Living rooms have always had a disproportionate amount of money spent on them because people tend to think they had to be “decorated.” Yet no sooner was the (expensive) work completed than the living room ceased to be a room lived in; we’d glide through it on our way to the family room or kitchen, bedroom, or den, where we could really feel good. While our domestic lives unfolded elsewhere around the house, this room remained off limits. The stiffness of the decor; the dark, forbidding grains of the woods; the rigid seating arrangements; the bric-a-brac and dim lighting screamed to our senses: KEEP OUT! because the formal room was reserved for special occasions, and the daily ordinariness of family life was not considered “special.”
Today, Everything Has Changed.
We don’t decorate our living rooms anymore. Our living decorates them. Slowly, we came to realize we were approaching our homes in the wrong way, and gained confidence in the appreciation that successful living rooms are finally visual metaphors of our good living.
Where Do People Literally Live Anyway?
When we are at home, studies show, approximately 96 percent of our time is spent alone or with our family—but only 4 percent of that home time is spent with company. This is all the more reason to create a living room that you will really put to use. Certainly, you want the room to be charming and to look wonderful, but your aspirations will be achieved only if you privately love being there. If the room is set up for your comfort, it will effortlessly and naturally expand to meet the requirements of your guests also. When a room is designed for intimate living, it doesn’t matter if it’s two or twenty you need to accommodate. The best living rooms never make artificial statements; they simply reveal their owners’ personal signature.
Some of my favorite living rooms are actually quite simple and unornamented—bare, pickled pine floors, white canvas slip-covered sofas, natural sisal rugs, simple linen curtains. Whether you use exuberant prints or neutral colors on your upholstered pieces, an educated mix of antique, reproduction, or contemporary pieces, you can create a living space at reasonable cost that makes everyone fell comfortable, that connects comfortably to the rest of your rooms, and that celebrates itself as the focal point of your daily life.