In the living room of an antique-laden apartment in Greenwich Village, the antique Swedish sofa and Baroque chair, right, are upholstered in Robert Kime fabrics, the armchair is 18th-century French and a vintage Persian Soumak rug from Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar rests on a sea-grass rug from ABC Carpet & Home. Among the items on the wall are an antique water-buffalo skull, 19th-century French gouaches and a drawing by Jean Cocteau.
This homeowner bucked the “matchy, matchy” rule by placing different end tables and lamps on either side of the sofa in her living room. The mismatch works because, even though one table is a white Asian-inspired look and the other is a black step-like design, both tables are the same height. A sleek brass reading lamp pairs nicely with the simple white table, while a large silver-leaf table lamp fits with the more substantial black table.
A good place to start when it comes to redesigning your living room is with the walls. While paint may seem the simplest choice, and easy to change, don’t discredit the design opportunities of wallpaper in living rooms. There are tons of great living room wallpaper ideas, from modern geometric patterns to traditional florals, and loads of ways to use them – you don’t have to cover the whole room or go for the ubiquitous feature wall. You could wallpaper only above the dado rail (if you have one), either side of a chimney breast, or behind a shelving unit to give your displayed items a stylish backdrop.
One of the keys to a successful renovation is plenty of forethought, knowledge and information — especially if you're making structural changes, or working with several professionals and a big budget. Take your time to plan before you begin, so that you are less likely to have regrets when you are finished. "Designing a room or a remodeling project is a journey or a process," says interior designer Karen Soojian, ASID, "and it takes time to develop ideas and do things right. In other words, you need to know your destination and how you plan to get there."
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.
"The room doesn't get a lot of light, so I decided to make it cozy and turned it into an English-style portrait room, which is ridiculous, but fun," says celebrity chef Alex Hitz. Taking the cozy route in a living room without a ton of natural light is a great solution. And what's cozier than a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf with seating beckoning you to curl up on it? To display your books more creatively, offset them with artwork. In this room, a Peter Rogers portrait of Alex Hitz's close friend, the late Nan Kempner, hangs over the bookshelves to create some contrast.
Whether you are working with a small living room or a large living room, balance makes all the difference in the world. This room proves that you don’t need outrageous shapes or colors to create a beautiful space. The untreated dark oak floorboards and the earthy color scheme come together to provide an elegant balance of light, shapes, textures and colors. Nothing in this room aggressively screams, “Look at me!” but the room also has just enough visual interest to command your attention. If a room like this does not give you several small living room design ideas, nothing will.
This little beauty highlights how each piece in a space can be wildly different yet still be harmonious. Visual interest is abundant in this small living room interior, from the golden leather ottomans to the glass and driftwood coffee table. On the wall behind the sofa, the chinoserie wallpaper and golden mirrors work together to give the room a touch of flash without overstating their presence and drowning the sofa out. Each piece is like a unique cast member in a stage play or television show. Every piece in this room is small, but each piece still has immense personality.
In home design, one practice that novice designers avoid is mixing and matching patterns or textures. Many beginning designers stick with a uniform and consistent look in order to play it safe. While that isn’t necessarily bad, this room shows how rewarding it can be to get creative and take a few risks. Leather, glass, metal, wood and even water join forces with lovely neutral tones, zebra print, jagged stripes and a spectacular art piece to create a small living room sure to get guests talking. There is so much going on in this room, but it isn’t overwhelming, either.
When designing built in furniture for a living room renovation project it is important to plan ahead and hire a professional designer and contractor to help you out with the process. Commissioning a professional ensures that your built in furniture does not only meet your specific needs, but that they are also tailor made based on the existing conditions and size of your living room. In addition, they can assist you in creating creative and optimum storage systems such as media cabinets which match with the overall look of your living room.
For designer Patrick Printy, his bungalow in Oakland, California is all about eccentric design. In this living area attached to his study, a pair of vintage sofas are upholstered in a Ralph Lauren Home stripe, the Eero Saarinen table is from Design Within Reach, barstools by CB2 are covered in a Katie Ridder fabric, the ceiling lantern is by Visual Comfort, the rug is by Ralph Lauren Home, and the busts are by Oly.
Adding warmth and creating an inviting atmosphere can be a challenge for square living rooms. When all of your furniture is pushed up against the wall, which leaves seating far away from each other, you can make the space feel cold. But you can also make your square living room feel crowded or awkward if all the furniture is forced into one corner. Instead, float furniture away from the walls.