If you’re redesigning your living room the place you must start is with your BRIEF! 🏠

Now, I know a brief isn’t as sexy or exciting as choosing a new sofa. But I PROMISE you! Having a plan and getting clear on what you want from your space will make planning your layout and lighting, and then choosing your furniture and accessories so much easier! 😎


Don't design your living room without knowing these things

1. How many people do you need to sit on a daily basis?

When it comes to a living room we usually want to lounge and relax so seating must be the absolute priority when we start thinking about the layout and design. There are lots of questions you’ll need to think about for seating but the first thing is how many bums do you actually need to sit down on a daily basis?
Once you know this you can start thinking about other questions like..do you want to be able to all sit together on one large sofa? Do you have people who like to lie down, and put their feet up? Do you have people who would appreciate an individual armchair to themselves? How often do you have to seat more people? How many people?
All this info is vital so you can plan enough seating, but also the right kind of seating.


2. What’s more important, optimum TV viewing or optimum human interaction?

Ah, that age-old question. Well not that old. But the question everyone has the same answer to “both”.
Well, you can’t have both. It doesn’t work like that I’m afraid. Compromise is an unescapable part of design so you’ll have to pick which one you want. So just think about how you use the room most, if you spend loads of time watching telly, if that’s the main function of the room then optimise TV watching. If you love entertaining and that is the most important function of the space then choose human interaction.
Once you have decided what’s more important you can plan your layout to achieve that.


3. Do you want side tables, a large central coffee table, or both?

Side tables are the most comfortable option, give everyone a side table and everyone is happy. But side tables don’t allow you to put down a large tray of drinks or snacks. They don’t allow you to get together over a board game. They don’t create a beautiful focal point and they don’t allow you to put your feet up.
So you could go for the large central coffee table option, this will do all those things and create a visual connection between your sofas and/or chairs. But you need the space for them and they aren’t always the best solution if you need access to doors leading out to the garden or if you have small children that crash about. Plus you have to lean forward to access them.

Which you go for will be totally personal to you, you can obviously do both if you have the space and budget.


4. What exactly do you need to store and how much space does it all take up?

If you need any element of storage in your living room, which most of us do, then we need to think about everything you need to store so you can accommodate it all with the new furniture you select. Best honest, and make a list of every single thing you want to store in the space. If you have the time and space then gather it all together, lay it out, photograph it, measure it. We need a clear understanding of how much space it’s all going to take up. Measure your tallest book, your tallest vase, your biggest board game so you know what you’re dealing with when shopping for your bookshelf, sideboard or cabinet.

5. Do you want open or closed storage?

This really comes down to the look and feel of the space. Do you want all the clutter behind closed doors? In this case you need to look for sideboards, cupboards or items with drawers. This will keep everything neatly away, but this can make a room lack homeliness and character so make sure you add some decorative accessories on surfaces that are visible to add some colour and texture.
If you are happy with open storage then great, this will mean you use your items more and they will add character and personality to your space, look for items with open shelves and cubbies rather than doors.


6. Do you want any decorative items on display?

Are you happy to have pretty accessories for pretty sake? If so then make sure you plan some surface areas, like the top of a sideboard, for beautiful objects like coffee table books and a large vase with some stems. If you don’t want anything decorative then think about adding texture, colour and character through your soft furnishings.


7. Do you want photos, artwork, mirrors or wall hangings on your walls?

What do you want to see on your walls? Some people love framed family photos, while others loathe them. Some people love art, others can take it or leave it. It’s important to have some elements on your wall to elevate the space, if you just line furniture along a wall it can feel very linear and make the arrangement look dull and the ceilings look lower. We need some height to draw the up eye so either plan what you want decorative elements you want on your walls or use taller pieces of furniture.


8. Are you prepared to add or move power sockets/radiators/hardwire new lights?

Do you have the budget/stomach for this? Being prepared to make changes like this can have a huge positive impact on your room. The lighting of your living room is so important and ideally, you would want to make way for ceiling lights, wall lights, table lamps and floor lamps. Lights at different heights like this, and lights evenly spread throughout the space will create a lovely soft, blanket of light. But this requires switches and sockets.

If you can’t move/add anything then you can be covert with extension leads to get power in the right places for all your lovely lamps.


9. Are you keeping or changing the flooring?

This is hopefully a fairly straightforward question. The main impact on this is whether or not you have hard floors or carpet. Hard floors give you the opportunity to add rugs which are a must for living rooms (IMO). Rugs can also be used with carpet but it’s much tricker. So have a think about what floor you are starting with and whether or not you want to incorporate rugs into your design.


10. Do you want any built-in cabinetry or all free-standing furniture?

This will probably come down to budget. Built-in cabinetry is great for awkward alcoves or spaces where it can be hard to find the perfect size piece of furniture. It also maximises storage if space is an issue for you as you can go wall to wall and floor to ceiling which you won’t get with a shop-bought piece of furniture. It’s good to know at the start of a project if this is a good idea for you.


11. What kind of window treatments would you prefer, blinds, curtains, shutters etc?

At the early stages of the design the reason we need to know this is so you can plan hanging space and access for operating them.


A blind won’t need you to plan any hanging space you will just need to plan which side you will access the pull and make sure you can reach it okay.


Curtains will need hanging space, so if, for example, you want to have a sofa perpendicular to the wall with the curtains you want to make sure the sofa doesn’t sit right up against the wall, you will need hanging space and then some breathing space between the edge of the curtain and the sofa.


And with shutters, you need a lot of space for them to open up so this will impact on how closely furniture will sit to the wall.


12. What feeling/mood/atmosphere do you want to create in the space?

This is just to help you start thinking about the colour palette for the space, it can also be really helpful to know what direction the room faces and what amount of natural light it receives as this will help you rule colours in and out.


13. What are your stylistic preferences for colours, furniture style and accessories?

We’re getting into aesthetic territory now, but how you want the room to look and feel is important. The more you know about what you like and don’t like in the earlier stages the less time you are going to waste. So before you actually start designing your living room spend some time exploring visual inspo to get a feel for what your preferred style is and what direction you want to go in.


14. What is your budget?

So important. It can actually help to have three budgets. 1. What you hope to spend. 2. What you expect to spend. 3. What you are prepared to spend if you see something that will break your heart if you don’t have it. Budget is very personal and whether have a modest or a spenny budget, it’s a really good exercise to set some boundaries right at the beginning.


15. Who is making the decisions?

If it’s just you then this is easy. If there are two or more of you then you might want to have this discussion. This might not be relevant if you are always on the same page and easily make decisions together. But if there is a chance you could have opposing views then it can really help reduce the stress of a project to know who the ultimate decision-maker maker.
Or, if you don’t want it to be that black and white, agree on a weighting system instead. For example, ‘Person A’ get’s 70% share of decision-making power and ‘Person B’ gets 30% of the power.


Don’t design your living room without knowing this!

I hope this is helpful. Let me know in the comments what questions you have about designing your living room.


If you are planning your living room project you are going to love our Room by Room Renovation Planner. This beautiful book will help you plan and manage your project, it also makes the perfect gift if you know anyone else decorating their home. Grab your copy here.
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Until next time,
Sarah x