The decision to give your living room a new lease of life is never an easy one. The living room is often the most-used room in a house, and taking it out of commission for a stretch of time while the decorating takes place can feel rather overwhelming.
As well as the loss of a much-used room, renovating a living room can be expensive. This is a room that holds big-ticket items like your sofa and TV, which means that entering into a renovation of this space should not be committed to lightly. You’ll need to ensure you manage your budget and have an eye for deals to guarantee the process is affordable, and you’ll have to reorganise your life during the renovation… all in all, if you feel a sense of trepidation when contemplating a living room overhaul, you’re probably well within your rights to do so.
But it’s worth it
The living room is the heart of your home, the space when you can relax, spend time with your family, and kick back while you forget about the world. Done right, a living room renovation can make a huge difference to your home – but it’s the “done right” that sometimes proves problematic.
If you’re going to go through the expense and loss of function that a living room renovation can cause, then it’s important to ensure you are 100% happy with the result. To assist you in achieving this goal, it’s often just as useful to know what you need to avoid as it is to know what you need to do. By avoiding the most common mistakes, you can be confident of achieving a finished room that is genuinely beneficial to your home and living experience. Below, you’ll find a list of the seven mistakes most commonly made when people renovate their living room – if you can avoid these, then you should be onto a winner.
Mistake: Lack of focal point
This is a mistake that it’s easy to make throughout your home, but all the more so in the living room… because it seems like the room already has a focal point. The majority of living rooms are arranged with the furniture facing towards the television, which serves as a natural focal point by default.
This tendency is useful, but it can also be problematic if it causes you to assume the focal point will just happen. Creating a focal point is all about directing everything – not just the furniture – towards a particular part of the room. If you expect the room will naturally enjoy a focal point because of the TV, it’s easy to overlook the arrangements required to actually create one.
It’s well worth taking the time to look over your layout and decor and ask yourself if the room would still have a focal point if you removed the TV. For example, in the image above, the TV space would still be the focus of the room even without the TV device itself, thanks to the shelving – seek to create a similar effect in your own home.
Mistake: Forgetting it needs to be functional
As important as it is to achieve a high level of style, it’s important to remember that your living room is still going to be lived in. This means that you need to introduce functional elements, such as coasters for drinks, footstools for comfort, somewhere to store remote controls, and cable management systems. It’s easy to design a beautiful “show” living room that will never be touched, but combining this with genuine functional benefits is tricker. If you keep the need for function at the forefront of your mind throughout the renovation process, you can be confident of a more cohesive finished look.
Mistake: Lack of storage options
If you look at photographs of beautiful living rooms, they tend to be rather limited, with plenty of free space left to help the room feel larger. While this works for photography and design, it simply cannot be replicated in an actual home. Your living room needs storage and, realistically, the more of it the better.
Thankfully, your options in this regard are limitless; bureaus, side tables, floor-to-ceiling standalone units, sideboards, and shelving options as discussed by the likes of MorningChores.com are all worth considering, though really, the only limit is your imagination. Storage is a vital component of your living room; while this kind of furniture can prevent the “clutter free” look of stock and design photography, it is more suitable for a house you’re actually going to live in.
Mistake: Lack of lighting variety
Lighting is essential in a living room, but is often overlooked when planning a complete redesign. The reason for the necessity of lighting options is simple: living rooms tend to perform multiple functions in the home. They’re a place to sit and relax, somewhere for kids to do the homework, and can even function as a workout room if you’re following along with an exercise video.
As a result of the multi-purpose nature of the room, it is important to include a range of lighting options in your finished design. You will need some lighting for occasions when the room needs to be illuminated – for example, when kids are doing their homework – as well as softer light provided by table or floor lamps.
Mistake: Bare walls
There are two main areas people focus on when renovating their living room: decor, such as paint or wallpaper colours, and the furniture. These two areas are complex, involving a lot of work on tasks such as repainting the room and purchasing new furniture. As a result, it’s easy to forget about additional decorative elements.
While a living room can look beautiful without small ornaments and other decorative touches, you’re unlikely to be able to achieve the finished look you are working towards with bare walls. Whether you install shelves or print your own artwork, it’s important to remember to prevent large, blank spaces across your walls.
Mistake: Opting for stylish, but uncomfortable, furniture
Modern furniture is undeniably beautiful, but it’s also rather… harsh. The Scandi style that has dominated interiors trends in recent years provides a genuinely stunning aesthetic, but tends to involve a bare, minimalist look that lends itself to glass-covered and sharp-edged furniture.
As undeniably stunning as this kind of furniture is, when it comes to comfort, you will usually find modern furniture somewhat lacking. While aiming to achieve your style goals in your living room is an admirable endeavor, it’s also important to balance this with the need for comfort. As well as modern, in-trend furniture, it’s worth taking the time to ensure you incorporate a high level of comfort into the finished room; options such as beanbags from the likes of ComfySacks.com and older, squashier armchairs are a great way of achieving this. You can still choose modern, style-conscious furniture for items such as the coffee table, but for furniture you and your family are actually going to sit on, let comfort be the deciding consideration.
Mistake: Unmanageable flooring
This is a living room renovation mistake that can take a number of different forms. The most common way that flooring can be “unmanageable” is a simple question of usability; for example, choosing a floor that is beautiful to look at, but difficult to walk on – a problem you will most commonly experience with laminate and hardwood floors.
Alternatively, your flooring choice can become unmanageable because it’s difficult to clean. The living room is one of the highest-traffic areas of your home and, as a result, you need flooring that is quick and easy to clean.
Unfortunately, these two problems directly contradict one another, which is why this mistake is so common. If you want a floor that’s easy to clean, then laminate or hardwood is usually your best choice, as they are stain-resistant and there is no risk of mud or other particulars being pushed into the surface. However, as mentioned, laminate and hardwood flooring are often the toughest to live with; they are, by their very nature, robust and hard, which is especially concerning if you have young children who may want to sit on the floor to play.
So, what’s the solution? There are a few options to consider. Firstly, laminate and hardwood can be softened by using thick underlay and, where necessary, adding a rug; TheSpruce.com have a useful guide to using rugs effectively in your decor. Alternatively, you could opt for a carpet that is designed to be stain-resistant and easy to clean. If you do opt for carpet, it’s worth deliberately staining a sample to ensure it is as easy to clean as the manufacturer will inevitably claim it is – not all “stain-resistant” carpets are actually capable of meeting their promise, unfortunately.
If you can avoid the issues above, then you should be able to enjoy a comfortable, functional, and incredibly welcoming living room as a result. Good luck!