One of the best ways to make sure your living room looks and feels inviting is designing a layout and floor plan that works for your space, not against it. The right layout allows you to entertain guests, relax with family, and do activities like watch TV or play games in comfort.
But be aware long, open or square living rooms present different design challenges. What might work for one space doesn't necessarily make sense for another.
Here are the most common design challenges of these living rooms and some smart solutions that make the most of each space.
With two walls longer than the shorter walls at both ends of the space, a long or rectangular-shaped living room can feel narrow and claustrophobic. But with strategic planning, you can make this type of living room feel welcoming and user friendly.
"My living room is actually a long, narrow rectangular space," says designer Abbe Fenimore of Studio Ten 25. "Really think about how you will be using the room. Instead of just putting things in the room to fill the space, find pieces that are both fun to use and help create function."
Fenimore believes adding a built-in bar, bookcases, shelving or even a workspace that are similar in style to your furniture can pull the look of a long living room together. Make sure to take note of doors, heaters, outlets and windows before you plan your layout — the location of these items can limit furniture placement and be problematic if not considered before final floor plan decisions are made.
What you want to avoid is a long living room that feels like a hallway, says designer Marysia Rybock of ScavulloDesign Interiors. Using narrow furniture will just emphasize the long lines of the room. Go for a sofa with a tailored feel and tight upholstery.
"Using smaller pieces and a variety of them, instead of one sofa and a coffee table, helps the space feel more spacious and unique," says Rybock.
Open living rooms allow for easy entertaining and good traffic flow. But a living room that shares space with an adjoining dining room, family room or kitchen can present challenges for those who want some type of definition for each area.
To create an efficient layout for an open living room, keep the flow around furniture and accessories open so your family and friends can be doing numerous things at once while still being together.
"Go for vignettes instead of two sofas flanking a fireplace," says Rybock. "Creating different seating areas makes the space feel a bit more intimate, since open floor plans can be overwhelming."
Thinking about the function of the room will help you make smart layout decisions. An open living room often serves as a hub in the house, so make sure any floor plan includes comfortable spots for everyday activities like watching TV, eating or socializing.
"Pulling furniture pieces off the wall and tying them all together with an area rug, balancing with ottomans and adding extra seating will visually balance out the room," says Fenimore. "Stick with one main paint color so the open spaces do not fight each other, which can cause the room to look cluttered."
Adding warmth and creating an inviting atmosphere can be a challenge for square living rooms. When all of your furniture is pushed up against the wall, which leaves seating far away from each other, you can make the space feel cold. But you can also make your square living room feel crowded or awkward if all the furniture is forced into one corner. Instead, float furniture away from the walls.
"You can gain more surface space by having a console table behind a sofa and a variety of seating, like one sofa and four chairs that are not all the same that can float in a room and even be moved around," says Rybock, "and then use a cocktail table as the anchor in the center of the space." Once you have the furniture in place, Fenimore suggests using textural or colorful artwork to visually fill the room.
Use smart strategies to make your small living room feel larger.
With a little creativity and elbow grease, you can take on these minor living room updates.
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