The living room is arguably the most important room in the home. It’s the space where everyone gathers to relax and the space in which guests are entertained. The living room’s décor also sets the tempo for the rest of the home, so whether your condo has 900 or 1800 square feet, you want the furnishings, organization, spacing, and style of the living area to make a statement while also being comfortable and welcoming.
Identify the Living Room’s Purpose
Identifying all of your home’s room purposes and functions will help you come up with the most suitable ways to organize your condo for your needs. The living room has two major functions:
- It’s an entertainment and relaxation space for you, your family, and for guests when you entertain.
- It’s usually the first room anyone sees and it dictates the tone for the rest of the condo’s décor.
Your condo’s living room might also have other uses. It might also be part of an open concept floor plan which may flow into the dining area. It could also be the area where you and your family watch TV. Or, it could double as a gaming area.
Start with a Focal Point
Every room has a focal point; the focal point is the area to which the eye is drawn and directed, and it is where you should start planning the organization of your living room. Typically, living room focal points include:
- The fireplace
- The entertainment center / the television
- A gallery wall with art or a large mirror
- Picture windows
Once you’ve identified the room’s focal point, plan for the largest piece of furniture (usually the sofa) to orient toward that feature.
Furnishings for the Living Room
Relative to furniture, it is very important to pick pieces that fit the space. Having furniture that is oversized will make the room seem small and crowded. Conversely, having pieces that are too small will make the room feel empty. Most living rooms, regardless of size, are furnished with:
- A sofa or sectional — sectionals are great for maximizing seating in small spaces
- Arm chairs and/or a love seat depending on the size of the space (usually, two armchairs are satisfactory)
- A coffee table
- End tables for the sofa or side tables for the chairs
- Accents like plants, mirrors, framed photos or art, rugs, and other décor (vases, statues, etc.)
Additional optional furnishings that help you maximize the space in your condo living room are an ottoman, which can also provide seating, or a bench that stores under another piece of furniture (your entertainment needs will dictate whether or not these multifunctional pieces are needed in your condo living room’s organization).
Get Measurements & Put the Plan on Paper
The best way to ensure your furniture fits the space is to plan carefully; this means taking measurements of the space, sketching the room’s layout, and drawing how the furniture will fit into it to scale. Take these design tips into consideration when planning the living room’s layout:
- Try to avoid pushing furniture against the wall
- If your living room is going to include a TV, try to avoid having it hang above the fireplace
- Display the TV at least 6 feet from the seating area but no more than 10 feet
- A table should ideally be within reach of every seat
- Stage according to these spacing and sizing guidelines:
- Allow 14-18 inches between the coffee table and the sofa
- The coffee table should be 1/2 to 2/3 the size of the sofa
- There should be at least 3 feet between seats but no more than 10 feet
- Leave 30-36 inches between pieces of furniture
- Route traffic around (not through) seating areas; allow 30-48” for pass through
Planning and organizing your living room according to these spacing guidelines will ensure the room is comfortable whether you are entertaining an intimate group of four or a holiday crowd of 40.
Adding Style to the Living Room
Once you have a scalable plan, it’s time to start personalizing the space. Chances are you already know your style (rustic, modern, contemporary, etc.), so now you want to focus on colors, sizes, shapes, and textures.
- When it comes to color, try to limit yourself to three. Mark McCauley with HGTV suggests following the 60-30-10 rule in which you use 60% of a dominant color, 30% of a secondary, and 10% of an accent color. Stick to this formula even if your palate is neutral.
- Area rugs, throw pillows, and drapes that frame tall windows are superb areas for working in the accent color.
- Vary furniture height, size, and style. If you have a plush sofa, you don’t want to position it next to a cushy armchair. Likewise, if you’re going with a busy rug, you probably don’t want chintz armchairs.
- Stage in opposites; for example, an angular lamp contrasts favorably next to a curvy sofa, or a blocky chair works well adjacent to a leggy end table.
- Set the tone of the space with symmetry; a symmetrical layout implies a formal environment while asymmetry is more informal or casual.
Another suggestion is to incorporate the community in which you live into your condo living room’s design. For example, The Century Condominiums at Point Ruston in Tacoma are steel and concrete “low bank waterfront homes” that provide sprawling views of the Waterwalk’s lush green lawns and of Commencement Bay’s shimmering waterscapes.
Use the natural light and scenic landscape to accentuate your living space. By tying it all together, your living space will seem bigger and brighter; it will flow from room to room and from living room into the outdoor living area. Suddenly, it won’t just be a condo; it will be a place that you love to call home.