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9 Living Room Choices Guaranteed to Divide Opinion

From what art to hang to what goes on the windows, it’s all about compromise when it comes to decorating the living room

Houzz UK Editorial Staff. I’m a freelance journalist with more than 13 years’ experience… More

The living room is the space that everyone makes a beeline for to relax and hang out, so it goes without saying that most members of the household will have an opinion on what it looks like and what it prioritises. We’ve rounded up some common design dilemmas and found ways to compromise on the decisions.

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1. A bright, colourful sofa
There’s a reason why grey sofas are so popular – they go with everything. But what if you’d prefer something a little more interesting? It’s a difficult decision, as a sofa is such a big investment. You want it to last for a long time, and if you choose a bold colour your taste might change a few years down the line. It’s tempting to play it safe and go for a neutral shade that won’t go out of style (or that will please others in the house), even if that means compromising on your colour preference.

What’s the answer? Design trends come and go, but our own tastes tend to stay the same. Look around your home, and you might find that most of the objects in it are a similar shade. Opt for a sofa in a colour you really love (and that goes with most of the other design pieces and accessories in the room) and chances are you’ll still adore it in five or even 10 years’ time. And you can please your cohabitees, family or housemates by letting them choose the other seating in the living room.

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2. A statement TV
For some, a large flatscreen is a style statement worth displaying on the wall; to others it’s an item that ruins the calm look and feel of the living room. If your preference is for a streamlined room with only the fireplace as a focal point, you might be wondering what to do with the TV. Most of us only have one living room, so it’s a design dilemma that can cause some issues.

What’s the answer? It’s possible to have a TV in the room without it taking over the whole space. Plan an area where the television can be tucked out of the way, as they’ve done here in this alcove. Alternatively, build a shelving unit with a door designed to close over the television when it’s not in use, but without obscuring the screen or getting the way when open.

Discover helpful hints for hanging a TV above a fireplace

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3. Artwork
The choice of art you put in your living room can be very personal. An artwork loved by some, might evoke more negative thoughts in others. And what if you have too many pictures and not enough space to hang them? A gallery wall is a good compromise, but it still requires a decision and commitment that could cause dispute.

What’s the answer? If you just can’t make a decision on your art display, go for the versatile option of a picture ledge instead. These narrow shelves allow you to arrange a selection of artwork without committing to lots of holes and hooks in the wall. When you change your mind, simply swap pictures for a new selection.

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4. A bold shade of wall paint
Some people love white walls as a backdrop for brighter accessories, while others prefer a bolder hue on their vertical surfaces. The colour you choose for your walls can have a huge effect on the look of the room, so a dispute over the shade can bring your whole decorating project to a standstill.

What’s the answer? Go for a mix of the two by painting one wall in a bold tone and leaving the others neutral. Here, the wall behind the sofa has been covered with a deep blue that contrasts with the rest of the space and makes a cosy feature of the seating area.

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5. A real log fire or wood-burning stove
There’s nothing better on a cold day than snuggling up around a log fire, right? Well, not if you don’t like the smell, the mess and the hassle of storing logs. For some, the process and ritual of lighting a fire and cleaning the grate is all part of the fun; for others, well, it’s just plain annoying.

What’s the answer? If you’re averse to the fire-building rigmarole, but still like the cosiness of a fire, you could opt for a gas-powered version instead. There are also some attractive and energy-efficient electric woodburners around that look and feel very much like the real thing, so you can enjoy the experience by simply turning it on.

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6. Radiators
They’re one of the most essential elements in our living rooms, but many of us have old versions that don’t look too great in the space or match a new scheme. You might want to replace all of them with a modern statement design, but the people you live with might not want that, either for taste reasons or budget constraints.

What’s the answer? If you really don’t like the look of your radiators and are on a tight budget, conceal them with a radiator cover. You can find some attractive models nowadays that suit all tastes (and budgets), like the modern version here. They will also provide extra storage surfaces.

Read all about how to disguise your radiators

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7. An intruding office space
Not many of us have a dedicated study, so it’s often necessary to fit a desk space somewhere else in the home. It can make sense to utilise a corner of the living room, but the people you live with might be convinced the area will turn out to be a mess of paperwork with a cumbersome office chair.

What’s the answer? Reassure everyone who shares the space that your desk doesn’t have to encroach on a calm, relaxing living room. You can blend the work area in with the rest of the room by choosing an attractive desk and chair. And you can keep the space tidy with plenty of closed storage, so that it becomes a gorgeous feature in the room, rather than an eyesore.

Ideas for when you think you don’t have room for a home office

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8. The choice of window treatment
Shutters are popular right now, and you can see why – they look stylish and are a practical choice for adding privacy and a diffused light. However, curtains can bring a softness into the room and make the space feel warm and cosy when they’re drawn in the evening. What if you want shutters and everyone else wants curtains?

What’s the answer? If your budget allows, go for the best of both worlds by adding a combination of the two. In this gorgeous living room, the bay window is covered with shutters that block the view from outside, while the curtains add a soft frame around them.

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9. A statement rug
A big bold rug will certainly transform a room, and in a neutral space it can provide a welcome boost of pattern and interest. However, if your style is more pared-back than pepped-up, you might find a bright, patterned floor covering hard to live with.

What’s the answer? To add interesting texture without the vibrant tones or patterns, try layering up two neutral rugs. Here, they’ve positioned a patterned mat above a large, natural floor covering. The colours of the rugs are neutral, but the introduction of layers has given a more unusual feel.

How have you compromised on design decisions in your own living room? Share your experiences in the Comments section.

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