Moving home for the first time and filling it with furniture is a daunting prospect for even the most laid-back among us. Even if you have an eye for interior design, it’s natural to be anxious when it comes to your own living space.
To succeed, you’ll need to start planning well ahead of time, and be flexible in your approach to what you may or may not need. If you now have an L-shaped shaped living room, for example, you may need to be prepared to buy new pieces, rather than shoe-horning in your old sofas, etc. If you take some measurements and give it some thought before you move, you can avoid nasty surprises further along the line.
Here are the steps you need to consider when furnishing your new home.
1. Consider the purpose of your living room
If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then the living room is the soul. How do you use your living room? Is it for socializing, relaxing, work, family entertainment? All of these things and more? You can create a multi-purpose living space quite easily and stylishly through careful planning, selection and arrangement of your living room furniture.
A long, high backed sofa and table will create a natural border with a work desk and office chair, without blocking off the space. Corner sofas are also excellent natural space dividers. Large potted plants placed at either end of furnishings create attractive divisions in themselves.
If you have young children but no playroom, keep toys and other paraphernalia in plush pieces, such as storage ottomans that double up as comfy footrests. Or create a living room that doubles as a sleeping space with a stylish sleeper sofa.
2. Make the most of a small or awkward shaped living room
This is where modular furniture really comes into its own. Modular sets are brilliantly versatile. You can configure pieces depending on your space and needs, without compromising on style. Easily turn a corner sofa into an armchair, or unplug one module and place it somewhere else, creating a footrest. Modular furniture comes in a huge variety of styles and colours, so you can select a set that perfectly chimes with your own tastes.
Having a “focal point” is essential for bringing a smaller space to life and reducing the impression of clutter. It should draw the eyes of a visitor as soon as they step into a room. A focal point can be anything, from a fireplace or colourful feature wall to a large ornate light fitting overhead. Focal points create a natural centrepiece and sense of balance that helps open up even the most cramped of spaces.
“Floating” shelves and other space-saving furnishings such as foldable dining tables and chairs work wonders to reduce clutter. They’re not hard to set up either.
Strategic use of footstools or ottomans can dramatically improve the functionality of a small space. Use in place of a traditional coffee table with a tray to hold drinks, flowers or snacks when visitors arrive, or as extra seating. Some also provide extra storage.
Remember, planning ahead is especially important for small or awkward shaped spaces, to minimise the stress when you move in. Try and spend some time in the space when it is devoid of furniture before the moving date to really get a sense of how your furniture needs to work. Free room planners can also be enormously helpful!
3. Create a warm and inviting atmosphere
Use of light, colour and texture, as well as conversation-friendly furniture layout is all crucial for creating an atmosphere that really shouts warmth and welcome. A large coffee table acts as a natural “anchor” for the room, where people can relax and gather round together.
Colour can have a profound effect on mood. Blue tends to be relaxing and works very well in bedrooms. Red is warm and energising and can be great as an accent colour in living rooms, while yellow is bright and welcoming and works well in kitchens. If you do use strong colour, use in moderation so as not to become overwhelming, especially if your rooms are on the smaller side. And don’t skimp on greenery – plants are wonderful for bringing life and mood-boosting atmosphere to any space.
Finally, there’s character to consider – those personal touches and flourishes that make a space particularly “you”. Unusual ornaments, pictures, occasional tables, rugs, cushions and other accessories all play a vital part in making your house a home. The key here as ever is moderation – keep it stylish but characterful by adding splashes of your personality – an antique piece here, a colourful area rug there. It all goes a long way to making your new house the home of your dreams.