Ok, so slightly longer than a week since the last blog, but excuses, excuses… I have been busy!
This week, I will be advising you on budget, ecological and fairly easy ways to make your living room a cosier and more interesting and relaxing space to be in. You may need to just take the tips that apply to your actual space and adapt the tips that don’t, to suit your needs. Easy!
I have seen many living rooms/ lounges in desperate need of some styling, and often it is the simplest things that I end up advising people to do, to make small changes that make a big difference.
- Storage: If your living room is full of clutter (magazines, books, dvds, music, kids toys, ornaments, etc)… then the first rule is to find some great storage solutions in the means of furniture and shelving. There are loads of great coffee tables out there now, that have hidden storage or drawers in. Dwell have great ones for very reasonable prices. If you’re a bit of a DIY-er, you could attempt to pick up a wooden pallet (always dumped on streets/ skips) and sand, varnish and attach wheels for a very eco coffee table. *See images below! For smart shelving ideas and creating custom shelves/ side tables, I like to use wooden crates. Baileys Store sell apple crates for £24 or try a local farm if there’s any near by. I got mine from car boot sales. Once sorted your shelving and coffee tables (try to not mix and match too much, unless you are very design savvy, otherwise stick to naturals with wood and painted wooden furniture or modern gloss/ laquered furniture), organise nice chunky books onto shelves, looks good done by size or colour. Then hide away unwanted clutter- toys into large wicker baskets (I like the old picnic baskets sold in 2nd hand stores and car boot sales- which you can stack on top of each other too), DVD’s into drawers, magazines into coffee table shelves or wooden crate side tables (a wooden crate stood upright- magazines can stack up in a pile inside).
- So, opposite end of the scale (and I know many people who have lounges like this), you have a very minimal living room… ie. sofas, TV stand/ table, TV & DVD etc, shelves for DVD’s/ music, coffee table and not much else! To make the minimalist look work in a living room, it requires really key and interesting pieces of furniture, clever lighting and fairly coordinated colour scheme. Sadly, this often isn’t the case. If you are trying to achieve this look in the living room, I would suggest you invest in a couple of really nice matching sofas (you dont need to spend a fortune, but comfort and style should be forefront). Made has some classic and vintage styles (around £500-1000). Or for retro sofas like old Robin Day sofas, etc… check your local vintage shops, car boot sales or if you dont mind spending a bit more to save time, then The Old Cinema (London) often has some great pieces! Next, picture frames, art work and displays on the walls can make or break a minimalist room. Think about the style, if going with retro sofas, you could combine mis-matched and different sized/ coloured frames in a more informal arrangement on a wall above a sofa, or for a more minimal clean cut look, try making an arrangement of artwork, images by placing your selection in frames that are all the same colour and style and arranged in straight lines or in a square/ rectangular shape. *See images middle row. Or of course, if you are lucky enough to have one or two extra large framed art works then simply hang one on each suitable/ spare wall. Make sure they co-ordinate with the rest of the room though. If your living room is predominately white, then art work is a great way to introduce colour- go wild with bright colours in your art work if everything else is plain. You can ‘mirror’ some of these colours with sofa cushions or throws. To cosy up a minimal living room, introduce vases of flowers, cushions on sofas, candles, lamps (more on lighting in next section), some books or magazines arranged on shelves, plants, and as just mentioned, framed pictures on the walls.
- Lighting! PET HATE: Living rooms with no lamps/ mood lighting! Sorry if that’s you, but in my opinion there is just no need for harsh lighting in a room that is designed for relaxing in. I never use the main light in the living room (although I do have a rather excessive amount of lamps-4 exactly, not including fairy lights around a framed picture on the wall). It is one of the factors to achieve cosiness. Soft mood lighting (include candles if you can- not everyone is a fan of these I know), achieved by a mixture of lamps at different levels works wonders in the living room. If you like to read on the sofa, then choose slightly stronger angle poise lamps to go either side of this- if you dont have space for side tables, you can get taller free standing angle poise lamps instead. Choose softer lighting to place anywhere near a TV and to enhance an area of the room, such as the alcoves either side of a fireplace. And if your living room is blessed with a fireplace, as mine is, then a large mirror or picture framed above this works well, and candles (mixture of heights) in front of the mirror creates a lovely glistening reflection around the room. Opt for the vintage heavier mirrors, usually gilded frames, much nicer than pine framed ones.
- Decoration! I’ve covered a lot of the decor tips in the last few paragraphs, but a short list/ recap here of basic and cheap decor ideas for quick touches and changes:
- Clean! Hoover those carpets and rugs; wash the curtains, sofa throws and cushion covers; get rid of anything really stained; open the window to circulate air, and if you have an oil burner, burn some nice oils, otherwise fresh scented flowers can help.
- Once everything has been cleaned, dried and aired and badly stained items replaced, de-clutter.
- If your sofas are patterned (in an old, out of date, not so good pattern) then buy extra large throws to cover them. If you dont have pets, messy children, then cream is a great neutral.
- Re-paint walls that need doing. I rairly do a whole room in a bright/ bold colour, instead, I usually opt for a subtle natural shade of chalky white, soft greys, and do one feature wall in a subtle colour. I have 3 white walls and one chalky aubergine colour wall behind the sofa.
- Try not to make the TV a focal point, best if it can be to the left or right of the room (if your rooms a square/ rectangle shape). I think above the fireplace is too domineering!
- If your living room is small, minimise patterned fabrics, it will make it look more cluttered and even smaller. Stick to plain light colours (creams, whites where possible) and introduce colour through cushions, throws, artwork and flowers.
- If hanging pictures in frames, like mentioned above, place them all on the floor first to see how to make the best arrangement, then get someone to help you hold one in place at a time while you make a small pencil corner marks on the wall. This will help you place nails in the right place and not end up with pictures too close together.
- Turn those main lights off and just use lamps- either sides of sofas, in corners of rooms, etc. Fairy lights or string lights work well hung around artwork or picture rails on the walls, or if you have nice wooden floors, then around the skirting boards (though if you’re doing this, you need to use rope lights that don’t overheat).
- Let the air in and scent your room- it should be a place to relax! Open windows when you can, buy fresh flowers when you can afford to, light candles or burn essential oils. Avoid artificial room sprays! Room sprays made with water and essential oils are ok.
- Tactile! Enjoy a few luxuries like sheepskin rugs, lambswool blankets thrown over the sofa, cushions soft enough to cuddle, cosy rugs, slippers by the door. Lastly, enjoy your clutter free, cosy, warmly lit, gorgeous smelling, design conscious and relaxing living room!
*See images bottom row!