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Dos & Don’ts: Designing a Living Room

Designing a living room can be a challenge as it’s often one of the larger rooms in the home. Filling a large and empty space can seem a daunting prospect, however this week we have put together some dos and don’ts to guide you. From scale and colour to lighting, we’re here to help.

Do figure out what the focal point is. 

When designing a living room it’s important to figure out what your focal point will be. It might be a fireplace or a piece of art. Once you have chosen the focal point of the room, this will help you decide where to place your seating area.

In the Drawing Room at The Soho Hotel, there are two large stone fireplaces which allowed us to create two different seating areas. A stunning Scandinavian table with a chessboard works well as a room divider.

The Drawing Room is a very long wide space, so we wanted to draw the eye through the length of the room. We installed this gorgeous Breon O’Casey sculpture of Aphrodite in the centre at the end of the room. As you enter, it’s like she is greeting you. Her figure is framed by light from the windows behind her.

Don’t ignore the importance of scale. 

We believe this is a key ingredient when making any space feel welcoming. Over the years, we have seen so many homes where the furniture is made for a much larger room and immediately it feels cramped. Equally, small furniture in a large room can look uncomfortable and out of proportion. The height of the furniture has to be right. A coffee table that is too high beside a sofa makes you want to stand up and leave. You shouldn’t feel as though you are making an effort to put your feet up!

Do think about lighting. 

Here at the Kit Kemp Design Studio, we try to avoid using spotlights where possible, especially in rooms such as living rooms. These spaces are meant to be comfortable and warm. We tend to use low level lighting with table lamps, standing lights and picture wall lights.

Often spotlights can be overbearing and garish, and ruin the look of a ceiling. However, don’t abandon spotlights completely. Our top tip is to only use them where necessary and put them on a dimmer switch so you can soften or brighten the glow.

Uplighters in the corner of a room can often help make a space feel bigger. An up-light behind a sculpture or table in a corner can create a real focal point by highlighting the object and creating interesting shadows, leading your eye further into the space.

Do choose a specific palette to suit the room. 

Look at the aspect of your living room and decide how you want it to feel. If it’s facing north, a dark navy-blue wall will seem uninviting and heavy. A more reflective, lighter tone of blue with a hint of warmth will work better. You can then add touches of dark navy to the piping of a chair or a trim on the leading edge of a curtain to get the feel of the colour without overwhelming a space that lacks light.

Conversely, in a south-facing room with good light, you can use denim on the walls with a contrasting colour for the curtains, such as a patterned fabric with a bright red trim to please the eye.

Do bring in a rug. 

A rug always works well as a frame for the seating area. It makes for a more unified space. At Charlotte Street Hotel, we commissioned a special Duncan Grant inspired rug to complement the palette of the artworks. The simple change of introducing a new carpet or rug can make a tremendous difference and revive a room.

Don’t leave walls empty. 

Empty wall space can make a room feel cold and unloved. Over scaled pictures or mirrors will always make a room appear bigger. We also like to install shelves as books always add a sense of charm and character to a space.

We could carry on all day, diving into the little details of designing a living room, but hopefully this will help you get started.

If you need more inspiration, come into any of our hotels and sink into a sofa in one of the luxurious drawing rooms. Put your feet up and relax!

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