Seven steps to a smart, well-designed living space

1 go with the flow

‘Start by choosing furniture that matches the use of the space,’ says interior designer Joanna Wood. ‘If you’re catering to a family, consider fabrics that can be thrown in the washing machine.’

The position of furniture is also key and even in small rooms it’s crucial to create flow between pieces. ‘Don’t push furniture up against walls,’ says Jessica Pownall of Artisanna London. ‘Placing furniture a few inches away from the sides makes the room feel bigger.’

2 hidden depths

‘Designers often prefer to hide tech in the most discreet way, but it is part of our daily lives so practical storage is essential,’ says Ebba Thott of Sigmar London. ‘In this case (pictured below), we framed the TV and decluttered at the same time by hiding the storage within the wallpaper-panel design.’

(Image credit: Petra Krejci/Sigmar London)

3 wonder walls

Think about how to use wallpaper. ‘All-over coverage can harmonise a space and bring a large or segmented room together,’ says Rebecca Drury of MissPrint. This works well with a vast mural or a design with a giant repeat – by spreading it across the walls,it can bring a sense of cohesion.

(Image credit: Matthew Williams)

See these living room wallpaper ideas.

4 skirting the issue

Prefer paint to paper? Splashing the same colour as the walls across skirting boards and window frames is a simple but stylish touch. ‘Not only does this create a contemporary look, but it also gives the illusion of bigger walls, making the room appear more spacious,’says Judy Smith, colour consultant, Crown.

(Image credit: James Merrell)

5 the dark side

Do you want your flooring to blend in or stand out? Take note from Roger Hemmings of Havwoods, who says, ‘light oak and washed wood floors are still hugely popular, but darker tones definitely offer an opportunity for underfoot surfaces to become the focal point of a space, rather than being used as a canvas for the rest of the decor.’

(Image credit: Paul Craig)

6totally floored

If you are a carpet person, Lorna Haigh, head of creative at Alternative Flooring, recommends wool: ‘It’s easy to clean and will keep its appearance as it has the bounce-back factor,’ she says.

Think about colours. ‘If you have bold furniture or fabrics, stick to a minimalist style,’ says Jemma Dayman, buyer at Carpetright. ‘But a neutral approach to decor can be brightened with a vivid pattern.’

7 light the room

Getting the lighting right is crucial to creating atmosphere. Start with a pendant for everyday tasks. Then make sure there is a light at every height, from coffee table to over the top of a reading chair to shelf, highlighting the things on display.

As, says Agnieszka Wojcik, interior design manager, Ikea, ‘this will create various directions of light , giving you better control of the room’s mood.’

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

See these colourful living rooms for all seasons.

Jacky Parker is a London-based freelance journalist and content creator, specialising in interiors, travel and food. From buying guides and real home case studies to shopping and news pages, she produces a wide range of features for national magazines and SEO content for websites

A long-time contributor to Livingetc, as a member of the team, she regularly reports on the latest trends, speaking to experts and discovering the latest tips. Jacky has also written  for other publications such as Homes and Gardens, Ideal Home, Red, Grand Designs, Sunday Times Style and AD, Country Homes and Interiors and ELLE Decoration.