Before you even start decorating your living room, remember where you are. If you live in a casual beach house, your design scheme is going to look very different from an urban industrial loft space, for instance. In this beach house by Arent & Pyke, the design team focused on channeling the tropical vibe of a coastal home through fun motifs and casual materials. Yet, they still maintained a look of sophistication through fresh upholstery, beautiful artwork, and a thoughtful layout. That being said, if you're a sucker for kitsch and wish you were always on island-time, add a hint of it with one statement piece, like a vintage Hawaiian-print rattan chair.
When space is lacking, the only option is to get creative and make things multi-purpose. For example, if you don't have room for a separate living room, family room, and home office, combine each concept into one space. This living room and office by Leanne Ford Interiors proves that the right layout and pieces can look great, no matter what shape or size the room.
Front and back doors open directly into a two-story-high living room, where spruce-planked walls and wood beams salvaged from an 1890 Tennessee barn reflect the home’s rural setting and give the space a refined, barnlike feel. Interior decorator Phoebe Howard balanced the rustic elements with color. “I added an air of elegance with a soft color palette that reflects the surrounding sky and hills,” she says.
It’s not as much about where you put your furniture as it is about the types of pieces you choose. "In each room I design, I try to include at least one round piece, such as a coffee table, that people can walk around without bumping their knees," says interior designer Katie Rosenfeld. "I also add a few armchairs and a versatile piece like a garden stool that can be used as a stool to sit on or as a table for a drink."
With the multihued curtain fabric as her jumping-off point, designer Ashley Whittaker splashed an amped-up version of pink in three places in the living room—the footstool, the contrasting pillow welt, and the slipper-chair trim. "We wanted the home to feel bright and colorful like Florida but not like a vacation home," says Ashley. She pulled off the cozy yet elegant vibe by grounding the sun-and-surf palette with serious touches, such as the antique demilune tables.

"You can gain more surface space by having a console table behind a sofa and a variety of seating, like one sofa and four chairs that are not all the same that can float in a room and even be moved around," says Rybock, "and then use a cocktail table as the anchor in the center of the space." Once you have the furniture in place, Fenimore suggests using textural or colorful artwork to visually fill the room.
Architect Luís Bernardo Brito e Abreu renovated his São Miguel home to reflect his family's artistic, maritime history. The living room features a vintage chair by Illum Wikkelsø, and the mantel and stone benches are both of local basalt. The sculpture of a head on the bench at right is by Ernesto Canto da Maya, and the wall sculpture above the mantel is a 16th-century naval decoration.
While most light fixtures can be easily changed, adding new lighting fixtures, outlets and switches are not meant for “do it yourself” projects due to their sensitivity. Making changes to a lighting and electrical layout is only easy if the ceiling frames are exposed as there is no need to remove ceiling boards and cause additional damage to the home. But as mentioned living room renovation projects that involve electrical work may require hiring an electrician.

Materials that connect to the location are key to character building. Sisal hints at the marsh grasses in an elegant way and is also durable, easy to clean, and ideal for layering. The alligator skull speaks to the local wildlife, while palms in antique glass and fern-patterned pillows are additional nods to the room's Lowcountry vibe and provide a carefree polish.


When remodeling a house, or a living room for that matter, there are always two resources that would never run out and yet would never be enough – money and time. These must be used properly along with a well prepared plan. A plan that is flexible but backed by organized ideas that would make this room a lot better than your present one. So here are some useful tips that would help you maximize your sources in remodeling your living room.


Make it easy on yourself by sticking to a very consistent, very simple color scheme. In this space designed by Leanne Ford Interiors, she worked within a strictly all-white color story. Even the firewood is painted white! We'll let that be a lesson in attention to detail. Then she choose one item to really pop in a bright color. In this case, she went with a bright red Pierre Paulin Ribbon Chair.

A Brooklyn townhouse in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, features a sofa from ABC Carpet & Home upholstered in a fabric by Soraya Shah for Studio Four NYC. The space also includes a chaise by Timothy Oulton, a Danish cocktail table, the Akari pendant light by Noguchi, window treatments in a Rebecca Atwood fabric, and a vintage Moroccan rug. The walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Huntington White and the trim in Iron Mountain. A photograph by Claire Nitze and a cameo portrait by Doug Meyer complete the living room.
Once you have a sense of what functions you want your new living room to serve, gather lots of information. Check out the valuable information on "Hiring a Pro for Your Living Room" and search the Web for other reliable, accurate information on trade-group websites such as ASID (American Society of Interior Designers), NARI (National Association for the Remodeling Industry) and NAHB (National Association of Home Builders).
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