The main living space within a home is one of the areas that you need to get right — it is the spaces where you will be spending the most time, and where you’ll not only be relaxing in but also entertaining.

As a result, you need to consider how this room can cater for a variety of functions, work for all family members and also offer wow factor. From considering natural light to focal features, we list 12 great design ideas for your living space.

 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.

A considered palette of raw materials creates a midcentury modern feel in this living space

In this example, 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. Strike a Balance of 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. Zone an Open Plan Living Space

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 open plan kitchen dining living space is zoned thanks to a centre island

This project by DHV Architects is a case in point, with the kitchen island cleverly zoning the cooking and dining areas from the living space.

4. Introduce a Sunken Living Space

Where you have an open plan arrangement, zoning is also key to achieving a cosy space which doesn’t feel too sparse.

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

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.

5. Introduce an Indoor/Outdoor Living Space

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.

Sliding doors blur the boundaries between inside and out within this home

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 coach house renovation project demonstrates.

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

A central woodburning stove with full-height flue and log store in this remodelled home by architect Dan Brill is a case in point.

7. Build 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.

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

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.

8. Consider a 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 mezzanine within the open plan living space offers a reading nook

This project in London by Selencky Parsons offers a cosy mezzanine snug within the open plan kitchen, dining, living space.

9. Light a Living Space from Above

For living 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, such as this project in Oxford, which extends beyond the boundaries of the room above, a rooflight could be included to drop daylight down into the space.

This living space is lit from above thanks to a rooflight and clerestory windows

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.

10. Introduce Full-Height Glazing

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.

Full height glazing has been used in this living space

In this project in Lewes, two walls, including the corner, have been replaced with full-height structural glazing to allow for a wrap-around panorama of the surrounding landscape.

11. Include 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.

This self build in the Lake District utilises varied ceilings heights within the living space

Varied ceiling heights have been introduced within the broken plan arrangement of this self build in the Lake District, with the kitchen leading into a voluminous living space complete with mezzanine above.

12. Add Internal 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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