Functional, flexible and warm are attributes which apply to any well designed living room. This is most likely the space we spend most time in, we read, relax, chat, entertain and watch television, it is the family common room. Being comfortable in such a space does not mean a compromise with design, it can look elegant and stylish whilst being practical for everyday use.
Ensure that the overall concept can evolve with time. An interior design professional will plan the space as a whole the result being a unified harmonius living space. The brief should allow flexible space for growth in the future and should sustain any changes in your lifestyle. The materials, textures, colours, pattern, lighting and accessories need to work together rather than as disseparate elements. A wise approach is to select a monochrome palette, adding interest through items that can easily be replaced or rotated. Large pieces of artwork or prints are a great way of adding colour, dimension and impact and maintaining an interchangeable setting. Another approach is to invest in pieces of furniture that will age well as this will give you a basis around which the interior can be developed.
Start by taking account of your needs and requirements, thinking of the activities that might take place so in a nutshell, its functionality. In most cases the space will serve as a multi functional space. This might include a work space, desk, chair and library, an entertainment storage area housing your sound system, television, cd/dvd collection and any game consoles. The quantity will determine the type of wall unit you will need to plan for. A dvd player, exercise equipment and a growing amount of game consoles may translate into a large portion of the wall unit having doors in order to conceal wires and unsightly boxes.
The seating area works best as a composition of different types of seating for different functions as best suit your needs. So a large armchair for reading might be themed with a four seater sofa and two lounge armchairs or two chaise longue with a three seater sofa. Combine the seating with the right table heights and place them were they will be most needed, example at the back of a sofa or between two sofa units.
Once this basis has been outlined you can think about the materials, colour, pattern and overall feel. Keep display of items to what is interesting and stimulating, remember that it is not about the perfect collection of bone china but a collection of individual pieces collected through time. This is the one space in the house that does not have a defined function so ensure that it is a true and spontaneous reflection of your personality. This way both yourself and visitors will feel at ease within the space.
Lighting plays a vital role in creating a warm atmosphere. Think of the furniture layout and the space within the space. Steer away from placing one light in the center as this will have a sterile effect, instead light each zone according to the task at hand. If you opt for general lighting a dimmer will add some flexibility to setting the scene. A combination of wall, desk, floor lights and free standing lamps located in the right areas and at the right intensity will provide a warm welcoming space worth the effort.
A fireplace placed in a central position can stand as a feature or be integrated into the tv/storage unit, plan ahead so it looks as though it was always there and not an added afterthought. Successfully it will act as a welcoming gathering point.
You will be able to measure the success of your living room by how much time you spend there, if you tend to retreat anywhere else in the house, then it is time to rethink your living space.
Interior Architecture & Design BA(Hons) UK