Love Your Living Room | Make a Design Plan

Photo: American Cabinet & Flooring, Inc. | Designer Clay Bernard

Create a living room you and your guests will really enjoy spending time in by first setting up the right layout!

To get an idea of what you already have, make a list of everything in your living room: furniture, rugs, lights, curtains – even accessories. What pieces do you love? What pieces should be tossed? Do you have any other pieces that you’d like to integrate into your living room? Maybe you have an inherited table or chair that would  look perfect in your living room after you redo the layout. This also could be the right time to replace a few worn-out pieces or order new window coverings.

Decide What Your Living Room Can Do For You

How do you need to live in this room? Is the space for watching television only? Does it flow directly into your kitchen or dining room? Maybe you have small children and pets. Prioritize your needs so that the space can function effectively – you may not be able to get everything you want in one space.

Have a Focal Point

Identify your room’s best focal point. Our natural inclination is to visually focus on one object or area when we enter a room. If your living room doesn’t have a focus, a striking piece of art or built-in shelving may give you an anchor point to build your furniture around.

Maximize Your Seating

Try to design your living room to comfortably cater to six to eight people. Day to day you will have only immediate family to worry about, but don’t forget that your visitor’s comfort is equally important.

Occasional seating like a stool or ottoman takes up less space than a sofa or chair and will work hard for you. If you have more dining chairs than you use every day and the color scheme works, put one in a corner of your living room – this can be a nice way to link the decor in both rooms.

Lay Out the Living Room

Your list of furniture and accessories is made; how will everything fit?

An interior decorator or designer can work with you to get the look you’re after, and even come up with ideas you didn’t know you’d love. If you’re going the DIY route, start with a simple sketch of the room on paper. Measure the length and width of the room, including any windows or doors. Plain paper and a ruler are all you will need to draw up the room – 1 centimeter on the paper equals 1 foot (or 1 meter) of real space.

Then measure, draw and cut out paper to match all the pieces of furniture you want in the room, new and existing, including rugs. Don’t stress about trying to make them look professional; the basic shape is enough to get an idea. Make sure you use the same formula used for the room measurements.

Once you are happy with how it all looks on paper, you can start moving furniture around. Use masking tape to make an outline of any pieces you like but haven’t yet bought. This will help with scale and help you avoid any unwanted purchases.

If possible, arrange the furniture so it sits off the walls. This allows for airflow around the perimeter and actually makes the living room appear larger.

(You are reading an article originally posted on Houzz)

Holiday Home Improvement Projects

Happy Holidays.jpg

The run-up to the holiday season is a good time to be taking care of home improvement projects. Friends and family will be dropping by a bit more frequently, so they’ll be able to see the fruit of your labors.

Even if your home isn’t a major social setting, if you’re like most of us, you tend to spend a bit more time indoors in the winter, so you might as well be making the most of your home for the people living in it: you.

Seal the driveway and fix those cracks in the sidewalk

Salt on the roads and frequent temperature changes can break down your entrance ways. Make a good impression on the outside of your home and avoid curious looks from guests thinking “was that crack always there?”

Home theatre area

You’ve got a big screen television and a great sound system. But what about the stand the TV rests on? How about the decor? You may want to look at custom cabinets or storage for your DVDs and related items. Is the couch your guests will be sitting on looking a bit worn? Upgrade and replace as needed. You may also want to consider mounting your flat screen television on a wall for more effective use of space and a sophisticated look. 

The kitchen: the most used room in the house

When you’ve got company over for the holidays, even if the main event may be in the living room, people naturally gravitate towards the kitchen for an extra cup of cocoa or a gingerbread cookie from the pantry. Think about new cabinets, solid slab countertops or a coat of paint that brightens up the room can create a welcoming feel. And if you’ve upgraded your kitchen utilities like your dishwasher, you’ll have an easier time after the party is done.

Bathroom fix-ups

New tiles and re-grouting can add a fresh look to your bathroom. Maybe it’s also time to add touches like a new mirror, shower curtain or bathroom mat.

Designer fireplace and maintenance

A lot of holiday parties tend to center around the fireplace. Custom fireplaces that double as art installations are becoming more popular. More homes are also including them in other parts of the house besides the living room, such as in the kitchen or master bedroom.

If installation is a bigger job than you were thinking and you’ve already got a working fireplace, at least get your maintenance done, cleaning it up, checking connections and ventilation and ensuring cracks in the mantle or other areas get sealed properly.

Give yourself a home improvement schedule

You’re not going to want to deal with dust and packaging from home improvement projects while your guests are arriving. Give yourself plenty of time to work through your improvements, and don’t bit off more than you can chew. Give yourself a realistic list to accomplish and if you can’t get it done before New Year’s Eve, well, there’s always next year.

The Great Room Evolves

Eight new residential design trends turned heads at the annual Best in American Living Awards (BALA), presented by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) at the 2012 International Builder’s Show. One of the most-buzzed-about was a changing approach to “the family triangle.” The term refers to the three activities and spaces that generally draw families together: cooking (kitchen), eating (dining room), and relaxation (living/family/great room). The latest approach creates spaces that link these activities, as a traditional great room would, while also allowing private nooks. 

The family triangle continues the movement away from formal, compartmentalized space toward more open living. One of the judges, Heather McCune, Marketing Director for Bassenian Lagoni Architects of Newport Beach, CA, said demand for such spaces is strong across all buyer profiles, in all regions of the country.


Photo: Bassenian Lagoni Architects

More than a Big Room

But the family triangle is more than just a big room. It modifies the conventional open floor plan by including “different areas for different tasks and levels of comfort,” says Amy Martino, principal of Building Site Synergy, an architectural firm in Media, PA. “It should be able to accommodate large groups, but should also feel comfortable if just one person is in the room.” For instances, eliminating the living room and adding a flex space or den near the kitchen and family room allows for privacy when needed, but let’s family members in different parts of the space easily interact with one another.

McCune isn’t surprised at this trend. In fact, she sees adaptable spaces as a sign of the times. “We’re looking to shrink the home’s overall footprint, while allocating space in the home so it lives bigger. It seem natural in a post-recessionary period.”

Emphasizing the Practical

To help the home live bigger, a plan that emphasizes the family triangle will eliminate spaces that aren’t needed and more practical touches to spaces that are. Case in point: don’t count on hallways sticking around. “The spaces that people never use are gone.” says McCune. 

What you’re more likely to see is a kitchen island with lots of convenient storage and an island sink that faces the living space. The expansive island provides useful workspace for one or more cooks, while also creating a “safe zone” that separates the cook from children and guests. When no one is cooking, the island can also serve as a place to study or work on a project. Incorporating varying counter heights makes the island comfortable for family members and guests of different ages, heights and levels of ability. 

A nearly universal element of the family triangle? “Some kind of kitchen command center,” says McCune. Often a small dedicated desk area works as a place for bill paying or where children can do homework.

Defining Spaces

One challenge when designing a family triangle revolves around how to create small pockets of relative privacy in the midst of all that space. According to Martino, designers use architectural elements like ceiling treatments, columns and softfits to create distinct zones for reading, working or simply relaxing, while also retaining the openness of the overall space. 

Lighting plays an extremely important role, too. Different levels of lighting with dimmers can accommodate different tasks and completely change the room’s ambience. Layered lighting – overhead, sconces, accent lighting, task lighting, and specialty lighting such as a chandelier or colorful pendant – can be adjusted, used separately, or as a group to create a sense of place within the space.