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 have quite a big living room or an open plan dining and living room, you can use the pathway to separate the different functional areas of the room. The focal point of a room should be suited to the room's function. Create too many focal points and your living room will feel visually cluttered or confusing. Arrange your furniture around the focal centre of the room (which doesn't necessarily have to be the literal centre of the room). I've reluctantly included a black marker for television placement in the living room floor plan diagrams below, as the television is typically the focal point of most living rooms today. To quote Joey from Friends, “You don't have a TV? What's all your furniture pointed at?”. But if you don't have a TV, (good for you!) you can replace this with a console table or artwork or whatever you like really to act as an anchor for the rest of the room. Even better if you have a fireplace that would make a great focal point for your living room.
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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