Moving into an unfurnished home can be a little daunting – especially if you’re making the move from rented to owned and have been used to furnished properties. With most rooms demanding that you make lots of furniture and accessories decisions, it can be hard knowing where to start.
Your first priority will obviously be the essentials: beds, basic kitchen equipment, bathroom supplies etc. Once you’re up and running with the basics, your living room is a good place to tackle first.
The living room is at the heart of any home. As the name suggests, this is the room you’ll mostly be living in, and as such it’s the perfect place to really stamp your own style on your home. Given that this is such an important room, it’s worth taking some time to plan your design and research your options. These tips on how to style a living room from scratch will help you do just that.
Before you do anything else, take some time to have a really good look at your living room. What do you have to work with? What are the pros and cons of your space?
Size, natural light, position in relation to the rest of the house, and the location of windows, doors and radiators will all have a bearing on what you can realistically do with a room. Think about these areas and it will soon become apparent that some design ideas will work better than others.
Form follows function
The function of your living room should be the at the heart of any design or layout, so you need to identify exactly how you and your family are going to use the room. Will it be mostly a private space to relax in, or somewhere to entertain guests? Will it have to do double or triple duty as a dining room, home office or guest bedroom? Is it going to be used mostly by adults, or do you need to accommodate small children as well? All of these considerations will have a great bearing on how you lay out the room.
This is where you can have some fun and bring your own personality and preferences into the design process. Do you want to go contemporary, or traditional? Minimalist, or funky and relaxed? What sort of colour scheme do you have in mind? Pinterest is a great source of inspiration here.
To some extent the existing space may dictate these decisions for you, but go in with an open mind. Just remember that this is a space for living in, rather than a photo in a magazine. Whatever look you go for it should be durable, comfortable and not something you will quickly grow tired of.
Working with light
Natural light can do wonders for a room, and if you have large windows then make the most of them. Full height shutters will allow you to let in the maximum amount of light during the day, but can be closed for complete privacy and security in the evening.
Clever placing of mirrored surfaces and white-painted walls can also help to reflect the light and give your living room the illusion of more space.
Living room furniture
Every living room needs a sofa. It’s traditionally the main feature, and is the place where you will sit and survey the room. When choosing a sofa, make sure you measure up carefully, and double check that your preferred product will fit the space well. It’s also vital that you check whether you can actually get the sofa into the room – we made this mistake a few years ago and had to take the window out to get it in!
When it comes to positioning your sofa, you will obviously want to place it so that you’re facing what you want to see (e.g. the television) – so again, make sure the dimensions will work. The other key factor to consider when it comes to position is natural light. Ideally you should aim to place your sofa at an angle to the main window, so you can look out but aren’t going to be dazzled by bright light.
Next up is a coffee table for all those things you’ll want to have within reach when on the sofa, followed by the aforementioned TV and something to put it on. If you’re not really into traditional TV watching, a home cinema projector hooked up to your PC can be a great alternative for movie nights. Just make sure to keep a suitable area of white wall clear, or invest in an adjustable screen.
Occasional tables aren’t essential, but they will give your living room a more finished look and are a great alternative to a coffee table if space is tight.
If you’ve got space for additional seating, an accent chair or beanbags will help to balance out the sofa; these are also both ideal candidates for injecting a pop of colour or a bold pattern into the space.
Living room flooring
With an entire unfurnished home to deal with, chances are you won’t be looking to replace your living room flooring straight away. If you’ve inherited a less-than-ideal floor, a rug is a great way to hide it while also introducing colour, pattern and texture to the room. Think carefully about where you want to place it before you buy, as this will dictate the size you need to go for.
The last thing that you want is to buy a large grey rug for example if it’s not going to look right in the space that you have, being either too big or too small. Don’t rush into these decisions, take your time and even measure if you want to.
Living room storage
The right storage will make an enormous difference to the look of your living room, not to mention how easy it is to spend time in.
Bookcases are essential storage, even if you’re not a big reader. As well as books, they can be used for records, CDs, DVDs or decorative items that will show off your personality. Tall storage units will maximise space in smaller rooms, and can also give the illusion of space.
Make sure you also have plenty of places to store away clutter, as you will inevitably end up acquiring far more possessions than you expect! Furniture with hidden storage, cupboards built into chimney breast recesses, and portable baskets for smaller items such as toys are all great options.
Once you’ve worked through each of these living room essentials you’ll be well on the way to a practical, stylish space for the whole family to enjoy. All that’s left is to introduce some accessories, then sit back and relax!
What’s your top tip for how to style a living room from scratch?