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Finding Common Ground

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LIVING ROOM REDESIGN

If kitchens are the heart of the home then the living room is its engine. This is a space that is part work, part rest and part play needing to be both a private space to connect with family and a public place to entertain friends. Many of us now have open plan living spaces rather than separate living rooms but whatever the case in your own home you need to think carefully about how you use the space before you begin any refurbishments.

You want to create a welcoming space that offers comfort and relaxation but think carefully about how you use your current living area. If your family spends most of their time together in the kitchen then the living room can be a bit more of a formal space but if it is a place where children and parents converge then think about the practicalities of storage, durable fabrics and accessories that are child-friendly.

When you've though about who will really be using the room the most start to think about how the space will be used and map it out grid style into functional zones. Of course seating is the main focus of the room but if you also need a small space for working then think about where best to position the two distinct activities in the space. I like to work off of a floor plan so you can not only see where your furniture will be positioned but also the space around the furniture where people will move around the room. It's easier to think about these things on paper rather than moving pieces in situ that end up not quite working in the space.

After furnishing I look at storage, technology, window coverings, lighting and soft furnishing before I move on to deciding on the floor. Just like in any other space storage is key but you want to spend time thinking about how you will display things on shelves or in book cases as well as the practical items you need in the room but would prefer to have out of sight. Perhaps more than in any other space the living room is where you can really display objects to draw the eye around the room an added level of dynamism to the space.

Deciding whether to have your television on show is also worth considering at the outset. There are many clever solutions for storing electronics which creates a more polished feel especially when entertaining. In my own home I have my television on show by mounting it into the chimney breast. I clad the chimney in glossy black glass for a stunning but seamless visual statement that showcased rather than hid the electronics.

Lighting is next on my list but because I love the uplifiting effect of natural light in a space it goes hand in hand with thinking about window treatments. I like sheer window coverings that enhance the sense of light in a space while still offering privacy. I often change window coverings seasonally but your curtains should always be understated and never distract from the other elements in the room.

In terms of artificial lighting the scheme you choose really dictates and transforms the mood of the space. I like low level lighting and ceiling mounted directional lights in favour of down lighting. If you're unsure about how to make lighting in your lounge as multifunctional as possible by all means consult a lighting designer. I work with them on my own projects!

Soft furnishings come into their own in this space as they really help to create texture, depth and enchase the inviting mood of the space. To create real depth in a space start with the coverings on your furnishings to create a base off of which to work. There are so many textures and finishes to choose from but I always tend to start with a linen and then build on from there. Cushions are key element to creating depth and comfort in the seating area. I like to contrast the colour and texture of the furnishings in the cushions to add real dynamism and interest in a space. Cushions are also more easily changed than furniture so while they can change the look of the space they always need to tie in to the furniture itself for a sense of cohesion.

Displays are an element of the room I change every few months to keep the space feeling fresh. That said when I change the elements I'm still working within the colour scheme I've already decided so the room stays balanced. Black and while accessories and art is the most versatile as you can play virtually any tone or colour off of it. Adding just one element in a different colour will really stand out and change the feel without having to go back to square one on the accessories you've chosen for your room.

No room is complete with out the finishing touch of scent. It enhances the mood of the room and is the final element to adding depth to your space. Fresh cut flowers are wonderful as a display with the added benefit of scent but I often light candles or use a room spray to really take the mood to the next level.

For more tips on design tune in to my new TV series Superior Interiors with Kelly Hoppen on Channel 5 Tuesdays at 8pm!

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