The focal point in any living room should always be around the fireplace or in houses where there is one, a good view. The traditional living room was always about socialising centred around an attractive fireplace.
How the living room is arranged should be based around how the occupant wishes to live. Do they wish their living room to be an informal space for watching TV and lying on the sofa, or would they like a semi formal room in which to receive guests, because they have another room available for informal family relaxation?
How to make a Fireplace the focal point of your living room
The obvious way to make the fireplace or indeed the view the central focus of the room is about the positioning of furniture. If you arrange two sofas either side of the fire, with a coffee table between them, the fireplace becomes the element around which the room is arranged. Add a mirror above the mantelpiece, some treasured possessions on the mantelpiece such as candelabras, vases and a small carriage clock and you’ve got your Victorian living room furniture totally sussed. Add to this small tables adjacent to the sofas on which there is a table lamp and space for drinks and snacks and you’ve got your perfect living room in which to enjoy a good book and good company equally well.
Essential elements for enjoying a living room perfect for socialising include: space for guests to move around, places that drinks can be put down such as small occasional tables. In grander living rooms you may well have a piano and use this for entertaining guests. For your guests to move around within the room, you require there to be space between the furniture, therefore avoid having too much furniture in your living room and too many ornaments that can be knocked over during animated discussions.
To enjoy relaxation time with the family in your living room you will need a good TV, footstools for resting one’s feet, a magazine rack to tidily house newspapers and magazines and somewhere to store board and card games.
Living rooms are of course also used to host special occasions – for example you’ll need a space for your Christmas tree and present unwrapping (and in the past of course the living room was used for the laying out of coffins). Your living room needs to be an adaptable to any occasion, happy or sad, winter or summer. A real bonus is having a set of French Doors in your living room which open out onto your garden. In good weather this allows the party to spill out in the garden.
You’ll need to find a way of balancing the above requirements if you have one living room that you need to multipurpose, as in all but very large houses.
Living rooms were and still are traditionally the room used to host guests the most often and are the room where most people tend to put the finest of the decorative elements that they can afford, be it plaster and wooden mouldings, rugs, chandeliers, curtain pelmets and radiators compared to the rest of the house. It’s the room which gives you the best opportunity to show off your wealth and good taste to your guests. Another decorative element that can lend an air of luxury and good taste to a living room is wood panelling on walls. This can be in a dark wood, or a light wood stained to a dark oak colour, or otherwise painted in an eggshell shade to complement your décor.
Due to the nature of the living room the colour of your décor should be restful – dark reds, greens, blues and generally sumptuous colours, textures and fabrics. For a more contemporary look, you’ll choose lighter pared back colours. You’ll also need to take into account the original features in your living room such as your fireplace which may be marble or alabaster – you’ll need to coordinate your chosen colour scheme with these sorts of elements.
Traditional lighting to choose for a living room would be wall sconces either side of the fireplace to take the place of the original gas lighting that would have been used. This combined with table lamps would provide gentle pools of light, bright enough to read and entertain.