"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.
A 1920s Palm Beach home, owned by art adviser Heidi McWilliams, serves as the perfect backdrop for displaying her impressive collection. The living room is furnished with claret armchairs (right) and hexagonal table by Rose Tarlow Melrose House, along with a neutral rug by Patterson Flynn Martin. An Anish Kapoor mirrored wall sculpture accentuates the 16th-century Italian limestone mantel, and the coffered ceiling, which is original, adds character to the room.
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.
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."
As we've mentioned a few times already, a small space doesn't mean you can't have fun with color. So if you love incorporating pretty pastels or vivid brights but want to make sure your living room doesn't look chaotic, the trick is to stick to a tight color palette. Mixing patterns is also fair game, especially when done as masterfully as this cheerful room designed by Ellen Kavanaugh.
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."
In the living room of Vivia Horn’s Japanese-style retreat in Hunter, New York, the leather-and-plastic Italian sofas, cocktail table, and wool shag rug were purchased in the 1980s at Bloomingdale’s. The Japanese-style fire pit and tin range hood are custom, the floor lamp is from the '70s, the sisal carpet is by Stark, the ceiling beams are Douglas fir, and a series of color lithographs from Japan are displayed along the pine wainscoting.
On the other hand, major renovations for a living room remodel project are more labor intensive, take longer time to finish and typically require professional help. Major renovations may involve structural modifications, demolition work, electrical wiring and typically include improvements done on the floor, walls and ceiling. It may also include a series of minor renovations, thus making it more of a larger scale project in the process. Major renovations are also sometimes referred to as a “full renovation” because instead of just improving a part of the living room, the scope of work requires enhancement and constructions works for the whole space and all its elements – meaning wall, floor, ceiling, furniture, furnishings and lighting. Examples of major renovation works are demolition works like removing an existing partition, tearing down the whole ceiling. Electrical works like rewiring, taking out all old flooring and installing new materials, retiling of floors, construction of a drop, recessed or cove ceiling and the like.
• Flooring – Changes in the flooring are considered to be an important upgrade in a living room renovation project. Existing living room floors that have light scratches may either be refurbished or refinished, however if the damage is more extensive, replacing the floors may be required. Changing the floor may also be a result of aesthetic preference or an update in style, meaning if your living room has existing ceramic floor tiles and you want to change it into a more rustic inspired space, then you might need to change it with wooden planks.

Think long-term. Remember to plan not only for this stage of your life, but for the next phases, as well. If you're newlyweds planning to have children in a few years, take those future kids into account when planning your renovation, so that you don't have to redo everything. Ask people who already have kids what works in real life and what doesn't; what they wish they had in their living rooms; what has caused safety issues or got broken so many times it had to be thrown away.
Consult a professional  – When in doubt, always hire a professional to help you with your living room remodel project. Skimping on labor may save you money at present, but may result to added problems in the long run. Professionals like contractors, designers and workers have years of experience to back up their know how on construction and you can be assured of a good quality of work and end product which will last for years.
If your living room has access to a ton of natural light, don't block it out with dark curtains. Let it pour in to make the space feel more airy and open. Even if you don't have large windows and tons of sunlight, choose lighter shades to maximize the light you do have. Semi-sheer shades like the ones in this living room designed by Barrie Benson will help, too.

Windows – If your living room lacks ventilation or looks too dark, you can also try to replace existing windows or add windows to your living room. Replacing old windows helps improve natural lighting, optimizes energy efficiency and gives added ventilation. In addition to the practical benefits, new windows can also contribute a new character to your living room.
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.
For a Gramercy Park apartment, designer Bennett Leifer upholstered a settee in a Sabina Fay Braxton velvet, and chose a pair of carved wood armchairs by de Gournay covered in a Stark velvet. The Empire console is from Lucca Antiques, the cocktail table is by Ebanista, the vintage stool is by Maison Baguès, the Louis XVI secretary was purchased on 1stdibs, the Tabriz rug is antique, and the walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Alexandria Beige.
Think of a secondary purpose for your living room – A good way to optimize space, whether dealing with a small living room or a large living room, is to use it for a secondary purpose. Nowadays, most homes combine two areas together such as a living room with a music room or home office. The best way to take advantage of a living room remodel is to incorporate a secondary purpose for your space and you can do this by carefully planning the layout and design essentials ahead of time. Aside from that, multipurpose furniture such as sofa beds also help achieve a dual function living room.
Updating the walls of a living room range from a simple repainting work, applying textured finishes, wallpaper installation, custom paint treatments to the installation of a drywall or a stone accent wall . The simplest and most cost effective fix to transforming the look of walls in a living room space is through the use of paints. A fresh coat of new color can go a long way in terms of the visual interest and mood that a living room projects. Aside from regular latex paints, some suppliers offer special variants that have layers of colors and textures which produce a more unique finish.
Second, consider the walls. Color is not the only change that you can do when wanting to change the look of your living room. Try focusing on what new materials you could add to them. Also, be ready to take it down in order to extend the size of the living room while maximizing the unnecessary space allocated to adjacent rooms. If your house was built decades ago, consider changing the panels. You can use wood, glass or steal for real texture.
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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