most color schemes. You should match your wall colors with your upholstery and accessories to make everything fit together and give it a clean appearance.

Fit Your Furniture to Your Space

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Furniture that is too large for the room it’s located in becomes an obstacle and also makes the room feel cluttered. If you are looking into buying new furniture for your small living room, select living room furniture that allows you to use it as storage, as well, if you can. Look for apartment-sized sofas that will fit better into your small living room.

Be realistic and honest about the space you have and what furniture will fit into it. A 52-inch plasma TV might be an awesome addition to your home, but it is not likely to work for a small living room.

Incorporate space-saving measures, such as built-in cabinetry recessed daybeds, and covered storage areas. This creates utility and adds an interesting architectural dimension to your small living room.

Create a Focal Point

Focal points are important elements of living room design. It’s a time-honored tradition for good reason. Try placing one or two art pieces on a single large wall.

This could be a large wall hanging or an intriguing wall sculpture. If placed just right, this focal point will open up the room. If instead, you scatter too many pieces around, it can and probably will make the room feel cluttered.

Your focal point’s color and/or pattern should be carried into the living room’s other decorative touches, like throw pillows, rugs, and blankets. This creates a finished and professionally designed look.

Control the Clutter

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Clutter gets in the way, both physically and visually. It tends to gather on flat surfaces, especially in smaller living spaces.

Every home gets at least a little. Instead of letting your household clutter run wild, create a designated area for coats, umbrellas, shoes, and other items. Having this area near the front door is always a smart idea. By controlling all the clutter, you will make your living room easier to get around and better looking.

How to Decorate a Large Living Room

Decorating a large living room might seem easy, but the fact is that it can be very difficult in its own way.

The scale is completely different than it is with a smaller living room and you need to figure out how to keep the room from seeming too empty. Here are some great large living room ideas to help you out!

Large Living Room Furniture

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For a large living room, it is useful to arrange your furniture so that it creates individual spaces that work together as a cohesive whole. You can have a defined area for conversation, another for watching television, a reading nook, and a small gaming area. All these areas should have décor that flows together.

Keep the living room scale in mind when selecting furniture. If you have a large living room with a low ceiling, you should buy low furniture in order to make the space look taller. If you have high ceilings instead, lower furniture will not work and will appear to get lost in the room. Pay attention to these details when looking for furniture.

Try not to place furniture up against the walls in a large living room. This can end up feeling awkward in such a large space and make guests feel like they need to yell in order to talk to someone. All your furniture should be kept within three feet of other pieces in order to create warm and inviting activity areas.

In larger living rooms, cushioned and rounded seating tends to look better than clean modern styles or French antiques. Skirted chairs and sofas make the room warmer and keep the larger space from seeming cold and empty.

It can be a good idea to invest architectural additions to your large room if you have room in your budget. These include columns and moldings. These kinds of elements will both furnish and enhance your large living room. They can be much more effective than furniture at creating a sense of warmth. They also help beautify the space in a unique and intriguing way.

Large Living Room Design

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Large rooms don’t mean you can collect clutter in them. Every item you place in your living room is important, no matter its size. All the elements should come together to enhance the comfort and usefulness of the space. Stick with larger decorative elements in your living room design in order to avoid cluttering the room. Buy artwork with a larger scale. Large potted plants and vases are also good ideas.

However, you may have a smaller collection of items that you want to show off in your large living room. Try to think in groups of threes to use them properly in the large space. Group three vases together, and do the same with three frames, as well as other items. Viewers will see these items as a whole and not separate items. This keeps them from getting lost and coming across as clutter.

Use your living room decor design to define individual spaces within the larger living room. To define a family “zone”, use old reclaimed building columns, for instance. Use a bookshelf as a room divider to create a cozy reading nook. Tugs are also very good at defining seating and conversation areas.

Using Color and Pattern in a Large Living Room

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As you plan your large living room color scheme, remember that too many colors in a large space can be just as overwhelming and confusing as they are in a small space. Larger rooms often look best with large basic furnishings in neutral colors and accent colors that help enhance the space, creating a cohesive look.

Dark and muted colors can be used to create a cozy feeling in a large room, but you can also use bold bright colors, too, provided you combine them, with warm neutral shades. Warm white, creams, and warm neutrals like gray make for a nice main color when combined with brighter shades of cooler color. The overall effect is warm yet vibrant.

For pattern, you should vary their scale and texture in a large living room. This is a great way to add interest and increase contrast. Have your patterns be bold, of course, but don’t be afraid to mix and match them. Try pairing a smaller check pattern with a large floral. Combine textures, too, like natural fibers paired with a solid that has a slight sheen. The contrasts look great.

It’s an interesting idea to break a larger room up into multiple shades. While not the only option, or even necessarily the best, it does create an interesting look. Locate a breaking point in the room, like a corner or an architectural detail (the place where molding being is a common one).

Use this to incorporate the change in color. For a more cohesive look, reuse the wall colors in upholstery, fabric, carpet, and other décor throughout your living room design. This is a way to draw attention to the shape or architectural stylings of your room, as well as make it different from many other living room designs. 

How to Decorate a Corner in a Living Room

Sometimes, you might find yourself with a living room corner that is in desperate need of some decoration. In small living rooms, this may be almost all you have to work with. Luckily, these corners can be used to turn your living room design into something truly unique.

Don’t feel restricted by them! Instead, embrace them as opportunities. Use these living room corner décor ideas, tips, and tricks to decorate a living room corner that seems ready for something to help enhance the living room design.

A Reading Nook

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Place a corner sofa in the living room corner with plenty of plump cushions, a comfy throw blanket, and warm fluffy pillows. Include a small table and stack of well-designed shelves above it, as well as reading light on the underside of the bottom shelf.

Together, these elements create a cozy reading nook. It’s a great place to curl up with a good book. With this set up tucked safely into a corner, a reader can enjoy his or her book while other members of the family watch a TV show.

An Indoor Garden

Indoor plants will give life to any room. They will make the space more vibrant and can also improve your sense of wellbeing.

Provided that the living room corner isn’t too dark, it’s a great place to create a small indoor garden. This can look good even in a contemporary modern living room design.

In those living room designs, make use of strong architectural plants or more unusual ones like large cacti or even a single elegant orchid.

This small bit of greenery can help make your living room that much more pleasant to spend time in and help make it into one of the most relaxing places in your home.

A Small Art Gallery

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You might think that you need a large blank wall to display your art collection at its best, but a living room corner can work just as well. Use it to showcase a striking piece of art that wills top visitors in their tracks when they spot it.

These corners are perfect for showing off three-dimensional art like small sculptures or porcelain figurines. They also protect these pieces. If you choose to display art in a living room corner, make sure the lighting works well to show it off.

Pay attention how shadows are thrown from different angles so that you can achieve the desired effect without too much intrusive lighting.

A Unique Conversation Piece

Quirky and fun conversation pieces tend to end up in corners, from 1960s jukeboxes to Victorian letterboxes.

These pieces are unexpected cheeky, and fun. They’re a great way to show off your personality, your individuality, and bring in a lighter touch that’s all your own. Often, these pieces are large and imposing. If placed in the center of your living room, they will dominate the room.

While this can be a nice effect if it’s what you want, it may also be impractical. If you are looking for a more practical solution, a corner is a good one.

It’s especially great for your conversation piece is the kind that would break toes or trip up guests if left in the center of your living room.

Offer your conversation piece its own special place in a corner. Center the area near the piece around it and show it off. Use clever lighting and decorative wall art that complements and draws attention to your special feature.

A Smart Storage Feature

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A corner does not have to end up as wasted space in your living room. Place a tallboy in your living room corner, or use some clean, easy to install, and minimalist corner shelves.

You could also use it as a coat storage area. Don’t settle for simple, boring straight lines of hooks, however.

Space the wall hooks in your living room corner randomly so that they create unique patterns and shapes even when the coats are gone, creating an interesting bit of wall art on an otherwise blank space.

How to Decorate a Living Room Wall 

Living room walls are very important for setting the tone of your living room. There are many options out there. It can be hard to make a choice between them, though these living room wall ideas will help you out!

The most important thing about your living room is that it needs to be comfortable. It should fit in with the rest of your home and be a place where everyone in the house enjoys spending time. The living room wall decorations should reflect this.

They should help your living room fit in with the rest of your home while making it more hospitable.

You should not select living room wall decorations that amaze viewers. Instead, you should get ones that you and your family enjoy and are comfortable with. This comfort will extend to any guests who come to the living room.

Décor Walls

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Décor walls are a striking way to create visual interest in your living room. Here are a few simple rules for living room decor walls:

  • For a small room, your décor wall (and the rest of your living room decor) should be as minimalistic as possible. Paint, monophonic wallpaper, and finely ornamented print wallpaper all work very well in this situation. If you want to hang pictures or photos, they should be of medium size and you should not have too many of them.
  • Decorate an empty wall in a large living room with wallpaper or a large picture of a landscape or abstract art. For a smaller living room, hang a few small pictures or a clock on an empty wall.
  • Large living rooms offer more living wall décor options than smaller ones. You can place a wide variety of decorations on the walls very easily: moldings, tapestries, paintings, photographs, unusual bookshelves, mirrors, lamps or pots with the living room colors. It all depends on the style you choose for your living room design. No matter what living room wall decor you choose, make sure that you do have enough to help make your large living room seem comfortable and not overly spacious.
  • The color scheme you go with on your living room walls is very important. For small living rooms, try to stick with light pastel colors to help make the room seem larger. Avoid bright colors in the finish, but they can still work as accent colors in the room.
  • Glossy surfaces are helpful touches in small living room walls. You can include ordinary mirrors, wall lamps, or even paintings and photos under glass. These glossy surfaces help to visually expand the space of your small living room. This is a very budget-friendly way of making the small living room seem larger and lighter.

How to Decorate a Long Living Room

A long narrow living room is not the same as a small or large living room. These awkward, oddly shaped living rooms have their own problems and can be difficult to make comfortable.

You run the risk of creating a tunnel effect, which does not create a cozy and welcoming room. To help decorate a long living room, follow these living room decorating ideas and tips:

Create a Walkway

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Every living room needs paths through all the furniture and décor. For long narrow rooms, it is especially important. It is also much harder.

You don’t want people tripping over furniture or zigzagging throughout the room. You always want them to have a path through. Try to place the path to one side of the room instead of just through the middle if at all possible. This will help create a cozier atmosphere and mitigate the tunnel effect.

Pull Your Living Room Furniture Away from the Walls

Try not to place your furniture directly against the walls if you can help it. Pull furniture away from the wall on at least one side of the room and instead float it in the middle of the room.

This will not make the living room look choppy, as commonly thought, but will instead create a cozy seating area. It will also leave you with a walkway as discussed above.

If all your living room furniture is pushed against the wall, you get an effect similar to a bowling alley, which is likely not what you want.

Include Some Circular or Oval Pieces

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Another way to prevent that bowling alley effect, make use of at least a few furniture pieces that have soft round edges.

These include a circular coffee table or ottoman in the center of a seating area. These pieces will help to counteract the straight lines of the narrow living room. Round light fixtures, lampshades, and side tables are also good at helping with this.

Add Items Perpendicular to the Length of the Room

Instead of putting your sofa against the wall, you can use two smaller love seats placed perpendicular to the length of the room.

This serves to break up the look of a long narrow room, helping to avoid the tunnel effect. If you have to or decide to place a long couch against the wall, include side chairs of perpendicular to the couch instead of across them.

Divide Up the Room

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For a particularly long living room, try dividing it up into separate areas. Create two different seating or conversation areas, or create a seating area and an office space.

Consider how you will use the space and divide it up base don’t those uses. You can divide it using furniture, of course, but also with area rugs and art. Try to avoid placing art in the center of any long wall if you’re trying to create separate areas.

Make Use of Vertical Space

Draw eyes upward to help make the best of the narrow living room’s vertical space. Include tall pieces like high bookshelves and armoires.

Place photo and art arrangements that rise all the way up to the ceiling. Hang up drapes from where the wall meets the ceiling.

These living room decorations create an illusion of height. You can also use vertical stripes painted on the walls or as a part of your window treatments to help draw the eyes upward.

Be Efficient with Space

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Clutter is the great enemy of a narrow space. Space is very limited in a narrow living room and extra items can make the space feel disorganized.

They can even become tripping hazards. Everything should have its place and there should be a place for everything. Pay special attention to your furniture to see if you really need it in the living room.

Even small pieces, like a side chair, can cause large problems in a narrow living room. Try to use items that can serve two uses whenever you can, like ottomans that also serve as storage containers.

Work With the Middle

A long room does not need to be filled with all the furniture it can hold. You should center your furniture arrangement in the middle if you can, leaving the sides of the room open, though not dead.

This arrangement works bets in a symmetrical room, where you can center the living room furniture around a fireplace or window.

Use an L-shaped Sofa

A corner sofa uses space very well, especially in a narrow living room, especially if it includes a chaise. Use it as the basis of your living room layout. The furniture at the other end of the room can mimic but also flip the unique shape of the sofa.

How to Decorate Your Living Room on a Low Budget

Reassess the Living Room

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Get rid of anything you don’t need in your living room design. Put away your clutter and think over your furniture arrangements. This can help redesign your living room without needing to spend a single cent.

Embrace Paint

A new coat of paint can change the look of your living room very easily for very little money. It’s easy to apply yourself, too.

You can use it to change the color of your walls, update old furniture, refresh your old floors, and show off the living room’s architectural features. Select colors to convey the mood you want and to complement your personal style.

Make It Personal

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Use your living room to show off who you are. Showcase your tastes, travels, and origins. Display old family pictures, genealogy trees, maps of your favorite places, and photo collages of your family and friends. Showoff your initials or family name on painted hanging signs. Make it your space!

Be Bold 

Get furniture that makes use of high-impact finishes and fabrics with unique and striking shapes. Include touches of bright color. All you need to cause a stir is a few grand eye-catching pieces.

Repurpose and Recycle

Make use of older furniture and give it new life. Cut down a farm table’s legs to turn it into a rustic coffee table, or use a vintage trunk as seating and storage.

How to Decorate a Living Room with a Fireplace 

Make it the Focal Point

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One option is to make your fireplace the center of attention in the living room. Show it off. Orient your seating towards it. Embrace the living room fireplace’s attention-grabbing nature.

Share the Spotlight

You may have other features in your living room that demand attention, like a television or a large window.

Instead of having them compete, have them share attention. For a television, mount it above the fireplace and arrange your seating around the pair. For a window, create two separate seating areas.

Divide the Room

If you have an open floor plan and your living room shares space with your kitchen or dining room, you can sue your living room fireplace as a natural dividing line. If you want, a two-sided fireplace works very well for this.

Downplay

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Your living room fireplace may not work for your style, whether because it’s worn down or just does not fit in. Instead of replacing or repairing it, you can instead downplay it by painting it the same color as the wall around it.  Leave the mantel bare and arrange your furniture away from it.

How to decorate a small living room apartment

Evaluate Your Lifestyle

Look at your day-to-day use of your apartment living room. How do you need the space to function? Once you know the room’s purpose, you can make a decision about its décor based upon that.

Include Your Personality

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Just because you don’t have a lot of space doesn’t mean you have to keep everything minimal and bare.  Include touches of your personality. This starts with your paint colors. Include things that you like, mementos of your travels and life, and pictures of people you love.

Declutter

Because this is a small space, clutter can get in the way. It makes the room seem smaller and even become a tripping hazard. Declutter before you do anything else!

Be Creative

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Think of new uses for your space that you haven’t before. Look at those odd nooks and crannies you don’t use and think of new ways to make use of them. You never know, you may find yourself with a cool new reading nook or some extra storage that you really need!

Ending thoughts on how to decorate a living room

Living room décor can be a challenge, whether you have a large living room or a small one. With just a few smart touches, you can turn a space that was too big, too small, or too cramped into one you enjoy spending time in.

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