Just because you have a small living room, doesn’t mean you need to skimp on style. Homeowners often don’t know where to start when choosing furniture and end up buying pieces individually, which often don’t work well together. This post includes 8 tips to help you put together your dream living room!
Step 1: Consider how you plan to use this room
Is it for the family to gather around the TV? Is it for Mom to relax with a coffee and read a book? Will the kids be playing games with friends? Knowing how you plan to use the space will dictate how much seating you need and the ideal layout.
Step 2: Start with one big item
Start with either your sofa or a rug, and have all other items coordinate. It may seem weird to start with a rug, but your rug can completely dictate the overall vibe of the room. If you don’t have a rug you love, a sofa is a great place to start. If you choose a neutral sofa (my fav being the Hamilton in Burnt Sienna from West Elm shown below), then that’s pretty much a blank slate for the rest of the items you choose. The beauty of a neutral couch is you can change up the pillows to keep things fresh.
Step 3: Create a mood board
In order to see how each piece will contribute to your overall desired aesthetic, a “mood board” can help. Simply put, a mood board is a collection of images used to test how the various items work together. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just put images in Word, Powerpoint or simply print them out. Once you have a mix that works, this serves as a buying guide. You can buy it all at once or purchase over time once you save up money. Your mood board will help keep you on track when you hit stores like HomeGoods and Target.
In the design board above, my star is a gorgeous, rich, jewel-toned, velvet sofa from Article (the Sven). I have been obsessing over this sofa for years and I want (no…NEED) it in several different colors. Since the sofa is such a showstopper with its color and texture, and since it comes with 2 bolster pillows, I didn’t feel the need to add any toss pillows. I kept the furniture minimal with only a pouf that can be used as an ottoman, plop a tray on top for a coffee table or pulled to side for seating.
Step 4: Scale
Since we are talking about small living rooms, scale is very important. Pay attention to dimensions before you purchase to ensure they will fit in the room and still allow for flow of foot traffic. Sometimes I even put blue painter’s tape on the floor to get a sense of how much room it will take up. Most likely you should choose a loveseat over a full-sized sofa but also consider alternative seating such as ottomans, stools, floor pillows or benches, which often can include storage to hide extra blankets, magazines or games and keep your small space tidy.
Step 5: Amp up the Cozy
If cozy is what you are looking for, and who isn’t, then you must work in texture with pillows, blankets, ottomans, stools and/or rugs. Try to find a mix of textures such as cable knit, woven wool and faux fur.
The above and below designs feature the Sven from Article in Birch Ivory, described on their site as “like a sweater that a fancy lady wears on a coastal vacation.” Don’t you just love that? In the above design, I added a touch of color via the mustard yellow pillow but in the below design, blue is my accent color.
Step 6: Light Up My Life
Lighting is so important and not all of us have natural light. Ceiling lights, wall sconces, table lamps and floor lamps all serve a purpose. Consider how each corner of the room will be lit. Lighting is like the jewelry for an outfit. A white T and jeans are nothing special but add a layered gold necklace and fun earrings and now we are talking! There are so many lighting options to really dial your room up a notch.
Step 7: Green Thumb?
Any room can be improved by adding greenery IMHO. Consider adding a plant or 2 (or 5 in my case!) to add a lovely pop of green and infuse life into a room. Scientists have proven that having living plants in your home improves your mood and your physical body. According to WebMD, “Students in classrooms with three potted plants performed better on math, spelling, reading, and science tests than kids in classrooms without any greens.” That is a powerful statement, so head out to your local nursery!
Step 8: Sense of Smell
Last but certainly not least, you need yummy smelling candles in comforting flavors like Vanilla, Sugar Cookie or Pumpkin Spice. In the summer, think lavender, lilac and clean laundry smells! Our sense of smell can completely transport us to another time and place so don’t forget to light those candles, put on some chill tunes, grab a coffee or wine and enjoy your home like you should!
I hope this step by step guide helps you choose the right furniture and décor for your living room. Having a plan before you purchase can make all the difference. Remember, make sure your furniture is the right scale, add cozy elements through texture and add some greenery to give the room life. There’s no reason you can’t have a living room that the whole neighborhood wants to hang out in!
[Need help creating a mood board? Emily’s Interiors can help! Our designers can put together mood boards and shopping lists so you can buy the pieces on your own time. And be sure to follow Emily’s Interiors and Vintage Threshold on Instagram for more Living Room Mood Boards]