The Formal Living Room

You may think that formal living rooms are an idea of the past. However, this is not necessarily the case! Many older heritage homes do still have one; and, in homes without a separate formal sitting space, many individuals are opting to decorate their combined living room/family room to be more formal and sophisticated. I have decorated the formal sitting room of an older home in such a way. Indulge me, as I walk you through a few of the decorating “tricks” I used to make this sitting room elegant, yet still cozy.

To create the look of sophistication and elegance, we considered elements that automatically create that formal “feel”. Pillars, wainscoting, and high ceilings immediately came to mind. So, we went to work! We built pilasters, created picture frame mouldings along the wall, added a chair rail, and constructed beams across the ceiling. By painting the wall, mouldings, and chair rail one uniform colour, we were able to create the look of expensive wainscoting at a fraction of the cost. The beams across the ceiling, created depth and character, while providing the illusion of a coffered ceiling. Pillars, wainscoting, coffered ceilings, and a luxurious leather and wood combination sofa — we had achieved the picture of elegance.
(Decorator’s Tip: Trim, trim, trim! Trim and mouldings, though often the last thought in a renovation project, are one of the most affordable ways to add that final “wow” to a space. Don’t be afraid to be creative with it!)

Now to add the “cozy”. We still wanted to create a space that was inviting and comfortable — a good place to curl up with a book, or indulge in a favourite show. To balance out the formal elements we had created, we chose a beautiful, caramel coloured hardwood. The hand-scraped finish introduced a bit of rustic charm; adding that “comfortable” element.
(Decorator’s Tip: A common decorating myth is that you need to use warm colours to create cozy spaces. This is not true! You can choose the colour that works best for your preference, and add comfort by selecting a more casual style, texture, or finish.)

For the additional seating, we chose to balance out the leather sofa by adding tapestry chairs and a complimentary love seat. Plenty of plush pillows, soft blankets, and an area rug were our finishing touches to this comfy, yet elegant space. Note that the area rug is the perfect size, by going under the front feet of all the seating furniture. 
(Decorator’s Tip: If your home is an open concept layout, you can use a properly sized area rug to help establish your seating areas.)

We were very pleased with the final look. The room feels sophisticated, elegant, and indulgent; and many a book and cup of tea are enjoyed while curled up in blankets on these cozy couches.

Tell us what you think? Do you have any additional ideas you would have suggested? Do you have any related (or unrelated) interior decorating questions for me? I would love to hear from you.