How to style a living room from scratch

Decorating a whole living room can be daunting, but with these simple steps, plus some 60-second style hacks, you’ll have your space set up in no time.

Most of the time when decorating, we’re looking for a piece of furniture or that perfect homewares item to complete a space. Now and again, we’re faced with the confronting blank canvas that is an entire room.

Styling a room from scratch is a good problem to have, and needn’t be overwhelming. From choosing a sofa that will last for years to why you should layer rugs, plus some nifty 60-second styling tricks, here’s what you need to know about curating your dream living room. Step by step.

1. Start with key pieces 
Start with key items such as a sofa, coffee table and rug. Measure your space and any furniture pieces you like to make sure they’ll fit before you buy. If you’re not sure of your style yet, go neutral in colour and classic in shape

Style tip 
When it comes to the big pieces like sofas and rugs, invest in timeless designs that will always work as your style evolves or you move house.

2. Create texture in the room 
Accessorising comes next – that is, creating texture in a room. Not everything has to match; just make sure pieces come from the same tonal world. Choose different fabrics, materials and finishes.

Use a mix of sizes and shapes. And try to keep cushions and objects in groupings at odd numbers – it just looks better.

3. Add lighting to your living room 
Lighting is how you create ambience and ‘hero’ your decor. To create that inviting feel, layer lighting so it comes from different angles and sources – wall sconces, lamps and a (dimmable!) pendant over the coffee table. Like jewellery, choose something that will accent the overall look; it can be a statement piece.

Style tip 
If you want a patterned rug but are worried it will overwhelm the space, layer it over a larger plain one. This is also a great trick if the rug you love isn’t quite big enough – layer it over a larger carpet to anchor the room.

4. Bring your room to life with florals and candles
Finally, florals, foliage and the flicker of a candle flame will bring any room to life. Like your accessories, mix and match textures, but stick to a complementary colour palette for a look that feels resolved.

In this room, the leaves of the tree, orange berries and white daises will share a common element of small, repetitive detail.

Stack books: Give height to vases and lamps by placing a stack of beautiful books underneath.

Lay some moss: Elevate the appearance of your indoor plant or tree by laying moss or coconut fibre at the base of the plant for a more finished look.

Anchor objects: Lots of little decorative accessories can look messy, so group them on top of a tray or coffee-table book to make them one single style moment

Light a candle: Burn the wicks of any new candles to create a look that’s more ‘stylish lived-in-home’ than showroom.

Move your art: Take one or two of your small artworks off the wall and position them in a vignette with a vase, candle or other homewares on a console or shelf.

Buy some fruit: Display fruit en masse in a decorative vessel like a footed bowl. Bonus points if you keep the leaves on!

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