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Whether you’re designing your first living room or revamping
your current one, the choices you make will impact the rest of your home. It’s
never a bad idea to take stock of the items you already own and identify their
value to you and your space.  From there,
you can start designing your dream living room and then put an actionable plan in place.

The best-designed living rooms are the ones that combine
function with fun and comfort. That takes some planning to accomplish, though.
Take a look at the three basic phases of redecorating your living room – and
how they can help you end up with your dream space.

Take Stock

Before you start repainting walls or buying new items for
your living room, decide what you have that you already love (and what you want
to get rid of the most). What do you have happening in your living room that
already works? Are there other items in your home that you’d like to move into
your living room? From there, break down what you want to redesign by:

Theme. What atmosphere do you want to accomplish in your living room? Think about how
you want the space to feel and then you will be able to start filling it with
items you need to reach that goal.
Size. Even compact spaces have a lot of creative
potential but you must be aware of your constraints before you start adding
Furniture. Will the furniture you already have
work in your desired theme? Which items will need to be replaced and which ones
can stay?
Budget. This is just a cold-hard fact of
redecorating – you can only buy what you can afford. There are a lot of ways to
stretch your design dollar but first you need to know your financial limits.
Time. Is there a deadline on when you want your
new living room revealed? Make sure your ideas can fit in that time frame and
not inconvenience your family too much in the process.

Envision the End Goal

Once you have some of the basic realities of your living
room redesign in place, it’s time to start dreaming a little. Consider:

Your goal. What will be the primary reason for
this room? Will your family gather there for quiet time, or will it be used for
entertainment purposes? Do you want to entertain guests or make it more of a
comfortable space reserved for your immediate family? This will make a
difference in how things are laid out and how your space is utilized.
The focal point. Your goal will directly
determine the focal point. This is the central object or area around which the
rest of the room will revolve. Common living room focal points include TVs,
bookshelves, or even a central coffee table. The way the rest of your furniture
is laid out will be impacted by where you place this focal point.
The storage needed. You will want to be sure
your living room can hold all of the stuff that will make it functional –
whatever that “stuff” may be. For an entertainment-heavy room, you will want
space for videos, CDs and games, and more. For a reading-friendly room,
bookshelves will be needed (or at the very least, tables to set electronic
tablet devices when not in use). Try to keep things out of the room that really
don’t need to be there. But on the other hand, you don’t want to have to go to
other parts of the house every time you want to perform a basic function of
your living room.

Start Redecorating

When your plans are finally laid, it’s time to move forward
with your redecorating project. Remove the items you’ve already determined to
get rid of and thoroughly sort through your books, videos, and living room
accessories. Consider the following when you start adding items to your living
Walls. Decide if it’s time to give your walls a
fresh coat of paint or wallpaper and do it before you add in any new furniture.
Darker colors make sense for a living room space that will be used for reading
or studying purposes. Light, airy colors work with entertaining spaces.

Seating. Oversized chairs may seem like a
fashionable choice, but using one in place of a small loveseat could mean
seating for one less person. How many people will use your living room
regularly, and how many guests do you hope to accommodate (and how often)? Make
sure that the furniture arrangement you decide on has the minimum number of
seats you need.

Arrangement. Remember your focal point and
arrange the items in your living room to support it.

Lighting. Now may be a good time to replace
windows, or even add larger ones for more natural lighting. Determine how to
best tap natural lighting and supplement with lamps and ceiling lights when
necessary. Lighting can also be a great way to enforce your living room theme.

Surface and storage space. The amount of surface
area you need will relate to the seating. Make sure there is enough space for
people to set personal electronics, plates, cups, books, and more. Add a
central coffee table and end tables for books, coasters, lamps, and art. Add in
bookshelves and entertainment curios if either are needed based on your living
room goal and belongings.

Accessories. This portion of redecorating is
like putting the icing on the cake. You can let your creativity take over a
little bit when picking out throw pillows, picture frames, area rugs, and wall
art. If there is a certain part of your theme that is not adequately being
conveyed through the walls and furniture, accessories are a great way to drive
it home.
From seating, storage, and entertainment to lighting and
art/plants/accessories, look at what your current living room items are
providing in terms of design and purpose. After you know exactly what you have
to work with, you can start adding in the items you’ll need to transform your
living room to the space you want it to be.

Contributed By: Hannah Tucker is the mastermind behind
product management at TheBackStore.com. Hannah has a (healthy) shoe obsession
and resides in the beautiful and sunny San Diego. She has a fascination for
ergonomics and its effect on workplace culture and productivity.