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Living room styling basics for dummies


Is your living room lacking? These expert interior styling tips from Chris Carroll are guaranteed to leave your lounge looking anything but basic.

Sofa, coffee table, TV; creating a lovely living room is as easy as one, two, three… right?

If you want your space to really shine, you’d be wise to stop looking at the prospect of decorating as if it’s a checklist, and start viewing it as an opportunity to get creative and let your personality shine through.

Chris Carroll, our resident interior stylist, has kindly shared his hot tips on styling a living room to make an impact.

From decking out the sofa to adding the perfect artwork, follow his advice for a space to really impress and excite.

The sofa

Your lounge is your space for unwinding, snuggling, and catching up with friends and family, and so it’s arguably one the most important areas of your home.

Your sofa should be considered a place of comfort and carry about it a sense of ‘home’, and what says cosy better than an array of plush cushions?

“Minimalism is a filthy word when it comes to styling the sofa – I don’t see the point in having a sofa feel formal and stuffy,” says Chris.

“This is a zone for comfort, so pack in as many feather-insert cushions as you can.”

Is there ever such thing as too many cushions? Picture: Nelson Alexander

The coffee table

Not just a place to rest your tea and your feet (when no one’s watching), the coffee table is often one of the more neglected styling opportunities in the home. So, how can we be using this space better?

“The biggest thing to think about with coffee tables is size,” says Chris. “One of the more common mistakes I see people make is buying tables that are too small and therefore look dwarfed in the space. Not cute!

“I also see people without coffee tables altogether, which is an absolute design crime.” Once you have one that suits your space, Chris advises that you get a tray to sit atop the surface. “It’ll hold the vignette together,” he says.

“Then, style it up with items of varying heights, with one ‘hero’ piece that stands out more than the others.”

Elevate your space with a unique, vintage coffee table. Picture: Ross Campbell

The shelf

Whether you’re looking to jazz up a mantlepiece or style a whole bookshelf, Chris says there are some key ways to keep your treasures looking relaxed and accidentally on-point.

“People get so stuck on symmetry and it can often make the shelf feel too forced. Think about a combination of textures, shapes and different heights in your shelf vignettes. I also love a draping plant, because it’s a great way to extend the decorating beyond the plane of the shelf.”

A nifty way to keep a bookshelf looking effortlessly elegant is to play with horizontal and vertical layering. “Have some books lying down and then a few standing up, and use some decorative bookends to give the space some pizzazz.”

Layer your shelf for an effortless look. Picture: Designbx

The art

“Here’s the thing with art: It’s either the leading lady of the space (the Kim Kardashian) or the supporting player (Khloe or the other one… I don’t watch the show),” jokes Chris.

A room should only have one focal point, and so you’d best decide if you want this to be a print or painting, or something else like a statement couch or killer rug.

“If you choose the art to be your Kim Kardashian, go wild. If you already have a wild moment, choose art that ties into the scheme of the room – one that’s more subdued in colour and pattern.”

Go wild with your choice of art, then, keep everything else muted. Styling: Bree Leech. Picture: Lisa Cohen

Read more: How to find the right look for your interiors

This article was originally published as Living room styling basics for dummies by and is written by Katie Skelly.

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