Interior designers spend their lives studying the little details that make a room perfect. Just like a beautifully directed movie, a well-decorated living room is at once engaging and impressive, familiar and safe. And sometimes, what is off in our own living rooms can be difficult to pinpoint. To shed some light on the most common living room design mistakes that may be plaguing our spaces, we talked with interior designers and a residential architect.
The space of your dreams may not be so out of reach if you consider the most common living room decorating mistakes.
Selecting the Wrong Sofa
Designers agree: A great living room starts with a great sofa. “So often I come into a house and the owners have good taste, but they already have a sofa that they want to work with,” explains stylist and TV host Emily Henderson. “They don’t want to replace it because it’s not that old and they don’t mind it. I’ve had to break the news over and over that with a sofa like that, they would never get the room they want,” says Henderson.
David John Dick of DISC Interiors agrees, “We hear time and time again from our clients how the sofa they purchased in the past was not comfortable or was too big (or too small) for the room. In living rooms, a good sofa is key to comfort, but it’s also central to how a room feels and looks.” Make sure you pay attention to sofa seat height (a low seat is hard to get in and out of) and draw up a furniture floor plan before purchasing. “Buying on impulse is great for accessories and side tables, but never for a sofa, as it can be a very costly mistake,” Dick says.
Falling Into the Showroom Look
Another mistake that plagues living rooms everywhere, according to New York–based architect Elizabeth Roberts, is the “showroom feel.” In other words, a room that looks like it’s all been purchased from the same store. “It’s important to us to mix new and vintage elements in order to create an interesting, eclectic, and individualized room,” she says. “We love the patina of vintage furniture, especially paired with modern upholstery,” says Dick.
Buying a Rug That’s Too Small
For Henderson, one of the main offenders in living room decorating is the poorly sized rug. “America has been suffering for too long from ‘small rug’ syndrome,” she says. “I see it virtually every day, and it pains me—especially when it can be so easily avoided.” Huge rugs can be expensive and can feel like such a scary commitment, but according to the stylist, it’s one of the most important aspects of a room.
“Living rooms almost always need at least an 8-by-10-foot (if not a 9-by-12-foot) rug. Unless you have a tiny living room, stay away from anything under 6-by-9-feet. A 4-by-6-foot rug might be fine next to a bed, in a kitchen, or in an entrance, but it will assuredly not work in your living room,” advises Henderson.
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