5 Mistakes To Avoid When Decorating Your Living Room

According to interior designers.

<p>Robert Daly/Getty Images</p>

Robert Daly/Getty Images

The living room is one of the most important rooms in the home because it's where everyone gathers, relaxes, and enjoys time together. But decorating it can be a challenge. One misstep and the entire space feels thrown off. So how can you design a living room that has the right balance of function and aesthetics? It’s easier to accomplish this goal when you know what not to do. Here are five mistakes to avoid when decorating your living room, according to interior designers.

Related: 8 Design Mistakes You Don’t Realize You’re Making, According to Interior Designers

Choosing Matching Furniture Sets

Sure, it’s convenient to go with a sofa, loveseat, and accent chair all made of the same exact materials, but when it comes to aesthetics, this is a major mistake you really want to avoid. “When selecting furniture, it's important to create balance, beauty, and excitement in the design. Pieces should work together, but it's important to avoid entire matching sets,” explain Kevin Kaminksi and Alexis Pew of Kaminski + Pew. “For example, a coffee table, side tables, and credenza all from the same collection. The goal is to find pieces that coordinate and complement one another, to create a space that has variety and visual interest.”

Settling for Uncomfortable Furniture

How are you really going to enjoy binge-watching television or taking a nap on a sofa that makes your butt fall asleep? According to Megan Prime, co-founder and principal of JAM, even if you really love how a piece looks in the space, lack of comfort is a big no. “Avoid uncomfortable furniture that’s just for show. A living room should be warm, inviting, and cozy, above all else—not only because it’s generally where we spend the most amount of time, but you also want the space to promote conversation and togetherness when you host guests.”

Sacrificing Style for Kids and Dogs

Just because you have kids or dogs doesn’t mean you need to be in your ugly but durable sofa era. Quite the opposite is true, reveals Alexis Vitale of Vitale Design Group. “I find that people often struggle with selecting the right materials and fabrics for their furniture and accessories here that will make the space durable! Using soft, comfortable performance fabrics will make a huge difference. I love tying in velvet performance fabrics that look and feel luxurious and give you the perfect touch to the living space. There are also so many great rug lines now that cater to looking great, while also being extremely durable.”

While there are so many options available today, remember that you really can't go wrong with a machine-washable slipcover sofa. Best of all, it’s cheaper to swap out slipcovers than it is to replace an entire sofa, should it become damaged or you get sick of it.

Not Having Enough Seating

One small living room mistake that many people make is not having enough seating. “Even if you have a smaller living room, you still need to remember to have space for guests to sit, too. So one couch and one coffee table really doesn't work. Get creative and add stools or ottomans to the space. They can fit under your coffee table, too,” says Vitale.

One great workaround for this is using a storage ottoman to stash extra throw blankets, pillows, or other essentials for when guests come over. You won’t believe how useful these pieces can be.

Ignoring Scale

Kaminski and Pew tell me many people don’t recognize the importance of scale and proportion when selecting furnishings. “Pieces that are too big, or too small, or not spaced appropriately in relation to one another can create a room that feels imbalanced and awkward. This can affect the functionality and efficiency of the space. For example, in a seating arrangement, too small of a coffee table requires a person to lean far out of their seat to reach it, but too large of a coffee table that is too close to the sofa can cause difficult circulation and bruised shins.”

If you’re unsure of how a particular piece of furniture will work in your living room, try outlining it with blue painter’s tape. This way, you can get a better idea of the size before clicking “add to cart.” Don’t forget to consider height as well, especially for bookcases and credenzas.

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