- Every living space needs a table-height surface for homework and projects. If space is tight, tuck a console table behind the sofa or against a wall.
- Don't mount your TV too high. Here's an easy guide: The bottom should be at eye level when you're sitting, the top at eye level when you're standing.
Keep Dominate Sofas at Bay
- If your sofa or sectional dominates the room, paint walls a shade lighter than the upholstery. The eye will skate across the room, not get stuck on the sofa.
- Position diffused, low-watt lighting, such as sconces with frosted glass shades or table lamps on dimmers, behind and slightly to the side of your TV. Your eyes will experience less strain as the picture shifts from light to dark.
- To discourage clutter, adopt this rule: If you carry it in, you carry it out. Items left out at the end of the night go into the "penalty box." To retrieve them, you have to pay the penalty, such as doing a dreaded household chore.
- Arrange furniture for conversation. Put pieces at cozy right angles close enough so people can talk, not just blow kisses across the room.
- Display coffee table accessories on a tray so it's easy to remove them all at once when you're ready to play a game or have a pizza.
Use Pretty Lamps
- Look at lamps as a way to add color and sculpture to the room without the clutter of knick-knacks. Three-way bulbs are a must. The low setting emits a soft glow; turn up the juice when you're ready to read.
- Floor cushions add extra seating -- perfect for kids -- without introducing more furniture than your room can handle.
Choosing the Right TV Size
- The size of TV your room can accommodate depends on how far you sit from it. The distance between you and the screen should be equal to two or three times the diagonal screen size. If you're between two screen sizes, go with the larger one.
- My secret weapon is a round coffee table with a shelf below. The rounded edges are safer for little noggins.
- To tuck a reading corner into a small space, choose a tight-backed chair rather than one with a separate back cushion. It's shallower but still comfy, especially when you add throw pillows.
- Make the floor extra cushy for lounging by throwing a layer of carpet padding under your area rug. Buy it at any home improvement or carpet store.
Always Know Where the Remote Is
- Stash remotes (plus coasters, napkins, lip balm, and other necessities) in an attractive box. Bonus: You'll always know where to find the remote.
- If you need a desk or work space in the living room, go for the prettiest office accessories you can find, and use a dining chair as a stylish, streamlined seat.
- Choosing furniture upholstered in outdoor fabrics, Ultrasuede, synthetic blends, or fabrics treated with high-tech stain-resistance, such as Nanotex, adds longevity to your furniture, whether your life includes kids, pets, or clumsy guests.
- Want a collected-over-time look right now? You can't go wrong if you mix a slipcovered sofa, a dark wood coffee table, and a leather chair. Pick distressed wood and leather so you won't have to worry about putting the first scratch on them.