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Back To Basics: A Living Room Guide

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“A child’s mind is its living room; it’s going to be residing there for the rest of its earthly existence.” – Tom Robbins.

The Living Room is the centre of your home life. It’s the place you kick off your shoes, sit on the couch and relax after a hard days work. It’s where you entertain friends and guests, where you read books, watch movies, have dinners and put simply, where you live. There is no doubt then, that your living room needs to be an extension of you, and one that is well-kept, maintained and a room you yearn to go back to at the end of the day. I’m a firm believer in the theory: simple and classic. Less is more, and you certainly do not want (or need) clutter.

You don’t have to be an interior designer or have a flair for decorating to make your living room perfect… it doesn’t even have to take that much work. This is a simple, decompressed guide with tips and advice on how to maintain and build a living room you are happy with. (If you really are not interested, now may be the time to pass the computer over to your partner… they may be more interested in this!)

Before Starting

Firstly, Pinterest is both a blessing and a curse. Spend time to look for inspiration but do not bog yourself down on there for hours on end. When looking through there… look for colour schemes, how the space is worked with and a few ideas for décor that you like. That is the most you should be doing there. I find looking too much on Pinterest creates a false vision of home life that is really unrealistic (unless you are a millionaire with mansions in Hampstead Heath, of course). This goes the same for large coffee table books and magazines of homes and gardens. Use them as small inspiration for the basics, and the rest should be your own vision.

Colours

Have a colour scheme that works (and stick with it!). The worst thing is having furniture of different colours and materials. A gorgeous brown oak bookshelf with a black metal side table will stagnate the flow of the room; as nice as each separate product is, something won’t be right put all together. Remember the mantra of simple and classic. White walls are the best way to go, as every colour goes well with it and you will not close off the opportunity of using certain types of furniture or colours. Brown, White and beige is always the simplest mix but also the most classic route to go down. It will give the entire room an air of rustic beauty and the options for wooden furniture are endless. For curtains, pale blinds are my personal choice. It’s like having another wall in the room and will allow you to focus elsewhere without having to pick and choose designs, styles and ‘feel’ according to your grand curtains of choice.

Furniture

You need to have the essentials in a living room, no matter how big or small the space may be. A TV stand – unless of course you opt to have the TV on the wall – which may be a space saver for smaller rooms, a bookshelf (to hold not only books but also films. Maybe even CDs, if you’re a big music fan), a comfortable couch (I don’t cover couches here as it could be an entirely new section in itself) and a decent coffee or side table. These are the big four in a living room. The side table doesn’t have to be anything extravagant but I actually find Argos have a great selection of side tables at affordable prices. The Chicago Oak Side Table is great for size and space. It gives more space for books at the bottom too if they don’t all go on the bookshelf!

chicago-side-table
Space Saving Tip: Got too many coffee table books and not enough space? Pile up thick books and big coffee table books on top of each other to create a quirky, modern take on a side table or stool. It not only looks great, but it saves space.

I’m guessing a lot of people don’t have a huge library in their home (as wonderful as that does sound). A bookshelf should be big but definitely not tall. Tall bookshelves make the room seem smaller and the roof seem lower. My rule is that the bookshelf should always be smaller than you, so that way you can put pictures, flowers, a lamp, or anything else you desire on top. Books and DVDs give a burst of colour to the room, so don’t be afraid if sometimes the room is feeling too simple with the brown, whites and beiges (if that’s what you opt for), because the books and DVDs will give enough colour and energy to the room without dominating entirely. The Besta shelf unit from Ikea is the ideal bookcase… it’s inexpensive (£65 – which is nothing for a bookshelf that is great quality and will last you years), it comes in three different colour variations depending on your colour scheme, it’s not too tall but it’s big enough to fit all the essentials.

besta-bookshelf
Ideas for the top of the bookshelf:

–       A beautiful lamp from Zara Home (£49.99) is a great choice. The wooden base table lamp is classic and the brown will go with anything.

Zara Lamp
–       A photo frame with a picture of your family, you and your partner, you and you friends, an idol, a postcard… anything! John Lewis offers a wonderful selection of photo frames at all different shapes, sizes and prices. Check out the main page and find something that suits you.

photo-frames
–       Don’t shy away from flowers! It may seem a little feminine for some, but trust me; a woman always loves a room with flowers. It adds a touch of serenity. If you don’t want to go for real ones, go for fakes… but invest and spend a little more on something that looks real. Debenhams do a great selection – a bit pricey (ranging from £12-£50) but worth it if you want something that lasts.

A dining table is not one of the big four, as many are fortunate enough to have an entirely different room just for dining in. If you have the dining table in the living room, just remember to keep it in the same tune as all the other furniture in the room. Don’t be afraid of space; just ensure that you work with the space you have. A four person table is a perfect size for throwing dinner parties – and you always have the ends to add on. Round tables are an easy living room hack that gives the possibility for more chairs if need be. Better yet, why not an extendable table from Ikea? The Bjursta comes in four different colours and you can extend depending on occasion and guests.

bjursta-extendable-table

Portraits, Pictures & Paintings

Finding the perfect painting to decorate the room with is a hefty task, and one that may be the most difficult to conquer. My suggestion is to keep it as simple as you possibly can. Ikea, again, have beautiful (and very cheap!) white frames. ( Get a few of those and line then up against one wall, or a few walls, and feature some black and white stills from your favourite movies, tv shows or of your heroes and idols. Using smaller frames gives a cleancut finish to the room. If you are going to feature a large poster, make sure everything is framed. Gone are the days of posters with blue tac on the wall and don’t go for anything generic. Find something unique or personal to you. The last thing you want are pictures and posters that are churned out of high street stores that everyone has or even worse, replicas of classic paintings!). Notonthehighstreet.co.uk is a great website that will give you plenty of options for personalized posters and pictures.

Quick Tip

If you’re lucky enough to have any friends who are artists, commission a personalized painting off them. Spend a bit of money on something that is completely unique and has a story behind it. 

Final Picks & Tips for the Living Room

–       A beautiful throw for your couch is a must. Comfort is everything and there is nothing nicer than snuggling into a throw with a hot cup of tea and watching some late night TV. Save £15 now at Debenhams with the beautiful Rocha throw to complete your living room. Check out this Rocha Throw.

–       Occasional Furniture are additions (or room fillers as I like to call them) that will bring the element of ‘style’ into the room. Zara Home have a brilliant selection of these. Have a scroll through and see if anything catches your fancy. Remember to always stick to your theme – the metal hammered stool would look great in the corner of a sleek modern room, whilst the convex tree stump stool would look beautiful in rooms with wooden furniture (or a Modern-Asia vibe). Check it out here.

–       I am a firm believer in having as many candles around the house as possible! It’s romantic, it sets the mood and it completes any room. They can go on top of the shelf, on the TV stand, on the windowsill, anywhere! They are easy to find and a perfect addition to any living room.

It’s as easy as that. You don’t need extravagance to make your living room look classic. It’s the simple and small things that will really complete it.

Stockists:

Ikea

020 3645 0000

Zara Home

080 00 260 091

Argos

084506403030

Debenhams 

0844 561 6161

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