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14 Living Room Makeover Designer Tips

December 3, 2023
Living room makeover

A living room makeover can do more than transform the aesthetic  of your home. Because it’s a place where you spend a great deal of time relaxing with friends, gathering with family, and escaping the stress of the outside world, designing a living room space can have a profound impact on the way you feel inside. 

Whether your style is classic or contemporary, formal or casual, minimalistic or eclectic, a living room is a place for enjoying quality down time, recharging and rejuvenating, and most of all, feeling completely at home with self.

There’s an art to decorating a living room that not only suits your personal style, but fits your life. Before you start scrolling through design catalogs and perusing through

social media, equip yourself with the tips designers use when planning and strategizing

a living room makeover. 

white and black plaid sofa near window


Below are a few of my favorites. 

1) Define Your Personal Style

Before getting started on your design journey, consider your personal style and the overall aesthetic you want to achieve. Whether it's mid-century modern, contemporary, French Parisian, or urban eclectic, having a vision will act as a guide for your design decisions.

Create a mood board so you have a visual to refer to as you proceed through your design process. This can be either digital using platforms like Pinterest or Canva’s Mood Board Creator or go old-school using scissors and tape with magazines like HGTV Magazine, Dwell, Elle Decor, or House Beautiful.Source:

Living Room Color Ideas


2) Select  a Color Scheme 

The next step is to choose a cohesive color scheme that reflects your style and creates a harmonious atmosphere. Consider the size of the room, the amount of natural light, and the existing color palette of your walls, furniture, and floor coverings.While you can create a beautiful space without vivid hues, adding even a little bit of color to a living room can go a long way toward creating a relaxed and inviting atmosphere.

The room pictured above is bathed in neutrals, but the addition of a bright pink accent rug and matching throw gives this living room a burst of dramatic flare. From “super neutrals” to deep hues, here are a few of my favorites.

Super Neutrals: Robin's Egg Blue, Sea glass Green, Cream, Clay, Gray

Deep Hues: Burgundy, Scarlet Red, Dark Pink, Orange, Emerald Green,  Mustard Yellow


brown wooden coffee table near gray couch


3) Invest in Quality


Quality, well-designed furniture will give a living room significant impact. Choose pieces that are comfortable, functional, and in line with your personal style. And don't be afraid to mix and match different styles for an eclectic look. The room pictured above mixes natural elements with modern contemporary and works seamlessly to create an inviting effect. 

Urban French Living Room


4) Incorporate Statement Pieces

Introduce a statement piece that draws attention. This could be a bold sofa, a unique piece of artwork, or a stylish rug. A focal point can anchor the room and set the tone for the overall design. The room pictured above is set in a monochromatic gray but the dramatic, bold lighting hanging above  adds light and drama to the subdued setting below. 

Statement Lighting in Living Room

Source: Pinterest, Lighting by Aureae Lighting 

5) Choose Lighting Carefully

Lighting selection can greatly influence the ambiance of a room. Use a combination of overhead lighting, floor lamps, and table lamps to create layers of light. Consider the function of each area and use lighting accordingly. Install dimmers whenever possible as the level of light can have a tremendous impact on a room depending on the time of day. Add accent lights to feature artwork, shelving, and well-designed nooks. 

ing Room Design


6) Incorporate Textiles and Fabrics 

Layers can add interest and a feeling of welcoming comfort to a room. Use a variety of textures by incorporating accent pillows, throws, and curtains to add visual interest and create a cozy feel to the space. If you have small children or pets that are welcomed to share your seating spaces, consider the durability and practicality of fabrics. 

Texture is easy to overlook when decorating a living room, but it’s important for making a living room feel cozy. Mix plush textures that appeal to the touch like faux fur, chenille, and cotton with harder textures like leather, metal, stone, glass, and  wood to add contrast and interest.  

Designer Tip: When it comes to throw pillows, invest in quality down-filled varieties over those with cheap fillers that can look good for a season but lose their shape after a short time. Then you can switch-off the covers with the season easily. This can change the entire look of a room and is an inexpensive way to elevate a room in an instant. 

photo of living room

Source: Stock Photos/Houzz

7) Don’t Be Afraid to Mix Upholsteries

Many furniture stores give you the option of purchasing an entire living room set in matching upholstery, but that doesn’t mean you should do it. In a more formal seating area, matching upholstery can give a room a sense of maturity and order, but if you want a living room to feel warm and welcoming, stay away from the safe route of going all-in-one and opt for a mix of contrasting upholstered pieces to give the space a bit more personality.

One of the simplest ways to do this is to mix a leather sofa with fabric chairs or vice versa, so the materials contrast in an intentionally cohesive way. It not only gives the living room design some diversity, but it can give guests different options to suit their seating preferences.If you don’t have the budget to purchase new seating or you’re already happy with your current furnishings, pillows are a great up and add immediate interest. 

When it comes to living room seating, it’s important for upholstery to not only be comfortable, but also be durable. What this means to you will depend on your lifestyle and family. Just like the pillows mentioned previously, if you have small children or pets, mid-tone durable fabrics are the safer bet. Denim and corduroy are both good options as they can be inviting, durable, and add an unexpected twist over the typical cotton or wool upholstery you often see in furniture stores. When choosing fabric for your living room furniture, look for a material with a blend of natural and synthetic fabrics to get the practical features of both. 

Designer Tip: Perform  a bend test of a fabric swatch to make sure the weave appears tight and doesn’t reveal the backing material. A tight weave is normally more durable than a loose one which leaves lots of space for dirt to hide.

teal 2-seat couch and red area rug

Source: Stock Photos/Houzz

8) Use the “Fifth Wall”

A patterned rug brings the “fifth wall” — the floor — to life, simultaneously anchoring a seating area and giving the whole room a sense of energy.  Pattern is a powerful design tool that not only adds interest, but it can minimize the appearance of stains or wear. 

Designer Tip: Even if you already have wall-to-wall carpeting, consider adding a rug to your seating area. The first time you roll it up to go to the cleaners after a big spill or a pet accident, you’ll be glad you did! 

green potted plant on table

Source:  Houzz

9) Add Personality with Wall Decor 

Displaying a  mix of wall art, mirrors, and other decorative elements that speak to the dweller’s individuality can add a uniqueness and instantly enhance the look of a space. Gallery walls, oversized artwork, or statement mirrors can add style and inject personality. In the room pictured above, the homeowner shows off their love for photography by displaying tile-styled matted prints in matching frames that mimic the metal frame of the accent chairs.

Ikea Wall Storage


10) Consider  Storage Requirements

Keep the living room organized and clutter-free with smart storage solutions. Consider multi-functional furniture, like coffee tables with storage, ottomans that double as storage units, and wall display units like the one pictured above from

living room with plants


11) Cozy Up With Plants

Incorporating elements of nature into a living space can not only set the mind at ease and add a beautiful and inexpensive decorative element, but it improves air quality. Choose plants that thrive indoors and fit the lighting conditions of your space. Setting easy-care plants like a Monstera Deliciousa, Fiddle Leaf Fig Ficus Tree (pictured above,) or a Rubber Tree Plant in corners, behind couches, and next to side tables is an inexpensive way to inject personality, a sense of calm, and color into a room without breaking your budget. 

Smaller, shorter plants like RhaphidophoraTetrasperma (mini monstera,) Birkin Philodendron, Peperomia, and Calathea, are perfect for placing on coffee and side tables.

living room with brown sofa and glass window

12) Rearrange and Repurpose 

Sometimes, a fresh layout or a new coat of paint can make a significant difference in a space without making a significant financial investment.Before buying new items, consider if there are any existing pieces that can be rearranged, repurposed, or somehow reused in your living room or somewhere else in your home. 

Nesting tables, stools, ottomans and cushions like the poofs pictured above can be moved around easily to make a living room much more comfortable and versatile, providing lots of options when company arrives. Arrange furniture to create a comfortable and functional layout.

Consider the focal point of the room (like a fireplace or a TV) and arrange seating around it. Keep traffic flow in mind, ensuring that there's a clear path throughout the room.A 12-seat sectional sofa may look great, but if you’re looking to create a cozy living room, try using fewer, smaller seating pieces pushed closer together. 

Designer Tip: A good rule of thumb is to arrange the room so there is a good distance between seats to facilitate conversation. If you have several sofas or a sofa, love seat, and side chairs, the seating area should have a diameter of 8 feet and 4 feet out from the center of the seating area.

gray sectional couch beside brown wooden table

13) Mix Contrasting Shades

While a living room that is all white and bright might look clean and bright, it can feel unapproachable. Likewise, one that’s all dark can look dramatic but can feel like a cave. Instead, try mixing dark and light colors to create a dynamic look that has depth and balance and still feels inviting.  

Beyond white and  black, decorating a living room with a variety of contrasting neutrals goes a long way toward making it feel rich, warm,  and welcoming.  

beige puppy lying on brown textile

14)  Embrace Controlled Chaos

For families with pets or small children, attempting to achieve a room with perfect order will mean that anything out of place will stick out like a sore thumb. Accepting a bit of controlled chaos will mean the occasional dropped toy or draped blanket will look right at home.

A living room is a great space to embrace thoughtful disorder through interesting gallery walls, mix-and-match throws and pillows, and open storage baskets. Pet furniture is available in as many styles as its human-purposed counterparts these days, so choose varieties that your furry friend will love and complements your living room's style at the same time.

When it comes to kid-clutter, remember, children aren't small forever, so do your best to welcome the occasional disorder---it's a clear sign of a home that's well-loved.

couch near painting

Take Away

While creating a living room that looks beautiful and impeccably designed is every homeowner’s dream, the most important goal of a living room makeover is creating a space that reflects your personality and meets your lifestyle needs. 

Take the time to plan thoughtfully and enjoy the process of transforming your living room into a space that envelopes you with joy every time you walk in the door and lets you leave the outside world at your doorstep.