There’s a reason lounges are known as the ‘living room’, because they’re exactly that.
A lounge can really make a house a home – it’s a place to relax with loved ones, snuggle on the sofa after a long day’s work, or chat with friends, so it’s no wonder that it’s often the room people prioritise when it comes to decorating.
“When picking a style for your lounge, quite often the answer lies in what fits best with what you have got already,” says Roger Mears, who set up Roger Mears Architects in 1980 (www.mears.co.uk).
“If the building is in a period style, for example, a classic approach could be best.
If it’s a country house, a traditional feel would sit naturally, rather than imposing these onto a new-build where these might look fake. It’s always good to go with the flow, and express a style with honesty.”
There are occasions when rules can be bent, though – as Roger explains.
“Even in the most traditional of settings, there can be a feature that’s so outstanding (old floorboards, a period staircase, decorative ceilings) that a monochrome, contemporary minimalist look could really highlight.”
So treat the above only as a guide.
As Roger says: “The final choice should be what resonates with your personality and lifestyle as well as your house, rather than a passing trend.”
The contemporary living room should be bright, ooze sophistication, maybe revel in current trends but more importantly provide comfort.
“Create a lighter richness and contemporary feel by complementing sumptuous deep colours with clean white lines,” suggests Jeremy Garrish, buyer for Carpetright.
A striking carpet or a bold wall feature will help to create a particular mood without being overbearing, and also makes for a family-friendly option, as muddy feet will be harder to spot.
Another option is to use furniture and accessories in similar shades but different textures throughout the room, from sofas and rugs to cushions.
“A statement sofa can provide a striking focal point to the room and it’s the perfect canvas from which to build a modern scheme,” suggests Emma Rackley, upholstery buyer for Furniture Village.
Accompany the sofa with sleek furniture (curved edges are popular at the moment) such as coffee and lamp tables, in a contemporary metallic or glass finish.
“And you can also use solid, industrial elements that can also be used to create an urban feel while mixing materials such as glass, wood and metal to make the modern scheme feel instantly lived in,” explains Emma.
A dark carpet can make a striking statement, and works well when off-set with contrasting furniture.
Think of the traditional lounge and heavy oak beams, log fires and encompassing leather sofas spring to mind.
The good news is that it’s not too difficult to create your very own cosy haven within the confines of your home.
“Choosing the right combination of fabrics and colour schemes is key to achieving the right traditional look for your lounge,” says Emma.
“Muted tones and soft hues combined with classic wooden furniture and classic side lamps will help to bring a traditional feel together.”
Jeremy adds: “Or add rich, autumnal colours to your floor to create a cosy retreat you’ll never want to leave. Match with dark leather furniture and wooden accessories to create a traditional feel.”
Traditional upholstery designs with button-back detailing, or a country-inspired fabric, can help to complete the look if you’re opting for a more old-school feel.
Or, for a more masculine focal point, include a weathered leather armchair, a dark, statement lampshade or paint one of the walls in a dusky colour to evoke a sense of depth to the room.
Rich, sumptuous colours are synonymous with the traditional look, and ageing brown leather furniture is timelessly stylish.
The key to creating a classic living room is to keep it simple, so forget the chintz.
“Classic living rooms draw on many historic design periods but steer clear of the overtly traditional and heavy, by mixing in modern and contemporary designs to create a carefully balanced whole,” says award-winning interior designer Katharine Pooley.
Art Deco detailing – be it bevelled-edge mirrors, metal inlay joinery, polished marble or even specialist geometric ironmongery – will lend itself well to the clean lines of a classic interior.
“Roccoco-esque precious stone and gilt detailing can also be added in small measure to provide richness,” says Katherine.
“The wonderful thing about a ‘classical’ living room interior is that it is all encompassing. All that it asks is a certain lightness of hand to ensure a balanced space.”
Carole Brown, director of marketing at Dunelm Mill, agrees: “A classic scheme is brought to life with boutique accessories so add crystal lighting, silk cushions, candles and vases of dried hydrangeas complete the look.”
A key statement piece, such as the Chesterfield-style Langham sofa, is the best way to bring together a classically styled lounge.
“Complement the trademark deep button back details and elegant roll top arms with a beautiful soft fabric and a combination of neutral classic colourways, to evoke a calming traditional style,” says Emma. “Simple colour choices will help to keep the look elegant, and the use of glass accessories, simple shapes and soft lighting will all add up to a sophisticated living area.”