Photo Gallery: Living Room Design Principles
Create the perfect space with these tips.
Use symmetry for a look that's pleasing to the eye.
Achieve balance by placing pairs of objects evenly spaced on either side of a centre point. Or opt for asymmetry, an edgier approach that contrasts an object or grouping with an empty space. In this living room by Montreal design team Les Ensembliers, pairs of artwork, leather chairs and lanterns form a symmetrical look. For contrast, the coffee table vignette and bowls atop the mantel are placed asymmetrically.
Build your room around a natural focal point or create one with art or furniture.
An architectural element, like a fireplace, is naturally a prominent feature. Define it further by flanking it with built-in bookcases. Dress up the mantel by topping it with a stunning piece of art or a collection of items. Here in Toronto designer Jeffrey Douglas’s home, the lower box-style shelves are made from CaesarStone, making them both sleek and practical as they won’t scuff — perfect for storing firewood. On the shelves, he left room to breathe around the personal collections. The geisha photograph is by Laurent Guérin.
Learn to play with scale.
When everything in a space is of expected scale, relative to human proportions and perception, the result is comfortable but predictable. Introduce pieces that break from that norm to showcase a single item or spark conversation. In this small room, large artwork provides big impact without taking up precious floor space.
Find more ideas in our gallery of living room design principles.
When it comes to the layout, select and place furniture to suit the room's various purposes.
Armchairs face the centre of this room on an angle, which is great for easy conversing, enjoying the fire or the view. A tiny drinks table, wood side chair and upholstered cubes can be moved around to suit the occasion.
Choose window treatments that suit the look and functions you're after.
On the left, a wide bamboo roman blind adds more texture to the living room room and helps balance the dresser below. On the right, white plantation shutters were softened with inverted-pleat drapes in a subtle pinstripe. Layering window coverings lets you customize your privacy and light entering the room.
Get more ideas in our gallery of living room design principles.
Ensure the room is well-lit.
Layer lighting types to include a mix of task, room and wall lighting. Here a floor lamp is used for reading and a table lamp for ambiance. Large windows let light flood in during the day for a brighter look.
Define the seating area with a large rug.
In this open-concept condo, a banded neutral rug creates the feeling of a separate room. Placing the chairs, tables and sofa on the carpet provides a sense of order and unity.
Repeat colours, materials, furniture or accessories for a cohesive look.
Whether you're decorating a shelf or a whole room, this fail-safe decorating principle applies. In this new-trad living room, a mix of blue fabrics and silver materials work together in perfect harmony.
Have a small living room? Pay attention to furniture shapes to make the most of your space.
Rounded chairs are pretty from all angles and free of sharp corners — a peril in tight spaces. Choose a sofa with narrow arms to maximize seating, and limit leggy furniture (one or two pieces is enough) to prevent a busy look. H&H senior design editor Margot Austin and her husband Kevin chose white walls to allow their eclectic accessories, art and furniture to stand out. Each new treasure brought in necessitates that another is taken out for a clutter-free look.