10 Living Room Design Details That Can Make Or Break the Luxe Look (At Any Budget)

10 Living Room Design Details That Can Make Or Break the Luxe Look (At Any Budget)

Ever been to a dinner party that just felt perfect?!

From the moment you had cocktails in the living room?

You noticed lots of little things that night…

  • How all 8 of you had a comfy seat. Even the hosts.
  • How easy it was to chat with everyone in the room.
  • How you easily placed your cocktail on a table when the canapés were served.
  • How you tucked a cushion in the small of your back.
  • How the lighting set the mood.

You love entertaining. You have a nice living room.

In fact, you spent good money on that room!


And yet…

You always pull 2 dining chairs into the room for you, the hosts. Not comfy.

You put your drink on the floor beside you. Awkward.

Not everyone participates in the conversation. Oh dear.


Could your living room be creating a less than luxe experience for your guests?

You feel embarrassed. A little confused. Frustrated. What are you missing?

You want your room to feel comfortable. Luxurious. All the time. For everyone.

The secret is simple. Logical. And works with any budget.

Comfort + Generosity = Luxury

Have a seat on your sofa.

Use this list of 10 design details to weigh your living room on the luxe scale.

You’re about to train your eye to see what needs a change and why.

A Place For ALL

Cocktails before, or dessert after.

A great dinner party needs a comfortable living room too.

How many can sit around your dining table, including you? 6? 8?

That’s how many comfortable seats to have in your living room.

Count the seats in yours. Are there enough?

Try them out. Are they comfortable?

Seats on the sofa, upholstered arm chairs, ottomans or benches.

Extra seats can be added in many forms, to fit any size space.

When hosts and guests ALL have a comfortable chair everyone feels more at ease.

No one feels guilty or left out.

 You all feel pampered and relaxed.

 All because of your generous planning.

This Room Was Made For Talkin’

Living rooms have different jobs every day.

Sometimes it’s all about the TV, but not every day, all day.

When the TV steals the show other activities become awkward and uncomfortable.

Especially entertaining friends or family.

Entertaining is about conversation. 

The “conversation grouping” your seating creates will make that possible.

When arranging your seating think “ring around the rosy,” not “line dance.” People facing people, not just the TV.

Try each seat in your conversation grouping.

Can you see everyone comfortably from every seat with an easy turn of your head?

This tweak makes your living room work harder. All activities feel comfortable, well provided for.

You have more options.

That’s a luxury too.

Stop Shouting

No one likes to be left out.

Or yelled at.

But a conversation grouping that’s too large forces both.

It seems natural to place furniture against a wall. Before you know it though, all the furniture ends up lining all 4 walls.

The bigger the room, the bigger the space in the middle of the room.

But a conversation grouping wants to be an “island” instead of “fence”.

Ungluing the furniture from 1, 2, 3 or even all 4 walls will form a tighter grouping. Leaving only space enough to walk between furniture pieces keeps it feeling snug but comfortable.

Pulling the seating in closer allows people to hear each other. Conversation becomes easier.

As seats are paired together around the grouping, never alone, you ensure that chit-chat can happen between few or many.

Now that’s a party.

Bend, Stretch, Twist, Reach?

Every seat needs a table surface nearby.

After all, every guest will have a drink.

Possibly a snack. And a napkin.

If no table is within easy reach we make them juggle all that.

Juggle in their nice clothes!

While trying not to ruin your sofa. Or leave crumbs on their face.

That’s a lot of pressure.

A coffee table (or a tray on an ottoman) placed up to 18” from the sofa is a comfortable reach.

End tables flanking the sofa or a cocktail table between 2 chairs are also great. Ideally they’re at the same height as the arm of the seat they serve.

Even the tiniest table will do, if it fits a drink.

As long as it requires no embarrassing or dangerous manoeuvres to reach it.
Certainly no standing, walking or bending to the floor.

Trust the Squeeze Test

Cushions aren’t just pretty.

They can work for you. If they’re made well.

Squeezing your throw cushions reveals the truth.

Is it plump, squishy, slow to expand back into shape? Good.

Or is it firm, springy, instantly bouncing back into shape? Bad.

The good cushion contains a feather down fill. The bad has a synthetic fill.

The good one can be molded to fit where needed, supporting your back, arm or head. The bad one will fight you.

The down fill will serve in it’s fluffy state for years.

The other will flatten, form lumps and become even more uncomfortable over time.

Being synthetic isn’t always the culprit.

But not being a fill that imitates the generous loft and luxurious flexibility of feathers is.

Anchored, Not Floating

Carpets have super powers.

Harnessing the power wisely makes a living room better.

  • A carpet reduces echo in a room.
  • It makes a room feel warmer, more inviting. Less cold, less stark.
  • More detailed, more comfortable.

A carpet can convince your eye that a room is bigger or smaller.

As if the edges of the carpet form subtle walls in the room.

A generous carpet size makes a room feel bigger. More grand.

A small carpet shrinks the room. Sucking the luxe right out of it.

Most of all, a carpet makes sense of your furniture.

With no carpet, your conversation grouping floats in a sea of living room.

The pieces want and need to be together.

But there’s nothing to visually join them. No way of getting together.

A carpet gathers and anchors the furniture group.

Ideally, all the furniture will fit on it. But if just the front feet of the sofa and chairs get on, it’s enough.

The carpet saves them.

Phew.

Fat Frames, Skimpy Strands

Windows are expensive.

Bigger windows look, well…more expensive.

If you’ve got them, your draperies should flaunt them. If you don’t, your draperies should make it look like you do. The right ones can do both.

Generous curtains are the quiet heroes of a room.

They…

  • Soften the sharp angles of the space.
  • Reduce echo and help keep out the cold.
  • Let you control light and privacy.
  • Make you forget the terrible view. Or draw attention to a beautiful one.

Think high and wide when planning your draperies.

Starting with the drapery rod.

Widen a narrow window by extending the rod length beyond the window frame.

When the draperies are wide open (or stacked back) they’ll only cover the wall and window frame, not the glass.

  • Your window appears to start somewhere behind the drapery.
  • Your windows visually expand. Your eye is fooled.
  • AND you get all that extra light from the uncovered window.

Mounting the rod just a few inches below the ceiling expands the window height too.

The window appears to start at the rod height.

Fooled again.

Tall, generous fabric panels that skim the floor are next.

Not skinny or too short. Think of a chic suit that fits just right. Not the short, tight, skimpy dress you tug at all night.

This means enough fabric to cover the whole window, even if you never close them.

Even inexpensive fabric panels look luxurious when enough of them frame a window.

Plan for at least twice the width of your window for the total panels. Up to 3 times the width for light weight fabrics.

Instantly your window seems to grow before your very eyes. You see this valuable asset as taller, wider, grander. Ka-Ching.

It’s Scary In the Spotlight

A big, bright, centre ceiling light is great when you vacuum.

Or, of course, interrogate someone.

Pretty sure that’s not the mood you want at the party.

Layers of light changes that. 

Dimmable lights at a variety of levels are even better.

The easiest layer is from table lamps dotted strategically around the room.

A large room with dark corners benefits from a layer up high, in the corners of the room, from dimmable, recessed ceiling lights.

A beautiful centre ceiling fixture is welcome. It too needs to be dimmable to be its most useful.

Accent lights are a luxurious layer that highlights the good stuff. One shining down onto a lovely object on a shelf. Another glowing upward through the leaves of plant.

And a candle or two.

Dimmable, layered lighting, is intentional and flexible.

It allows you to control the lighting to suit your needs. Every day.

That feels comfortable.

It flatters your guests and your room. It draws attention to beautiful things. It’s warm and inviting.

That feels luxurious.

Little Sprinkles vs. Big Impact

Art is intimidating.

Maybe that’s why we often choose the smaller piece over the larger one. Over and over again. Until we have a house full of little pieces of art scattered on every wall.

Make the most of your art by keeping this in mind:

  • Grouping small pieces together becomes a curated collection. Especially if a theme ties them together. All landscapes, for example.
  • Like anything, lots of little bits spread everywhere looks like clutter. Visual clutter. They lose impact and blur together. Their importance is lost.
  • Choose larger art, but fewer of them. Leaving more walls bare makes collections stand out and breathe. They feel more valuable. More impactful.
  • Let the space you want to fill dictate the size you need. Fill the focal points first. Over the sofa, fireplace mantle, console or buffet.
  • Calculate the size of art to shop for by first. Measuring the width of the furniture piece you will hang it over is the key. Then simply subtract 6 to 18” off both ends.

For example, a 7 foot sofa has at least 4 to 6 feet of space to fill with art. One big piece, or 2 or a collection in a grouping.

Bingo.

That’s the art you need.

No more guessing.

Corral To Conquer

Every living room has it.

The dreaded….Clutter.

You know. The not so pretty bits we use every day.

A coffee table strewn with 3 TV remotes, magazines, a pen, a book, a candle, a vase. Sofa throws in a pile. Toys on the floor.

But there’s “pretty” clutter too.

Shelves or tables dotted with lots of small, decorative items. Fun to shop for. Love them in the store. But disappointing all together in the room.

They lose their impact. They become visual clutter too.

Clutter just isn’t comfortable. Pretty or not.

Using these 2 shortcuts quickly makes a space clutter free.

  • Gather small items together in a beautiful container.

TV remotes and pens in an elegant box. The candle, magazines, book and vase on a beautiful tray. Throws and toys in fabulous baskets.

Suddenly your eye sees only 4 things. Not 50.

  • Buy larger, but fewer decorative pieces.

A single vase looks curated. Important. It creates more negative space in the room. It feels more calm. That feels more comfortable too.

This is it…

Scan your living room with your newly trained eye.

Now you see. Now you understand.

Luxury is generous details. Luxury is comfort.

So move that sofa. Pull those arm chairs closer. Let all the furniture onto the carpet. Squeeze the cushions. Touch the nearest table. Test those lights.

Just a few tweaks and it’ll be your turn.

Because it’s Saturday night.

The party’s at your house. Cocktails are served.

Not a dining chair in sight. Not an awkward reach to be seen. Not one guest left out of the chatter.

You’re not anxious. You’re delighted.

You’re not confused. You’re confident.

You’re not embarrassed. You’re proud.

Everyone is comfortable, having an amazing time in YOUR luxurious living room.

And…so are you.

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