5 Tricks for a Better Living Room, According to Home Stagers

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Living rooms are, well, for living—you know, Scrabble marathons with friends, meditating to Lizzo, spending quality time with your plant babies, or whatever it is that makes you feel happy at home. So, on the one hand, you don’t want this living space to feel delicate. But, on the other, it’d be nice to have an inviting, well-curated space.

How to create a living room you love:

To help, we asked professional stagers how to create a living room you love. Even if you’re not listing your home in the near future, here’s how to turn your living room into a cohesive space, according to home stagers:
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Don’t cram in too much furniture

The key to creating a calm and comfy room? Making sure there is enough of a walkway between your furniture, explains Nathan Thompson with Pavilion Broadway, a U.K.-based luxury homeware and interior design company that offers staging services. But, how much space do you need? Thompson recommends a minimum of 18 inches of walkway between your furniture pieces, but if you’ve got a larger space double that to 36 inches.

Pay attention to proportions

You know that large furniture items can be overwhelming in a small space. Similarly, placing smaller furniture items in a large room, or a room with a high ceiling, can drown them out and cause your space to look out of scale, Thompson explains.
Two more rules from Thompson: “Coffee tables should be around half the size of your sofa,” he says. And a correct-sized rug should be large enough to touch at least the front legs of your furniture.
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Credit: Jessica Isaac

Don’t be too matchy-matchy

The best way to make a living room look cohesive is to make sure very few things match, says Justin Riordan, interior designer, architect and founder of the Portland-based home staging company Spade and Archer Design Agency. While he loves a good pair of matching lamps, he says matching furniture is tricky to sophisticatedly style.
“If you purchase a matching sofa, loveseat, and chair, anything else you put with it will look like the odd man out,” he says.
On the flip side, it’s easy to introduce new pieces to a coordinating—but not matching— living room, he says.
Jody Wallace of Greylyn Wayne Interior Design & Home Staging in Portland, Oregon, says she likes to think of designing a living room as a unique puzzle:
“Make the space you decorate more interesting by adding multiple layers of textures, pops of color, and adding a mix of vintage and modern decor,” she says.

Try neutral furniture pieces

An easy way to pull together a living room is to follow this formula: Go neutral with the main furniture pieces but choose one accent color. Then add this pop of color, for example, with a decorative cushion, vase, or artwork, says Cristina Villalón, the co-founder, principal interior designer and the director of Álvarez-Díaz & Villalón Architecture & Interior Design, with offices in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Miami, Florida. “The idea is to get your eye to move around the room,” she says. “Using the same color accent throughout makes the space feel cohesive.”
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Credit: Minette Hand

Take your time

Last but not least, think of designing your living room as a slow process. “Don’t buy everything all at once from one store,” says Jason Saft, a New York City real estate agent with Compass and the founder of StagedToSellHome.Com.
“Aspirational looks take time to cultivate and create,” he says.
Once you’ve got your living room staged, here’s some expert tips for zeroing in and perfectly staging your coffee table.