After recently sharing my tips for styling a small living room, I received a few requests for tips dealing with a larger living rooms! While small living rooms have their own challenges due to their limited space, bigger living areas present their own set of issues. Bigger than average rooms can be wonderful for entertaining, but not as cozy or even functional for day to day living.
So how can you make the best of a large living room? Even if your room is not huge, it can be difficult to furnish if it is awkwardly shaped or connected to another space in some way, so these tips or inspiration photos might apply to a variety of sizes and shapes of rooms or great rooms!
Today I’m sharing 10 of my favorite tips for styling a bigger living room!
1. Designate zones.
In a small room, you will likely only have room for one conversation area and no additional space for furniture groupings. Large rooms can function as so much more than just a large sitting area, but you might have to get creative with how to best utilize the size or shape of the room you have. Identify several possible functional areas within the room, such as a conversation zone (or two or three!), a media zone, an area for a writing desk, a console or a game table, a dining area or perhaps a reading area.
2. Divide the space visually.
You can add ceiling beams, half walls or pillars (like what is between my own family room and kitchen) to divide up a room visually in semi-permanent ways, or for flexibility you might be able to use area rugs, curtains, wallpaper and furniture placement to help create visually cozy spaces within the larger room. Even a sofa with its back to another space, or a chaise lounge, a large bench, tables between chairs, an attractive screen, large lamps, curtains, or plants can help divide the spaces.
3. Anchor the room.
Great rooms or large living areas can end up feeling cluttered if you put too many small pieces in the room without at a couple of anchoring pieces. A sectional, large sofa, large coffee table and even built in bookcases or a piano will help anchor a room so smaller pieces can be tucked in here and there as accents if necessary.
4. Scale matters.
Do you have tall ceilings that makes your room feel out of balance? Opt for taller furniture whenever possible. If furniture is all short, your ceilings will feel too tall and your furniture will be dwarfed. Consider a taller bookcase, an armoire, taller backs on chairs and sofas and taller accessories.
Chango & Co (NYC design firm)
4. Creative lighting.
No matter what size of a room you have, lighting can make a difference in how the room feels. Fortunately with a large room there are often more windows, so during the day lighting isn’t as much of a concern. But shadows and dark corners can make everyone feel uneasy at night. If you have just one center ceiling light, you will likely want to add more light with lamps. A room can look awkward if you have too many lamps, though, so here are a couple of tips for lighting a large room.
Perhaps pick two or three lamps of larger scale with similar shades and then mix in slimmer less obtrusive metal floor and wall lamps to bring lighting all around the room. Mixing in glass lamps can also prevent lamp overload. You can have an outlet put into the floor near the perimeter of a conversation area for a lamp cord if it isn’t convenient to plug it in the wall.
5. Use color.
Color and pattern can be used to break up big expanses of walls in a great room or cut the size of a tall wall down to a more comfortable height. Add wainscoting with varying shades of neutrals or colors painted above and below the molding. If you have a high ceiling, you may want to try a simple trick to cozy up your room. If you paint the ceiling a shade or two or even several shades darker than your walls (or use paneling!), your ceiling won’t seem as tall and your room might feel more snug and cozy.
Seating area for large, small or awkward room via BHG
6. Double up.
If you can’t find a coffee table big enough for your space, bulk up a larger conversation with two matching square or rectangle ottomans side by side. Or use a coffee table with two ottomans pulled up next to it. You can also use two area rugs for two separate conversation areas rather than one large one.
Create greater punch by bringing together four chairs and a round ottoman or table rather than just two chairs. Chairs are less visually divisive in a room than a sofa so they can create a pleasing flow and conversation area in large spaces, small rooms or awkward areas with challenging traffic patterns. Anytime you can use several of anything like double footstools, two lamps or sets of chairs, the impact will be greater!
7. Avoid too much wall ‘hugging.’
One thing that often looks funny to me is a large room with the sofa is pushed back against one wall and the chairs on the opposite size of the room against the other wall, leaving too much open space in the middle. If you have to shout in order to have a conversation with someone sitting across from you in the room, it is likely your furniture is too far apart.
With a larger room you can pull seating out from the walls to create a much cozier conversation area around a focal point like a fireplace. Don’t fear empty walls, you can use wall space for art, buffets and consoles, benches and bookcases or additional conversation areas where the furniture can be pulled closer together.
8. Bold is best.
Art work and accessories in a big room should be bigger and bolder. If you have framed prints or photos for your wall, go with a larger size than the standard 8 x 10 or 5 x 7 frames. Go group larger pieces together to make an even more bold punch in a room rather than several smaller pieces spread throughout the room.
9. Layers cozy up the space.
If your room feels cold, sound echoes or if the vibe is cozy enough, it might not be the size of the room but instead you just might need more layers. Add area rugs (you can even layer two rugs together for even more texture), hang curtains, add baskets for more texture and sound absorption and accessories to help soften the spaces. Softer spaces feel much cozier and inviting so be sure you have plenty of upholstered pieces, too!
In a large space there tends to be more furniture and accessories, which can feel a bit haphazard. One way to tie a large room of furniture together and unify your style is through repetition. Repeating fabric patterns or colors on chairs or throw pillows will help carry your eye around the room and feel visually more pleasing.
Let’s talk about your living or family room! I know I have had a really hard time with mine because it is very small but has a high ceiling AND it connected to the entry and dining room. Lots of challenges!
Do you have trouble with your living room styling and furniture arrangements? What are some other good tips?
Your home isn’t a showplace—it’s a sanctuary. You’re invited to forget about the rules and discover inspired ways to personalize your spaces and express your style with texture, color, and your favorite treasures. Room by room, I’ll help you shape a home that is inspired by the people, beauty, and life you love.