We return to our series on space-saving furniture with a focus on living room seating that lets you put your feet up – without knocking anything over.
The living room or, to some, the sitting room, parlour or lounge – should be a calm place where you can retreat from the chaos of life, sink into a selection of comfortable furniture and relax. After long days at work this room is central to a soothing wind-down routine, bridging the gap before bed.
They’re our personal havens, offering us respite from the nine-to-five mayhem. But, all too often, our oasis of calm becomes a jumble of furnishings, documents, toys and clutter. Favourite ornaments brush shoulders with floor lamps, armchairs, magazine racks and TV stands, and navigating a vacuum cleaner around seems practically impossible.
When this happens, your living room becomes a warzone, with each item competing for space: Sofas clash with coffee tables; lampshades and houseplants cower in corners; and on the walls, pictures fight for space with mirrors. The word on everyone’s lips is “space-saving”, but with something sitting on every visible surface, space is the one thing you don’t have.
But, no matter how cluttered your cupboard tops, our guide will show you a way to make the best of your living space.
Tackling the TV
The focal point of most living rooms is also the prime source of entertainment: the television. Since it arrived in British homes, the TV has evolved rapidly, changing from a tiny cuboid on stilts tucked in the corner, to a sleek, internet-connected hyper-machine teeming with plug ins, which often takes pride of place.
But has your TV stand evolved with your TV? If not, think about modernising what you’ve got already. Black glass and steel complements newer television sets nicely, whilst a carefully selected hardwood can add rustic appeal. Remember to pick a design with storage underneath so you can store those media players away.
Struggling with floor space? Wall mounted TV sets are becoming popular in space-starved flats, and can look fashionably sleek when fitted well. If your TV has a built-in DVD or Blu-ray player you’ll be spared wires climbing up your walls as well. Match this with a hardwood sideboard for a glamorous set piece, providing the perfect home for ornamental flowers, family photos or houseplants.
Slimming down your sofa space
Modern sofa designs have been kind to the comfort-inclined, with the arrival of sofa models that seamlessly transform into a comfortable bed in moments. Sofa beds are a great way to squeeze an extra bed into your home, but can take up a lot of room.
If you’ve not got the space for a full-sized double sofa bed in your lounge, consider a reclining sofa or a recliner armchair. While not quite as large as a sofa bed, they can still be a welcome resting place for those in dire need of a nap. Electric recliner chairs go even further than the traditional mechanical options, giving you full control over just how ‘laid back’ you want to be – perfect for Sunday afternoon lounging.
If you don’t have the space for a fully convertible sofa bed but are looking for more than an armchair, try a reclining sofa. Whilst not as space-saving as a reclining armchair, or as bed-like as a sofa bed, there are some definite advantages: no more sofa-slouchers pushing their legs into you as you sit down to watch a film and no over-sized sofa bed taking up more room than necessary. And they certainly provide a space-saving solution for occasional sleepover guests.
Declutter with a coffee table
Whether you’re kicking back on a reclining chair, or monopolising a three-seater sofa, nothing complements comfy seating better than a handy surface for your cuppa. Conveniently, a decent coffee table offers so much more than somewhere to place your freshly made brew and biscuits – you just need to know what to look for.
Go for a table with shelves underneath and you’ll be kitted out with not just a coffee table, but a magazine rack or home for a lamp or ornament. Choose a statement piece and you’ll also have a talking point and a piece of modern art to decorate your living room.
There are some pretty clever coffee table designs out there which are designed to maximise your space, like the elegant S-shaped Content coffee table, which gives you three shelves to adorn rather than just one.
Mirror, Mirror, on the…
Historically, mirrors were the reserve of the elite and wealthy, perceived to be symbols of wisdom and truth providing protection against evil spirits.
Nowadays, mirrors are a common accessory for any room, and – provided you don’t break yours – a fantastic device for creating the impression of space. Ever been in a supermarket and thought the refrigerated section went on forever, before realising you were staring at yourself? It’s not space-saving in the traditional sense, but clever use of mirrors can help make a room appear much larger than it really is.
Mirrors, as we all know, reflect light, and clever home designers quickly cottoned on to the idea that placing them strategically throughout the house can work wonders to open up a room. A mirror on a dark wall brings in natural light, and placing one on a wall facing out onto a garden has a wonderful effect of adding a slice of nature into your home.
Houseplants are making a serious comeback, with easy-to-care-for succulents and cacti topping the Instagram popularity charts. But look to their leafier cousins such as the spider plant or mother-in-law’s tongue for your indoor garden. They’ve been tipped by NASA for their abilities to produce oxygen, and they remove harmful particles from the air.
Mother-in-law’s is a wide-leafed plant which grows straight up, so works well on windowsills or in narrow sections of your lounge or house. Spider plants are short, spreading plants that grow quickly in almost every direction, and look great in a plant holder. Hang one in a difficult corner to bring colour and life into your room, without taking up valuable surface space.
A message to the chronically cluttered
If you’ve done all these things and still find that you’re hop-skip-jumping to the sofa in the evening, it might be time to cut back on the furniture collection. Danish or Japanese minimalism movements offer great tips on how to sensibly de-clutter your living room to free up some much-needed space to relax.
Hopefully however, you’ll find that your living room has become the space you always dreamed of – airy and bright with space to breathe. Just what you need after a hard day’s work.