Here we are, sitting on our lounge and flicking through lifestyle magazines. We suddenly fall in love with that picture of minimalist living room, spacious and light filled. Then we look around and sadly realise our room looks frumpy, maybe cluttered, or simply… tired. Instinctively, we know, we are attracted to light and space rather than dark and crammed, and this knowledge we should apply to our environment.
As the thought of buying or renting new furniture crosses our mind, we also know that it will come at a cost. So, before starting to spend, here are a few advices that may well apply to our own living room.
Let’s start with de-cluttering. All, I mean all, the objects that fill the room’s surfaces: in a box and out of the room. All of them, for now.
Now the furniture: let’s just keep the large and essential pieces but remove everything else. Depending on the size of our living room, one sofa and two armchairs, even just one at times, will be enough to offer comfort. The coffee table hopefully is not a dining table whose legs have been cut off, but a 60x60 cm table; functional without being invasive. Four dining chairs at least, maybe six, should be around the table. If you have more don’t leave these hanging around and place them in storage and out of sight. Is there a sideboard? Good, and probably a TV unit. That’s all we need. We are already half way done.
The goal to achieve here is ‘floor space’. Obviously, the more floor we free, the larger the room appears. Taking excess furniture away indeed does add space to our room not only physically, but most importantly: visually. The room has to 'feel' spacious and this is a principle that applies to the whole house.
Once the unnecessary pieces are gone, then we start rearranging. Step 1: the walkaways should look accessible and free of furniture; between the door and the window for example, or between the dining table and the kitchen. Step 2: position the larger pieces first, like the sofa and the dining table. Step 3: add the smaller pieces of furniture where functionally needed.
Now, look at the room from the doorway. You should have: no large pieces of furniture occluding the view to the farthest ends of the room [increasing perceived space], see clear pathways to the window or the balcony [implying flow and accessibility] and see as much floor as possible [adding to the perception or width and depth]. This room is now fully furnished, looking elegant, comfortable and spacious. All furniture is clear of knick-knacks, and their horizontal surfaces are reflecting light [suggesting tidiness and calm]. As we also have removed all small artworks, the walls seem wider because these too are less busy. The whole room looks now airy, light and spacious, therefore it feels bigger. And we haven’t spent a dollar yet.
Now give a very good clean and finally go through the decorative objects we took away earlier. We will choose only the simply shaped ones and place them in small groups here and there; only a few. A luscious plant will suggest natural calm, if there is room for one. Now, finally, we may want to invest in new cushions for the sofa. We will colour-match them to the strongest artwork we have left in the room and will need just a couple. We may also want to purchase a fruit bowl for the dining table, on that same hue; this will colour-balance the space… Job Done!
Now we sit back on the sofa and flick through those magazines again, this time in our new living room, enjoying a fresh, light feeling and spacious environment.
James Treble has more than 25 years of experience in the Building Industry and Interior Design. His knowledge and experience have been published for all to learn and benefit from: Interior Design For Profit is now available online.