Even though small living rooms are a challenge on their own because of the limited decorating space they allow, styling a larger living room isn’t as easy as it seems either. Over the last 60 years, Australian houses have doubled in size, making them the largest in the world, ahead of the USA and Canada. While large sitting rooms can be great for entertaining groups of guests, pulling them on the cosy, day-to-day side requires some skill. The styling tips listed here apply to rooms of all sizes, shapes and layouts.
Zoning and separation
While a small living room only provides one conversation area, a large room can take on more functions than just being a large sitting area. However, the best way of using it depends on its shape and size. Start by identifying several potential designated zones within the room, such as the conversation area, or several of them, a media zone, a work area, a dining area, etc.
Use architectural and décor elements such as ceiling beams, half-walls or pillars to divide the room visually, or use area rugs, curtains, wallpaper and pieces of furniture to create visually pleasing areas within the large room. A sofa with its back to another area, a chaise lounge, tables behind chairs or perhaps an attractive screen can help draw a line between spaces.
If homeowners keep adding furniture and decorations to a large room just to fill up the emptiness, the ends result might feel cluttered and unsettling. A large sofa, a sectional or a heavy coffee table can help anchor the room so that the smaller pieces will look only like accents. Not all anchor solutions need to be three-dimensional. Sometimes even an accent wall can become a focal element in the room.
Colour and pattern are your two best friends when you face big expanses of walls or need to cut a tall wall in two sections that are easier to digest visually. If you have to deal with a high ceiling, paint it a shade or even two darker than your walls. Use this little trick and your large living room will become instantly cosier.
Question of scale
Tall ceilings can throw even an expertly painted room out of balance. In this case opt for taller furniture whenever possible. If the furniture is short, the ceiling will look too tall, dwarfing the room décor even more. As these fine examples of property styling in Sydney show, through the proper use of scaled furniture and wall art, even spacious living rooms feel manageable without cluttering.
A large room will normally have more windows, so the lighting during the day is not much of a concern. However, with dark corners and shadows in the evening, even a large family room can look under-utilized. In case you put all your faith into one central direct fixture, you should layer the lighting scheme with floor and table lamps. Although you may think of this as a bad investment efficiency-wise, today’s bulbs consume much less energy than those from decades ago.
When furnishing a large living room, you may have difficulties finding pieces big enough to match the volume of the space. Instead one, buy two smaller tables and pair them with two matching square ottomans side by side. Chairs are less visually impacting than a sofa, so when used in pairs, they can create a pleasing conversation area in large spaces. The rule is simple – anytime you can double, do it.
No wall hugs
Many homeowners make a mistake by pushing the sitting elements like sofas and chairs against the opposite walls, leaving too much clearance in the middle. If you need to talk loudly to have a conversation with someone sitting in the same room, your furniture is too far apart. Instead, gather conversation pieces around a focal point like a fireplace, a piece of art, a bookcase or another conversation piece.
Instead of falling into the trap of bringing more furniture and accessories into a large living room, try optical and practical tricks such as scaling, layering, visual divisions and furniture arrangements that keep the space big but useful.