Slow Home Space Planning & Organization: The Living Room

Of all the rooms in a house, the living room is the most actively used and most important. It can be tricky to find the right balance between creating a both relaxing and entertaining setting, while being both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Read on for Slow Home tips to make the living room the best room in your home.

According to the Slow Home movement, all indoor and outdoor living spaces in a Slow Home have good daylight, a natural focal point, and can accommodate a wide variety of uses without wasted space.

  1. Locate the living room near quality sources of light. There should be good daylighting for nice views, natural light and natural ventilation. Ideally, the living room would be on the south side of the building to get the most amount of sun throughout the year.
  2. Design your layout for flexibility. For small spaces in particular, the living room is a multi-functional space: relaxation, gathering, entertaining, office and workspace, and even sleeping. As such, the room should not be design for a particular occasion and ideally your furniture can move and serve more than one use. Consider multifunctional furniture such as sleeper sofas; tables that can be occasional, dining and desk surfaces; storage pieces that can also be decorative, sat on or eaten on; ottomans can be used as a coffee or side table, serve as a place to rest your feet, and store items within; and benches that can be used to take off your shoes near the entry and then relocated at the dining table or moved to the living room for additional seating.
  3. Unless your room is large enough for two furniture groupings, organize the room around a single focal point. Rather than having the fireplace on one wall, and the TV on another, locate them adjacent to each other so that your furniture layout can be focused in one direction. Ideally, the layout would situate the seating to be adjacent to windows or provide direct view to the exterior.
  4. Avoid homes with overly large and out of proportion living rooms. While the idea of a 'great room' has gained popularity in recent rooms, so has the occurance of living rooms that are too largely scaled. This can make for a very hard to furnish and condition room with a lot of wasted space. 'Great room' doesn't necessarily mean large, it actually implies a room that is multifunctional, which can still be cozy and small-scale.
  5. Provide a variety of natural and artificial light sources. Task lighting, overhead lighting and natural lighting all contribute to the ambience and mood of the room. They also help make a room more functional, for example a well placed lamp can create reading nook, or make for a more functional workspace. A ceiling fan can lower your power bills and double as general room lighting. Good window shades can be decorative, provide privacy, filter daylight, shade the room from the hot sun and insulate the space during the winter.
  6. Lighten up and pare down your possessions. Get rid of unused and forgotten about possessions to make room for only the things you love. Put these items on display or safely stored away. Consolidate books and media, do a swap, go digital and rely more heavily on rentable media items to reduce clutter and make space for more valuable things.

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(Images: Liz Vidyarthi)

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