Design & DIY

10 ways to make your living room more liveable

Living rooms are for living, right? But combine clutter with pet hair with inadequate seating and lighting and you’ve got … well, just a room. And a whole pile of wasted space.

Reclaim your living room for living with our 10 tips.

Figure out what the room is for, then purge

Living rooms tend to be dumping grounds for everything in the house that has no other place. Decide what the room’s best suited for (entertaining? reading? board games?) and clear out everything else.

Play with placement

Figure out the optimal furniture configuration in your room—and don’t be afraid to experiment. Use your computer to make an initial plan, then move the furniture. Chances are, you’ll surprise yourself with a combo you hadn’t expected.

Make sure the lighting fits the function

Nothing’s worse than trying to relax in a room that’s lit only by one harsh overhead light. Invest in several lamps—floor lamps for reading on the couch, table lamps to light up those dark corners—that will allow you to set whatever atmosphere you like. If you still want to rely solely on overhead light, install a dimmer switch so you can mellow out the mood.

Cut down on clutter with furniture pieces that do double duty

An ottoman with built-in storage can be a handy extra seat and a place to stash the spare sheets for the sofa bed. Coffee tables with drawers are a perfect place to stash wayward remotes. Pretty baskets help corral magazines and books. And really—you can never have too many bookshelves.

Keep things harmonious

If your living room furniture is a random collection of hand-me-downs and student leftovers, chances are the space feels disjointed. Create a sense of unity by trying to keep finishes similar (either purchase matching pieces or paint existing furniture), pick up colours in a painting with cushions, or carry colours in a rug onto an accent wall. Slipcovers and throws can help disguise a tired chair or sofa.

Pick up a picture hanging kit

Chances are, you’ve got art or photographs that you’ve been meaning to hang for ages. Getting stuff off the floor and onto the wall will not only create visual interest in the room; it’ll free up valuable floor space. Check out Pinterest for diagrams showing ways to create an appealing gallery wall with multiple frames.

Create a toy “garage”

If you’ve got kids, toys are a fact of life. Keep them under control with inexpensive bookshelves and colourful translucent bins that can serve as parking spots for playthings when they’re not being used.

Make rooms within the room

If the space is big enough to be multi-functional, create mini activity areas—a table and chairs off to one side for board games or crafts, a sectional sofa for TV watching, a comfy armchair in the corner for reading. Anchor your areas with accent rugs to define the spaces.

Encourage conversation

Don’t place seats too far away from each other—a living room should inspire closeness, warmth, and intimacy. Make sure each seat has a surface close by to set down a glass of wine or mug of tea.

Textures are key

A variety of textures—glass, metal, and wood—can be visually interesting, while a contrast between hard and soft surfaces can have tactile appeal. Combine a see-through glass table lamp with a metallic vase, and play off a wooden coffee table with a luxurious throw. Having something interesting in the room makes it more inviting.


Want to put these tips to use in your home or cottage? Find everything you need to love your space here: