It all happens in the living room: from watching TV and reading to games and house parties. It also tends to be the first room you see when you walk into the house and where your guests will spend a lot of time too, so you need to think about what sort of statement you want the room to make. Do you go for formality and elegance or comfy and cosy? There is a wide range of design styles that you can borrow for your own home. Here are a few of the most striking – and the easiest to recreate.
The antique look
This is a style that will feature plenty of dark varnished wood, with the odd chaise lounge and chandelier thrown in. There may well be touches of silver or gold, ceiling roses, caving and cornices, marble, picture rails, painted trim and dark tapestries and rugs in ornately complicated designs. Essentially any piece of furniture that is seventy years old or more qualifies as an antique C and unless you pick something up from a market or second-hand furniture shop, an original piece can cost you. To save the pennies, there are lots of reproduction antique dealers who do a pretty good job of making modern furniture appear much older than it is – but if you have got the cash nothing beats a genuine grandfather clock or elegant mahogany chair. To complement the look with colour, think elegant creams, dove grey, pale yellows or even duck egg blue. Red and gold accents add richness and welcome warmth.
The epitome of a cosy retreat, the country style living room is characterized by a comfortable, lived-in look and hard wearing furniture thats solid and ideally handmade. Painted furnishings and wicker also sit well in this informal and friendly style. Natural materials come to the fore, so that means wooden floorboards, wooden furniture in walnut, mahogany, pine and oak, traditional stone fireplaces, slate hearths and maybe even a wood-burning stove. For the perfect colour complement, go for rich reds, summer yellows and bright blues. Wallpaper rather than paint fits the bill on the walls, particularly floral patterns, which also feature on curtains, cushions and table coverings. A mixture of different fabrics give this look its personality.
An antidote to the neutral minimalism of recent years, this approach takes you back to the 50s and 60s – two decades that offer a range of styles and colours. Heavily influenced by the US, the 1950s were about formica, chrome furniture legs, laminate finishes, vinyl covered seats and TVs in bright orange cases. This was all set off by walls painted in shades of moss green, brown, yellow or pastel shades of blue and pink. The 60s were all about change and breaking the mould. The design was either monochromatic black and white or psychedelia C acid greens, oranges and reds. And the best thing about it is it should be cheap and cheerful.
A lot of designs from the past fifty years are big, bold and quirky. That means you can incorporate rubber, vinyl, foam, chrome and plastic and play with accessories such as bubble chairs, cocktail glasses and vintage design, lamps, radios and clocks. Simply put, anything goes, from space age to pop culture.
Art deco is a smart, elegant and bold look. Dating from the mid 1920s, it flourished at a time when Greta Garbo was gracing the silver screen and epitomised glamour. The design is most famously seen in New Yorks Chrysler Building or Londons Savoy Hotel.
It features geometric and angular shapes, chrome, glass and etched mirrors along with strong shades of black, chrome, yellow and red C although for a living room, you may prefer the softer shades of cream, beige or oyster. Theres a theatrical touch too C picture highly polished wood and glossy black lacquer mixed with satin and fur and youre part way there. Furniture followed strong, streamlined shapes with cupboards and cabinets in pale veneered wood. Stylised images of cars and cruise liners complete the look, along with the iconic lighting design featuring a woman holding a ball of the light.
For a living room thats sleek, pared-down and functional, this less is more approach is the one for you. Make the most of the space and avoid clutter. If you want to put some art on the walls, then abstract images are best, often in the same colours that youve used to accessorise the room. Colours range from pure white throughout to moody greys and aubergines for boutique hotel chic – but whatever the scheme, the contemporary minimalist design is characterised by colour themes that run harmoniously throughout the room and bring every item into play as part of the overall effect. If you prefer the cool, fresh look, stick with pale wood furniture for Scandinavian simplicity. For a stronger, bolder interior, combine dark wood, chrome and streamlined leather furniture for a more masculine impact.