If you’re a regular reader of The Everygirl, we can guess that you love looking at photos of beautiful interiors as much as we do. Whether it’s one of our home tours or a stylish living space on Pinterest or Instagram, there’s something all of those impeccably decorated rooms have in common, no matter the design style: they look polished and pulled together. You know it when you see it, but that pulled-together feel is sometimes hard to pinpoint as you consider what your own living room is lacking to have a similar, finished appearance.
First, it’s important to point out that most homes you see photographed for a magazine or popular social media account are staged and professionally styled, so they may not even look that perfect on a regular basis; and that there is a bit of a science to nailing that pulled-together feel, and having a certain combination of elements in your living room will help complete the equation without fail.
Whether you’re a minimalist or a maximalist, love more traditional design or lean more toward modern, we’ve rounded up 10 items that every beautiful, pulled-together living room has in common. We’ve included tips for incorporating each element, and also shared some of our favorites to shop so that you can confidently decorate and style your own space.
1. A Large Area Rug
Any interior designer will tell you an appropriately large area rug is one of the fundamental elements of any room, especially the living room. A rug that most of your furniture can at sit on top at least halfway will create a sense of unity in the room and make it feel larger. Rugs can be quite expensive, so if you can only afford the 5’ x 7’ size of the rug you love, try layering it over a larger jute or sisal rug (which are typically more affordable) for a similar effect. Trust us when we say this is one of the most important factors of a well-designed and pulled-together room.
2. Throw Pillows That Mesh, Not Match
The one advantage your home has over the one photographed in a store catalog is variety in where you source the decor in your home. Resist the urge to purchase several matchy-matchy pillows from one collection and seek out a variety of patterns and solids that play well together. The result will look more naturally lived-in, not overly staged.
We’re of the belief that every room should have something alive in it, but your living room is a great place to start if you aren’t already a savvy plant parent. Small plants are the perfect accent for your coffee table or shelves, and taller plants and trees are the ideal solution for bare corners. Plants add color, texture, and literally life to your space, all of which bring out that pulled-together feeling.
4. An Interesting Coffee Table
A coffee table can be interesting because of its inherent design or because of how it’s styled. Either can be a dynamic focal point of a room, but a more plain, empty coffee table probably won’t. If you have a wide-open surface you’re not sure what to do with, try adding a tray that fills a third or half of the tabletop — both for a layer of visual interest and as a way to corral whatever items you choose in a way that looks intentional.
5. Multiple Lighting Sources
Having the right amount of light when and where you want it is another key element of a well-designed space that is often overlooked, and that cannot be achieved if you rely solely on the overhead light that came with your apartment or home. Add lamps (both floor and tabletop) and wall sconces where needed to create cozy, well-lit areas within your living room. Plus, the light fixtures themselves can contribute to the overall design of your room.
6. A Wide TV Stand
Not every living room has a TV and not every TV sits on a piece of furniture, but if yours does, take note of this tip. Whether it’s an antique dresser, a sleek sideboard, or an open shelving unit, the furniture your TV sits atop should be at least 10 to 20 percent wider than your TV. Depending on how large your TV is, its stand may fit on a smaller chest, but if the edges of the TV reach wider than that chest, not only will the chest look wimpy, but the whole area will look top-heavy and proportionally off. If your TV is wall-mounted directly above a similar piece of furniture, the same idea applies.
Curtains are not actually a necessity for every living room — you may not need the privacy and if you have larger, more architecturally interesting windows, they may hold their own without any window treatments. That said, curtains — when installed properly — will add warmth, texture, and visual interest to your space, all of which contribute to that pulled-together feel. Curtains should be hung wider and higher than your actual windows (which will make your room feel taller and larger) and the bottom of the drapes should touch the floor.
8. Large Artwork
Artwork is the most powerful finishing touch in any well-designed space, and without it, your bare walls will leave all the visual interest to the bottom half of your room. A single large-scale piece of artwork or a collection of smaller frames will make a strong statement in your living room and help to create a cohesive space that showcases your personality.
Empty shelves and bare tabletops are one of the biggest detriments to a space looking lived-in and pulled together. Even if you’re a minimalist who despises clutter, adding some decor to your living room surfaces will add visual interest to the space, and books can be added in amounts (and colors) you’re comfortable with. If you aren’t much of a bookworm, thrift shops are a great source for cheap books, or you can seek out photography-centric books that are typically larger and more visually interesting. Horizontally stacking a few books is a great way to fill a larger space on a shelf or table.
10. A Mirror
Mirrors add a touch of glitz to the room they’re in, so they make for great decor — plus, they play a very functional role of making a space look bigger and bouncing light around. Add a large statement mirror over a mantel or across from a wall of windows to really play up the effect.