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 people live, well, in their living rooms. So often the growing stack of magazines or the dust across the fireplace mantle goes unnoticed. When you do finally notice the worn-out sofa, you hit the showroom and buy whatever looks nice or is interest-free. It may not make for the most comfortable or beautiful living room.

When decorating your living room, it pays to plan. If you would like to avoid an ugly living room, then avoid making these living room decorating mistakes.

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 is much easier to match paint to your couch than vice versa.

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 these pieces may not be conducive (or comfortable) for lounging about.

Neglect to Accessorize

Clutter does not count as decor. If your coffee table is covered with magazines and you cannot see your bookshelves, it is time to reassess your accessories. And do not forget to look up. Walls and ceilings can be great places for decoration.

Allow Clutter

Too much stuff is cluttering. When something new comes in, take something old out. If the item does not 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.

Settle for Anything

Some people, when they need a rug, sofa, or vase, drive down to their local store and get whatever is handy. Instead, consider how you will 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, do not get it.

Do Not Consider Scale

Furniture too big for a room. Artwork that is 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 a piece of furniture looks good in a showroom does not mean that it will work in your room.

Push All of the Furniture Against the Walls

It may sound tempting, but decorators know that pushing all of the furniture against a wall can actually make a small living room look more cramped. Conversations should not 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.

Create a Television Shrine

You may love your TV, 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 prime-time television.

Do Not 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.

Ignore Wear and Tear

It takes effort to notice the wear, bumps, and bangs in your living room. After all, you see your living room every day and become accustomed to its use. The good news is that it does not 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.