In this post: Trying to decide if you should use that small space as a formal living room? These small living room ideas offer 4 reasons why you should.⇒
Do you have a living room?
Y’know, the room everyone loves to hate for it’s modern day uselessness. Maybe you use yours as a storage room for toys or perhaps it’s sitting empty with no furniture at all? Maybe you’d love to convert it into a craft room or gym, but it’s often situated right near the front door.
While most people use the family room for the bulk of their daily living, that “other room” down the hall leaves many wondering why it’s taking up prized square footage.
Newer living rooms tend to be quite small, as if the builder expected it to be a ‘throw away room’. But there’s an abundance of inspiring small living room ideas waiting to be discovered.
In our house, the living room is decorated in unabashed French Country style and my goal today is to share with you why. While the space is formal in the sense that it’s fully decorated and a bit more tailored than the family room, it’s still comfortable and inviting and perfectly available for use.
Here are 4 reasons to have and use a formal living room.
1. A place to read
Yes, of course you can read in the family room, but with the TV blasting and a swarm of phones and iPads broadcasting a cacophony of notifications, the living room is the ideal respite for peaceful reading. I love to relax in here with a cup of tea and a book. It’s also the spot where I keep the few hard copy magazines I still receive, in a rattan basket beneath a carved French end table.
Make sure to have a comfy sofa with plumped up pillows and a soft throw to wrap yourself in. A formal living room does not have to be stiff. You can try a tufted ottoman to serve as a soft edged coffee table, a lovely place for drinks to rest.
I chose an overstuffed sofa in a matelasse fabric, comfortable to sink into yet easy to upkeep. The tapestry pillows convey a French theme, while offering comfort. The main goal is to ensure the space is not just ‘for show’, but is just as comfortable as any other room in the house.
2. Classic Storage
While dishes and tableware are divided between the kitchen and dining room, and the family room entertainment unit is reserved for media and the like, the living room provides a safe haven for more traditional items. In this burled wood chest we keep table linens and other occasional items.
A balanced mix of soft and hard pieces keeps the room looking both classic and inviting. The French trumeau mirror sits regally above the bureau. A simple silk tassel can make any drawer pull special.
Teacups and wine caddy are waiting nearby, placed atop the vintage chest, while glimmery candlesticks are ready to be lit.
3. Old fashioned conversation
Even in a small living room, if you’re lucky enough to find the space, there’s nothing better than having dedicated sitting areas for separate conversations. While many people use their living rooms as parking lots for spare furniture, a classic layout that encourages social gatherings is the ideal luxury. Deep plush chairs are tucked into our bay window alcove, offering a lovely spot for private chat.
Silk drapery panels add a note of formality, while the generous windows bring in plenty of light. The tiny needlepoint stool hold a pretty piece of Italian pottery.
A copper jug adds warmth to the setting with pretty faux flowers in cheerful tones.
4. Writing notes and cards
If you’re one of those people who emails thank you notes, you’re probably not longing for a formal living room. But for those of us that still send hand written notes when the occasion calls for it, the quiet elegance of this room lends itself perfectly for that purpose.
An antique English writing desk holds all the necessary tools, from personalized stationery and greeting cards, to stamps and writing instruments. This is also where I keep wrapping paper and gift tags, and other assorted papery.
Vintage leather books help set the tone, too.
The French aubusson rug pulls the entire room together, with soft hues that impart just enough color. This is one of the pieces that lends formality to the room, without jeopardizing its utility in any way.
It’s been years since we needed a spare room just for toys, but I’m certain when our kids have their own children, we will find another space to use as a playroom.
If your living room makes you smile every time you walk into it, you will find countless reasons to spend time making use of it.
Small Living Room Ideas Resource List
To get the look, click on the items below for direct links to the products. Where actual items were no longer available, I’ve provided similar options. If an item is out of stock but may be restocked, I left it on the list.
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