Living Room Dos and Don'ts

Living room with tan furniture surrounding fireplace and statement plant in corner

The Spruce / Christopher Lee Foto

The living room is arguably the most important room in the house when it comes to decorating. It is the room where you entertain guests and loved ones, and it is where families tend to spend the bulk of their at-home time together after the kitchen.

Decorating your living room should reflect you and your family. Do not let anyone else tell you how you should or should not decorate. It is your home and it needs to be right for you. There are some basic rules and the mathematics of decorating. These rules are like a guide to help you create a space that is pleasing to the eye.

If you want to make sure your living room looks great, then you should take a look at these living room dos and don'ts.

Most Important Room Items

You do want to choose your most expensive or favorite item and decorate around it. For many people, that item might be the sofa. So, buy the best quality sofa you can afford. A sofa is a big investment and you want it to last. Remember, a sofa of average quality should last at least 10 years while a high-end sofa should last up to 25.

One of the least important items to figure out at the beginning of room decoration is paint color. Paint is available in thousands of colors and can easily be changed. In most cases, it should be one of the last things you do decide on.

Also, as one of the most interesting rooms of the house, you should not be afraid to mix higher ticket items with some low. There are a lot of great ways to save on decor, and sometimes you should splurge on certain home decor.

Room Layout

For some odd reason, the go-to furniture floor plan is to push all the furniture against the walls. If you intend to have dance parties every night then, by all means, do it. But, if you are entertaining and want to encourage conversation, then pull the furniture away from the walls and create intimate conversation areas.

Accessories for Your Living Room

Rugs, throw pillows, and artwork can set the tone of an area. Is the room modern, contemporary, does it feature antiques, or is it themed? Is the room rich with patterns? Accessories can make a statement.

When it comes to an area rug, you do not want to have one that is too small. This is the No. 1 mistake people make when decorating living rooms. Make sure that all the pieces of furniture fit on the rug. Ideally, all four legs of the major pieces should be on it, but if this simply is not possible make sure to fit at least the front legs on the rug (the back legs can be off). But all the legs of smaller pieces should be on the rug whenever possible.

Use pillows thoughtfully. Do not go overboard with throw pillows. Throw pillows are great decorative accents but do not use so many that you have to move them all off the couch before you sit down. Choose a few that enhance the piece of furniture and overall look of the room. And do not be afraid to invest in some high-quality pillows. They are small but they have a big impact. Do not be afraid to decorate with patterns. Patterns can add life and character to the space. The basic rule with decorating with patterns is that if you use more than one pattern, that is fine, but do not use more than three patterns in a room. Mix the scale using one large, one medium, and one small (or some other combination of the three).

When hanging art in a room, avoid the most common mistake people make: do not hang the artwork too high. People have a tendency to hang art closer to the ceiling than it should be. This goes for every room in the house. Hang artwork at eye-level. Obviously, this varies from person to person, so use your judgment. It is better to err on the side of hanging it lower rather than higher.

Room Lighting

Consider having a mix of overhead, ambient, and task lighting. Use table lamps, floor lamps, sconces, or whatever you like. Just be sure to use a mix. It will provide more light as well as make the room and everyone in it look better. And, do not forget the importance of dimmer switches. Each and every light in a living room should have a dimmer switch on it.