Making your living room or family room the most comfortable, relaxing place in your home is everyone’s goal. Should be easy, right? However, we all know that creating a spot to relax takes a lot of work! Living rooms get more use than any other room in the house and need to be able to flex to accommodate multiple needs without requiring a great deal of effort. With this in mind, here are some great idea generators and solutions that will assist with making your living room the center of comfort, laughter, relaxation and making memories!
This can be a major challenge as you’ll want to keep access easy and quick for the items needed for everyone’s favorite activities. The key is in providing a storage location so that these items out of the way (and out of sight) when they’re not being used. Here are a few tips that can help.
1. Coffee tables with lift tops and storage: Many of the new designs of coffee tables include some great features that really make them a multi-use marvel. With a lift top, it’s easy to bring a laptop or tablet close enough to use on a surface without hunching over or having to manage everything in your lap. While it may not be a good all day substitute for a desk or table, this is a great feature and can eliminate the need for an additional piece of furniture to create a temporary desk while on the sofa. Another big benefit with many new tables is hidden storage below the lift top, creating space that is perfect for card decks, game boards, and handheld devices.
2. Ottomans: There’s a great reason that ottomans are so popular. They serve three valuable purposes! Perfect for putting your feet up while relaxing, great as an additional seating option for young visitors and ideal for blankets and pillows for family movie night!
3. Cabinets and chests: Bulky games, DVDs, and video game controls used to have a home in the old TV cabinet. However, with the adoption of flat screen TVs, a lot of available storage has disappeared along with that old tube TV. A wall or corner doored cabinet can be a great replacement option, giving an easy way to hide clutter while keeping organized easy access. Angled bookcases are another lower priced option and, while they don’t provide the hidden qualities of a doored cabinet, you’ll be able to keep frequently handled items within easy access.
4. Occasional and End Tables: End tables can be a remarkable aid to organization. Select an end table with a drawer, bottom shelf, and a magazine rack side and you’ll have the best friend a clutter fighter ever had! Toss the remotes in the drawer and slide your magazines and newspapers in the side rack. Some end tables even have pull-out shelves with built in drink coasters to truly maximize the use of a small footprint. Occasional tables are always useful, providing convenience for guests but easy to move out of traffic paths when not needed.
While we all enjoy its benefits, lighting can be a bit daunting to think about in any manner other than the broadest of terms. It’s perhaps easiest if we think of lighting as three basic types: ambient lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting. When we break lighting down into these classifications, it can become much easier to create a space that meets the needs of every family member and favorite living room activities.
1. Ambient Lighting: Experts will advise beginning with the ambient light, as that is the general, everyday lighting for the living room. Frequently when we talk about ambient lighting, we’re referring to recessed or enclosed ceiling lighting that is lit by flipping a switch when you walk into the room as well as the natural light coming through windows or skylights. Another example of a source of ambient lighting would be torchiere-style floor lamps which send lighting up walls and onto ceilings. A great pro tip is to install dimmers for the wall controlled ambient light. That way you can take the lights down while watching TV or when a peaceful and romantic mood is desired. Make sure your lamps have the proper shades to ensure the mood is set just right.
2. Task Lighting: While youngsters can often study in near darkness, as we get older we need stronger light for reading, doing craft work or just playing a game of cards. And, with the multiple user aspects to the living room, having lamps that can provide strong bright light as needed is a necessity. A popular trend is the use of Full Spectrum lamps for task lighting, as these lamps will provide the closest alternative to natural sunlight.
3. Accent Lighting: Are there unique or attractive features in your living room that deserve a shout out? Accent lighting can be used to illuminate artwork, plants, and bookcases as well as fish tanks and aquariums. Accent lighting also adds texture to a room by creating visual points of interest so, in planning to light for the living room, it can be time well spent to think about elements within the room that will deserve special attention. Accent lighting can be fun, dramatic or just plain functional, but it will add nuance that gives a room a finished look.
What are your special passions? What makes you feel comfortable and relaxes you? What makes you smile and laugh? These are the kinds of questions that are answered with well-considered accent furniture pieces. Make your space reflect the interests and passions of you and your family by thinking through the following tips.
1. Flowers and plants can bring a unique energy to your living room and the choices are endless! From beautiful dried plants to enormous leafed ferns to exotic cacti, plants give your living room a sense of peace and an emotional center that is extremely satisfying. Kids love being involved in the plant selection process so make sure to get their point of view while identifying options. However, if small children and pets are around, be sure to research any health risks associated with specific types of house plants to avoid any potential issues.
2. Accent and Home Decor Pieces: Accent pieces are so varied in style and design that it can seem daunting to begin the selection process. One trick is to select a favorite hobby or activity for family members and friends and find an accent that will bring them to mind upon sight. Accents can sit on shelving, atop mantles or on coffee tables. For true overachieving functionality Jedi masters, find accents with dual purposes, such as unique bookends or quirky picture frames.
3. Framed Photographs: Speaking of pictures, the living room is the ideal location for displaying cherished photographs of family members, friends, and loved ones. Oversized frames with multi-sized picture slots are great for keepsake photos of family, while discerning decorators are always on the look-out for unique frames for holding memories both old and new.
4. Decorative Art: Framed wall art is a universal accent as well one with the most variety of available options. From reproductions of museum masterpieces to framed movie posters, you have an endless universe of choices to reflect the passions and interests of your family. Local art shows are an excellent way to find one of kind pieces that will generate conversation and evoke memories.
5. Mirrors and Clocks: Mirrors are a great way to maximize the natural light in a room. Simply place opposite any window and they’ll naturally reflect and spread the sunlight coming into your room. And don’t forget about clocks which, in addition to their obvious function, can be an awesome way to bring another visual accent to your living room!
Now that we’ve straightened up and accessorized the living room, it’s time to plan for having fun and enjoying relaxing evenings. A good approach is to make a list of the activities that you and your family enjoy. Then, create an environment that can quickly and easily accommodate everyone’s favorites so that it becomes easy to say “yes” when a suggestion is offered and so that your home becomes a destination spot for friends and small gatherings.
1. Game Room: Games with family and friends are always a favorite activity. However, they’re so much more fun to host with a bit of preparation. Keeping a folding table and chairs in a nearby closet will make setting up for adult and teen board and card games a quick and easy process. As for the youngsters, the floor is always the preferred and safest location so make sure that you’ve got blankets and pillows conveniently located (that’s where the storage ottomans come in handy!). Lighting is important for all games and good solutions to consider are easy-to-install swag lights or Full-Spectrum floor lamps. Don’t forget coasters and napkins stored in a convenient drawer to make everyone comfortable. From bridge to Magic to Candy Land, you’ll be ready for game night!
2. Entertainment Lounge: The days of just turning on a TV set have given way to massive 21st century home entertainment systems. But some things never change and, ultimately, what’s really important is being able to hunker down in a comfortable spot to enjoy some excitement. You’ll want to be able to dim the lights without being forced to sit in the dark or break the mood with turning on a bright light to grab drinks or snacks. A corner torchiere lamp is a great option, directing light up and away from sight lines, providing enough illumination to see without distracting from tonight’s feature presentation!
3. Peaceful Library: For many of us, there is no greater gift than quiet time with a good book. Hunkering down to read with a comfy afghan and throw pillow sounds great, but no one enjoys squinting or having to sit in an uncomfortable spot in order to be able to see the pages. Placing a floor reading lamp behind the sofa can work wonders. Many of the styles available have adjustable lamp heads, allowing the light to be redirected to accommodate multiple users and each of their “favorite spots”. With 3-way bulbs, the light’s intensity can be modified based on time of day and the preferences of the user.
Today’s living room fills many roles. It needs to do service as a party room, game room, entertainment complex, dining area and perhaps the perfect napping spot! With a bit of planning and organization, you’ll be prepared for all possibilities. The ideal living room is reflective of the personality of the owners, with a calm welcoming spirit that puts guests at ease immediately. Whatever passions you and your family enjoy, create a living room that celebrates your life and invites others to spend time in comfort and joy.