5 Things People (Almost Always) Forget When Designing Their Living Room

published Aug 27, 2015
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(Image credit: Monica Wang)

There’s the picking out of the sofa. Choosing chairs. Deciding on a credenza. Arguing over where the television should go. There’s waffling over rug color and size. And there’s considering whether you should paint or wallpaper. But there are also a handful of things to think about that most people tend to forget when first setting up their living room.

A plan for extra seating

How does one come up with the optimum number of seats for a living room? Usually doing a head count of the main people who use the space is a good place to start. But if you’ve ever been to someone’s home on book club or movie night and struggled over whether to perch on the sofa arm because there was nowhere else to sit, you know that sometimes your living room needs to be able to comfortably sit more than the usual group of inhabitants.

So start with the seats you’ll use on a daily basis, but then consider other ways in which someone could pull up an extra seat. It could be including sturdy or upholstered side tables and stools. It could be incorporating an extra chair in your decor with a small vignette that can be removed when needed. It could just be having a plan to move light dining chairs into the mix when the need arises. The point is, have a plan.

To consider a need for flexible furniture

Flexible furniture can mean a lot of things. It could be the coffee table that is wide enough and sturdy enough to double for board game night. It could be two small coffee tables instead of one large one so you can move them out of the way when you want to do a workout video or throw a dance party. But it could also be taking in account the need to consider other functions the room might need to perform beyond just television watching.

Those with small homes might need furniture that can act as a place to pay bills, do crafts, eat dinner and more. Considering the flexibility (and double duty-ness) of your furniture in the design phase can really put the “living” in living room.

To take care of the wire management

There are just SO MANY tiny and big design details to consider when putting a living room together that for some reason, wires seem to come last. And by come last, we mean sometimes people don’t consider them at all! But they’re gnarly details that can make a room feel cluttered and be a little too inviting to your furry roommates (not too mention dust bunnies!). Making a plan for how the wires are going to go (or whether wires are going to be visible) when you’re purchasing items and arranging them can make a huge impact on the space from the beginning.

→ Tame This Out-of-Control Spot for an Instantly Less Messy Looking Space

To think about furniture seat height and the impact that can have on the feel of a space

There are a lot of dimensions you probably consider when you’re picking out furniture for your living room. The width and length, being the most important ones, as they’ll help you determine whether or not the piece is the right proportion for your space. And then you might even look at the piece’s overall height to make sure it fits under windows, etc. But seat height of your sofa, benches, chairs and stools should all be considered, individually and all together.

A low seat height can feel casual and bohemian. Unusually high seat heights can feel more formal. And while you don’t have to match seat heights exactly, similar seating heights in your main conversation area can help put folks at ease. While incorporating a few different seat height options around the room can cater to multiple personalities if you host a lot of informal gatherings in your home.

That it doesn’t have to look like this forever

Though they’re rarely life or death, you can get pretty worked up over living room decisions. It can feel so heavy…trying to decide on certain pieces to buy or arrangements for your living room. But it’s important to remember that nothing is truly permanent (unless you’re knocking down a wall). Go with your gut, try things out and know that even if you get tired of something or something doesn’t work you can always switch it out, switch it around or makeover in the future.