Why ‘Busy’ Isn’t Always Bad: Living Room Lessons

published Jun 15, 2015
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(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

We talk a lot about streamlining. Minimizing. Cutting back. Paring down. And we really think that’s good. But it’s not always best (for you or your style). Sometimes “busy” decor, rooms bursting with things you love and that inspire you, is the right choice for your home. Take a page from these “busy” living rooms to learn lessons on how to make a full, exciting living room work for your style, without overwhelming everyone who spends time in it.

The word busy tends to have a negative connotation to it, but in case you couldn’t tell by the quotation marks, we think it’s not always negative. Yes, busy rooms can be jam-packed with design elements and give the eye a lot to look at, but they can also be rather invigorating spaces to be in. And hey — going for the busy look can mean not having to work so hard to declutter and minimize. Use these tips below to create spaces that still make visual sense:

Embrace flow

If you’re going to have a lot of stuff in your space, particularly on the floor (and not just as accessories on tabletops and walls) you want to make extra sure that the traffic flow in your space has wide, unimpeded pathways for you and guests to walk through. Clear traffic flow will also help divide a full space into visually understandable areas rather than one big room full of lots of little things.

Unify with materials

Or color. Or pattern. The point is, if you’re going to have a particularly large amount of design elements in one space, you want to try to create a bit of cohesion with a matching design element that connects multiple items. So whether that’s a similar material, or a color that shows up a few times throughout the space, connect in a way that makes sense for your room.

(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

Make lighting dynamic and a focal point

Lighting, as we know, is a powerful design (and functional) element in rooms. In particularly busy rooms full of lots of different elements, it’s even more important that you use lighting not just to light up seating arrangements and art, but also as a focal point, which help focus attention in a room and make sense of a lot of visual clutter.

(Image credit: David Telford)

Go light somewhere

Though many areas of a busy room can be full to the brim, as we’ve learned, negative space can be important in a space, too. In a room buzzing with decor activity, going completely empty in certain areas could be a little too much contrast, so consider going light on design elements in certain important spots for the eye to get a break.

Stretch out vertically

If you want to fit a lot of stuff into one space, stretch out your decor in all directions, especially vertically to the ceiling. Spreading out the design (rather than concentrating it in one small area) give more room to breathe in a space.

Do you have a room that would be considered “busy”? How have you created a space that is stylish and not overwhelming?