What is the winning combination for the interior design of a living room? Find out.
Putting a good living room together should be a process. I suggest that you get one item at a time, live with it for a few days and then get the next item. Here are three ways to get your living room just right.
Functionality + Style + Contrasts
1. Set Clear Expectations
Would you go to a formal wedding event in your pajamas? I HOPE NOT. The aesthetics of a living room are the equivalent of dressing up for a formal event in a gown, just the right accessories, makeup and high heels. A living room is a public space, like the reception lobby of your office building. The best version of your home.
A family room is a private space meant for extended family members and the closest of friends. The aesthetics of a family room are like wearing a onesie, soft pajamas, and fuzzy slippers.
There is something to be said for those who don’t want to have that distinction between a just-woken-up look and a formal-dressed-up look. Maybe even achievable with ‘athleisure’. If you can pull that off, all the power to you. But your living room is not your family room(unless you have one room for both purposes, in which case, go for the more durable materials in sleek designs for a win-win.)
2. Let your Style Shine
Contemporary, sleek, clean lines or Mid-century Modern or Traditional or Farmhouse. Each of these has different design concepts behind them and appeals to different sensibilities. Find your style and then play around within that style to ensure that you have a well-put-together look without being a straight-from-a-catalog look.
3. Play in Contrasts.
Layer up colors in contrast. Light on dark on light. e.g. Dark floor. Light rug. Dark couch. Light cushions. Light wall. Black frame paintings.
Play with alternate textures. If you are going for a monochromatic, monotonal look, play in textures. Wooden floor, Sisal rug with faux fur on top, marble table with a wooden tray with a glass decorative accent.
Finally, set clear aesthetic expectations, then go for your style and then play within that style and you’ll create a living room that will wow your guests the minute they walk in. This will help you create a living room that looks cohesive and playful at the same time. That is the winning combination that never fails to get compliments.
How to create a sense of grounded energy, balance and relaxation with the basics – furniture placement, accessories, and art.
How could the bedroom be the cause of disturbed sleep? Counter-intuitive. I know. Feng Shui has some answers. And it has nothing to do with wind chimes, frogs, etc. Hear me out. Please.
The mind feels most relaxed in a room with grounded and balanced energy flow.
What does that even mean and how do we go about creating that?
Energy can be visualized as a flow of people and air into the room. Creating a sense of grounded energy all depends on the furniture layout.
This starts by deciding the location of the bed. Place the bed such that the headboard of the bed is along the longest wall, facing the door to the room. This should allow for a sight-line towards the bedroom door while being seated in your bed. Being able to view the entrance to a space vs subconsciously having to “watch your back” puts your primal mind at ease. Don’t place the bed at an angle. It is unsettling and creates a corner behind itthat’s hard to vacuum creating “stagnant energy” (read dust and stale air). The bed should not be facing a bathroom door. It is acceptable if the bathroom door is towards the side. But keep it closed. It’s just good hygiene.
Unless you live in a mansion or your bedroom is huge or you are very tall, a queen bed is the largest size you should go for if you don’t want to dwarf out your space.
The next element is the headboard. The shape, size, and material is a way to visually anchor the bed and establish it as the most important piece of furniture in the room. Of course, it does provide back support when you are sitting up in bed and keeps you from rubbing your head against the wall. 47″ high headboards don’t show much behind pillows, 54″ high show a lot. 52″ is a happy medium. Upholstered headboards are considered to be ideal since they provide the most sense of ‘comfort’. Wooden headboards are next in comfort. Slightly rounded shaped echo the soft curves of the mattress and duvet covers and are considered to be most relaxing.
Some design blogs and magazines show wall mounted shelves over the bed (instead of the headboard) full of photo frames, monogrammed art, and books. That looks great in photos but it makes me anxious. Living in an earthquake-prone area like California just makes me worry. Sure, you may argue that the whole roof can fall on your head. However, just in case there’s a smaller earthquake, I don’t want to increase the chances of books, photo frames, etc falling right onto my head. Or worse, on my nose. Things can wobble and fall without an earthquake. I feel the same way about the drum shaped pendant lights hanging over the bed. They looks great but they’re not for me.
The next goal is to create balance which can be achieved by using the design principle of symmetry. In a squarish room, the bed is placed in the center (or faux center) of the room with at least 2 feet (24″) of walkway on either side of it. In a more elongated room, there might be space for a chair or chaise longue or dresser towards the window.
Identical side tables and lamps look good in pairs and are encouraged in a bedroom. Feng Shui states that identical nightstands and lamps also indicate democracy in a relationship. IMHO, what indicates the most democracy is having an equal walkway on either side of the bed. So, do not shove the side of a bed against a wall. Doing so restricts access and putting on new bed sheets. Cleaning under it can become a weekly annoyance. If you are cramped for space, leave at least 1″-2″ space from the wall.
Avoid a mirror directly reflecting the bed. Your own glimpse from the corner of your eye can catch you unaware and creep you out in a semi-asleep state.
The space under the bed should be left empty for air to circulate. The height of the bed should allow you to get in and out comfortably whether you go for a lofty platform or a low base. If you live in a tiny apartment, please do not place a space-saving-pull-out drawer for shoes under the bed, no matter how starved for space you are. Leather, suede, rexine, rubber, pleather and glues used to bind the shoes emit gases that you should not be inhaling, especially when you are asleep. It is also a big Feng shui no-no since it blocks and contaminates the energy flowing around and under the bed and the mattress.(Read as air-circulation). Be creative and find other places for your shoes, books, boxes and other ‘stuff’. I will share ideas for tight spaces like studios and student accommodation in a future post. The central message is to visually and spatially delineate different functions in a studio as much as possible.
Indoor comfort is highly dependent on temperature and sunlight. Don’t place the bed right under a window. Keeping it farther away protects you from noise, glare, temperature extremes and cold drafts which can cause body ache. Keeping the window wall clear also provides scope for proper window treatments instead of having curtains being overlapped by the headboard. Ease of access to the curtains or blinds is a basic requirement of daily use. This layout also allows the possibility to look out of the window when you are sitting in bed. This also contributes to creating a sense of safety to your instinctive mind. Even if your logical mind disagrees with me.
The bed is going to last you a long time so stick to a neutral color that can work with multiple color palettes. Feel free to play around with color in the bedding and throw cushions. This will allow you to switch out the look whenever you wish by changing the bedding colors whenever you want, even seasonally. Patterns and colors evoke a visceral response in us and impact our heart rate. Choose them carefully. If in doubt, pick plain white sheets. They are a foolproof choice.
Hotel beds with crisp sheets symbolize a sense of relaxation and cleanliness to a lot of people. White cotton sheets with a thread count of 180 or more are the most durable and last years of washing even at high temperatures. They are the most comfortable because they absorb moisture away at night and keep your body cool and dry.
The whole idea is to create an environment that allows for a great sleep so that you wake up recharged for the next day. While design can’t curb external stresses like job pressures, family demands, good design can ensure that your room won’t add on to your stresses. May you have peace of mind. Bonne Nuit!
Each item in your house is there to serve a purpose which is – to make your life easier. Yet, so often we let these things become the owners of our lives.
You may be aiming for a look you saw online or in a magazine or on Pinterest or Instagram. The ones with white walls, bedding and a couple of pale millennial pink cushions and a gray throw. I love that look, it is so contemporary. You might have successfully hunted down those exact pieces, down to the Eames chair in white. You might have successfully hunted down those exact pieces, down to the Eames chair in white and one HomeGoods and Target run later, you are very close to achieving the look. You love it. You don’t want anyone to mess it up. You want to keep it Instaready.
It is easy to forget that the items in your home are there to serve a purpose which is – to make your life easier. Yet, so often we let these things become the owners of our lives. We might not realize how often we let “things” get in the way of our relationships and ruin our peace of mind.
First, you buy a light cream colored couch because it looks nice and “different”. Then, you worry daily about someone spilling something on it. Why not get a darker couch and use lighter colors elsewhere? Do you want to scold your kids or shame your pets every day for walking on those ivory colored rugs with dirty feet or socks when the real purpose of the rug is to keep their feet warm? Keep that in mind. You can still have a picture perfect home, just make sure the ‘things’ in it make your life easier and not more stressful.
The biggest myth about interior decoration is that it is always too expensive. That it always costs more. False. In fact, if you share your needs, lifestyle and constraints about your routine and your life with your designer they can suggest the right materials that look great and are easy to maintain.
If you keep a ballpark figure in your mind when you shop and stick to it, you will be very happy with the results. Use the HIGH-LOW approach to combine expensive items with inexpensive ones. My thumb rule is, whatever needs to last the longest should be of better quality. Smaller decorative items can be found on a bargain and still look great. It also makes it easier to switch them out if you want a switch out the look as a lot of people do seasonally.
Ease of Maintenance
Before making any of these decor changes, consider all the members of the household, including the pets, kids and clumsy family members who walk around the home snacking, dropping crumbs and spilling drinks.
If you can’t decide between any two pieces to buy, let the ease of maintenance be the deciding factor.
Consider your lifestyle and weekly maintenance budget- how often would the carpet need shampooing and the leather couch need conditioning? Can you machine wash your soft furnishings like cushion covers, drapes, sofa covers, etc or do you have to get them dry cleaned every time? Do you have the bandwidth for either of that?
If you have children at home, it is best to go in for a decorating style that can handle puking babies, permanent marker stains, indoor sports and occasional food fights without increasing your blood pressure! It is true that kids and toddlers have a knack of injuring themselves without additional help, but do keep their needs in mind and opt for furniture with padded, rounded corners wherever possible. You can always get fancier things a few years later, once they are a little older and “wiser”.
About The Author
Richa brings you only the most practical, to-the-point, no-nonsense information that helps turn your house into your dream home. She has a passion for simplifying design concepts that you can actually put to use. She has a degree in Architecture, over thirty published articles, a life blog and has co-authored the amazon.com bestseller 'My First Home' with Shashank Shekhar.
This amazon.com #1 bestseller, is written with the sole purpose of making the home buying process easier. This step-by-step guide is full of infographics that help demystify the process of buying and decorating your first home. Get your copy of "My First Home" today.
This ebook equips you with everything you need to know to turn your home into a stylish haven. Detailed examples with colored illustrations help you discover the look you want and get practical tips and tricks to achieve that look easily. You’re welcome!