Bad Living Room Decorating Ideas

How to Ruin a Perfectly Good Living Room

Open plan living room with blue furniture and working fireplace
Anastassios Mentis/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Most of us live, well, in our living rooms, so often the growing stack of magazines or the dust across the fireplace mantle goes unnoticed. When we do finally notice the worn-out sofa, we hit the showroom and buy whatever looks nice and is interest-free. None of this makes for comfortable and beautiful living rooms.

When decorating your living room, it pays to plan. If you would like to avoid an ugly living room, then avoid these top 10 bad living room decorating ideas.

1. Paint Too Soon

This is the number one decorating mistake when designing a living room. Paint should be one of the last things you consider. Furnishings should come first. It’s much easier to match paint to your couch than vice versa.

2. Choose Uncomfortable Furnishings

In a furniture showroom, most people gravitate toward what looks good. Consider how that sofa or chair will feel while sitting on it for the next ten years. Armless sofas are elegant and leather chairs can look divine, but may not be conducive (or comfortable) for lounging about.

3. Neglect to Accessorize

Clutter doesn’t count as decor. If your coffee table is covered with magazines and you can’t see your bookshelves for all of the books, it’s time to reassess your accessories. And don’t forget to look up! Walls and ceilings can be great places for decoration.

4. Don't Remove Anything

Too much stuff is … well, too much stuff. When something new comes in, take something old out.

If something doesn’t work for you anymore or goes unused, sell or donate it. Cleaning out is a weekly, if not daily, process. Staying on top of it will keep your living room in tip-top shape.

5. Settle for Anything

Most people, when they need a rug, sofa or vase, drive down to their local store and get whatever is handy.

Instead, consider how you’ll feel about that item in five years. Is it going to work with your other furnishings now and later? Good things are worth waiting for. And when in doubt, don’t.

6. Don't Consider Scale

Furniture too big for a room. Artwork that’s too small. A tiny rug in the middle of a large living room. These are common mistakes in living rooms everywhere. Decorate your space, not someone else’s. Just because it looks good in a showroom doesn’t mean it will work in your room.

7. Push All of the Furniture Against the Walls

I know it’s tempting, but decorators know that pushing all of the furniture against a wall can actually make a small living room look more cramped. And conversations shouldn’t be held from 15 feet away. If you have a large living room, use your furnishings and accessories to create living spaces instead of one big space.

8. Create a Television Shrine

We love our TVs, but try to avoid turning your living room into a theater. The art of conversation was once celebrated. Cultivate it again in your home by arranging furniture for other activities besides primetime television.

9. Don't Consider Your Growing Family

The uber-sleek designer sofa may look incredible in the showroom, and the cream-colored wool shag rug may even look better in your own living room, but if kids or pets are in your future (or already in your home), consider more wear-friendly furnishings.

10. Ignore Wear & Tear

It takes effort to notice the wear, bumps, and bangs in our own living rooms. After all, we see our living rooms every day and become accustomed its use. The good news is that it doesn’t take much to keep your living room looking fresh on a daily basis. A once-a-year evaluation should do for bigger projects – such as replacing or refurbishing furniture, walls, and floors.