Turn Your Living Room into a Thriving Room

BY: Mae Rice |Mar 19, 2015

The term “living room” is upsettingly vague, and the parameters for decorating one are equally so. The goal (beyond attracting living people as opposed to Walking Dead zombies) is to create a space where people want to hang out. But how?

Below are six tips for creating cozy living rooms, inspired by some of Chicago’s most covetable homes.

1. Use the entire space.


Seen in: Salon owner Bathsheba Nemerovski’s Logan square apartment

The design elements: A bench, a neon-yellow ottoman, and a leather chair (partially pictured) in the middle of the room.

Why it works: When every piece of furniture isn’t flush against a wall, the space feels more lived-in—and, in this case, gives a medium-sized room enough seating for a party.

2. Bring the outdoors indoors.

Outdoors indoors

Seen in: Restaurant designer Nicole Montgomery's Peterson Woods bungalow

The design elements: Tree-sized potted plants, and a rug with a subtle leaf motif.

Why it works: People love decorative touches that evoke nature. It lets us live out our latent My Side of the Mountain fantasies without actually making pancakes out of acorns.

3. Soften your hardwood floors.

Oriental rug

Seen in: Bang Bang Pie Shop owner Michael Ciapciak's Logan Square home

The design element: An oriental rug.

Why it works: Nothing makes a room feel warm and cozy like a rug. The soft colors of this one introduce a fun pattern to the space without feeling gaudy or busy.

4. Draw inspiration from jumbo marshmallows.


Seen in: Menswear designer Suzie Sorenson and furniture maker Russ White's Humboldt Park apartment

The design elements: An oversized armchair, large throw pillows, and an invitingly squishy sofa.

Why it works: The more your living room looks like a bag of marshmallows, the more welcoming it feels.

5. Let there be light.


Seen in: Modern furniture collector Nick Roux's Lincoln Square apartment

The design element: An undressed window and an arched lamp.

Why it works: Unless you’re screening rom-coms for date night, most people don’t want to hang out in a dark room. Forgo curtains for maximum natural light by day, and use soft-light bulbs in a centrally placed light source by night.

6. Try a visual centerpiece that's not a TV.


Seen in: Musician Ann Torralba’s Hermosa bungalow

The design element: A narrow cabinet draped in fairy lights, against an unfinished wall.

Why it works: Even though the above room is a sunroom and not a living room, the idea holds. TVs are the #1 way to watch Broad City, so it’s hard to condemn them, but not having one can shunt groups into conversations. Or impromptu reenactments of Broad City episodes.

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