Expecting Company? Give Your Living Room a Makeover in 24 Hours

Your living room needs a makeover, but you have been putting it off for some time now. This afternoon, you received a call that your in-laws are coming to visit from out of town! Now, you need to update the room in a hurry, and have no idea what to do. This article will give you tips for making over your living room in a day, while not spending much money in the process.

Not only will your in-laws be impressed, you have quickly finished a project that you have been putting off for months!

Paint a Wall

No, it isn’t necessary to engage in hours of drudgery painting the entire living room. Choose one wall, and paint it a bold, intense color that blends with some of your existing accents. You will be amazed at the depth doing this one little thing can add to the room. You add a great burst of color, while adding warmth to the room as well.

Can’t Afford New Furniture?

If you need new furnishings but your budget won’t allow for it at the moment, invest in some good slipcovers. For the sofa, you may want to keep the slipcover one solid color, and then add richly textured accent pillows that bring out the color of the wall you painted. Have a boldly patterned throw? Toss it casually over the back of the sofa, or a recliner or rocking chair.

Move the furniture around and take it away from the walls. Group it together in an intimate arrangement that looks cozy and welcoming. If you add an area rug that includes the colors of the room, center it in the middle of the grouping.

Clear the Clutter

Clutter tends to make a room look messy and disorganized. By removing the clutter from floors, furniture and table tops, you will visually increase the size of the room! It will look much cleaner and better organized. As a general rule, place no more than three items on the top of any one table.

Now, decorate the walls with further bursts of color. You can hang boldly colored prints with a simple mat, or stencil designs on the wall yourself and paint using hues that coordinate or contrast with the other colors of the room. Usually, about three colors add the most interest and appeal to a room without making it look overly complicated. Add a big vase of fresh flowers that are colored in shades to match the room, light a warmly scented candle and you’re done! As quick as a flash, you have a newly updated living room.

Sometimes, it takes a little push for us to get things accomplished that we’ve been meaning to do for a long time. Whether company is coming with little notice, or you just want to refresh the room a bit, put these tips to work! Before dark tonight, you can transform the look of a neutral or otherwise dull room. Just add some bold color and accents for instant sparkle and flash!

Living Room Lighting

A good lighting plan for your living room is often one of the more difficult plans to make. Why? Your living room lighting plan must be flexible enough to serve multiple functions. And some want their lighting plan to change as they decide to change the arrangement of furniture in their room. As a result lots of thought should go into what type of lighting you use in each area.

Ceiling and Recessed Lighting

You might be installing recessed or track lighting to provide light all over the room or to light a specific area in your room. Regardless, you’ll need to use the same principles. Placement of fixtures isn’t something we’ll get into here, but the type of light bulbs you’ll need is something I want to recommend.

If you are using recessed lighting all over your room, you’ll want to use a light bulb that will give you all over lighting. Using incandescent standard A19 style light bulbs or going to a compact fluorescent twister style or A shape will give you an all over light.

If you need recessed lighting to light a specific area, you will then want to go to a flood or spot light type light bulb. Over a fireplace is the most common place to use these. Some also like to use wide flood light bulbs in recessed lighting. They give a large section of light without a total bright room and provide some interesting contrast of light.

Portable Lighting

What do I mean by portable lighting? Anything you can pick up and move, mainly table lamps and floor lamps. These need to be placed at the end of sofas or beside chairs and sometimes in corners or areas not well lit by other lighting options. Use portable lighting not only to light a reading area but to give a different dimension to your lighting plan either when overhead lighting is on or not. Mini Deco Twister CFL light bulbs are perfect for these as they are super energy efficient and you don’t see the bulb….or shouldn’t.

Art or Photo Illumination

There are three ways to illuminate art work or photos on your walls: sconces, recessed lighting or track lighting. In this application you will definitely want to use a spot light bulb in your recessed or track lighting. Depending on the fixture you use, there will be different specifications as to how far from the wall and the angle in which you have your can. Sconces can use lots of light bulbs. Sconces will give more of an indirect light effect where it’s not spot lighted but just brightened. Which application depends on the desired effect you have for the piece of art or photo.

Wet Bar or Game Table Areas

Areas off to the side where you plan to have a table or bar can take some low hanging lighting. Pendants are nice hung over a bar area and are generally hung in odd numbers; 3 being the most common. Pendants should be hung 72″ from the floor. This allows for folks to stand across the bar and talk to each other and the pendant to not be in the way of conversation.

If you are installing a larger pendent or chandelier type fixture over a game or hobby table, these you’ll want to hang at about 60″ from the floor. The biggest concern here is getting the light down to the task area.

Inner Cabinet Lighting

There is nothing more interesting that having room to put a very small portable lamp on a bookcase shelf. If your shelves are adjustable this might be an option for you. You generally don’t want anything taller than 18″. It’s often hard to find those petit good looking lamps but they do exist.

The more prominent way of lighting a book case or display case of sorts is to have puck or Cove Powercore lighting. Puck lights are small round lights that are installed roughly 18″ apart on the underside of the shelf. Cove lighting is a longer fixture that provides more all over lighting. The fixtures can be added on to each other to go the length of the shelf.

The top 3 or 4 shelves are most often what you’ll want to illuminate. Sometimes folks will want to light the entire case but you don’t need to do this as your most important items will be on the eye level shelves and higher.

Using these guidelines should help you formulate your living room lighting plan. With some thought about what your room will look like and the functions of the room, a plan will begin to evolve.

Living Room Fix-Its – Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About!

Once your guests have cleared the ‘security’ stop point of your foyer/entry area of your home, it’ time to introduce them to a more personal you. Invite them into your ‘Living Room,’ the one space where family and friends always seem to meet!

I suppose the name was assigned to this room because of the amount of time we plan to spend in it! What a tall order; to create a room, a single room, where an entire family can live in it and guests can feel welcome too.

Let’s do it!

First, measure your wall space and make note of window placement. Write it down; sketch a layout of the room, including doors and windows and their proximity to one another!

Before you decide what furniture will be included in this particular masterpiece of a room, think about it! Make a note about how it will be used in your family, what things are vital and nonnegotiable and what things can go if there is a pinch for space or design.

Next, decide on a color to set the tone and mood you want to achieve in this space. Remember there are shades and hues of every color; find the one that best suits you and your family, and your plan. You need only to determine what you want this room to feel like before selecting your color.

Find your focal point; then begin arranging your furnishings in a manner that will allow the space to be lived in comfortably while traffic moves freely about the room. This is typically a fireplace, a great view or some area of the room that will hold the most used items like the TV.

If you have a ‘cookie cutter’ style home, consider adding an electric fireplace (found at your local home improvement stores inexpensively) to create a personalized warm and inviting focal point. Seating should be grouped around your focal point; it should also be arranged to promote conversations between the people in the room.

Change the fans and chandeliers for replacement fans and lighting that suit your décor. Once the room is completed, you can add lighting on tables to compliment your design choices. Remember, it matters little what it appears to be when you start, your goal is to make it work for your family and your design style, affordably.

Measure the pieces you intend to keep in the room. If you can locate a roll of painter’s tape you will be able to measure the pieces of furniture and place them with the tape to see exactly how the floor space and traffic pattern responds to your ideas. This saves back breaking labor for plans that simply won’t work! Invest in a set of ‘moving coasters.’ These are available at Dollar Stores, discount department stores and all home improvement stores. The most difficult part of arranging a room will become a breeze with these coasters.

If your space is large enough, establish two focal points; combining two points of interest in the space will make it more inviting. This allows for the primary focal point and a secondary point of interest that typically includes a quiet time space to read, a desk or some other special area you want to create in the room. This area should be at the furthest distance from the hub of activity in the room.

If you are using a TV set as your focal point, place it in an attractive setting such as a wall unit, hanging above a media cabinet or in a hanging media cabinet that can be closed off when not being used while providing yet another conversation piece to enhance your décor. In other words, make it earn the cherished position of the focal point of your room. The largest of your art pieces should be placed with the largest furniture pieces; something that says I’m special! If you don’t see the perfect piece, head to thrift shops, yard and garage sales and Flea Markets. You know what to do!

Avoid overly large pieces of furniture; your goal is to make the space compliment your furniture and design ideas and make your furniture comfortable in the space.

Place your sofa in the area with the largest blank space open that also allows the people in the room to enjoy the focal point. Leave at least two feet between sofas, chairs and love seats and the coffee table. Anything less is uncomfortable, feels crowded and causes knee injuries and a painful experience in your home.

Avoid the matching sofa, love seat, chair settings. Choose the sofa as your primary piece and then complement it with different colors or patterns that allow all of the pieces to show off. One matching chair or even a matching love seat can be overcome by adding a contrasting piece to the grouping. Add complimentary throw pillows that introduce your secondary color choices into the space.

Consider adding a sofa table (even if it is a buffet in disguise that will add valuable space for storage, games, etc. that your family uses. When placed at the back of the sofa or love seat it frees up wall space, adds wood tones and a place to add lighting or candles and display space. Cut the legs off of an older buffet and create a special seating area by adding a pillow to the top!

Reject the idea of placing your sofa against the wall, in front of the window. So help me that look is the basis of the ‘House of Commons.’ It says, “I did not know what to do with anything so I just pushed it against the white walls and lined everything up!” That is not an original idea!

Pull pieces into your grouping; leave the walls for spectacular wall hangings and accessories. Don’t be afraid to pull the chairs in and angle them to achieve a conversation area. It is uncomfortable and uninviting to have to bend your neck to make conversation with others in the room.

Place the pieces and sit down, have a ‘mock’ conversation and gently ‘live’ in the space before selecting the right grouping. You will be a force to be reckoned with if you achieve a comfortable seating arrangement!

People will enjoy their time spent in your home and leave not quite knowing why it was such a good experience. It is called being ‘comfortable.’

Personally, I am uncomfortable in spaces where there are no tables; no coffee tables, no end tables, nothing! Just sit right down, hold your coffee and tough it out!

I don’t understand this mentality; it inspires people to leave the space quickly.

Carefully examine the rest of your pieces of furniture. Make sure they do not overwhelm the space by excessive height or girth. Every piece beyond the primary sitting area is an accessory. Make them count!

Hang your pictures and wall decorations at eye level. This places the center of the picture at somewhere between 5′ and 5’6,” Hanging pictures with the center of the picture at 60″ is most desirable to create a warm and inviting space. Find one place in the room to place your largest wall hanging that will allow it to shine for you. If you look around your friends’ homes you are likely to discover that someone measured about a foot or a foot and a half down the wall from the ceiling and hung everything. It is impossible to balance a room with those kinds of heights. Eye Level, always!

If you want to visually tie a space together, like the seating arrangement, find a rug that is two feet wider than the conversation arrangement and center it on the rug underneath.

If you have a sofa that looks perfect against a wall, look for something that balances the size of the sofa with the room. As unlikely as it may seem, a single oversized piece will attract attention not only to your prized sofa but also to the entire room as it becomes the focal point.

Eliminate clutter, place only large items on the floor as a part of your décor get rid of ‘foo foo’ pieces that collect dust (a nice curio cabinet is good for these to be displayed).

Add candles in at least one area of your living room. When things are quieter in the house candles are very comforting to relax with. Display it attractively! Add a plant, tree or other accessory beside the areas that still feel austere to further designate it as your focal point. Whatever your plan, execute it with pride.

Create a special corner in any area and let the lighting, mirrors and candles set a special mood! You are ready now to ‘strut your stuff’ in your living room! Invite your friends and enjoy!

Alternative Uses For Your Living Room

Like most colonials, our home has a family room and a living room. And like most homeowners, we spend a lot more time in our family room than our living room. In fact, my 7 year old still gets confused when I use the term “living” room. It’s now just known as the “red” room in our house.

With some minor changes and a lot of inspiration, you can turn your living room into something you’d actually live in! Here are some possible uses and design tips to help you get started:

Home office – Home Office means different things to different people. It could be a place to pay bills and file paperwork, or a place for kids to do homework, or you may run a business out of your home. Whatever your definition, focus your design around the function of the room.

  • Provide a clear surface on which to work. It’s easy for a desk or table to become overrun with “stuff” resulting in no place to actually work. Tight for space? How about a table that drops down from the wall when needed (like a Murphy bed)?
  • Add a comfortable desk chair that is adjustable and doesn’t squeak (trust me on this one!). If your room has carpet, consider a plastic floor protector to help you wheel around easier.
  • Add lots of hidden storage, but be sure to clearly label your storage units so you know where to find things.
  • Lighting is key! You will need overhead as well as good task lighting. If there is no overhead light, add some up-lighting.
  • Select functional accessories that add personality by do not cutter the space. But be careful not to make it too institutional – it’s still your home, after all!
  • Keep the palate light and bright to inspire energy.
  • Minimize and secure cords as much as possible. Go wireless wherever possible.

Library – Love to read? Have a great book collection? Turn your living room into a cozy place to curl up with a good book! It’s like having your own coffee house.

  • Add lots of shelving. Rather than just adding bookcases, consider customized bookshelves built around a window to create a window box seat. Not only will you get additional storage, you’ll add a wonderful focal point to the room.
  • Instead of a traditional sofa or loveseat, opt for two or three comfy club chairs (depending on space). Gather those chairs around a round glass-top coffee table with a wood shelf underneath to show off some of your favorite coffee table books.
  • Provide task lighting for each reading chair. Pharmacy lamps are great for this. Make sure you also have enough lighting to see the books on the shelves.
  • As a library, you can comfortably use darker paint to create warmth.
  • Accessories – add a warm toned rug, soft throw blankets, and pepper the walls with black and white photography to create a coffee house feel.

Toy room – A toy room can be a great compromise between parents and kids in the eternal battle of toy clutter!

  • Opt for shelving with attractive bins that can hide the clutter inside them, and allow for pick-up in less than 5 minutes. Open storage looks messy, even when the room is picked up. Avoid a collection of mis-matched toy organizers – they look tacky!
  • Make sure the room is comfortable for grown ups as well as kids -add a comfortable chair or loveseat.
  • Add a kid-sized table and chairs. Tip: put a machine washable rug underneath to survive craft time!
  • Keep the room bright with cheerful colors, but avoid “cutesy” – save that for their bedrooms.
  • If your kids enjoy movies, add a TV and DVD player.
  • Set clear rules for cleanup, and stick to them!

Media room – Do you enjoy watching movies? Create your own movie theater in the comfort of your own home!

  • Add French or pocket doors and light-blocking shades to create a dark, quiet environment on demand.
  • Add a large screen TV with surround sound.
  • Add a dimmer switch to better control the lighting. Add task lighting to allow for discreet multi-tasking while watching a movie.
  • Depending on how many people will be watching the movies, add enough comfortable seating. Tip: use two loveseats angled at the corners of the room opposite the TV, and toss a couple bean bag chairs behind them for extra seating when necessary.
  • For decor, just frame a few of your favorite movie posters and hang them on the walls.
  • Don’t forget the DVD organizer and a handy remote control holder!

Mud Room -Depending on the layout of your house, you could convert your living room into an oversized “holding cell” to accommodate coats, back packs, shoes, calendars, cleaning supplies, dog bed, pet food and much more. You get the idea!

  • Assign a “locker” to each family member (don’t forget the family pet). Lockers provide vertical storage that makes good use of the space while hiding its cluttered contents. It’s a great storage solution for jackets, purses, backpacks, and more. Lockers can be wood or metal, whichever you prefer.
  • Add wall hooks for guest coats, umbrellas, etc.
  • Add a shoe rack for wet or dirty shoes. Place vinyl placemats underneath to protect your floor.
  • Create a mail box for each member of the family to control mail flow.
  • Add a credenza or file cabinet to file all that mysterious paperwork that wanders into the house.
  • Create a message center by painting a wall (or part of a wall) with magnetic and/or chalkboard paint. Make it “pop” by adding a large empty gold leaf frame!
  • Add a colorful rug. Rather than get one large rug, opt for a couple smaller rugs that are machine washable.
  • How about a small drop-leaf table and a couple chairs for small projects, or for putting boots on?

Stag room – What can I say? If you must have one, here are some ideas:

  • Add a pool table, and a dart board (if room).
  • Include a bar and some bar stools.
  • Opt for a darker paint color that won’t show wear and tear.
  • Display your favorite neon bar sign, deer head, or other prized possession.
  • Add a juke box in the corner if you like.
  • Don’t forget the traditional “dogs playing poker” print!

Overwhelmed? Call an Interior Re-designer in your area. They specialize in making rooms work using what you already have. It’s a very cost-effective way to bring new life to your old room.

It’s time to start actually living in your “living” room!