Ideas for Casual & Formal Living Rooms

The living room is the soul of the home. Whether you prefer an elegant, formal look, or a comfy, casual space, the living room should be an inviting place to spend time with family and friends, or just curl up alone with a good book. As you design your living room, these simple tips will help you create a space that you will be drawn to.


The typical living room seating arrangement, consisting of a single couch opposite two chairs, gives plenty of seating options for great conversations. The chairs and sofa can be matching in design or merely complimentary in style. How you arrange these items depends on the size and layout of the room, as well as whether you want a casual or a more formal look. Chairs directly across from a sofa in a rectangular arrangement give a sense of structure and formality, while angling the chairs outward lends a more casual, open feel.

If you have a fireplace, you can arrange the seating so as to make the fireplace an end point of the rectangle, or place chairs on either side of the fireplace to spotlight it as a focal point of the room. Additional chairs or seating options can be added if the room is large or you need space for additional guests.

The fabrics and textures you choose say a lot about the tone of your living room. Use softer, more textured fabrics for a casual look that is inviting and playful. Add additional sofa cushions and throw blankets for more color and variety.

Elegant, higher end fabrics can be used in formal spaces to impart class and charm. You may choose to pair fully upholstered pieces with items that have exposed wood to lend more variety and interest to your space. Or keep a uniformed look to enhance your sense of style.

Tables are essential in a living room, both to hold items and to ground the seating arrangement. A coffee table or other piece is usually placed in the middle of the conversation area. Generally, this table should be at least half as long as the sofa and about as high as the sofa cushions. This center table can be rectangular or oval, depending on the style of the other furniture.

In a casual space, a fully upholstered ottoman can serve as a cocktail table, with a tray set on top to hold drinks and decorations. In a formal setting, choose a piece with a more structured, decorated look, such as a coffee table with a wood or glass top for elegance.

Once the basic layout is determined, additional items can be added to complete the look of the room. Side tables and lamps can be chosen to complement your choice of seating pieces. The side tables can coordinate with the center table, or have their own complementary style. Wall hangings, vases, and other decorative elements can be added to beautify the room and make it an inviting place to enter.

There are so many choices to be made when designing a beautiful casual or formal living room. These tips are just a few of the options to consider. Continue reading below to explore photos with more great ideas for creating a fabulous, inviting living room.




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