Yellow adds optimism to your home, prompting feelings of happiness in all who enter. Interior designer Lisa Teague, designer of Quiet Home Paints, says most people know their color preferences — they just do not know that they do. "It‘s an intuitive process," she says. "My job is to explore with my clients their reactions to color. Do they lean toward clean colors or do they like a little earthiness?" Green represents renewal and lends a calming feel to a room. You can identify these preferences on your own. Experts advise pulling inspiration from a variety of sources. Collect photos of rooms that appeal to you. Find inspiration in a piece of artwork or fabric where you can already see how the color relationships play out. And don‘t forget to look inside your closet. Is there a scarf, a blouse, a wrap or a tie that you gravitate to again and again? Changing how you think about color can give you the confidence to make bold decisions. Designer Andrea Brooks says she approached the design of her own living room by starting with her long-time favorite color. "I’ve always loved pink," she says. "I know I feel my best and most confident when Iam wearing pink, and because of that, I was not afraid to bring it into my own living room." If you long for serenity, using the color gray in your home decor is a great place to start. But Brooks did not just pick just one pink, and she didn‘t count on it to do all the work: "By layering different shades of pink and layering in different textures through fabric, the pink reads as a neutral," she says of the room where she entertains friends or works on design projects. "It gets my creative juices flowing. It‘s an instant pick-me-up." If you want a color that encourages your family and friends to slow down and relax, brown can be the solution to your problem. Photo courtesy of West Elm. Brooks‘ careful approach to color combining and textural layering speaks to the interplay of all the painted surfaces, the fabrics, the wooden furniture, the accessories and the art that sets a good room apart. Some designers even take the wall color (or a paler version of it) into surprising territory. "Nobody wants to notice a big white geometric shape [the ceiling] when entering a room," says Lisa Teague. "I often carry my wall color up and over the ceiling so that you see the color rather than the shape of the wall. And of course, there are some architectural features that one wants to enhance. Color is a great tool for doing so." Reds, oranges, lime green and turquoise tend to bring excitement and stimulation to a space. Whites and pale blues and greens tend to soften it, expand it and give it a restful feel. Grays and blacks bring moodiness and drama. So choose with care. The palette you choose for your living room could excite you enough to make you want to throw open your doors with enthusiasm - or sigh with relief at such a heavenly respite from the outside world.
These custom storage solutions maximize every inch of space, adding function and style. Neat rows and columns can be very satisfying to gaze upon — especially if they represent the orderly assemblage of some of your favorite things. Built-in cabinetry can bring order to your living room, transforming it from a simple blank slate to a creatively curated exhibition. No longer plain walls with a window here and a door there, the space takes on a new dimension: foreground and background, storage space that closes up and display space that attracts the eye. The living room in Kent and Jenny Longardner‘s home in Elmhurst, Illinois, after Design Star winner and Host Meg Caswell‘s redesign, as seen on HGTV‘s Great Rooms, season 2 . The built-in library opens to unveil the door to the office, the tikky bar is in a corner and the facing wall is covered with a display of framed photos. Built-in cabinetry allows for thinking about storage both horizontally and vertically. The higher and the deeper you go, the less accessible things become. Depending on who needs what, built-ins can serve a whole household, not to mention guests as well. They provide the framework for addressing a variety of needs: storage of books and photos, a home for televisions and media equipment, display for beloved collectibles, a handy spot for children‘s art supplies and toys. Maybe there is a tray on a deep shelf complete with drinks, napkins and barware. Never underestimate the power of quality built-in cabinetry to unify a room — and to do so with both efficiency and good looks. What might be lost in flexibility within the space is gained in sure and steady practicality. A built-in filled with books cleverly surrounds the TV so the black screen isn‘t an obvious focal point in the room. The glass desk and coffee table add a contemporary touch, while the classic white furniture keeps with the room‘s overall traditional vibe. Jennifer Jones of Niche Interiors recommends corralling loose items on shelves by stocking up on simple, attractive boxes and baskets. "Unless you truly live like a minimalist the only way to control the clutter is to have a home for everything, from remote controls to your child‘s favorite toys," she says. "Use boxes or baskets on bookcases and shelves to store your least attractive but necessary objects." These days many people are searching for ways to use all of their rooms — every square inch of them — in the most adaptable and creative ways possible. They are retrofitting them to accommodate growing families or downsizing to bring simplicity to their lives. And the living room — once a pristine and formal room — is prime territory for housing more functions than ever. It‘s become a much friendlier and more adaptable room today. To convert a study in this Minnesota lake house into extra sleeping space for guests, Hendel Homes installed a "Zoom Bed" beneath the bookcase and TV. Design by Cathy Iverson; photography by Troy Thies Photography. "People are looking for custom storage solutions where things can be tucked away," says Ginny Snook Scott of California Closets. "Whether it‘s a computer or a media center or a spot to do homework that can be closed away at the end of the evening, they are finding places where those things don‘t have to be out all the time." Yes, she‘s talking electronics - the computers, tablets, phones, cameras, and televisions with all their cords and accessories. But it‘s not just that. "Homeowners who want to convert their living rooms into multifunctional spaces are incorporating a wall bed," she says. "Rooms don‘t have to be dedicated to media 24 hours a day. Wall beds were part of our culture in the 30s and 40s, and they are making a comeback." So the Murphy bed is back. With its novel yet retro vibe and that über-cool element of surprise, your guests may want to stay awhile. Hospitality is built right in.
Use smart strategies to make your small living room feel larger. When carefully planned, a small living room can be both attractive and user-friendly. When you take the time to consider your storage needs and daily lifestyle, you can create a small but smart living room that increases the enjoyment of your home. "Make sure the furniture you choose for your small living room is appropriate for the space," says eco-friendly designer Robin Wilson, CEO of Robin Wilson Home of New York City. "For example, avoid sofas with skirts. You want to go for furniture raised off the floor." A tall lamp that draws your eye up and adds height to the room or a stylish chair with a pop of color or interesting back are other tools Wilson likes to use to make a small living room feel larger and give it personality. Other simple ideas, like going for a space-saving flat-screen TV or a laptop that hides out of the way instead of a stationary desktop computer, keep the area free from clutter and allow traffic flow in and out of the room. But try to resist the urge to use only small pieces in your small living room. Instead, consider an oversized chair that gives unexpected scale to the space, suggests San Francisco interior designer Jonathan Rachman. "Oversized wall art also expands the room," says Rachman. "Doing an accent wall color stretches and deepens the room. You can use a complementary color or something that offers contrast: You can have three walls neutral and then take that same color and use the deepest version of that color for the accent wall." Creating the illusion of more space is the way to go, believes Rachman. A great area rug can be used to mark a seating area, or you can paint a pattern, like chevron stripes, on your hardwood floor to create borders to help the room feel more spacious. And just because you have a sofa doesn‘t mean you have to have a standard coffee table. "In a small living room, you can use ottomans or stools that move out of the way when you need the space," says Rachman. "Just make sure to consider how you need that room to function and if there are any special requirements. For example, if you need a pullout sofa for guests." Think about traffic flow when you arrange furniture, but avoid placing all the pieces in one corner of the room. Also consider pulling your sofa away from the wall. This simple move gives you space to add a console table that offers open storage and a place for displaying your favorite collectibles.
Use different kinds of light to illuminate your living room and create an inviting atmosphere. Homeowners spend lots of time choosing a sofa or paint color for their living room walls, but often forget about the importance of proper lighting. In a space where you watch TV, read books, play games and entertain guests, lighting serves an important purpose in both the function and look of the room. "Lighting is important because of the intimacy it creates," says interior and lighting designer Linda Allen of Linda Allen Designs. "Since living rooms are usually one of the first rooms you walk into, it sets the tone for the rest of the house." Texture and neutral colors help make this living room the ideal spot for relaxing and entertaining. A good living room lighting scheme uses different kinds of light, set at different levels, that work together to make the space warm and attractive. Allen says if you want people to linger, use dimmers that allow you to control the level of light to suit the activities that take place in the space. Take advantage of the newer, more energy-efficient lighting solutions for residential use, suggests Mary Beth Gotti, manager of the GE Lighting Institute. "Ten years ago you wouldn‘t have seen nearly as many halogen fixtures, and LEDs are definitely one of the newest options," says Gotti. "Lighting can be magical. You can go online or visit your local lighting showroom and learn about the new light sources and colors now available." When you want to highlight certain features in your living room, like a fireplace, textured walls or a favorite painting, accent lighting is the way to go. Recessed, adjustable lights directed to points of interest or under-cabinet lighting in a display case that highlights selected objects are examples of accent lighting. "Accent lighting adds a pleasing variation of brightness," says Gotti. "You are drawing attention and putting more light on an architectural feature." In order for accent lighting to work, it needs to supply about five times as much light on the focal point as the surrounding general light. Although the overall style of the workspace is traditional, Alex was able to bring a touch of his classic, modern style into the room with a smoked glass pendant light centered above the Chinese farmhouse table. Stylish chandeliers, ceiling lights, wall-mounted fixtures or portable lamps can provide the ambiance that casts a warm glow in your living room. It controls glare and provides the general illumination that makes the living room feel comfortable and inviting. "As a lighting designer, when I am creating ambient light I am creating an effect," says Allen, who likes to use ambient light when she wants to illuminate a surface but not see where the light source comes from. Since this type of lighting affects the overall quality of light in the room and tends to be used the most, Gotti says this is where you want to use your energy-efficient When you want to create interest and add sparkle to your living room, table lamps, hanging pendants and chandeliers can provide the decorative light that adds coziness and intimacy. "It personalizes a space," says Allen. "I always say it‘s like wearing a great pair of earrings to complete an outfit." When you want to read a book or need to write at a desk, good task lighting helps you get things done. This brighter light can be a floor lamp with a swinging arm next to a comfortable chair, or a directed light source over a desk. "These are not the lights you use all the time — they are only to be used when you are doing a task, like reading or writing," says Allen. A more localized type of lighting, positioning is especially important. Portable table lamps allow for flexibility when furniture is moved.
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