The eye is a muscle and likes to be worked. To avoid a boring living room, give your eyes something to do. But don’t go overboard … in most living rooms, one main focal point is enough.
- A fireplace is a perfect focal point. If yours is lacking luster, dress it up on a budget by using reclaimed architecture, molding or tile.
- A large mirror can work wonders. The reflection brightens and enlarges any space. Hang at eye level for best results.
- Build your room around a dramatic piece of artwork or sculpture. To keep your space interesting and create “movement,” spread the wealth. In other words, choose one color or pattern from your focal piece and apply it in small touches throughout your room.
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Realize Walls Aren’t Only for Painting
There are more ways to decorate your walls than just using paint. Creating a feature wall or hanging a collection is an inexpensive way to add drama to your living room.
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- Everything doesn’t have to go on your shelves. For inexpensive wall decor, consider hanging a collection. Almost anything can be framed. Use shadow boxes or self-stick hooks to display your pieces.
- Instead of inexpensive artwork, consider adding a feature or accent wall. Covering your wall with fabric, applying an inexpensive decal, or painting a design or mural is a great way to add drama without spending big bucks.
- If you have unattractive windows or a long, blank wall, covering a wall with ceiling-to-floor curtains can be an attractive solution. No-sew curtains are easy and inexpensive to make.
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Use an Assortment of Shelving
Bookshelves are inexpensive, and many homeowners stock up on open storage, never realizing that all of their items are not display-worthy. Covered storage is a necessary ingredient in a well-designed living room.
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- On your open shelving, mix two-thirds books with one-third decor. Keep inexpensive (a.k.a. unattractive) paperbacks hidden, or exchange for hardback books on paperbackswap.com.
- Resist the urge to fill every bit of space with stuff. “Breathing” space between objects is more visually appealing.
- Bright dark display shelves with mirrored photo frames, glass vases, and other reflective surfaces. Consider installing under-counter lighting.
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Plan a Clutter Zone
I know it sounds odd to hear a decorator say that you need to plan for clutter, but creating a clutter zone can help keep the rest of your home clutter-free.
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- The best space for a clutter catchall is right beside the door that you use most frequently, but other areas may work also. Access your needs before you plan.
- Choose an assortment of organizing baskets, hooks, shelving, cubbies or wall-mounted trays to hold mail, purses, keys, cell phones, dirty shoes, backpacks, coats, and spare change.
- Covered storage will hide your clutter. Just make sure your cubbies and other holding trays are easy to get to. If you can’t easily access your clutter cache with your arms full of groceries, you won’t use it.
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Layer Your Lighting
When decorating a living room, one of the most common mistakes is to rely on overhead lighting. This harsh lighting is not conducive to relaxation.
- Lamps are a great way to soften a space. Consider an assortment of lamps at different heights (with an assortment of bulb watts) spread throughout your room.
- Recessed or track ceiling lighting, under-counter lighting, and art lighting can help highlight specific areas while providing ambient lighting throughout the rest of your space.
- Flanking a fireplace or feature wall with wall sconces can be a great way to add accent lighting without taking up valuable table or floor space with lamps.