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The perfect living room

This season, why not invest in a living room renovation? This guide will provide precious information to help you transform your living room into a comfortable, practical and convivial space.

Living room uses

When considering the layout, you must first decide what activities will take place in the space.
  • Socializing
  • Television or home theatre
  • Family activities
  • Board games
  • Video games
  • Reading
  • Etc.

Here are a few tips for an optimal layout:
  • Place furniture in a way that allows face-to-face conversations. If the living room is large, arrange pockets of furniture for a smaller, more intimate conversation space.
  • Do not push all of the furniture up against the walls in a large living room. The arrangement will not only look better aesthetically, but it will also provide a more functional layout.
  • Consider swivel chairs as they are more convenient. These make it easy to carry on a conversation one minute, and have perfect television viewing the next.
  • In a family room or multifunctional living room, consider the optimal viewing distance for watching television and layout the furniture accordingly.
Screen size
Minimum viewing distance
Maximum viewing distance
40"
4'
6.3'
42"
4.2'
6.7'
46"
4.6'
7.3'
47"
4.7'
7.4'
50"
5'
7.9'
55"
5.5'
8.7'
65"
6.5'
10.3'
Screen size
Minimum viewing distance
Maximum viewing distance
40"
4'
6.3'
42"
4.2'
6.7'
46"
4.6'
7.3'
47"
4.7'
7.4'
50"
5'
7.9'
55"
5.5'
8.7'
65"
6.5'
10.3'

Window treatments set the tone

Window treatments help set the style for the entire room. Both the style of the treatment as well as the material chosen will dictate the formality of the room.
  • Blinds are easy to use and functional. There are a handful of options available on the market today—from basic white blinds to more sophisticated ones in bamboo or reed.
  • Curtains range from simple panels to ornate swags and everywhere in between. The formality of the curtains should match the rest of the room. For grandiose spaces, invest in sophisticated curtains. Simple rooms should have simple window treatments.
  • Sheers are perfect for barely-there coverage. Use them when you want to dress up or soften a window without blocking the incoming light. Sheers do not provide privacy, so take that into consideration.

Considerations for window treatments:

  • In a family room or multi-function living room, consider blackout panels which will allow better television viewing during the middle of the day.
  • If you will be opening and closing window treatments often, ensure they are easy to put up and down. Nothing is worse than fussing with the drapes each time you need to open them.

Choosing the perfect flooring

There are several good flooring materials for the living room.
  • Tile and stone are easy to clean and available in a diverse range of styles and designs. However, they will get extremely chilly during the winter months (or even overnight!). Area rugs can be used for more comfort and to reduce noise.
  • The cost of hardwood flooring is the drawback on this option. However, this type of flooring is easy to maintain and durable.
  • Laminate flooring can resemble wood, tile or even stone. It is extremely durable, does not scratch and is easy to clean. However, water will ruin it, so watch out!
  • Cork is a good insulator. It stays warm, is soft for sitting on, and absorbs sounds to make things quiet. Cork is environmentally friendly, antimicrobial and resistant to mould, making it a safe option for the entire family—even those with allergies. It can, however, be damaged by the heavy weight under furniture legs.
  • Carpet is warm and comfortable. It also makes it easier to sit and/or play on the floor, and is a great option for a family room. Choose a low-pile carpet to reduce dust accumulation. Keep in mind the disadvantages of carpet—it traps dirt and harbours allergens which makes it inconvenient especially when owning a pet.
Take a look at our buying guide on floor coverings for more information.

Furniture: it's all about proportions

Choose furniture with appropriate dimensions for the size of the room. A large living room looks silly with tiny chairs, itty loveseats and slim tables. Likewise, a small living room with an enormous sectional sofa doesn't work either.

Larger living rooms may be able to accommodate a set of couches or a large sectional, and a few chairs. Smaller living rooms may have to forgo the sitting chairs or perhaps even the sofa.

A few rules of thumb:

  • Maximize space in smaller rooms by choosing tailored, streamlined furniture. You will be able to fit more seating into the room without it feeling overwhelming.
  • The height of the coffee table should be slightly lower than the seat height of the sofa and chairs around it.
  • The length of the table should be 2/3 the length of the sofa.
  • The leg room between the seats and the coffee table should be between 14" to 18".
  • Each person sitting on the sofa or in a chair should be able to comfortably place a drink on the coffee table or side table without having to get up.

A few things to keep in mind when choosing furniture:

  • With children and pets, choose easy-to-clean surfaces such as leather or microsuede. Or, opt for loud patterns that allow stains and blemishes to blend in.
  • Neutral colours allow you to enjoy the furniture for years to come, even if you change the colour scheme of the room.
  • In an informal living space, design is important, but comfort is essential. Choose pieces that are comfortable for the whole family.
  • End tables, credenzas, coffee tables and more should serve as storage solutions as often as possible.
  • In multitasking living rooms, consider a large armoire to tuck the television away safely when not in use.

Lighting: the key to creating the right ambiance

A living room should have several lighting options so that you are ready for any situation.
  • Overhead lights are essential when you need to see clearly—perhaps when putting a piece of furniture together or doing a puzzle.
  • A reading light is necessary if any time is spent reading in the living room.
  • Lamps provide flattering light for conversations and entertaining.
  • Dimmers are useful when watching television. They allow the room to get dark, yet still provide slight luminescence as aid for simple tasks.

Extra storage

Storage is often an issue all over the house. Here are a few things you can do:
  • Choose a cabinet to house the television so that you can always tuck it away when entertaining.
  • Choose a piece of furniture with drawers so you can house all of the boxes, wires and other messy equipment out of sight.
  • Opt for cabinet doors that have burlap, screen, wire or even fabric as the panels so that you can use the remote right through the cabinet doors, ensuring the "mess" is always kept out of sight.
  • Use a flat-topped trunk as a coffee table to store extra pillows and blankets.
  • Use baskets to capture messy stacks of magazines, books or other odds and ends.

Colours

Like in any other room, colour schemes are endless. Style is a matter of personal taste but a few details must be taken into consideration:
  • Choose colours that you truly enjoy and can live in. You may love the colour fuchsia, but it may be overwhelming to spend hours in a fuchsia living room.
  • Consider choosing calming colours—such as blues or greens—to help you unwind from a long day.
  • Consider a neutral colour (whites, tans, grays, or other light colours) . A few inexpensive accessories can instantly change the mood of the room when you want to give it a new look.
  • An eggshell finish is elegant and can be washed easily which makes it perfect for use in the living room.

Paint is not the only option. Wallpapers and surface textures are becoming more and more popular as homeowners seek to bring dimension and depth to once boring walls.
  • Wallpaper: For bigger walls, choose a wallpaper with subtle patterns or opt for a texture such as grass cloth. Consider installing panels on the lower part of the wall to give it structure.
  • Surface Textures: From sponge to herringbone, or metallic to faux bois, the surface textures available are diverse.

The final touch

Personalize the living room by adding items that conjure up memories, are intriguing, or bring a smile to your face.
  • Wall Décor: If your living room has large or many windows, coupled with a television on the wall, you may not require much wall art. If windows are lacking, don't let your walls go bare. Large artwork or groupings of smaller pieces will do the trick. All artwork does not necessarily match—keep a central theme (perhaps nature).
  • Table Accessories: Picture frames, books, stacks of magazines and fresh (or silk) plants make great tabletop accessories in a living room. Because of the high traffic of these rooms—namely, inhabitants setting their ‘'stuff'' down and not picking it up—keep accessories to a minimum.

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