The Beginner's Guide to Decorating Living Rooms

Decorating isn't as easy as just picking a paint color and filling your room with furniture. There are a lot of things to think about and a lot of tricks to help you along the way. If you're a beginner, or just need a little help, check out these top tips.

  • 01 of 06
    Living room arrangement
    Chuck Schmidt / Getty Images

    A common problem people have is not knowing how to arrange their living room furniture. More often than not people push a sofa against one wall, a couple of chairs against another and that’s it. But arranging furniture is something that requires a little more planning. There are important considerations like choosing a focal point, creating conversation areas and considering traffic flow. If you lack confidence in these areas or you’re looking for more detailed advice check out these 10 rules for arranging furniture.


  • 02 of 06
    Living room rugs
    Hoxton/Tom Merton/Getty Images

    Area rugs can be a huge trouble spot. There are a number of reasons why it’s important to use them, but before buying something simply because you like it, make sure you know all the area rug rules of thumb. The most important consideration with any area rug is size. When an area rug is too small it can make the entire room look disjointed so make sure you know the best size for your room and the way your furniture is arranged. All the furniture should be sitting on top of the rug and ideally, there should be approximately 10"- 20" of bare floor between the edges of the area rug and the walls of the room.


  • 03 of 06
    Living room wall artwork
    Lauren Flanagan

    Empty walls are a sign of an incomplete room. This doesn’t mean you need to fill every inch, but decorating the walls with art is important. (Note that it is important, but it does not need to be expensive). What one person considers art can vary drastically from another’s so it’s important to follow your instincts when it comes to what you like and what will go in your room. That said, there are a lot of rules that are worth following if you want your room to look its best. 


  • 04 of 06
    Living room light
    Westend61/Getty Images

    Lighting is a somewhat complex element of any room. In living rooms, it’s less so than in more utilitarian rooms like kitchens, but there are still some important considerations that should not be ignored. Most importantly, there needs to be a sampling of each of the three main types of lighting: ambient, task, and accent. Then after that, they need to be placed at different levels throughout the room. Consider overhead lighting, table and floor lamps, and wall sconces.


    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06
    Painted Blue Wall
    Getty Images

    Choosing a paint color is something a lot of people struggle with, and if there’s one thing that most people do wrong, it’s choosing the paint color first. Painting is relatively easy (painting can be a pain, but it’s not difficult), and it’s inexpensive, so choose your more expensive pieces first and then choose a color based on them.


  • 06 of 06
    Living room scale
    The Hufington Post

    No matter what part of the room you're working on, be it the rugs, window treatments, or furniture arrangements, make sure you know the ideal measurements at which they should be placed. No one has it all memorized and nothing is set in stone, but make sure you’ve got a handy guide nearby so you can consult it when necessary. Remember, rules should be taken with a grain of salt. Ultimately you need to do what works best for you in your space but the rules exist as a guideline to help you figure out what is most pleasing to the eye.