Designing Living Spaces with a Sense of Place

People ask me quite often about designing their main living spaces. While there is no one design scheme that applies to all living rooms, family rooms and dens, I do recommend some creative design principles to make living spaces comfortable, functional and beautiful. After all, these three traits of a well-designed living space transform an empty room into a stunning gathering place for family and friends.

Proper planning is extremely important in order to ensure cohesion of the space. Two critical components of interiors are the floor plan and a room’s focal point. The best arrangements provide the right kind of seating where needed, placement that allows you and your guests to easily converse, a table within arm’s reach of most seats, and a clear sight line to the room’s focal point- whether it is a beautiful view, artwork, fireplace, or the television.

You will want to consider the location of immovable structures of the space such as doors, stairs and electrical sockets, as these will determine where certain pieces can be placed. Walkways need to remain unobstructed to ease traffic flow. With these steps planned and executed, you can arrange furnishings to focus attention for conversation or toward your desired focal point. A natural-looking arrangement that equates to comfort and flow is essential.

For example, the sofa is a key element in a living room’s design. It anchors the space and provides a place for the family or guests to come together. Whether used for fun conversation after a delicious meal or for hours of marathon-watching movies, the sofa is a place of relaxation and enjoyment.

Taking these factors into account, I recently unified a sophisticated, functional leather sofa next to a matching love seat in the living room for one of my clients. This seating arrangement offers practicality with durable leather upholstery as well as attractiveness with classic lines and a warm red color. The gentleman of the house desired a comfy room to watch television or have his friends over for card games; our L-shape seating gave the room a functional, open and welcoming feel.

When choosing design elements for the room, we went with his preferred style of masculinity, though I added touches of panache. A few of these included a foundational area rug in a corresponding hue to ground the space; a custom fireplace screen designed to appear like waves of tall grass billowing in the wind; and decorative pewter balls arranged as wall art to act as the focal point of the room.

While some of my clients favor traditional interiors, my objective for this particular client was to create an evolution of design that was refined while also being edgy, yet with a good measure of symmetry and balance.

Art was a focus throughout the home. In the living room hangs a colorful painting by a local artist, showcasing a palette of beige, tan and purple.

Flanking the artwork, we chose oblong pendant lamps with dimmers to provide soft light for ambiance or brighter light when needed.

Our design plan for the space yielded an inviting environment that heightened the room’s overall sense of place and offered warm, rich colors and textures with a polished, yet relaxed stylishness.

If you are considering the redesign of one interior room, or are endeavoring to build or remodel an entire home, you are welcome to contact me. I’d like to help you with all aspects of your interiors project- from the design plan and selection of furnishings and art to finding the right mix of finishes and fabrics.

~ Ami Austin, President of Ami Austin Interior Design

Daniel Hicks