Living rooms are for LIVING!
It's easy to get caught up in designing a living room for looks, but I say design for looks AND for life. Don't get me wrong, I love a stunning space as much as the next person, but if you can't get cozy, entertain easily, and enjoy every moment, what's the point? My current living room arrangement has been a frustration for a while now. I imagine I'm not the only one out there looking to make improvements, so I hope these easy solutions will inspire you, in those difficult to figure out spaces as well.
This view is of our living room just after the Christmas Tree was removed.
This is the layout I had in my mind for this room from the moment we started planning for this space.
What's Wrong With This Space?
1. Not enough seating
As you can see there is seating for six in this room. We have six people in our family and this
is where we do most of our family TV watching and gathering. Two of those six seats don't even
face the TV, which means most of us pile on the couch together. Now don't get me wrong, I like
to cuddle with my kids, but I don't ALWAYS want to cuddle. With a limited number of seats
having access to the TV, we have furniture pieces not even getting use.
2. Lack of flexibility
I could write an entire blog post about my love/hate relationship with sectional and chaise
sofas. Funny thing is when I designed this room I didn't even consider a different sofa. I
searched high and low for a sofa with a chaise on one end. Now that I've lived with it for 3
years I can safely say I may never buy another sofa like this again. It's not the look, it's not the
quality, it's not the comfort of the sofa, It's the fact that this sofa is not versatile. The location
you see it in is the only location that will work in our room. This sofa has
limited our arrangement options so we have no other choice but to buy new.
The chairs and sofa are comfortable for sitting, although the only people who really get to kick
back are those in the chaise or in front of the coffee table. When I say the chaise is
"comfortable" that's true (when you are laying in it) but when it's time to get up there is no
"jumping out of your seat" it's a process to pull an older body out of that spot. Ok, now I've
really dated myself, or I just really sound like my grandmother. Either way, it's the truth.
Solving the Problem
1. Maximize furniture placement
Furniture placement can be difficult, and honestly it's always one of the biggest obstacles for my
husband and I. His vision, the wrong way, (wink, wink) is always completely opposite of mine.
I like straight lines and symmetry. He likes things on angles, he's ok with pieces blocking
doors, etc. We find it difficult to agree, but nevertheless, the furniture placement is important if
you are trying to maximize seating in a space.
I decided it makes the most sense for us to have two sofas in our living room. Two sofas that
seat three people give us immediate seating for six. Beyond the two sofas we will have plenty
of space for two chairs, and a couple of ottomans near the fireplace. I also plan to have
additional chairs nearby to be pulled in when there is a gathering of many guests.
How to do I know this is the seating arrangement I want? Well, I researched. I researched
living rooms with fireplaces and built-ins. I measured the space we have to ensure all
items would fit. I made sure there was plenty of entry points to get to each seating area, and
with this layout I have a cozy space to entertain guests and eight seats (all with a view of
2. Select Items that can be moved around
If you are anything like me, you like changing things up. It's fun to get a wild hair
and move furniture around. That's easier said than done with a sectional of any
kind. Sure, a sectional is AMAZING, and for some homes they are the best
possible option. That said, if you purchase a sectional, I would be fairly certain
that you are comfortable with the lack of versatility that gives you in the long run. Again, I
would NEVER talk anyone out of a sectional, but after purchasing several of them, I
found the lack of versatility or placement options gets me frustrated and looking to buy new.
I didn't give this concept much thought when I purchased our current sofa. It's a sofa with a
chaise on one end. I love being able to cuddle up on the chaise for a TV show or movie,
but that's really the only time the chaise comes in handy. More than anything it's awkward
when we have guests. If it's more of a formal gathering, no one wants to sit in a spot meant for
laying down, so we lose one entire seat in the room. With the only location for this sofa being
straight on with the TV, the options are limited for the chairs we purchased. All in all, the sofa is
our biggest problem.
3. Buy for Comfort
Somewhere along the line it became popular to decorate your living room for looks over comfort.
What's the point? We're talking about the room your family spends the most time in so I say, buy
for looks AND for comfort. Get a sofa that's comfortable with beautiful lines. Have ottomans in
your space for people to kick back and put their feet up. Lastly, for heavens sake, buy your
husband the RECLINER if he wants one.
This time around we WILL be putting recliners in our living room. I know, you think "recliner" and your mind immediately goes to those old school, faded at the arms and headrests, creaky old recliners with the wood lever on the side. Let me be the first to tell you, recliners have come a long way, and you CAN add them to a space and have a chic look at the same time. We had a recliner in our last house but it broke. Ever since my husband has asked me to get a new one and I've refrained. It's taken me three years to realize that his comfort in our home, after a long days works, is far more important that an instagram worthy, perfect, staged living room.
So the problems in my living room range from lack of versatility, to lack of comfort and function to frustration with the style of the cushion. I will never, let me repeat, NEVER buy another sofa with back cushions that are not somehow attached to the frame. Our current sofa has large pillows for the backrest and it's an absolute trainwreck. The pillows move around, get thrown on the floor, sag, and simply don't hold their shape. This makes for an uncomfortable experience, and daily frustration in keeping it looking presentable.
- You CAN design a stylish, functional space with comfortable furniture. Think about the lines, add interest with tufting, mix patterns and colors.
- Don't let any ideas about how design "should be done" keep you from adding items your family truly wants. If you are dying for the sectional- get it! If your husband wants a recliner- find one that works with your design.
- Keep in mind the way people live in your space. If kids throwing pillows on the floor makes your crazy select a more sleek design with less pillows and attached cushions. If you gather for game nights or host coffee dates, etc- arrange furniture to face each other for a cozy gathering spot.
-A sectional might look like a fabulous choice, but be sure you are ok with it's inability to provide much flexibility.
Enjoy decorating your living room, and be sure to include the pieces you love. In a space you spend a great deal of time, you shouldn't have to worry about comfort or function. Make those things a priority upfront and enjoy your space for years to come!
More furniture topics coming soon....