1. A Considered Material Palette

Oozing character and style, creating Mid-century modern interiors in your living space can make for an inviting place to reside.

In this example (shown above), concrete flooring, exposed brickwork, and timber ceilings and posts come together as contrasting materials to add a relaxed 70s warmth to what would otherwise be a cold and minimalist interior scheme.

2. Balancing Light and Cosy

Living rooms are often divided into two camps: the contemporary, light-filled spaces and the traditional, darker rooms. Balancing these to reach a happy medium can be easily achieved, however, by giving thought to working with what you already have.

In this extension to a traditional cottage by CaSA Architects, the existing cottage element of the project featured low ceilings typical of cottage style, but can pose the problem of the room feeling dark and cramped. Introducing windows either side of the chimney breast and in other walls around the room brings natural light-filled space.

3. Zoned Open Plan Living

In many homes today, a living space is no longer just one room, but part of an open or semi-open plan arrangement combined with a kitchen and/or dining space. By designing this space into zones through tools such as carefully placed furniture, variation in lighting and changes in ceiling height, one can easily identify the purpose of each section within an open plan room.

This project by Witcher Crawford Architects & Designers is a case in point, with pendant lights over the kitchen island a welcome break from spotlights seen throughout  the space. The run of kitchen units also ends where the living room furniture begins, and a double-height void over the dining table establishes the change in zone.

Clever furniture placement and lighting help to zone the spaces in this open plan living space

4. Sunken Living Areas

Where you have an open plan arrangement, zoning is also key to achieving a cosy space which doesn’t feel too sparse. Specifying a sunken lounge can prove extremely effective here, as this award-winning project in Cornwall goes to show. Steps down to the seated area in front of a double-height fireplace allows the family to spend time together while enabling people in the kitchen diner to still be part of the conversation. The dramatic sea views through the full-height glazing are an added bonus.

Sunken seating in front of a feature fireplace in a home on the Cornish coast

5. Indoor/Outdoor Living

Bringing the outside in is one of the most popular trends today, but in order to make this achievable and accessible to all, it is worth considering designing in level thresholds between your indoor and outdoor living accommodation.

In addition, you will need to factor in drainage — you don’t want your beautiful living space to flood every time it rains, which in the UK can be more often than not. In order to avoid this issue, make sure the external flooring falls away slightly to encourage water run off, as this example (above) from Architectural Bronze Casements demonstrates.

Bifold doors from Architectural Bronze Casements with a level threshold encourage indoor/outdoor living

6. A Focal Fireplace

Where open plan kitchen/dining/living spaces need breaking up, introducing a fireplace or woodburning stove in the centre of the floorplan can prove a great focal point which can be enjoyed from the sofa as well as the kitchen island. A central woodburning stove with full-height flue and log store in this remodelled home by architect Dan Brill is a case in point.

A woodburning stove in the centre of this project by architect Dan Brill creates a focal point in the living space

7. Built-in Shelving

Shelving doesn’t just have to be for purely functional purposes: designing built-in shelving and bookcases can work to great effect as a place to house trinkets, coffee table books, photographs and all manner of paraphernalia and add a personal touch to your living space. Plus, built-in joinery can add interest to otherwise square or rectangular rooms.

A feature wall of built-in shelving has been created in this renovated Victorian home in Bath, built around a doorframe, painted to match the walls for a seamless effect, and decorated with carefully placed ornaments and frames.

This living space features built-in shelving painted the same as the walls for effect

8. The Mezzanine Snug

Your living space can become a loud place where friends and family gather to chat, watch television, throw a party, eat, etc. Designing in private reading areas can offer a dual purpose to the space.

This example from Jessica Helgerson Interior Design utilises the pitched ceiling by creating a mezzanine snug above the living room, accessed via a ladder built into the bookcase — a perfect hideaway for children and adults alike to find a moment’s peace.

A mezzanine level above this living space offers the perfect snug retreat

9. Light from Above

Not all living rooms are above ground, and for those spaces that are perhaps reliant on borrowed or artificial light, incorporating natural light can make an enormous difference. If, for instance, the living space is in a basement or lower ground floor extension which extends beyond the boundaries of the room above, a rooflight could be included to drop daylight down into the space.

If there is a room above, then a structural glass ceiling (floor for the room above) could provide the same benefit. Other scenarios include sun pipes/tunnels – which reflect light into spaces – or a sunken courtyard or lightwell, as this project by McClean Design demonstrates, with its lightwell brightening the basement TV room.

A light well in the basement of this California home allows light to enter from above

10. Full-Height Glazed Walls

In contemporary homes where a view could be captured through bi-fold doors or expanses of structural glazing, consider adding more drama into your living space by opening up the walls to make way for full-height frameless glazed walls. In this project by Oller & Pejic, two walls, including the corner, have been replaced with structural glazing to allow for a wrap-around panorama of the surrounding landscape.

Full-height corner glazing in this American home offers impact upon entry and a great view from the living space

11. Varied Ceiling Heights

Living spaces can be both cosy and intimate, as well as grand rooms to welcome and entertain guests. Where possible, introducing varied ceiling heights in your living space – perhaps with a mezzanine or galleried landing above – can create the best of both worlds and add dynamism to your interiors. In this example, a mezzanine level in this oak frame home allows for half of the living room to remain cosy while the other half of the room is open to a double-height volume and the glazed gable.

Infill glazed panels in this oak frame home helps bring plenty of natural light into the living space which boasts varied ceiling heights

12. Cladding

Adding a feature cladding material to the ceiling of your living space can create a great focal point. Here, in this Scottish project by Alastair MacIntyre, internal timber cladding injects warmth and texture into the open plan living area. The choice to run the boards in different widths also adds interest.

The ceiling of this living space designed by Alastair MacIntrye is clad in timber

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