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How to pick a theme for your living room

Vicki Clinebell majored in journalism at the University of Colorado, and headed an advertising agency before beginning a long career in broadcasting, spanning production and copywriting to sales and management for an ABC affiliate statio...

Add personality & style to your living room

Whether you are a nature lover bringing the outdoors inside or a fan of old Hollywood glitz, your living room should reflect your favorite things in a usable and comfortable space.
woman in living room

If you are looking for an ideal living room theme prior to decorating, it's easy to get caught up in your favorite things... animal prints or the glitter of art deco, mountain forests or a beachy vibe, a love of animals or the casual air of country living. Remember that while there are no rights or wrongs, ultimately it's best to create a comfortable and welcoming room that pleases your own taste and is functional for use by your family. It's a room to live in and should be a reflection of the person or people who will use and enjoy the space on a daily basis.

Step 1: Collect ideas

Clip pictures of rooms that you love and collect samples — color chips, fabric and flooring possibilities, ideas for art or wallpaper, furniture pieces and storage options. Live with these samples and pictures for a while to determine which items please you the most. Certain themes will require bigger spaces than others. Does your dream room translate well into the space you have available? If your room dimensions are vastly different, creating that theme can be more challenging. Look to your surroundings and at the rest of your home to decide if this living room theme will work harmoniously with them.

paint samplesStep 2: Consider color

Nothing changes the look of a room more quickly than color. Once you know your theme, color will be an important element in achieving the look. It's also the most inexpensive way to get a big impact in any living room. Exotic themes and larger rooms can carry deeper tones and richer colors. Dark colors in a small room automatically make the room appear to shrink. Nature themes invite the use of textured wall coverings such as grass cloth and colors found in the outdoors — bark browns to tender greens. Glamorous rooms can go several ways... bold contrasting walls or softer hues to compliment and highlight the "jewelry" in the room — mirror, crystal and metallic accents.

Step 3: Pick a focal point

Maybe your theme will be developed around one specific piece you love — a baby grand piano, a treasured antique chest, a much-loved leather sofa or big arm chair that invites you to curl up and relax, a painting that speaks to you with bold color and modern zest. Think about the pieces in the room and how they will adapt to your theme. Often a simple slipcover or a new coat of paint can transform a piece to fit beautifully with a new theme. If you are replacing furniture, shop around locally to learn what's available. Take your time and check out various outlets including furniture stores, yard sales and antique stores to spot that special piece that will bring your theme to life.

Step 4: Keep comfort in mind

Plan according to your needs and budget. Never choose a theme that compromises the utility and comfort of your room. It's exciting to have a great looking room, but not if it's just for show and uncomfortable for everyday living! The right theme mixes your design aesthetic with taste and creativity in a livable space that will welcome you home every day.

More tips

How to brighten up a dark room
How to choose the right paint color
How to easily update your home

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