A cozy, light-filled living room

Two dear friends of mine moved into a new house and are in the process of making it feel more like home. They have two little boys, so they don’t want anything too precious. But they also want to feel comfortable and cozy in their living room, which is the main hangout area of their house and opens to their kitchen.

They use this room to watch tv, read, and hang out as a family. They don’t use the fireplace very often, and they love looking out of the windows. As the pandemic winds down, they hope to host family gatherings and small events, like book club meetings, in their living room, so they need lots of seating options. They prefer neutral colors (no reds!).

Ready to tackle this with me? Here are some shots of the room in its present state.

Very soon, they plan to sand down the dark hardwoods that extend into the kitchen and replace the carpet with matching, unstained maple. All the flooring on this level of the house will look like the picture below.

Gorgeous, right?

My first order of business was to find a great rug. I think my friends would love the Loloi collection for the reasonable price point and vintage look. The neutral colors of the olive and charcoal rug are perfect for this family. (By the way, if you want to buy a Loloi rug, I recommend using the Google image search to look for the best deals. Some companies, like Wayfair, carry the same rugs but under different names.)

From there, I looked for a comfortable couch with a chaise. It sounds like they’re going to mount the tv on a swivel to the right of the fireplace. If they place the couch against the left wall, they’re unlikely to see a glare on the tv when they’re sitting on the couch. And they can look out the windows while they’re relaxing on the couch. If the chaise is on the side of the couch closest to the kitchen, it will help outline the conversation area in the living room. Here’s a very rudimentary schematic I made to help explain the layout I’m envisioning.

The Haven couch by West Elm is one of the prettiest on the market, in my opinion, and the price point isn’t bad (especially given the high quality of West Elm couches). The Storm Gray color would be beautiful with the rug. And the performance washed canvas in this color is one of the cheapest options! Score.

The boys use this room quite a bit, so it makes sense to have a sturdy coffee table with a big surface for games and puzzles. This one from Pottery Barn is on the pricey side, but it’s the perfect size (48″ in diameter). Plus, I like the idea of pairing something leggy with the couch, which is sort of squat.

The chairs would be a great place to add another texture, and black leather would be striking and durable. This option from Article is pricey but gorgeous. Then we must consider my mom’s #1 rule for living rooms: every seat should be near a lamp and a place to set down a drink. So we need to add a small table with a lamp between these chairs. I don’t want to use black (because both chairs are black) or wood (because the coffee table is made of wood, and it’s in the same visual field as this side table). And I’d like the table to be somewhat solid, since the chairs are leggy. I’d suggest a table like this one from Target, and I’d top it with this gray lamp.

If there’s room for another small table and lamp, I think this one from Pottery Barn would look great next to the couch. I like the idea of adding a square table, since the other two are circular, and the legs would be a nice contrast to the squat couch. (If they want to DIY, they could make something similar using this tutorial by The DIY Playbook.) I’d love to top it with this lamp from West Elm. I can imagine my friends turning on this lamp at dusk and instantly making the room feel cozier.

They’re planning to install built-in bookcases on either side of the fireplace. I think it would be lovely to cover the back with grasscloth like I did in this post, and it would be handy to have doors on the bottom of the bookcase to hide stacks of games or toys.

This room was recently painted Agreeable Gray, but if it were up to me, I’d paint the walls and ceiling Swiss Coffee by Benjamin Moore. Swiss Coffee is a warm white that doesn’t have a yellow tinge, and I think it would brighten the room and reflect this family’s happy personality. They could paint the bookcases the same color or they could choose a grey that complements the rug and the couch. Urbane Bronze by Sherwin Williams would be a great choice.

Inspiration by Our Fifth House

Every room needs something old, in my opinion, and this antique-looking mantel would be a fantastic addition. Over the fireplace, I’d layer two big pieces of art. It would be cool to use one of Lindsay Letters’ big abstract images and layer a smaller black-and-white photo of their family in front of it.

I’d also replace the ceiling fan with a Minka Aire. Personally, I think overhead lights can sometimes cast a harsh glow in the living room, so I’d go for a fan without a light fixture and instead try using the two table lamps described above. If they need an additional lamp for reading, they could add a black floor lamp between the sofa and the bookshelf on the left wall.

For the windows, I’d add a simple black curtain rod like this one with inexpensive white curtains (Ikea would be a great source for this). I’d hang the rod above the windows and get curtains that kiss the floor, even though the windows don’t go down to the floor. Their view is lovely and calming — why not emphasize it?

And, as a final touch, plants! I inserted one of our fiddle leaf figs into the mock-up below, but they could also choose faux plants. Crate & Barrel has a bunch of cool faux plants, including this lovely succulent bowl.

Here’s a mock-up showing what it would kind of look like. What do you think? What would you do differently? Let me know in the comments!

I have some other ideas for the wall above the couch and the nook between the living room and the kitchen, but I’ll save those for next time. Happy decorating!


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    […] fun thinking about the best ways for my friends to transform their living room! Earlier this week I shared some ideas about how they could redesign the main part of the living […]

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