I must admit that I am a living room lover. The living room is not only the focal point of the whole house, for most of us, it is in the center, and it is likely to be a space for rest, entertainment, play and relaxation in your home most of the time.
Because of that, a living room needs to be designed to be one of the most versatile and comfortable rooms in the house, but also be welcoming and aesthetically pleasing. There’s a lot going on! For me, creating a beautiful and comfortable living room is all about choosing a good mix of furniture – pieces that complement each other and are also really versatile. Recently my friends at Brosa asked me to share my secrets to mixing and matching living room furniture (after I added the Ada chair to our space), and after a few years of working to create the perfect space for us at home, I’m excited to share what I’ve learnt.
DEFINE WHAT YOUR SPACE NEEDS
It’s easy to get drawn into choosing the nitty gritty of the decor of your living room – the rugs, the textiles or the art – and not think enough about the foundations of the space itself. But by doing some simple planning to review what your space needs, you’re much more likely to create a room that not only looks great but is functional too. For me, the first place to start is with seating, given that a significant function of the room is about gathering and relaxing comfortably. You and your family may need a sofa and a few occasional chairs, or just a large L shaped sofa. Choose your seating based on how you will actually use the space, and keep comfort in mind. Once you have determined the seating arrangement, think about how you can add in other furniture like a console table, book shelves, main coffee table or smaller side tables to make a space that’s easy to use.
CONSIDER A COLOUR PALETTE
Creating a cohesive palette in a living room will go a long way to making it feel well designed and welcoming, allowing you to mix a broad range of furniture styles together. As a simple rule, the more furniture styles I go for the more simple the palette. I like to think about the elements that exist already such as the walls and floors, and choose a few key tones that go with that. Keep in mind that larger pieces of furniture like a sofa or occasional chair will have a bigger impact on the palette, so it’s worth considering that when you make purchasing decisions. I usually optfor neutral colours for large pieces of furniture then add colour using cushions, art and rugs. Doing this will ensure your space is coherent, even with a range of different furniture styles in the room.
DON’T BE AFRAID OF MIXING ERAS
For me, one trick to creating a space that feels layered and lived in is to mix furniture styles. It may seem like a room will look better if all the furniture and decor is of the one era, but in truth that can feel a little staged. In my opinion you’re much better to experiment with hints of all different styles like Scandinavian, Boho, Mid Century Modern and Contemporary. Start by choosing one style, say for your console table or sofa, and then mix hints of other styles in. I also like to consider the shapes of the furniture and contrast them with other pieces. A vintage style console table complements a more modern armchair.
LET YOUR FAVOURITE PIECE SHINE
In line with the concept of mixing eras, another secret I have to creating an interesting and unique space is not to overdo any single style or material. Instead, choose one stand out piece that you love, say a Hamptons cabinet, and then use other more simple pieces to complement it. Whilst you may think this will mean your favourite style could be a little lost in the space, what this actually does is allow that single piece to have a stronger visual impact. I’ve learnt through experience that a little can go a long way in a living room!
THINK ABOUT LAYOUT
Another way to create cohesion in a space with a range of different furniture styles is to layout the furniture using symmetry. Consider the lines of the room – any walkways, key walls or the location of the windows. Locate furniture in a symmetrical way following those lines, like putting a sofa under a window rather than next to it. This makes for a space that feels organised and calming rather than chaotic.
CONSIDER PAIRINGS AND REPETITION
If you’re a fan of organisation and a space that feels well thought out, one way to achieve this whilst still mixing furniture styles is to opt for pairings of furniture or some sort of repetition in the space. This leads the eye across the room and helps it make sense. For example, a pair of these gorgeous occasional chairs would be perfect facing a neutral sofa.
After all, mixing and matching living room furniture is to find balance. This means how do you find the right combination of materials in space, textiles, finishes, and negative space. Sometimes it is useful to take a step back to see the space clearly and understand what is needed. Take the time to imagine a few pieces of furniture together and don't be afraid to experiment.