Ben Kuhl - April 11 2022

Living Rooms That Inspire

Living room floating shelves

Do you want a living room that you’re proud to show off when you have guests over? What about something that highlights your style while providing every comfort for an active family at the same time? Or maybe you just want something that makes your living room look more like a living room and less like a storage area for the TV. We’ve all been there.

From dark colors that bring out the warmth of a room to contrasting items on a custom shelf or unique room arrangement options that leave a lasting impression, there are a lot of options to consider.

Floating shelves next to TV

Shelf Expression – Get Inspired

Here are some of the living room tips and ideas that we have fallen in love with. Hopefully, you’ll find some inspiration in them too. 

Decide on a theme

The first thing to do is to pick a theme. It will help to define what belongs in the space, how it all fits together, if it will fit, and even the colors and type of furniture that will go well within the living room area. 

If you don’t want to invest in new furniture, consider slipcovers, throw rugs, cushion covers, small handmade shelves and other elements, and additional options for a quick change without a major investment or having to try to fit a sofa through the front door. Giving a living room a new design can be as simple as changing out a few items to add some style or as complex as starting over with everything from rugs to furniture.

While the sky is the limit, some basic popular styles can make shopping for décor items a lot easier if you are willing to use them as a base. They include:

  • Mid-Century Modern
  • Contemporary
  • Industrial
  • Bohemian
  • Coastal and Cottage
  • Zen and Asian
  • Vintage and Shabby Chic
  • Rustic and Country

They each come with their own visual appeal. If you choose one, go with the aesthetic that most closely matches how you envision the space, and then build from and modify it from there to make it completely your own. 

Pipe bracket shelves

Shelf Expression – Pipe Bracket Shelves

A theme should incorporate furniture and a general décor style, aspects already in the room such as wood trim or a fireplace, personal style and touches, and a color palette for the major elements within the room. The right combination should be impressive while reflecting your personal tastes. Give it the unique twist that makes it a style of your own. It’s your living room! 

Find the right elements

Every living room should have something that really stands out. For many, the eye will naturally be drawn to a focal point such as the television or fireplace. However, a really striking piece of art or a large item can draw just as much attention, help to break up the space, and add a unique touch that really highlights your chosen style. 

Walnut floating Shelves with gongs

Shelf Expression – Get Inspired

Statues and paintings are classic examples. There are also some really nice pieces that go with available styles – things like large handmade fans to place on a wall, mirrors with elegant or striking frames, or an eye-catching hanging lamp or chandelier. However, an item can also be more personal, like a musical instrument, or a favorite pair of hockey skates displayed on a shelf. Feature what is important to you. 

Choose primary and accent colors

As we know, there is no rule that every floating shelf has to be the same distance apart or that they all have to be placed in neat rows. The same thing hChoosing the right paint, fabric, and furniture colors can be important for designing a space where everything flows together and looks like it belongs there. It’s a good idea to start with colors that you already plan to have in the room.

Start with a large piece of furniture or a favorite piece that will help to bring the room together. Borrow four colors from it. If it is a solid color, to reach a total of four colors, consider additional colors that will complement the original one. Within that four, also include a distinct color to provide contrast (this will become your accent color). 

Mantel shelf with teal wall

Shelf Expression – Get Inspired

Tips:

  • A good-looking wood stain can also help to act as a unifying color. If you have wood shelves or flooring in the room, consider matching it to your theme and to the other wood elements in the space. A cherry wood stain can help to bring warmth, pine can bring a sense of airiness and light, while a dark walnut or mahogany adds weight and depth. 
  • Before investing in entire buckets of paint or loads of fabric, buy small containers of the paint colors you have chosen and test them out on a wall to see if you really like them and if they go well with everything in the room. The right colors will make everything pop while providing an additional sense of depth, space, contrast, and warmth, depending on the combination you go with. 
  • Consider having an accent wall. Accent colors should be used minimally. They are meant to draw in the eye and not overwhelm it. However, this doesn’t entirely apply to walls. Cover one entire wall in an accent color to give a living room a real sense of design and life. 

Bring in elements from nature

Incorporating natural elements can help to reduce stress while creating a pleasant environment. They tend to go well with a light and neutral wall color. However, don’t let that limit your choices in paint or furniture. Plants can still add a splash of color and natural flair even when in front of a bright or dark backdrop. This is especially true if you are willing to go with flowers or plants with broader and darker green leaves.

Floating Shelves With Plants

Shelf Expression – Get Inspired

Tips:

  • Choose an area of the room for plants where they will get plenty of sunlight or bring in lighting that will help to keep them alive. Use full-spectrum LED lighting to mimic the sunlight and keep plants flourishing and healthy even when they lack adequate sunlight. Well-situated lighting focused on plants will help to bring attention to them while also providing what they need to thrive indoors. 
  • If you don’t want to water plants, artificial plants are an idea to consider. Or bring in bamboo, natural wood, dried flowers, dried reeds in a vase, river stones, or other elements from nature that do not require the same level of care to maintain their beauty and unique appeal. 
  • Don’t let natural elements stop at a few items. Consider bamboo or wood furniture, natural fabrics, pine shelves, natural lighting, and design elements that incorporate beiges, browns, greens, and blues to keep the feeling of nature and the outdoors going throughout the space. 
  • Mix things up with a variety of hanging plants as well as small trees on the floor or smaller potted plants at eye level and on floating shelves. Try different types, including flowers, cacti, succulents, and ivies.
  • If you have pets, always ask an expert or do to a quick Google search to make sure a plant is not toxic before bringing it into the home. Cats and dogs are known to get curious and nibble on plant leaves. Some common houseplants that you wouldn’t suspect can be quite toxic and can cause health issues in animals. 
Floating shelves with plants

Shelf Expression – Get Inspired

Create something with purpose

Who said that a living room could only be used for sitting on the sofa? Bring other parts of your life into the space and give them their own area. Whether it’s a crafting corner, a play area for the kids, somewhere to play an instrument, or a dedicated office space, there are plenty of ways to get more use from what tends to be one of the biggest rooms in a home. 

Floating shelf over desk

Shelf Expression – Get Inspired

Create a defined space that still incorporates design elements from the rest of the living room. Instead of blocking the designated space off, create a sense of it being separate while still incorporated by framing it with bookshelves, shelving, a partial room divider, furniture, unique flooring, or an area rug. 

Keep it organized

Don’t forget to have somewhere to store everything in the room. Whether it will be on display on custom walnut shelving or tucked away in an ottoman that doubles as a hidden storage space, make sure to keep clutter to a minimum to avoid detracting from the work you have put into creating the perfect living room environment. 

Pine Floating shelves

Shelf Expression – Get Inspired

Think about where things fit within the space

You have everything you need. Your paint is chosen, you have the furniture you want, you have the perfect pieces to go on the walls and be placed throughout the space, and you even have a few houseplants to bring some life into the room. Now what?

It’s time to bring it all together! 

Floating shelves with plant

Shelf Expression – Get Inspired

A little planning in the beginning definitely helps, but even if arranging everything is done at the end, there is still a lot you can do to create the ideal space with what you have. 

Take out a pen and paper or a room design app and get to work on deciding where everything should go and how it will all work within the space that you have available for it. 

Things to consider:

  • High traffic areas – Make sure that there is a clear route for people to walk through the room without interfering with those using the space or having to maneuver around furniture and other objects.
  • Functionality – If someone is sitting on the sofa, will they have somewhere within reach to place a drink? Can they see the television or fireplace without obstruction? Can people sit and have a conversation in the room without having to adjust their position or stand in order to face each other? 
  • Visual center – The visual center of the room is not always the physical center. It is where the eye is naturally drawn to, whether it’s a well-placed sectional, an entertainment center, or even a fabulous work of art. Decide on what you want to be the focal point and then highlight it by physically distancing it from other aspects, bringing in an accent color to draw the eye in, and even lighting it differently so that it is the first thing that is noticed about the space. 

The ultimate goal is to create an area that is yours, visually attractive, comfortable, and functional as well. In other words, your perfect living room! 

Hi, I’m Ben! I’m a woodworker, shelf creator, stain matcher, and general DIYer who blogs about all things woodworking and current custom floating shelf design trends.  I'll even try my hand at non-shelf topics.  Anyone can be an expert these days as long as they sound authoritative, right?  I may even add some humor here and there (my wife thinks I'm funny, sometimes).  Here's my story:  Learn more.

@shelfexpressionnc

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Black heavy duty floating shelves with flower
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Black heavy duty floating shelves with flower
Black Floating Shelves With Heavy Duty Hidden Bracket
Black heavy duty floating shelves with flower
Black heavy duty floating shelves with flower
Black Floating Shelves With Heavy Duty Hidden Bracket
Black heavy duty floating shelves with flower
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