Furnishing your living room: nice and cosy

Make yourself at home! The living room is where we gather with family and friends, play games, tell stories and laugh ourselves silly before chilling out on the couch to unwind before bed. Ample reason to think things through before you fit out or redecorate your living room. We have a wealth of tips and ideas for designing a modern and comfortable living room.

1. Size matters: is your living room big or small?

It really doesn’t matter how big your living room is when it comes to making it cosy and creating the right ambience. The important thing is choosing a design and furnishings that are appropriate for the size. You can achieve a modern, stylish and harmonious design in any living room. It is rarely a good idea to put large, heavy furniture in a small room, for example, or small, delicate furniture in a large room. So before you dig into the specifics of what your cosy living room should look like, it’s good to get a sense of the size and proportions of the room so you can choose the ideal furnishings for the space.

Less space: tips for furnishing a small living room

  • Light and maximum free floor space make a small room seem bigger.
  • Soft, bright colours make small rooms appear larger. Don’t be shy about trying some colour – all-white walls can quickly seem sterile and uninviting. For furniture and decorations, apply a tone-on-tone approach with the wall colour.
  • Small rooms should generally have small items of furniture. Or more precisely, delicate, slim furniture. It can still be soft and comfy. Ensure that your furniture lets through as much light as possible. With sofas and dressers, for example, this can be achieved through high, thin feet. This automatically makes more of the floor space visible. Chairs and armchairs in wicker are modern, lightweight and let light through.
  • Mirrors are a great way of giving small rooms more depth. Lean a large, round mirror on the sideboard against the wall, for example. It reflects light and creates a highly elegant impression.
  • Is your living room narrow or does it have low ceilings? With the right patterns, you can stretch the room visually – horizontal lines lend greater width and vertical lines height. You can form lines using pictures on the walls or the right pieces of furniture (e.g. a long, low sideboard).
  • Our tip: small rooms can quickly become too full and cluttered. So exercise a little restraint in choosing decorative elements and pictures. Less is more in this context. Leave the pieces enough air and space to work their charm. This brings tranquillity and balance to the room.

Lots of space: tips for furnishing a large living room

  • In a large room, you naturally have a lot more options for designing your space. But bear in mind: it’s a good idea for large rooms to have large pieces of furniture and accessories. Small elements can easily seem lost and out of place.
  • A large living room can accommodate darker, richer colours. But if you take this route, consider painting just one wall dark as a highlight – otherwise things can quickly get rather gloomy.
  • Use the space. In larger rooms, you don’t need to line all of the furniture up against the wall. That puts everything on the perimeter and leaves a giant hole in the middle. Try bringing the sofa into the room a bit, or even putting it right in the centre. It’s an elegant, modern look. You can also bring bookshelves into the room to serve as room dividers.
  • Do you have a combined living/dining room? Then we recommend separating the two areas visually. You can do this with rugs, with partitions or using different materials or colours. But be careful: even if you choose different colours and fabrics, don’t choose completely contrasting colour ranges, otherwise they won’t harmonise.
  • Are you a home cinema fan? Then why not equip your large living room with a screen and a projector and skip the TV altogether? You can mount the screen on the ceiling and only pull it down when needed. You’ll be the envy of all your friends.
Furnishing your living room: nice and cosy

2. A clear direction: what’s your style?

When you’ve got a sense for the size of the room and know what to look out for, you can think about the design style you find most appealing. You can get inspiration on platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest. Think about what you like. Do you like things stripped-down and retrained? Then a modern, minimalist design or the trendy Scandi look could be for you. Or do you prefer things a bit more opulent and rustic? Then check out the country house, retro and boho styles. Choose a style direction which will help you maintain a common thread in your décor. But of course, there’s no reason you can’t combine elements of different styles as well. As long as they have something in common.

3. Setting the tone: choose your colour

Certain design styles are associated with particular colours. The Scandi style, for example, is characterised by light, soft tones. White, beige, grey and rosé dominate here, so it should be easy to match the right colours. But take a closer look at the room. Is it big or small? Which walls would be good to highlight? And how can you bring the wall colour to bear in the furnishings as well?

Our tip: Define a colour palette of three to six complementary colours that you would like to use. Then pick three that will be your main colours to guide your choice of furniture, wall colours and textiles. You can use the remaining colours to set highlights. Use them sparingly as eye-grabbing accents (e.g. for individual pillows or smaller accessories).

Furnishing your living room: nice and cosy

4. Living room must-have: the sofa

A living room without a couch is almost unimaginable. A sofa is the central piece of furniture in every living room and should be one of the first pieces that you choose. There are lots of different options here. Two sofas positioned opposite each other, for example, are perfect for delightful evenings with friends. You might prefer a large couch landscape for chilling out. Or the classic two- or three-seater with one or two armchairs which form a group. Which variant is best for you? That depends on the room itself (is it big or small, does it have nooks and crannies or is it rectangular?) as well as you and the people who will be spending time in it. Do you like to watch TV in the evening and do you want to stretch out and relax as you do so? Then the sofa should be big enough to make things cosy. Or do you spend more time sitting together at the dining table than on the sofa? Then try a more low-key sofa and leave space for other furniture.

Our tip: Whichever couch you ultimately choose, be sure to try it out beforehand and make sure it’s as comfortable as you hoped. It’s no use having a fancy couch that’s so uncomfortable that no one wants to sit on it. And make sure your choice matches the colours and style that you’ve defined. That includes matching the colour of the wall behind it (tone-on-tone or with a contrast).

5. Setting the mood: the right lighting

No matter how tastefully and meticulously you decorate your lovely living room, it’s the lighting that lends the space a special atmosphere. To get the best out of your lighting, apply the following rules of thumb:

  • Distribute your light sources evenly on three levels, i.e. a ceiling light, floor lamps and lighting on the floor level.
  • Plan for at least three lights for an average room, and don’t hesitate to add more. You should plan about 100 lumens per square metre (lumen = light intensity, usually indicated on the packaging of the bulb).
  • Choose a good mix of direct and indirect light that you can switch on together or individually as needed.

Find out the best ways to illuminate your home in our article on the lighting concept for your home.

Furnishing your living room: nice and cosy

6. The icing on the cake: decorations and textiles

When the paint on the walls is dry and all the furniture is in place, you can add the final touches to your living room. Here again you should always bear in mind the size of the room and how much space you have at your disposal. Don’t overload your shelves and window sills – less is more.

It’s best not to place decorative items alone, instead group them in odd numbers  for a more elegant, modern look.

Textiles create a cosy atmosphere, while blankets and pillows on the couch invite snuggling. Curtains make a stylish window covering, while rugs lend the room texture and divide your cosy living room into different areas.

Our tip: follow through with your preferred design and style in your décor elements. But don’t make things too perfect or your home can wind up looking like a furniture showroom. Cherished mementos turn a space into a home, and the occasional departure from the style can be a real talking point.

7. Farewell to the screen? The TV-free living room

Just a few years ago it would have been unthinkable, but today more and more people are choosing not to have a TV in the living room. After all, you can always watch your favourite films and TV on a tablet or mobile phone. So why plonk a big, black box in the middle of your thoughtfully decorated home?

And chucking out the TV opens up a wealth of new design options in the living room. For one thing, the couch no longer has to face the TV. Perhaps you have a large window with a lovely view? Why not have the couch facing the window?

Or position the sofa, chairs and armchairs in a kind of circle to create the perfect environment for socialising. Once you’ve freed up space on the sideboard you can add beautiful decorative items. Or use the available space to set up a small library. A smart bookshelf, a comfy armchair and an elegant floor lamp can make an inviting reading nook – a better option than staring at the tube in the evening.

For families with small children in particular, a modern living room without a TV can be the best option. It might even encourage everyone to spend more time talking to each other rather than watching TV.

We hope you have a lot of fun designing your living room!

The following articles on furnishing might also interest you:

Furnishing your apartment: tips and tricks
Furnishing your bedroom: our tips
Designing your kitchen: what to keep in mind
Designing your bathroom: our ten tips
Furnishing guest rooms: feels like home
Safe, age-appropriate living
Furnishing your first apartment: our tips