A living area needs to cater for the many people, passions and pursuits that collide here. Create social spaces and quiet spaces, spaces to sit and spaces in which to lounge around. Start by visually and mentally mapping out areas using rugs, windows, lighting and furniture layout. Then consider how the zones connect to and interact with each other. It's all about deciding how you want to live.
+ CARVE-UP ZONES The aim is to create functional ‘zones’ and intimate destinations within an open-plan living space. Use a generous rug to set the living zone, while using smaller pieces such as side tables or ottomans to mark the perimeter and pathways. Check that furniture looks good from all viewpoints: if dividing living and dining areas with a sofa, pop a sideboard or slim console on the dining side. The next step is to light accordingly, with pendants over the dining table and lamps dotted around the lounging zone.
+ TV HOUSE RULES While the TV is often the structural focal point, it doesn’t need to be the visual focus. Offset the screen with shelves holding books, plants, beautiful objects and artwork. Conceal cables, gaming and digital boxes so only the screen sits discreetly on show. Built-ins allow the greatest versatility – go all the way with a full wall of joinery, halfway with a false wall that allows you to recess the TV and install shelving either side, or simply cantilever a box shelf below.
+ ART CLASS Plan where art will hang from the outset, using artworks to perform different tasks, such as balancing out an armchair or sideboard; anchoring a zone, say, the dining or reading area; prettying up a void; or to draw the eye away from something less attractive, like the television. Use scale to your advantage – one large piece can make a space feel bigger than a group of smaller works. If grouping, opt for odd numbers, and do a trial hang by tacking up pieces of paper that are the same size. While you don’t need to match artworks, it’s still a good idea to link pieces through size or framing, or to choose a mismatch of frames in the same colour or material.
+ THE RIGHT LIGHT Think about creating pools of light around the activity hot spots on your floor plan, rather than overlighting. Ensure the action zones are lit well for day and night. For example, your reading chair might be near a window during the day with a lamp beside it at night. Highlight significant elements, such as artwork, to draw your eye. Lights are also a great way to introduce personality, so mix it up! Try a floor light, reading light, and pendants over the coffee table.
+ SOFT FURNISHING KNOW-HOW A living room has so many elements at play. It’s easiest to work from the ground (rug) up, but if you fall for a cushion first, so be it – work from there, referencing the colours or style in your curtains, rug, lamps and artwork.
+ DON’T try to match your furniture to your wall colour. Paint is easy to change, so make it the final, not first, piece of the puzzle. Also try not to overcrowd the most important pieces in the room. If am armchair or side table is meaningful, confirm its star status by giving it space!