How to have a Simple Stylish and Colorful Living Room
Why Balanced Colorful Living Rooms are Best
I have an overall philosophy when it comes to decorating a room. I believe that rooms should have a balance of neutrals, colors and texture. This way the room isn't too overbearing with colors or too bland from too many neutrals....but has color that pops and neutrals that make you feel calm and cozy.
Why your Rug Is the Foundation of your Living Room
As any interior designer will tell you the first thing that you look for when decorating a room is the rug. The reason? It's hard to find a good rug (there's a lot of ugly ones out there) and it's much easier to start with the rug and build your color palette out from there.
Although I do like some ornate colored rugs, I prefer jute rugs as the basis for a simple stylish living room. Not only is it a wonderful neutral color that looks good with everything and has a great texture that adds depth to a room, but stains don't show up on it easily (this is especially handy if you have children or dogs).
Even if you have a living room with wall-to-wall carpet like me, I still recommend getting a jute rug. They really cozy up a space especially large spaces by adding texture. I recommend getting a large size that fills the room...somehow it just makes the room look more expansive.
I bought mine at Pottery Barn over seven years ago, but the one pictured here from NuLoom comes in a variety of large sizes and is affordably priced.
If you are sensitive to rough fabric on your feet like me, I definitely recommend testing out a jute rug in person before purchasing.
How your Wall Color can Make you Happy
The second most important aspect of any living room is wall color. The right wall color can be absolutely transformative. I know when I bought my former bungalow, the first thing I did (after giving it a thorough cleaning) was to paint the drab walls with rich blues, beiges, and terra cottas. The difference was astonishing.
Before buying any paint, go to your local hardware store and get paint samples and take them back to your house (they'll even let you buy little sample paint cans). Then see how you like the color in the light of that room at different parts of the day. And once you start painting remember that colors dry lighter than what first appears so don't worry if you don't like it initially...give it a day and then decided.
I recommend warm colors that make you feel calm - light blues, turquoise, light yellows, and terra cottas.
How Simple Curtains can Bring a Cozy Feeling
After your walls are sorted, it's time to add a some coziness with curtains. They're also great for practical reasons like keeping nosy neighbors at bay and blocking bright sunlight when you're trying to watch a movie. In addition, they add a wonderful softness to a room.
If your living room is painted a warm or bright color, I recommend white curtains. Somehow it just looks amazingly crisp to me. In my former blue-green living room I had these Ikea curtains. They were great because the house had been built in 1917 so standard curtains lengths weren't going to work. However, these curtains had iron on backs that made it so that you could custom fit the curtains to any length without a huge amount of cost. They also had these wonderful iron rings which made them super easy to open and close (plus they looked cool and modern).
For neutral rooms I recommend some color. For example, in my current living room which is beige I have terra cotta colored curtains. They make a huge difference.
Why Stylish and Colorful Furniture are Essential
When I recently moved I did a lot of research on sofas. I knew that I wanted to have my new sofa for a long time so I wanted to make sure I got something that was high quality....so I went to my college roommate for answers. She grew up in High Point, NC, America's furniture capitol. Her father works in furniture and she now works in furniture as well..... Her answer surprised me. She recommended Pottery Barn upholstered furniture. It's still made in North Carolina and has high quality standards....and I can tell you that after testing the majority of their styles, they are very comfortable.
I got a cream sofa, but I must admit that if I had it to do over I would probably have gotten a brown sofa. I think it would have provided more contrast in my living room, not have shown my brown dog's hair so much and would have matched my leather chair. So my recommendation... get out of your comfort zone and go bold with color especially if you're buying a a slip-covered sofa. For example I really like the green sofas in the picture above.
I'm also completely in love with faux fur throws. In fact, I'm snuggled up in one right now. They come in a whole bunch of colors and look luxurious when draped over any sofa.
I think that accent chairs should be fun and add a bit of dazzle to a room. Next time I buy an accent chair for my living room it will be a fun color and a funky style. I'll probably get them at a local high end vintage store here in Asheville called VinatgeMix. Last time I was in there she had these fabulous orange Baughman-style chairs. If you're in a city I recommend seeing what funky furniture stores you have and go exploring. If you don't have the time, Restoration Hardware has some great pieces in a variety of pastel colors. For something brighter and very likely funkier check out Neiman Marcus.
Coffee and Side Tables
I love acrylic side and coffee tables. I have a lot of old dark family furniture but at the same time I tend to gravitate to more modern tastes so acrylic tables are a perfect balance. They are clean and sleek but at the same time they blend with older darker furniture.
What I like about the acrylic table to the right is that it has these wonderful rounded edges that bring softness to a room. It's also tall at 21''. I like a side table that meets that edge of a chair or sofa so this one is perfect.
Other great resources for tables with style include Neiman Marcus or your local antique store.
How Colorful Lighting can Energize the Room
Table Lamps with Personality
The problem with most table lamps is that they are just downright boring. I personally think that table lamps should add personality to a room through color and fabulous design. For table lamps, I recommend Neiman Marcus all the way...they have the best lamp collection out there and believe me I've done my research. I've also seen some really fun good quality colorful lamps at TJ Maxx. I recommend lamps with color...go bold. Make a statement. Let your table lamps be a work of art in their own right.
I find most floor lamps to feel really heavy or to have really awkward designs....so I was really happy when I came across this paper lantern floor lamp. It's design adds a certain lightness and femininity that is missing in most floor lamps. It would also go really well with my the coastal-inspired table lamps in my living room.
When picking out a floor lamp I recommend really thinking about how you want it to light the room. Do you need it to be adjustable? Do you have a lot of room around the chair it needs to light or is the room large and expansive? If the room is small, then you'll need to pick a compact design like the paper lantern design, however is you have an expansive room you may want to go with a floor lamp with a wide arch.
How to Make your Living Room Colorful and Bold
Now the last stage....artwork, which I think is actually the most important emotional part of your living room. Art sets the tone for how a room feels and adds a very personal dimension. In my opinion it should be bold and colorful, after all your living room is the center of your house and where you should be able to take risks and be happy.
Artwork is a very personal and subjective part of the decorating process. It's all about what you like....and everyone is different.
To learn more about this read my blog post - How a Colorful Home can Make you Bolder.
If you're looking for original artwork, I recommend a couple of things:
1) If you have one, visit your local arts district and see if you like anything (make a day of it)
2) Browse through Saatchi Art's online store. It has a thousands of works by emerging and established artists all over the world
3) If a friend has artwork in their home that you love, ask them where they go it and ask them for advice
4) google - a lot of artists are online now. Google the type of art you'd like and see what comes up.
5) Check out my pinterest board. I have a curated collection of contemporary sculptures and paintings that might suit your taste.
For more detail visit my blog post How to Buy Beautiful Fine Art that you Love.
Prints and Reproductions
If your budget is limited I recommend investing in canvas prints for your walls. They are prints of paintings or photographs embedded on canvas so they have a finer quality to them than a normal print. If you like abstracts, check out my abstract canvas artwork collection. Other options include Fine Art America which has canvas print art from independent artists all over the world. I also have a curated selection of prints on my pinterest board that might be helpful.
For affordable sculpture and accent pieces, I recommend visiting your local arts district or arts center (if you have one). Sometimes there are some surprisingly affordable finds. You can also find some great things at flea markets. If you don't have the time, you might check out TJ Maxx's home section.
To get similar advice for your bedroom, check out my my blog post - How to have a Simple Stylish and Colorful Bedroom
If you'd like to learn more about my work, please visit my home page.
Other blog posts that might be helpful include: