Choosing Living Room Furniture

Consider fabric, function and style when selecting furniture for your remodel.
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CI-Ann-Lowengart-green-blue-pillows-living-room_s4x3

Photo courtesy of Ann Lowengart

Photo by: Dacian Groza

Dacian Groza

Photo courtesy of Ann Lowengart

By: Julie Cole Miller
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We've all seen cold rooms with furnishings lined inelegantly against the wall. Yes, the floor space is preserved wide and open. Yet the room doesn't appear larger or more inviting. It isn't conducive to conversation or drawing closer for a chat. The best rooms are not static boxes. They include furnishings that can be pulled up, dragged over or gathered around.

Designer Ann Lowengart says moveable seating is key. "We love swivel chairs that can face a sofa, the television or the outdoors," she says. "Other favorites are stools and benches that can be moved around to create extra seating or facilitate intimate conversations. Moveable pieces give a space versatility — that's why we love them so much."

Every living room has a focal point. It's the spot that begs attention when we first enter the room. Designers Alison Vanderpool and Ariana Villalta of The Elegant Abode suggest starting there. "Make sure you always start with a main focal point and begin placing furniture from there," says Vanderpool. "Don't be afraid to have your furniture placed in the middle of the room. A decent-sized area rug will ground it and create a more comfortable feeling."

Vanderpool and Villalta begin with upholstered pieces, first and foremost, to delineate a pleasing seating arrangement. They like to use either two matching sofas facing one another or a sofa with two armchairs to encourage interaction and engagement with others in the room. To ensure there's always room for more, "ottomans can also be a great addition to seating and can easily be moved around," says Vanderpool.

Design Behind the Living Room Sofa

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Get Personal

Show off your skills, and don’t be afraid to display your own art. The image behind this sofa was created from a personal photo that was printed on canvas and then displayed in a floating frame.

Display What You Love

If you have a cool collection, why not put it where you and your guests can always enjoy it? And by keeping your favorite items within arm’s reach of the sofa, you’ll always have easy access to your most-prized possessions. Design by Sarah Barnard

Table Tactics

If you don’t have room for side tables, consider placing a table behind your couch. You can display more of your favorite belongings as well as much-needed lighting without interrupting traffic flow. Design by Barry Dixon

From: Barry Dixon

Photo By: Edward Addeo

Color Blast

If you like a more subdued color palette in your home but crave a splash of color, mix in a bright hue with bold art that can be changed as often as you like to suit your mood.

From: Gioi Tran

Biblio-Files

For a true book-lover, there is no better sight than that of an entire wall covered in classics. Place your sofa in front of a well-stocked bookshelf for ultra-wow factor and easy access to your favorite reads. Design by Barry Dixon

From: Barry Dixon

Photo By: Photo Credit: Edward Addeo

Tie It All Together

In this cheerful living room, designers Cortney and Robert Novogratz used the watercolor art behind the sofa as color inspiration for the throw pillows, creating a cohesive color scheme throughout the space.

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Add an Accent Wall

The wall behind your sofa is an ideal spot for an accent wall. Pair it with a neutral sofa and understated wall-hangings for a fun but sophisticated display. By Coddington Design

Shelving Solution

Added shelving is great for extra storage. The display shelves featured here hold art and family photos and minimize wall damage. When the look becomes stale, just mix in fresh images. Design by Lugbill Designs

Photo By: Andrew Bruah ©Andrew Bruah Photographer

Looking Glass

To add extra depth and interest to your living room, try hanging a mirror behind the sofa. Even a small mirror like the one featured here can add visual space and light to your room. Design by Shelly Riehl David

From: Shelly Riehl David

Gallery Wall

Can’t decide which pictures are behind-the-couch-worthy? Take a group of pictures and display them gallery-style for a look that will grab attention and take full advantage of wall space. Design by Meg Caswell

Photo By: Jean-Marc Giboux/Getty Images

Out of the Ordinary

When it comes to design, never be afraid to attempt something new. If it feels right, try it out. The colorful ceramic plates behind this neutral sofa add texture while also covering more wall surface where the painting would have been too small on its own. Design by Joann Kandrac

Unique Photo Display

When deciding what to put on the wall behind your sofa, don’t overlook common items like the wooden pallet featured here. It’s a cute, budget-friendly approach that is perfect for displaying family photos. Design by Meg Caswell

Photo By: Jean-Marc Giboux/Getty Images

Ottomans, coffee tables, occasional tables and other portable surfaces lend the room a congenial atmosphere, ensuring that there's always a surface nearby for a book, drink, lamp, tray or vase. These are the pieces that catch all of our stuff — the worthwhile things that engage us and encourage us outside the rush of day-to-day commitments.

"Focus on the living part," advises designer Andrea Brooks. "Make these rooms livable, with comfortable, deep upholstery pieces and snuggly but durable fabrics. I love using chairs that swivel when you have multiple seating areas. And I love my overscaled ottoman — it's moveable, inviting to sit upon and you can put your feet up when you want to."

So play around with the placement of your furnishings. Pull up a chair, put up your feet and find an arrangement that encourages living in your living room.

HGTV Home Sofa

HGTV Home Sofa

This Park Avenue sofa has a stylish track arm T cushion. Seatsand backs are loose and reversible.

Photo by: Photo Courtesy: HGTV HOME Design Studio at Bassett

Photo Courtesy: HGTV HOME Design Studio at Bassett

This Park Avenue sofa has a stylish track arm T cushion. Seatsand backs are loose and reversible.

Sofas

Styles: Bridgewater, camelback, Chesterfield, club, Knole, Lawson, midcentury modern, slipper, tuxedo

Fabrics: Cotton, linen, wool, microfiber, velvet, cotton/poly blend, faux suede, leather

Keep in mind: Stain resistance, durability, pets, loose or attached pillows and cushions, filling (often foam wrapped in polyester or down)

Additional options: Loveseats, sectionals, sleeper sofas, chaises, settees

Lagoon Oliver Chair

Lagoon Oliver Chair

The Oliver Chair's comfy, rounded shape and scaled-down proportions help to create intimate, conversational settings in open areas or small spaces.

Photo by: Photo Courtesy of West Elm

Photo Courtesy of West Elm

The Oliver Chair's comfy, rounded shape and scaled-down proportions help to create intimate, conversational settings in open areas or small spaces.

Occasional Chairs

Styles: Armchairs, barrel-back, club, slipper, wing

Fabrics: Cotton, linen, leather, microfiber, silk, velvet, wool, cotton/poly blend

Keep in mind: Comfort, stain resistance, durability, pets

Additional options: Rockers, recliners, swivels, gliders, chair-and-a-half

Ottoman

Ottoman

This chocolate ottoman features micro-fiber upholstery, removable tufted top and faux leather vinyl base.

Photo by: Photo Courtesy: MBWFurniture.com

Photo Courtesy: MBWFurniture.com

This chocolate ottoman features micro-fiber upholstery, removable tufted top and faux leather vinyl base.

Upholstered Ottomans, Benches and Stools

Styles: Rectangular, square, circular

Fabrics: Cotton, linen, leather, microfiber, silk, velvet, wool, cotton/poly blend

Keep in Mind: Storage capabilities, portability, stain resistance, durability

Additional options: Small portable poufs

Warrenton Console Table

Warrenton Console Table

This Warrenton console table is constructed with plantation hardwoods and Cherry veneers and features a rich Cherry Chestnut finish.

Photo by: Photo Courtesy: Bassett Furniture Industries, Inc.

Photo Courtesy: Bassett Furniture Industries, Inc.

This Warrenton console table is constructed with plantation hardwoods and Cherry veneers and features a rich Cherry Chestnut finish.

Coffee Tables, Side Tables and Accent Tables

Styles: Rectangular, square, circular, oval

Materials: Wood, Lucite, glass, metal, woven fibers, shagreen, mirror or some combination thereof

Keep in mind: Storage capabilities, shelving, durability, portability

Additional options: Trunks, garden seats, stools, nesting tables, multiple small tables in place of one large coffee table

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