Living rooms come in all shapes and forms, some of which are big and some really quite small. So when it comes to looking for decorating tips for a living room, you will have to be quite selective, and be sure to opt for things that appeal to you rather than things that are perceived to be correc

Beware the approach of a decorator ‘doing’ your room for you and marking position of where decorative items must be placed. It does happen! Rather do your own thing and make your own mistakes. You have to live here, not the decorator. Do you really care that much what other people think?

Admittedly it can all be quite confusing, for various reasons, not least of which is because living rooms also have different names, ranging from the drawing room to the family room. What they do have in common is that they are all intended for living! This might sound strange, but if you think about it, we all have different lifestyles. This means that there are a huge number of possibilities when it comes to decorating living rooms.

In the context of living rooms, the application of the term ‘living’ depends largely on how formal or casual the area will be. It also depends on function and sometimes on the style in which the room is to be decorated.

While many people spend a lot of time in the kitchen, with many families using this as a gathering point and place to eat, the living room is more commonly where most social activities take place. For this reason it is also the one room in the house that most people make an effort to ‘decorate’. But don’t over compensate in an attempt to get it ‘right’. Rather spend a bit of time working out what will work for you and your family.

If you are actively looking for decorating tips for a living room, you should first define the type of living room that you have or want to create.

Living rooms are often a retreat for adults, where they can sit, talk and relax away from children. It may be an entertainment centre where the whole family watches television or listens to music. But more usually this is a place where friends and family will instinctively gather.

Of course living rooms vary in size as much as they do in style, and in many ways a smaller room will be easier to tackle decoratively than big rooms. Another factor to consider is that many living rooms form part of an open-plan area which includes both a sitting and dining space. This is not only for reasons of space – often people simply prefer to have one area that is dedicated to living! There is, however, often some indication of a variation in function, which may be a different floor covering (even just a loose carpet in the sitting space) or perhaps a change in level.

Here are some examples of different types of living rooms and some tips on how to approach them.

The drawing room

People who entertain a lot and want a formal area for entertaining will often choose what traditionally was considered to be a ‘drawing room’ or sitting room. In the smaller house, this might result in the kitchen becoming used as a living room, so that the décor of the formal sitting room is preserved, and doesn’t run the risks associated with children and animals over-running the space.

Drawing rooms and formal sitting rooms should be decorated in a style befitting the area. This is a good place to display collections that have some value. Both alcoves and shelves, as well as old (preferably antique) display cabinets are ideal for this purpose. Ideas for display objects include blue and white Chinese-type porcelain set on gleaming wood surfaces or in period cabinets rather than on modern modular units, or glassware displayed on glistening glass shelves so that the objects can be seen from different angles.

The family room

We don’t all have the luxury of more than one living space, and not all kitchens are large enough to be used as a workable living room. So in reality, one living room in the house will usually become a multifunctional and reasonably casual room where every member of the family (including children, as well as canines and felines) is welcome.

This more informal living area is usually furnished with comfortable chairs and sofas that invite people to relax, which is why it often becomes a popular place for entertaining good friends. Often the television set is also located in the family room, and this can be disconcerting because the TV has a tendency to inhibit adult conversation. But it can work.

Living rooms should generally be decorated in a pleasantly homely fashion which will make everyone feel relaxed and at home.

In the larger home there is often a family room that is used for casual relaxation as well as a more formal room for entertaining. This offers the opportunity to decorate the two rooms in a completely different way. Any antiques or valuables should be kept in the more formal room, with books and memorabilia finding their place in the more casual room, where they will be used and admired or examined.

An extended living room

In addition to more orthodox living rooms, sometime people set aside areas for special activities including watching television, playing games like billiards or pool and ping pong, or even for music.

Sometimes rooms are designed specifically for entertaining. These include increasingly popular home pubs which should be decorated in a style that complements the general interior style of the home, but which offers a different character and appeal, drawing friends to the area.

Some general decorating tips for a living room

Having decided what sort of living room you want and can accommodate, you can get down to the task of decorating it. Whether the room is formal or casual, you will probably want it to look good and be comfortable. That’s what most people aim for.

Your color scheme will set the tone and mood of your living room and a theme will hold everything together. Physical comfort will help to make the room work as it should.

You can identify a color theme from something that you are going to use in the room, from a carpet to picture on the wall, or perhaps the upholstery used for the furniture you have chosen. Then use this color for walls or to establish other features, like collections, that will add interest to the room.

Probably the best advice is for you to use your imagination and to be as flexible as possible. Don’t let other people bully you into doing things with your living room that you don’t want to do.

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