As you begin to focus on interior design, remember that all good rooms have a mission. In the case of your living room, its purpose and intent is to provide maximum emotional and physical comfort for you and your guests. What fascinates me as a decorator is not just the look of a room, but the way people respond when they’re in that room. Do they seem relaxed? Are there certain areas that feel more inviting than others? Does the furniture arrangement encourage conversation and enhance communication? Does the room have a focal point, such as a fireplace or wonderful view, around which you should arrange your main seating group? Does it contain a high piece on which to focus attention and draw you into the room?
Let your room grow slowly and build your furniture collection with thoughtful consideration of the need to feel relaxed and comfortable. Fight your impulse to crowd it with too much furniture; never buy anything just to fill the space, and remember that pieces that are beautifully designed and inviting can be harmoniously blended.
When every single piece of furniture is superb in style and character and your eye has made the selection, all pieces will automatically go together and give the room a harmony of form and coordination. The simple lines of contemporary upholstery go in all rooms, in all settings. They complement that old mellow English secretary, and simple lines make the most welcoming places to lounge. Check seat, arm, and back heights and repeat them often. Measure your sofa back to be certain it’s low enough to “float” in your room and not have to be stuck against a wall.
Never create a single seating area for more than eight people. I have found that when more than eight are sitting together, the social gathering loses its feeling of intimacy and can become stiff and awkward. In fact, if possible, your living room should have at least two sitting areas —one large and one small, where two people can visit comfortably.
We often hear the expression, “pull up a chair,” but we can only do so if chairs are movable. It’s nice to have a few pull up chairs (not too bulky or too heavy) or small ottomans or stools that can be spontaneously added to a grouping. Your furnishings should be flexible enough to offer comfort and intimacy and be easily adapted to all needs and occasions.