“Living room, great room, family room, den, game room—some families have one, while some have all six. No matter what you call it or whether it’s used by two people or extended families, the space should be comfortable and functional—that’s when it truly deserves to be called a living room,” says Gail Adkins of Change Magic Interior Consulting.
“The formal living room is fading away,” says Bohnne Jones of Decorating Den Interiors. “Most people have such a space in their home modified to be something else—a music room, home office, den or library. I would call this room a flex room, while the great room or family room is the real living room these days. People still gather around the television with family and friends, and no longer is the television hidden away from company.”
Selecting art, furniture, and accessories that are the proper scale, help create a room that everyone wants to be in, according to Jones. “Fabric at the window is a must to soften a room, bring color and life, and help reduce the echo created when carpet has been replaced with hardwood flooring,” Jones says.
“I don’t think it matters if you have a large home or a small one—choosing furniture pieces that are multi-functional will provide the best value,” says Bohnne Jones. “If the room is large enough a convertible game table is a great addition. Motion furniture (aka, recliner) has become more fashionable and less marshmallow-like and is available in styles ranging from Mission to Mid-century, traditional to contemporary.”
According to Kate Gray of Beth Haley Design, “With more and more open living floor plans, we see the line between living room, formal living room, den, and TV room blend together. In homes with traditional floor plans we tend to see the formal living room used as a space for guests, conversation, and reading. In a single living space, we focus on creating a flexible space that can accommodate a variety of activities.”
“We see living rooms becoming more and more eclectic,” says Kate Gray of Beth Haley Design. “People are not afraid of mixing styles and we highly encourage mixing trends as well. Living rooms are a perfect place to express yourself through design, and we love creating spaces that reflect a client’s life passions, and interests.”
This eclectic look might mean an antique passed down from family is paired with a modern, clean-lined sofa in a performance fabric to keep up with a growing family, Gray suggests. “Decorating a living room
is always a lot of fun and is a great place to play with prints and to showcase accessories and art.” Open living rooms are starting to rival kitchens as the ‘heart of the home,” says Gray.
“Technology is shaping the flow of the modern living room,” says Chuck Feltner of ReCreations Home. “It wasn’t long ago that everyone wanted the biggest sound system money could buy. As technology has advanced, simplicity and scale have allowed the living room to be a simpler, cleaner room. The television mounts on the wall, eliminating bulky television cabinets, while the cords run directly through the wall. Cable boxes disappear thanks to wireless capabilities. And the focus turns to elegant furniture and gathering spots.”
Feltner says he sees home decor swinging into a more clean, diverse landscape of styles and traditions. “Mixing metals is a must when you want to create a more blended look. It is time to pull Grandmas old china hutch out of storage, dust it off, and pair it up with a Mid-century dining table. Or pair a Hollywood glam chandelier and a silky viscose rug. The goal is to create a non-formulaic mix, with the focus on detail,” he says.
Speaking about the trend toward downsizing, Felter says, “I find a lot of people are downsizing from their 10,000 square foot homes, to smaller, more manageable properties in multiple cities.” He notes that having multiple smaller properties allows for the creation of individual styles at different homes. “Go ahead and have that relaxed beach condo, a downtown Manhattan flat, and a little farm in your small hometown so you can stay close to your roots,” he adds.
People work, play games, watch movies, and entertain in their living rooms, according to Amanda Sweeney of Just Design This. “Homeowners are starting to embrace and furnish their homes with an eclectic style including vintage and contemporary furnishings. The popular wall color is gray because it’s a great neutral. Art has always been an important part of making a home personal. Today, 3D wall art made of a variety of materials including metals is finding its way into our homes, as well as abstract pieces.
Traditionally, living rooms were found in the front of a home, an area formerly called the “parlor” and designed for company, according to Jennifer Jones of Jennifer Jones Design, Inc. “The homeowners’ loveliest furnishings were displayed there. But today we enjoy this room less frequently,” she says.
The secondary living room is most often called the family room or den and is used for television watching, reading, napping, playing games, and so forth, and is much less formal, but probably enjoyed more, Jones says. Frequently, a home office, can be found in this space.
Many clients are utilizing former living room space for home offices, music rooms, or as a “quiet space” for prayers and contemplation, Jones says.
Bohnne Jones says she gets quite a few requests for modern/contemporary spaces. “Beautiful finishes and clean-lined designs are available in luxury brands that typically have provided only traditionally styled furniture. Today’s design is all about personalization. Mixing heirlooms with your personal design aesthetic is an art, but it can be accomplished,” she says.
Stating that she believes this is one of the best times in design and decorating, Jones says, “There is so much available in the way of style that a homeowner can easily have a very unique and personal space.
“Overwhelming, though, is the use of a gray as a paint color. We hear from clients all the time who have painted their rooms gray and want us to come and warm up the space. My tip of the day is that you should choose your paint color last, based on the other elements of the room and the room’s orientation to the sun.”
There are a number of sources for living room furnishings in the Nashville area including:
Beth Haley Design
Change Magic Interior Consulting
Decorating Den Interiors
Jennifer Jones Design
Just Design This