Living Room 101
So you want a livable living room?
Are we the only ones who find it weird when someone’s kitchen is more inviting than their living room? Not that a kitchen shouldn’t be inviting, but it shouldn’t be the place where people feel most comfortable. Too often, we see living rooms that feel like they should be in the middle of a museum display—rigid couches, never-been-touched pillows, and a table that looks like it might break if you put anything more than a cup of coffee on it.
Then there’s the other extreme: a living room you don’t want to sit in. You know what we’re talking about. While you might get to enjoy some college nostalgia, no one really wants to sit down on a couch that looks more like a home for bed bugs.
So what should you do? How can you make a living room that is livable. This won’t be an exhaustive list of what wall colors promote what vibes, which coasters are best to buy, or how to gauge how well your acoustics work, but we thought of a few “alternative” principles that will help give you the living room that you want.
First things first
We find that a big problem with most living rooms is that they either 1) don’t fill the room enough and leave it feeling empty, or 2) cram so much furniture into it that sitting in a Smart Car seems like a roomier option. When you’re committing to having a good living room, you need to put in the work of measuring the room before buying furniture to fill it, unless you really wanted motivation to knock down a wall to fit that huge Astor Reclina-Rocker La-Z-Boy you bought.
Open spaces can be used to your advantage. When used properly, an open space invites a friend to fill it. A well used open space is relaxing and says, “Come over here and sit down.” Want more ideas on how to navigate an open floor living room? We liked these strategies for making large rooms feel comfortable.
Buy comfortable furniture (& the right amount, too)
Just because it looks good doesn’t mean it’s comfortable (or good quality). Go ahead and buy that stiff couch that makes your friends sit at a perfect 90°, feels like it’s filled with packing foam, but has just the right “look” to complement your area rug. Maybe it was a good deal, maybe it was on sale, but think about what you want in a living room. Is it one where guests love to hangout? Is it one where you want to hangout? If so, put in the effort to find something that they would love to sit in. Most times, this means spending a little more time and a little extra money, but we find that this usually means that the furniture will end up being more durable, saving you money in the long run.
And when you do buy furniture, consider this: an even number of the same piece of furniture brings a sense of peace and completion to a room, while an odd number makes things a little more imbalanced and exciting. How about two chairs and a couch, or two couches and three chairs, or what about three couches and—well, we think you get the picture.
So here’s a question when you’re buying furniture: do I actually want to spend time sitting on this? If the answer is “no,” then maybe you should look for something else.
Don’t be so smart
Sports stadiums look to the field, church pews look to the altar, and living rooms look to…a TV. We love gathering people for a movie or to watch OSU football, but what if facing the TV was the exception and not the rule? When it comes to whether or not technology is making us dumb, join whatever side you want on the debate, but we can all agree that it shouldn’t be the focus of every event. What if couches and chairs (and the people on them) faced each other instead of the TV?
In 2016, it was found that Americans devote more than 10 hours a day to screen time. What if your living room became a place where that didn’t happen? How would the conversation change? Would you feel closer with the people you had over? Tell more stories? Play fun boardgames? You won’t know until you give it a try. Part of having a livable living room means making it a unique and refreshing environment.
Tell a story
Have you ever seen something unique in your friend’s house, like this owl clock? “What’s the story with this?” you asked. “Oh, that’s just from Target,” they told you, and the conversation ended.
Good decoration can do more than look great, it can reflect your personality, your story, and the places you’ve been. Shouldn’t your home be a reflection of you? We all have trinkets that could be repurposed into cool, story-telling decor. Your parents’ old rug, a chipped picture frame, or even a cracked coffee mug, all these things can be turned into a one-of-a-kind decoration. All it takes is a little bit of creativity. Plus, you’ll usually end up saving a good bit of money. Need an idea? Here are 100.
At Lykens, we love using old signs (and even an old payphone) as decoration. Why? Because there is a story behind it. It can’t be bought online or made in a few minutes. These things have a living history in them and we believe that we preserve awesome stories when we showcase the things we’ve found. So give it a try. One man’s trash is another man’s living room decor, right?
Your living room is yours
We’ve said a lot of things and we’ve given a lot of advice, but, in reality, your living room is yours. You’re the one who comes home to it. You’re the one who sees it, sits in it, reads in it, watches TV in it, and lives in it. So, when you’re thinking through whether or not you should do this or that, it’s up to you to trust your gut and as you’re figuring it out, enjoy the process.