How to Decorate a Large Rectangular Living Room

The best design for a large rectangular living room depends on how you plan to use the space. Large rooms offer multiple options for furniture arrangements, but the challenge is in finding an arrangement that functions as well as it looks. Breaking up a large room into separate areas makes it easier to decorate, but you still must find a way to tie it all together.

Start With a Floor Plan

Experiment with different furniture arrangement ideas on paper or on a computer to avoid having to move heavy furniture around more than once. With all the free design tools available online, the only investment is your time. As you plan your design scheme, consider:
  • Traffic flow – You need at least one or possibly two major walkways 3 feet wide between entry and exit points.
  • Function – How do you plan to use the room and what type of furnishings do you need?
  • Atmosphere – Consider the mood you want to create.
Measure Walls, Features and Furnishings
To determine the living room’s dimensions, measure the length of each wall. Make a rough sketch of the room with pencil and paper and start filling in your recorded measurements. Include the following information to make an accurately scaled floor plan on graph paper or on a computer program:
  • Exact locations of entryways, windows, fireplace, etc. – start in a corner and measure the distance to the first wall opening, window or architectural feature such as a fireplace
  • Width of entryways, windows and fireplace
  • Width and depth of furniture pieces
  • Circumference of round occasional tables
  • General location of electrical outlets
An accurate floor plan not only helps with arrangement ideas for your current furnishings; it can also help you determine the available space for new furnishings.

Divide the Space

Create separate functional zones according to how you plan to use the living room. Start by identifying the room’s focal points. A built-in focal point might include a fireplace or large window with a scenic view. A focal point can also be created with a television or media center, a large piece of artwork or a piano.

Include one or two conversational groupings focused on a focal point. One grouping might consist of a sofa and a couple of armchairs in front of a fireplace. Another might include a sectional sofa focused on a media center or two chairs and an end table placed near a window for an intimate conversation zone or a quiet place to read.

Depending on the size of the room, you may want to include a desk at one end as a place to write, study or perform computer-related tasks. A grand piano makes a stunning focal point and provides a pleasant area for entertaining guests after a dinner party.

Define Areas

Use area rugs to anchor conversational groupings and help define separate areas or zones in a large living room. Strategic furniture placement can also define an area, such as placing a console table behind a sofa that is floating in the middle of the room.

A simple folding screen can serve as a decorative accessory while also helping to separate one space from another. An accent wall featuring a deep or bold paint color or interesting texture such as stone or wood paneling can help define an area and bring focus to an architectural feature such as a fireplace.

Unify the Room

A large rectangular living room divided into separate functional zones needs a few unifying elements to give the overall space a cohesive feel. Achieve unity by repeating colors, shapes, patterns or textures throughout the space.

Repeat a color on accent pillows on furniture throughout the room. Use a mix of solid and patterned pillows to add interest. Repeat the shape of lampshades on table lamps, floor lamps and wall sconces to unify the lighting in the room. Another option is to repeat a pattern on pillows, curtains or rugs. A unifying texture might include ceramic lamp bases and ceramic vases used around the room.

Enhance the Mood

Use wall color, lighting and accessories to create the desired atmosphere in the living room. To make a large room feel more intimate and cozy, use a warm color on the walls such as:
  • Carmel, mocha or chocolate brown
  • Muted brick red
  • Terra-cotta, pumpkin or burnt orange
  • Golden yellow
  • Warm gray with brown undertone
To enhance a feeling of spaciousness or create a calm, relaxing atmosphere, try:
  • A cool white
  • Light blue or green
  • Light gray with blue or green undertones

Fill an empty corner or two with a tall potted plant to make the space feel warm and inviting. Go big and bold with wall art, adding interest with a large painting or an oversized antique clock.

Layered lighting also ensures a large room feels welcoming. A chandelier or pendant light can be accompanied with recessed ceiling lights. Floor lamps and table lamps provide task lighting for reading as well as accent lighting.


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