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    How to Decorate Your Living Room

    Your living room is probably second only to the bedroom as the space in your home where you spend the most time. This is a little unfair because sleeping isn’t really the same as living. Socializing, watching TV, and eating seems a lot more like living to me.

    Because we spend so much time in these spaces, finding a style that makes sense for how it’s used every day is essential. Read on for some practical tips to decorate your living room!

    How to Decorate Your Living Room

    Den, family room, sitting room, and front room are all variations of what we commonly know today as the living room. In the U.S., geographic regions play a part in the terminology, as does the fanciness factor of your home. You might be lucky enough to have a front room, a den, and an upstairs great room to tuck the kids away or entertain guests.

    The Creepy History of the Modern Living Room 

    I couldn’t resist sharing a little bit of history on how our modern living room has evolved. The term living room showed up in decorating literature in the late 19th or early 20th century but has roots tied to its predecessor, the room called a parlor. When parlors were en vogue, their purpose was to both impress and receive guests.

    The décor was meant to be a showplace with mainly formal furnishings, and owners simply trusted a designer to make guests jealous during formal social gatherings such as weddings. Oh, by the way, there was one more important use for a parlor back in the day. The offsite morgue wasn’t invented yet, so the deceased hung out in their casket in the center of the parlor for viewings and family grieving.

    Luckily, we have a thriving funeral home industry these days, and our living rooms tend to be dead body-free, comfortable, designed around our tastes, and likely a 60-inch smart TV. So, refer back to the five home style questions you need to ask yourself for finding your living room style.

    1. What are my priorities?
    2. What is my budget?
    3. How will my family use the room?
    4. How can I work with what I have? Or, what items must stay?
    5. How much time do I have to invest? Or, what is my devotion to the process?

    After you've answered those, we need to discuss a few concerns encountered while decorating the living room: Floor Space, Scale, and Proportion.Photo of new exclusive kitchen open on living room

    Photo from Shutterstock

    Keep Your Floor Space in Mind

    Flooring is likely one of the largest spaces in your home, which is good and bad. If space allows, bold prints and colors can work, and so do sectionals big enough to seat your daughter’s softball team. But space fills up quickly, and many people have trouble calculating the dimensions of floor space and the furniture it will hold.

    Pottery Barn and Room Sketcher both offer easy-to-use room planners. Plugging in the room's dimensions or using their traditional dimensions will visualize the space and how the furniture fits. Pottery Barn is entertaining because you can actually pull catalog pieces and drop them into your created room. Using these planners helps avoid buying a couch that eats too much space or purchasing a settee that’s dwarfed by 15-foot ceilings. 

    Travertine house interior of comfortable contemporary living room

    Photo by Shutterstock

    Factor in Scale and Proportion

    Scale and proportion are tricky concepts to master, I think, because it takes practice to visualize, and most people don’t care or have the time to learn how to “see it.” To understand scale and proportion, pictures are important for demonstration, and this blog entry from The Spruce gives excellent visual clues.

    To keep it simple, think—a big space equals big furniture, and a little space equals smaller furniture. But, sometimes, those guidelines are broken, especially in a small space.

    Big and comfortable living room with bright sofa

    Photo from Shutterstock

    Extra tips for decorating your living room:

    1) Consider outdoor fabric on custom chairs and couches.

    The feel and texture have come a long way, and now is comfortable and very durable.

    2) Slip covers aren't what they used to be.

    Consider using slip-covered sofas and couches. With dogs and kids, the option to have them laundered (maybe in your machine, depending on size) is so much better than trying to spot clean every day.

    3) You might rethink the large sectional couch. 

    Always remember that if you're on active duty and PCS'ing regularly, the movers will struggle with boxing, wrapping, and even keeping sectional couch pieces together. You’ll probably have to assist with assembly in your new house.

    4) Rugs can help with proportion. 

    If you're having trouble with high ceilings making your furniture appear small, invest in a room-size heavily patterned rug. The design will draw the eye down from the soaring ceilings.

    Take advantage of free living room decorating inspiration with curated Pinterest Boards specific to your preferred designs. Often you can find complete designs, including paint color choices and style numbers, and shopping links for furniture and accessories. 

    Home Decorating Toolkit for Military Families

    Dawn M. Smith


    Dawn M. Smith

    Dawn is a real estate and military life writer who has a serious HGTV habit. When she is not writing, her teen daughter, Army husband, and golden retriever keep her busy through chauffeur duties, travel planning, and long dog walks. Dawn is pleased to share her experiences with MilitaryByOwner readers who are hoping to simplify military family journeys of all kinds. Follow Dawn on Pinterest for more ideas and resources and visit her site at Dawn M. Smith Custom Content Creation.

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