Tips for Decorating a Really Large Living Room

I am starting a project this spring that involves a dauntingly large (mostly long) living room. I've been brainstorming layouts and since I get emailed for advice about decorating really large living rooms all the time, I thought I'd share my single best piece of advice on the subject. It's sort of a "well, duh" concept, but here it is: create multiple seating areas.

Arch Digest, home of Nina Garcia (which I prefer to say with head bobs on the syllables, in a choppy German accent, a la HK. Don't you?)

Here's the truth. If you are sitting more than 12 feet from me, we are going to have a hard time conversing in any meaningful way, so make sure your conversation areas are never more than 12 feet squared, at most. Another truth - three sofas in any space, no matter how big, is one too many sofas. I don't count settees, love seats, daybeds and chaises though. And, in fact, I think a backless, symmetrical daybed/chaise/bench floating between two seating arrangements is just about perfection, so long as it doesn't interrupt the natural flow of traffic in any serious way.

Elle Decor

Houzz


Domino

Lonny (also, well said, Angie!!)  ^^^ 

Elle Decor via


I've been looking around for a great daybed/chaise and I'm hoping to find something really unique for this long and large living room. I'm kind of enamored with this cast iron version from Restoration Hardware. While I really love the idea and the look, I have a feeling the comfort factor of the metal will be lacking in a major way.


   
Here are some other daybeds that fit the bill of what I'm after. Most of these look a bit more comfortable than the Iron Maiden up top there.






These new pieces can be just as expensive as nice sofas in many cases, so if you're on a budget, try checking out Craigslist and eBay for vintage and antique daybeds that can be given new life with an upholstery job. I poked around on Craigslist and found a bunch of great options for less than $500. This West Elm daybed would look amazing with new upholstery, and the asking price is only $100.


Come to think of it, I just might snag it for my office and recover it in a new color of linen, or maybe something fun like this:

Betsy Burnham via Lonny

Do you have a giant living room? (lucky!) What are your best tips for comfortably and beautifully designing large spaces? Also, I'd love to see photos if any of you have a daybed in your living room. I think it is such a great look.

Happy weekend! xo

31 comments:

Linda@ Lime in the Coconut said...

I have been looking for one for awhile. Love some of the ones you found for us!

April Sharman said...

Multiple seating areas, of course what an obvious yet great idea and I really want a daybed too. You have posted a nice selection.

My Crafty Home Life said...

That CL one looks like it's missing a front leg. I guess the stacks of computer paper come with it :)

Amanda said...

Thank you! Our LR is super long and it has been a furniture shuffle for 3 yrs...I came across a daybed at a thrift shop like the Oly, and am kicking myself I didn't snag it! Really love this idea, the hunt continues!!!

Amanda said...

Thank you! Our LR is super long and it has been a furniture shuffle for 3 yrs...I came across a daybed at a thrift shop like the Oly, and am kicking myself I didn't snag it! Really love this idea, the hunt continues!!!

carykate said...

Thank you so much -- you are amazing! I will email you photos when (I think :) I'm done.

Julie said...

Jenny, you no joke just saved me! ha! I've been telling hubs that we need to get a daybed for our living room, it would suit the space so well and he was all "no we don't, we just bought chairs and a sofa". I showed him this post and said "Jenny says we need one". ha! thank you!

growingupgillian said...

My question is...how do you *light* a really large living room attractively? Our giant living room only has 3 outlets and one overhead light right now and we are working with several electricians to figure out options. We have two main seating areas and built-in office nooks, all woefully under lit. Can lights would do the trick but not particularly attractive. At the same time I don't have enough flat surfaces for 10 table lamps! Do you have any tips?

Crystal @ 29 Rue House said...

We have a long but still small living room. It also has a couple doorways, stairs and windows that break up the space and make it kind of awkward. I've definitely considered a daybed which I love!

slh said...

eh, I had this exact set up and nobody ever sat on it, except uncomfortably at parties a couple of times a year, but everyone dropped their junk on it because, hey, what is this thing for if nobody is going to sit on it?! It was like moving the hall table into the middle of our living room.

After saying, "no backpacks! no magazines! no coats! on the daybed" 1 gazillion times, I moved it to a bedroom where it collects the piles of folded laundry waiting to be put away, etc. I don't mind that. I dont think anyone has ever sat on it. And while pretty, I can't really imagine sitting on any of the ones pictured

charmaine said...

I've considered a daybed for the longest time for our family room but ended up getting a second sofa. Although I have no regrets, I still love the daybed idea!

charmaine said...

I've considered a daybed for the longest time for our family room but ended up getting a second sofa. Although I have no regrets, I still love the daybed idea!

http://mybestfriendcraig.blogspot.com/2012/07/not-daybed.html

Margaret said...

We're looking at a new home with a HUGE formal living room with like a 20 ft ceiling (and a family room). I'm not complaining but I tend to think living rooms are a waste of space, with the too-nice furniture that no one ever sits on in case (Heaven Forbid!) it ever gets dirty. Plastic covers in my Italian grandma's house come to mind.
I'm thinking of warming up this huge living room with a library/office vibe. It's grown up enough for drinks after dinner with company, but it'll also get USED on a daily basis. Built in bookcases, board and batten paneling for some architectural interest, cozy armchairs and YES! A DAYBED! come to mind.

ashlei said...

Do you remember in House Beautiful a year or so ago, someone did a daybed in a living made out of 2 MALM Twin beds for 89.99 each? They used the 'headboard' from the second on the end and it looked awesome! and crazy cheap. Had a cover made for a mattress and added custom bolsters on the ends.

AZ Chic said...

Hi Jenny, I love your blog. I have a black barcelona daybed in my living room. At first, my husband and son weren't on board with it. They couldn't grasp the idea of a bed in a living room. I had to keep explaining and show them pics. Now, they love it. My son tells me all the time that he wants my daybed in his college dorm. Never going to happen!

Resident said...

We have the Crate and Barrel daybed in our living room (15'x24'). We used custom upholstery for it, and it is probably our favorite piece of furniture in the whole house. It's incredibly comfortable and versatile.

homeon129acres said...

I love the look of the OCHRE snooze daybed, for its reference to the traditional wing chair shape.

RJK Home Solutions said...

This post is perfect for the project I'm tackling. I just started looking for a backless daybed/chase to separate a long space. I may reupholster a used one if I can't find a new one. Cost rules, so we'll see. Good luck with your project!

Kaleena said...

Does anyone know what issue of Domino magazine that one living room picture came from. For years I've remembered that living room as being my ideal room, but could never locate it in any of my back issues.

dervla kelly said...

I doubt I'll ever have a living room like this, but wow, i'd definitely go with those multiple seating areas if i did...beautiful.

Sharon in Chicago said...

If your room is too small for daybed, consider a bench that might otherwise be at the foot of a bed. Similar look, dual direction seating but more to scale for your room

Sharon in Chicago said...

I first learned of this trick on the old Christopher Lowell show on the Discovery Channel. (You may be too young to remember this show from the 1990s). Great idea then, still a great idea!

TheDoubleDubs on Etsy said...

Love the idea of a backless daybed! I have a fairly big family room that I'm struggling to decoratre mainly because it's super long but not very wide. That would definitely break up the space without making things feel closed-in. Thanks for the great idea!

Unknown said...

I might have been one of those many emails you mentioned. We moved into our house about a year ago. After giving it lots of thought, finally got built in shelving on one of the walls and it makes the room so much more cosy and a lot more us. Now saving for a day bed.
LOVE your blog.

Unknown said...

I might have been one of those many emails you mentioned. We moved into our house about a year ago. After giving it lots of thought, finally got built in shelving on one of the walls and it makes the room so much more cosy and a lot more us. Now saving for a day bed.
LOVE your blog.

Whitney said...

This is a huge puzzle for us.
We live in a 1969 Mid-Century ranch and it has loads of built-ins and big rooms. However, we moved from a 1923 tudor half this size so all our furniture is the wrong scale. We'd like to slowly buy pieces, but I'm not even sure what the final plan is so I'm kinda lost. Our living room is 15' W and 26' D. There is a fireplace with built-ins centered on one 15' wall (with slanted transom windows above 9'H b/c the ceilings are slanted with the high side at `13'H). There is a wall of windows to an enclosed atrium on the other 15' wall so the room has competing focal points (and the 4' in front of the wall of windows is a continuation of a hall so there's a strong traffic pattern). I'll try the sofas back to back and see... However, there is a 9'W built-in on one wall that has lighted shelves and a large cabinet where an old-style TV could pull out and swivel so there's a third focal point of an immovable 'furniture' piece that's off center, but not firmly on either 'side' if I divide in half. Whew. I guess I needed to vent a little of my design frustration. :) Larger rooms are a blessing and a curse...sure takes a lot to make them feel 'done'.
Love the blog!

pve design said...

I think cozy sitting areas and daybeds can add a casual air to large rooms. I think rugs can define spaces and if there is a focal point, a view, a fire-place or something that provides a sort of spot to gather makes a large room work. Even a stack of books or large pillows do the trick.
pve

whatisinmyworld said...

Daybeds allow the room to have more of a relaxed feeling. Did you see last spring in House Beautiful instead of a daybed in a large area they had two sofa's back to back. It looked amazing. Lovely post.

sapna uppadhya said...

Very nice post.....
http://www.wowzat.tv

Stilettos Stuck In Snow said...

Love this post! Question for you, about how much would it cost to re-upholster a day bed like the one you listed (an estimation)? Not very familiar with pricing on upholstery (i'm sure it differs across regions...but just to have something in mind!).

The Zhush said...

HI Jenny, So fun to see my living room on one of my favorite blogs! (mine is the one done with the help of Muse Interiors) :) So, I can say that first hand, the daybed situation breaking up our seating areas has been the best. It works in real life and looks great too! good luck with your project!
Sue

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