A living room shouldn't just have a focal point; it needs a center of energy that draws people in for a sense of well-being. Photo courtesy of J. Waluskiewicz, reprinted from Comfort Living: A Back-to-Basics Guide to a More Balanced Lifestyle
Seating pieces not only offer you and your guests a place to relax, they also set the tone for the style of the room. Photo courtesy of Cailen Ascher Design
An Occasional Dining Space
Your living area can also be an impromptu dining area. Christine Eisner, interior designer and author of Comfort Living: A Back-to-Basics Guide to a More Balanced Lifestyle, suggests including a side table and chairs in the living room that can be used for intimate fireside dinners.
4 Living Room Essentials
Your four must-have, can’t-miss essentials and how to work them into your space.
- by Jacqueline Rupp
When decorating your living room, the possibilities can be overwhelming. Just relax and focus on the basics—and in four easy steps you’ll have a living room that's ready to enjoy.
1. Comfy Seating
Comfortable, functional seating is the most important feature of any gathering room. Seating pieces not only offer you and your guests a place to relax, they also set the tone for the style of the room.
Today’s seating options are virtually limitless: you can choose from a couch (sofa) or loveseat; anchor seating, like club and wing chairs and upholstered ottomans; modern sectionals; and any combination of these.
Once you’ve chosen your seating, consider adding a coordinating area rug to anchor your seating arrangement, suggests Cailen Ascher Poles, interior designer and owner of Cailen Ascher Design in Stockton, N.J. "And don't be afraid to bring furniture away from walls!" he emphasizes.
Ascher Poles also advises taking a break and living in the space a little between placing your major pieces and deciding on secondary furnishings and accessories. "Think about how you use the seating throughout your room. Identify the places where you sit to read, enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and where you sit to watch TV. This will help you bring in the appropriate tables and accessories to flesh out your room in a way that best accommodates your lifestyle."
2. Somewhere to Rest a Drink
Coffee tables, side tables and oversized ottomans can be as fun as they are functional. Available in a variety of sizes, finishes and budget ranges—today’s occasional tables offer more than just a place to rest a drink. “Pair function with aesthetics," advises Christine Eisner, designer, consultant and author of Comfort Living: A Back-to-Basics Guide to a More Balanced Lifestyle. She points out that a two-tiered coffee table or a side table with storage will look good and offer room for games, books and entertainment.
3. A Gathering Force
Eisner says a living room shouldn't just have a focal point; it needs a "campfire, a center of energy that draws people in for a sense of well-being." She suggests basing the design around experiences, not appearances, by choosing focal points that have meaning.
A fireplace and mantle are a classic choice, but if your family loves to gather around the flat screen TV, make that the item the furniture surrounds. Framed artwork also makes a great focal point; just remember to choose a piece that speaks to the feel of the room and the atmosphere you hope to create.
4. Items with Personal Meaning
Once you’ve got the biggest items placed, you can focus your attention on making the room reflect your personality. “Bring your treasures into your living spaces, urges Eisner, "framed photographs on a side table, art, a lamp that you adore, a chair from a favorite aunt … the more personal your living room, the more it will become irresistible for all.”