Your Home Tells Your Story: Family/Living Room Decorative Ideas

Kathy Russell is Red Scarf Equestrian’s partner for Interior Design. In today’s blog, she gives us some tips and other pieces of advice to improve your home decor for 2019. 

It is the room where family and friends gather. It is where good books are read and favourite movies watched. The heart of the home is in many ways the living or family room. Hence, for so many reasons, it is important to decorate to create an inviting, welcoming and comforting space. Indeed, decorating is in good part about the comfort we derive from a room and the feeling it gives us when we are present there.

Decorating is in good part about the comfort we derive from a room and the feeling it gives us when we are present there.

Among the many considerations when decorating your interior space, we will consider four very important ones to keep in mind: scale, light, the choice of sofa and the layout of the room.

The Importance of Scale

A little secret (don’t tell anyone), using the wrong scale is the number one mistake that most people make when it comes to decorating their interior space. 

Proper scale is a mixture of different shapes, sizes and heights.

So, for example, reflect on the importance of the size of an area rug to a room. We are striving for the look of proportionate placement, wherein the rug size is chosen with respect to the room size and the desired placement of the furniture. Or, again, we ask ourselves if the size of the furniture is too big or small for the room?

The goal is for the space to appear to be comfortable and at peace. 

The Importance of Light

Another crucially important interior decorating concept is that of light. Often overlooked, light is so important to the mood of a room. The right type of light is welcoming, it draws us in towards it. It elevates our mood. Think of all the smiles, even hellos, you get on the street on a sunny day! We need light and feel better when we are in its presence. 

Thus, light is a major contributor to the success of your interior decorating. If, for example, you are confined to overhead lighting that is already in place, you can tone it down with dimmers in order not to feel as though you are “on-stage”. Lighting should not wash down on you. 

Lighting needs to be layered. This helps to make the lighting inviting, drawing you and your guests into the room, and creates a feeling of intimacy. 

You would thus do well to employ more than one type of lighting. This provides interest for yourself and for your guests. Having more than one type of lighting also makes it easier to incorporate indirect lighting, too.

Another consideration is the size of the lamps that reside on either side of the sofa or chesterfield. Considerations of lighting on the one hand, and the size of the lamps on the other, provide a useful bridge here between notions of light and scale. Lighting and scale are both so important. Lamps that provide soft, indirect light make an important contribution. But if the size of the lamp is disproportionate, then the good effect of the light itself is somewhat lost. If, for example, the size of the lamp is too large, we feel crowded and perhaps even somewhat uncomfortable. If, on the other hand, the lamp is too small, it seems lost to us, even though we appreciate the light it offers. 

The Choice of Sofa or Chesterfield

Another extremely important consideration is the choice of sofa or chesterfield. This is the main piece in the room and therefore needs to be chosen very carefully. Because of its importance to your comfort while sitting in the room, I suggest you choose the best quality sofa you can afford. An inexpensive sofa simply doesn’t carry the day in terms of quality and comfort. Too, buying on impulse, or just because it is on sale, can both be costly mistakes. 

And then we have scale to consider here, too. How does the size of the sofa relate to the size of the room? A large sofa can make a small space feel and look even smaller. There is now, thankfully, condo and apartment-sized furniture available. So, there are no more excuses for having furniture which is too large for the available space!

The Layout: How it all Comes Together

Decorating is, in good part, about bringing together these elements of scale, lighting and comfortable, quality furniture, and doing so in a way that is aesthetically pleasing and offers pleasure and comfort. This is accomplished, in good measure, in the layout of your chosen items. This brings its own challenges, so take the time to plan out the room well. For example, symmetrical placement, while perhaps the easiest avenue, is not necessarily the most effective approach. Symmetrical placement of furniture lacks character and fails to create interest. It does not convey the notion of a well thought out room. Also, often “less is more.” The best aesthetic choice matters, so picking quality and beauty over quantity often brings decorative rewards. 

An Afterthought: Pillows etc.

Less is also more when it comes to pillows. They can be too formal and too fussed-over. And the same applies to the collection of décor items, too. Collecting items that are similar and spreading them throughout your home is a “BIG NO” from an aesthetic perspective. Find one spot in your space and group them together in threes. Believe me, I know. I received the gift of one Russian doll and now I have a lot of them. P.S. I don’t have them all out, I just brought them all out to take the picture to show you that I wasn’t kidding!


Some Things to Think About

Life is too short to have things in your home that don’t make you happy. Let them go or give them away. Your home should speak to who you are and tell your story. A comfortable room takes time and planning, so don’t make rush decisions. Have a plan before you start shopping.

Your home should speak to who you are and tell your story.

I hope you find the suggestions here helpful in creating a pleasing, comforting place in your home. I am, too, always happy to help you with your decorating ideas and decisions. (Many designers like myself charge by the hour so that it is affordable.) 

If you would like to include Kathy in the decoration and/or organization of your living space please feel free to send a request to

“Life without horses is no life at all”


Kathy Russell enjoys helping her clients create spaces they can “happily call home.” She holds a diploma in Interior Design from the Interior Design Institute and is an Accredited Member of Decorators and Designers Association of Canada. You can find her at WWW.DESIGNSMARTINTERIORS.COM.

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