Determine Your Living Room Needs
Before you can start planning your renovation, you need to know what your ultimate goal for your remodeled space is:
- Are you renovating your living room mostly to enlarge it?
- Are you remodeling to update it?
- Are you renovating to sell your home down the line?
- How do you plan to enjoy your living room day in and day out, year after year?
"Ultimately," says interior designer Sarah Zames, owner of General Assembly, "the best way to identify what is going to work best for your family is to think about how you really live. Are you the type of people who like to spend a lot of time together watching movies around a TV? In that case, make sure it's comfortable to watch. On the other hand," she says, "if you spend most of your time reading, you might want to find a way to hide the TV when it's not in use."
If you are going to use your living room for entertaining, think about what types of gatherings you usually host. Do you like to invite one or two other couples for a quiet night of wine and cheese in front of the fireplace? Or throw big stand-up fetes where everyone mixes and mingles? For seated events, pick large, cushy upholstery; for stand-up shindigs, keep the chairs and couches smaller-scale to leave as much room as possible for moving around. If you entertain formally, be sure you have storage space for less-fancy items such as your kids' toys and your stacks of magazines, so that you can stash them when company comes. And if your events tend to be boisterous and messy, you're going to want couches and carpets that are stain resistant.
Think about what secondary functions your space has to serve. Is your living room going to be just a living room, or will it be a living room and office? "More and more," says interior designer Karen Soojian, ASID, "we are combining rooms that used to be separate, such as a living room that doubles as a home office or a music room. If your home has limited space, designing the living room so that it can serve multiple functions is invaluable."
Make a list of everything you want to do in the space, so that you can plan accordingly. If you need to put your computer and printer in the living room, you'll require ample electrical outlets, and you might want an armoire in which to hide the electronics when it's quitting time. If the living room will double as your children's playroom, make sure your space planning includes toy storage and furniture that won't be ruined if someone spills a juice box.
If you need the space to do double duty as a guest room, make sure you budget and plan not only for a pullout sofa, but also for a coffee table that's easy to move away so that you can actually open up that sofa when guests come to spend the night.