“With plenty of seating and luxe details, a formal setup is a special-occasion spot—the focus is on entertaining rather than everyday life.” —Elizabeth Bauer, interior designer
Squared-Off Floor Plan The furniture, all at right angles, seems to stand at attention. Wide spacing makes the room feel grander than it is. The rug defines the seating zone, but because it’s an unfussy material (jute), it sends a welcoming signal.
Multiples, in Furnishings and Art The room has a sense of structure and organization, thanks to sets of chairs, tables, and lamps as well as themed art hung in a crisp grid. Almost every detail has a partner.
Sophisticated Palette and Textures Neutral tones with one pastel (lavender) used sparingly feels refined. Silk drapes, tufted velvet, scalloped edges on a leather daybed, and mirrored surfaces add up to lushness.
“A feng shui living room draws people in and makes them feel welcome, relaxed, and secure. It’s as inviting for one as it is for a group. People associate feng shui with things like Buddha statues and crystals, but it’s really just about creating a sense of flow and balance. —Catherine Brophy, feng shui designer
Tight Circular Arrangement A close gathering space with a round ottoman encourages conversation and offers a smooth path to seating (no corners to bump into). A small rug directs attention to the room’s center.
Hits of Red Red is the color of good fortune in China, and it’s great for enlivening a “social” space. But use it sparingly—too much can make people feel jumpy.
Reflective Pieces Mirrors bounce light around—or “move energy” in the feng shui lexicon. The gazing ball on the ottoman lets you see what’s behind you; this creates a subtle sense of ease and security.
Emotional and Meaningful Objects Objects in a living room should express who you are. A child’s painting and a drum represent creativity. Books are a sign of curiosity. Carefully chosen photos and mementos have a place of honor on an uncluttered shelving unit.
Living Things A plant requires care and attention, so it reminds you to tend the space. Bringing in cut flowers—or any sort of new addition—keeps energy moving and helps refresh the room.
“In a family space, the floor should be as comfortable as the furniture, so everyone can stretch out and relax. Cheerful, eclectic decor puts people at ease and conveys a sense of creativity.” —Scott Sanders, interior designer
Wide-Open Layout Instead of lots of seating, there’s a task table for art projects (or bill paying) and plenty of rug room for toys. Everyone in the family can do his own thing and still be together.
Multiuse Pieces An upholstered bench in the far right corner and the center ottoman work both as storage and play surfaces. Add chairs to the table and it’s perfect for board games.
Mixed Patterns and Color The elaborate rug is soft, storied, and inviting. Large printed throw pillows double as floor cushions. Tiny touches of orange and turquoise unify the lively palette.
Whimsical Art A paint-smeared palette and kids’ drawings set among legit pieces announce that this is a playful, unprecious room. Vintage toys bring a bit of history without compromising the casual vibe.