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TOP TEN LIVING ROOM DESIGN TIPS

The Hobbit Hole Factor. When it comes to living rooms, get your Hobbit Hole on. Think cozy, comfortable, inviting, with a good possibility of a snack.

Have a blanket at hand for every seat. Getting up and going to the linen closet for a blanket while you’re watching Last Man on Earth? Ain’t nobody got time for that. Throw blankets are my favorite. They’re like the living room hussy: they just want to be wrapped around you. Plus, a well-placed blanky can both protect furniture from grimy, ungrateful fingers, and hide flaws. Stains, tears, pleather leprousy, what have you.

Coffee table. Not optional. A coffee table is as essential to the living room as a table table is to the dining room. It provides a place to set your drink, a place to put up your feet, a place to play games, and a place to keep interesting things for people to look at.

The Rule of Rugs. Rugs should extend beneath every seat in the room by at least 6 inches. Too small, and  there’s no bloody point. Your coffee table doesn’t need a cozy rug to bury its feet in. You do. Plus, a too-small rug becomes a fussy tripping hazard. Bigger is always better.

Don’t necessitate shouting. For comfortable conversation, keep no more than eight feet of space between seats. More than that, it starts to feel like your hollerin’ at each other. Which isn’t as cool as it sounds.

Don’t strain your eyes and brain. The prime distance between you and your TV is one and half times the width of your tube (that’s Mid-Centurese for TV). Don’t use this design rule to justify getting a bigger set. Move your arrangement in.

Store games where they will get used. If you have a fantasy of sitting around the coffee table, giggling and playing Sorry with your kids, keep the games near the coffee table. In a trunk or cupboard with easy access. If, in this fantasy, you also have perfect hair and skin, I have no advice.

Illuminate every task. The more options you have for lighting, the more bangerang your ambiance is going to be. Nothing but boring overhead lighting makes a room sad and uninviting by night. Reading deserves a lighting option, talking deserves a lighting option, dance partying deserves a lighting option.

Work with the telly, not for it. If you have your TV in the livingroom, U-shaped or L shaped furniture arrangements are best for combining living and entertainment functionalities. You can still talk, but everyone can see the teev, too. Don’t make the room about the TV. Geez. At least pretend you do other stuff sometimes.

Display your books. “But my books are crappy,” you say. “They aren’t design-y books.” Malarkey. I own maybe two books that didn’t come from a thrift store. They aren’t nice books. They’re cruddy paperbacks. Any books look good organized by color and/or displayed both vertically and horizontally. Try it. You’ll see.