Debbie Travis: The living room is the new heart of the home

Dear Debbie: During the pandemic, we have been spending a great deal more time as a family in the living room. It’s feeling a bit tired and I’d like to make the room welcoming and special.

What can I do?

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Henri

I was intrigued, but not surprised, to discover that the space thought by many to be the “heart of the home” is now predominantly the living room. I’ve been writing about busy kitchen life and the many ways to create clever designs that handle everything from cooking to noshing with guests, overseeing homework and handling personal emails and business transaction.

Everybody gravitated to the kitchen. But life changes. Daily routines change. The object of good design is to accommodate what you require in your home in a way that elevates your lifestyle. So it’s off to the living room and some ideas to make it special.

The landing spots. The sofa and easy chairs must be comfortable; they should look as good as they feel. Investing in these seating mainstays is money well spent.

Opt for rugged upholstery in a colour or pattern that’s easy to care for, and layer with pillows and blankets. Bring in seasonal colours and motifs. Golden ocher and mustard are rich sunny yellows, perfect for autumn.

Textural elements. We feel with our eyes and well as touch. Knitted fabrics, velvets and fat ribbed corduroy are inviting. The grain in a wood floor, a patterned carpet, a metallic lamp shade each serve to develop the room’s character. They highlight what you like to have around you. Plants, as always, invigorate with natural grace.

Personal collections. Are there handcrafts or other particulars that your family would like to showcase? Set up a table with an artisan exhibit of items you have made or bought. This personal showcase can change with the seasons, keeping current with what you are doing.

Dear Debbie: In our open-plan loft, the floor space is expansive. We have divided the area into zones with our furniture, but I am trying to come up with ways to make the living room more inviting.

Donald

With open-plan living, you see the whole space when you enter. This multi-functional design became popular when many businesses sold out to people loving the idea of a bright, airy space.

Even tiny lofts felt roomy. But this contemporary style does have its drawbacks. Why not build a platform and set up your living room within its dimensions?

It will become the go-to spot, the friendly space that draws you in. Its importance in your design scheme is punctuated by raising the floor. The big-screen TV is a focal point when turned on, but have plenty of other views to enjoy when not pursuing screen time.

Choose a stylish floor lamp, a table or cabinet for books and games, and an oversized plant to demarcate corners. Layer on colours and images of the season.

Bring the high ceiling down to scale with artwork hung at a height that is people-friendly. Wall hangings such as woven carpets are an excellent option for producing more vertical texture and will embellish the entire room.

Written by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email decorating questions to house2home@debbietravis.com. Follow Debbie at instagram.com/debbie_travis, facebook.com/thedebbietravis, debbietravis.com.

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