How To Live in Your Living Room

In January we are going to focus on the living room. We'll talk about the purpose of its use, how to arrange furniture in a living room, how to decorate it and of course we'll talk about color. We'll also look at staging a living room if you are getting ready to sell your home. This series will be broken up into a couple of different articles but today we'll focus on living in your living room.  

What is the Living Room? 

Often I'll go into a client's home for a consultation and they will have two to three rooms that all resemble this living space that we call a living room. They'll give each one a name like, family room, great room, living room, game room, etc. In each house the labels of these rooms are sort of assigned in a haphazard way. One could easily call a family room a living room, where as many living rooms are dressed as family rooms. Is there really a difference? Does it matter?

To determine what the living room is we must first decide on the activity that is most appropriate for the space. I take my cues from the title. The living room is the space where you live.  Alright, I get it. Not helpful. But let's think about living for a second. What does it mean to live? Oh my gosh, it means so many things. We say things like, "You haven't lived until you've tried a burger at Bub's"; "Lincoln lived a good life"; "The memory of my grandmother will live on through her receipies"; "I've lived through a lot in my life"; "I live in a white house". Living can be experiencing joy and excitement, it can mean the way you conduct your life, or it can be a lasting memory. Living can mean to endure and survive and it can be the place that you dwell. The living room is all of those things and as such should be a versatile space that accommodates all aspects of "living".

2 Common Living Room Pitfalls

Too Formal A living room should not under any circumstances be a sterile mueseum where you're afraid to touch anything or move anything around. I've gone into some homes where you look at the living room and you wonder if anyone uses the coffee table for coffee or if they've ever touched the books on the shelves. It's a little cold and is often through no fault of their own. Perhaps they hired a decorator to come in and give them a magazine home and that's just what they got. If you feel like you've got one of these types of living rooms but aren't sure I just want you to ask yourself a question or two. "Would I feel comfortable lying down sideways on the couch?" If you feel like you can't do that, you're in a showroom not a living room. Here's another, "Do we use this room everyday?" If the answer is no then you may be in more of a showroom than a living room. "Great Rooms" and "Front Rooms" are more appropriate spaces for this type of use. They are very formal, toward the entrance and often used when you have a professional guest in your home. You might meet a service provider and sit in the front room to discuss doing business. Our living room on the other hand, has to mean more and be more cozy. You can't be afraid to plop down in a living room. 

Is that a printer in the corner? 

Is that a printer in the corner? 

Too Haphazard On the other end of the spectrum you may be in a house that has one living space and that is the catch all. You entertain there, you try to read alone there, you watch tv with family and play games there, and (between you and me) sometimes you eat and sleep there. Instead of a decompressing plop on the couch you have rambunctious kids literally jumping from couch to couch. You have the opposite problem. It looks a little too lived in. But not only that, it's constantly a mess, it doesn't really promote great conversation because every seat is pointed toward the TV. There aren't enough walls or floor space to put your furniture in an arrangement that makes sense. You're constantly battling over volume control and you just want to sit down somewhere quiet but there is no where. Your one wish is for a bigger house but that's quite a ways off. And in reality, that might not solve the problem. Both readers must converge in the living room. The living room needs a little bit of fun, a little bit of relaxation, a little bit of order and a little bit of flexibility. This is the place you live. This is where memories are created. This is home.

next time

In the next post we'll talk about how to arrange furniture in your living room in a way that promotes conversation and togetherness, while allowing for activities to happen there.  

Have thoughts about the living room? Post your comment below!