If you watch TV in the living room, choose the surrounding lights carefully to avoid television glare. It can be distracting to have a bright overhead light above or in front of a TV set, so ensure ceiling lights are dimmable, or use offset wall sconces or floor lamps instead. Specific task lighting, such as reading lamps, are important if you read frequently, have low levels of natural light, and especially if you ever work in your living room. A floor lamp spaced between two armchairs can also count as task lighting, as conversation is a task, too (at least in living room terms). Low-level table lamps and floor lamps help to create a cozy atmosphere in the living room, especially at night. Evenly space these throughout the room, usually toward the walls, to create an even, warm glow that bounces inwards. Think creatively about this type of lighting: groups of candles even fairy lights count.
If you want an intimate seating arrangement that allows your family or guests to converse with one another comfortably, keep the seating positions within an 8ft radius to ensure a natural distance (and volume!) between people for conversation. There should be an obvious surface that is easy to reach from every seat in the living room, in the way of side tables or a coffee table or both! Nothing's worse than sitting down in somebody else's home not knowing where to put down your cup of coffee. Just make sure that there is sufficient leg room when you have a centre coffee table. In the diagrams above, these simple living room furniture layouts show different ways that you can arrange furniture in context to where the room's entrance or entrances may be. A living room should welcome you in from the moment you step foot through the door, so ponder on that as you arrange your furniture. If you arrange your living room furniture asymmetrically, your living room will feel a lot more casual.
If you have an open plan dining area in your living room (as many new homes do), ensure about 4ft distance between the table and the wall, or the dining space will feel cramped and lessen the dining experience. If you want to unify the different components of different spaces in an open plan living room, such as the dining area or reading nook, you can use area rugs to almost create “wall-free” rooms within the large room. Experiment! Move things around, measure them, look at your room from all angles and picture it from an aerial point of view for an idea on available floor space. What's important is that it's comfortable and feels like home. Having the bookcase there allowed me to display some family photos and a few more decorative items that would otherwise just be stored in a box. It also works well because there's no back on the bookcase which allows the light to shine through and not close in the space. Of course I would love to have something that fit exactly and looked more built in but this is just a rental for the year and I'm all about making things work and look nice, even if it's only temporary.
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