Living in the Moment

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The latest trends in living room decor

By Jim Peters

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It’s called the living room, the family room, the great room, even the drawing room (okay, maybe if you’re British), but one thing is certain—next to the kitchen, it’s where most people spend the largest chunk of their waking hours. The living room is the most obvious showroom in the house, so naturally, many homeowners will spend a lot of time—and money—on what presents the space in the best possible light.

So if you’re thinking of redecorating your living room, the most obvious bang for your buck hasn’t changed—try a new colour scheme. Kim Schroeder, owner of Charisma: The Design Experience says, “Open concept has been an architectural preference for years now and lately people seem to be opting for neutrals and grey tones for colours. Weathered woods in grey and taupe tones for flooring and furniture are also popular.”

But just as design choices are very personal, decorating trends vary according to neighbourhoods and demographics. Kelly Penuita from DecoChic Interiors says, “Colour is very popular and it seems people are wanting to get away from the bland neutrals. I also find wallpaper is big these days. Unfortunately, when you say wallpaper it still makes some people cringe as they see it as labour intensive! But the new wallpapers are much easier to work with and are available in an infinite variety of patterns and colours.”

She adds, “One distinct trend I’ve seen has been towards using multi-functional and practical pieces of furniture in order to reduce the number of “things” in our spaces. The idea of less is more. Twenty and 30-somethings are definitely more practical and environmentally-conscious than their parents were—which also creates similarities in decorating styles and trends.”

Part of an interior designer’s job, of course, is to advise clients on choices. Schroeder says, “Interior design and decorating should always respect the style of the home but it should also reflect the homeowner’s personality—otherwise your abode will look like a ‘faceless’ show home.”

Another common question about living rooms is whether or not entertainment options should be relegated to other rooms. Most decorators say it really depends on the client. “Great rooms are multi-functional and should be designed according to the tastes of the owner—not tied into a particular trend,” says Schroeder. “But because of the prevalence of open concept, a lot of entertaining and conversation has moved to the kitchen island.”

Penuita adds, “Many new homes are still being built with a living room and a family room with the intention of the living room being for more formal entertaining and the family room being more relaxed for the kids. But the great room concept has really erased the separation between cooking, eating and entertaining.”

And what of some of the more common decorating mistakes? Is there even such a thing?

For one, says Schroeder, hanging pictures too high is a common mistake. “Homeowners also continue to line the furniture along the walls without creating a comfortable conversation grouping. I also often find the scale and proportion of furniture and accessories is wrong for the space. Area rugs, for example, are often too small and don’t anchor the grouping.”

Penuita adds, “Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to decor, as everyone has their own personal style and lifestyle. But there are always guidelines that should be followed. People don’t need to cover every available surface with things, for example. There needs to be places for our eyes to rest in order to be able to distinguish where one thing ends and another begins.”