Simple & Easy
What is a sustainable living room?
A sustainable living room is an interactive space which
provides a balance of entertainment, casual relaxation and
function for an individual, roommates and families. This can
be achieved by using specific furniture selections, paint
colors, adding “green” and eco-friendly accessories in the
space, utilizing correct lighting fixtures by using warm
energy efficient bulbs, maximum air quality, eliminate
clutter, provide adequate storage solutions, artwork and
using correct furniture placement in the living room space.
The living room should be considered
as an extrovert section (action area) of a home (the kitchen
is also considered as an extrovert area). The bedroom for
example is the private/ introvert section of a home.
Electronics such as televisions, dvd player devices, are
utilized here. Architectural built- ins as fireplaces,
bookcases and seating ledges maybe included in the living
room with some residences (retro 1960’s architectural design
styles). Books, photos, artwork and other items are on
public display for guests to view. Life, love and laughter
should be the focus of this space.
There are four benefits of creating
a Sustainable Living Room Space:
a space in which one can enjoy entertaining guests
- Creating a healthier space which
is beneficial to allergy sufferers
- Achieving a multi-functional
space notwithstanding the amount
of square footage given
- Creating a space that is a true
reflection of the individual or
Consider space planning your
Living Room furniture the right way!
Know the size of your space
when it comes to Furniture selection and placement:
When space planning for your living room, the biggest
mistake most people make is purchasing furniture which
is too big and too bulky! When furniture is too big for
the area, it blocks the flow and circulation space. It
also prohibits one to add additional items (such as an
accent chair, small end table, etc.). Furniture which is
too big for the space makes a room appear smaller and
cramped. Sofas are usually the main culprit. People tend
to buy sofas which are far too large for their rooms.
For most spaces, do not purchase a sofa which is over
86” wide unless your living room is over 250 square
feet. Remember to place end tables on each side of the
sofa to anchor the unit. A Sectional sofa is a great
option to include seating for 5, 6 or 8 persons in a
room. Measure the corner wall spaces accurately and
subtract 24” on each side if you want to add a small end
table with this layout.
When purchasing furniture for your
living room, take a measurement of your space. Look at
windows, doors and opening locations. No piece of
furniture should block entry and exit ways. Window
locations should be accessible to open and close and
adjust window treatments. Furniture should not fully
block visibility properties of the window. If you have a
large square shaped living room, you can experiment your
space layout by placing your furniture on diagonal
angles (see space plan on easel). This is not effective
in small spaces unless you have single chairs and small
side tables (see space plan on easel). Angled placement
of furniture gives a dramatic feel within a space (show
the layout which has diagonal furniture).
2. Determine the purpose of
your living room.
Is your living room used strictly for entertaining,
relaxing, work, solitary time or family gatherings? Will
it be multi-purpose? Is this a studio type space? Make a
decision on what use or uses which are required in your
living room in the order of importance.
3. Determine the type of
furniture to include in this space according to the
purpose of your living room
If you are a single professional or an adult couple,
you can choose living room furniture which can be high
maintenance, high end, fabrics and finishes which are
more expensive, such as cottons, wools and silks. Glass,
marble, stones and other types of expensive accessories
can be presented in the space. Is your living room a
place to show off photos, paintings, sculpture work?
Make this room your special art museum and gallery. Have
your artwork be the focus of the space and choose
informal yet casual seating with small side tables. Keep
the colors on the walls neutral, not necessary white but
in the beige, and gray family. Make sure that you have
accent lighting which will highlight your artwork piece
by piece. Consult with an Interior Designer and/or a
professional art consultant for the best colors and
lighting to use in this type of space. The themes and
color of your specific artwork should determine what
wall paint color is used in the room.
For living rooms which are mutli-purpose
or used for practically a studio space, use furniture
which is multi functional. Ottomans, end tables and
coffee tables with lower shelving, and bookcase units
should be highly considered. Sleeper sofas are a great
option for a studio/living room or can serve as
alternate sleeping space to unexpected guests. There are
no rules for color in this space, although if this space
will be used for home office work or student study, pick
a warm color such as reds, yellows and oranges. These
are mind stimulating colors.
If your living room is a gathering
space for family members including children and pets,
choose fabrics and finishes which are easy to clean and
maintain. Choose furniture and tables which have rounded
and soft corners. Make sure sofas, seating and tables
are made from good quality and sturdy construction for
long lasting and continual use. Tables and media
equipment may serve as alternate storage units for
multi-purpose use. Show memorable photos and items which
portray happy times with your family.
4. Determine how to choose
colors in this space
The living room should be a place of fun and enjoyment!
There is a great array of colors from which to choose to
choose from. Choose your favorite colors but make sure
there is some uniformity and color connection with the
adjacent rooms, especially for those who live in small
spaces. Pick an object of inspiration for your color
scheme such as a painting, a vacation spot or a pillow!
Do not use more than (4) colors for your living room.
Consult a color consultant or an Interior Designer for
correct color placement, tones, weight and hues for your
The traditional rule for colors in
Interior spaces is lighter colors on the walls create an
illusion of a larger and airier room and dark colors can
make a room appear smaller. Actually, dark colors on the
walls give a room an intimate and secure feel to the
space. You can use dark colors on walls, but again have
a color template of no more that (4) colors to use in
the space. Keep ceiling and trim colors light to add
definition to the space.
Make your Living Room a healthy
Items to consider when creating a healthier living
Flooring - Choose hard wood
floors, bamboo flooring, laminate flooring, stone,
recycled vinyl, concrete, linoleum, or ceramic materials
for flooring. Carpet harbors dirt and bacteria even
during regular vacuuming. If you want to have a soft
surface material on the floor, consider area rugs which
are made from natural fibers as jute, sisal, wool and
wool-silk blends. There are manufacturers which include
natural dyes in the production of their carpet products.
Also consider recycled carpet in the form of carpet
tiles. If a carpet tile is stained or damaged, you can
remove the (1) carpet tile and add a new carpet tile
instead of replacing a room of carpet. This saves time
and money and offers a sustainable solution. Area rugs
provide a design trick to separate spaces from one
another or to enclose an area!
Window treatments - It is
best to use wood blinds or hard surface blinds as window
treatments for allergy sufferers. Blinds are easy to
clean and do not harbor bacteria. If one must have
drapery fabric as window treatments, choose materials
which are easy to clean in a conventional washing
machine such as cottons and cotton/poly blends. Wash
your draperies on a regular basis (once a month) so
bacteria, dust, and dirt will not grow in a rapid pace
Seating - the best option
is to select seating which is upholstered in leather or
vinyl. These materials are easy to clean by hand wiping
with a soft cloth. Leather and vinyl does not hold or
harbor bacterial, hairs or wet/damp matter. If an
allergy sufferer must have a fabric upholstered seating,
choose cotton slip covered seating. Slip covers are easy
to wash and recover. Again, if seating in your space is
used heavily on a regular basis, remove, wash and
recover your slipcovers at least once per month.
Air quality - make sure
indoor air vents and grille are maintained and cleaned
on a regular basis. Take advantage of opening windows
late spring, summer and early fall. Fresh air is healthy
and allows the house to “breathe”. Make sure when
vacuuming soft floor surfaces and upholstered furniture
that your cleaner contains a HEPA filter. This will
filter the dirty air into clean air. A must for a space
which small children and allergy suffers occupy.
Lighting - Your living room
should have adequate lighting! Take advantage of natural
lighting at all times! During the daytime, open your
window treatments to allow sunlight to enter the living
room. Sunlight makes a space warm and inviting. It
improves one’s mood and spirit. Most Americans are
purchasing energy efficient bulbs which are a great
incentive to conserve energy and save a portion on
electric bills. But some of these bulbs give a cool or
blue cast on the walls once the lamps are turned on.
This produces a cold appearance in a space. Make sure
that your bulbs have warm lighting. Go to a local home
improvement store for the correct selection.
6. Storage and clutter issues - Storage is one of
the most addressed issues in the home today. Most people
are often trying to locate more closets and hide away
units for more products which we use and purchase.
America is a nation of consumers and at times over
consumers. Easy access to purchase items, whether it is
in a retail establishment, television or the internet,
often results into where to place these items. New
housing construction allows for large closet rooms,
master suite closets, walk-in closets, etc. in homes but
most of us do not have the luxury of a celebrity walk-in
closet or a large closet room to house items and with
the changes in the national economy, over consumption is
now substituted with using a product which has several
functions of use. The Green revolution and the focus of
becoming more sustainable with one’s practices and
lifestyles has given priority over unnecessary
In the living room, occupants may
want to store media equipment, books, cd’s and dvd’s in
components. These items (except for books) should be
hidden to prevent clutter. Use wall units which contain
drawers which can store these items. Ottomans can double
as an alternate storage unit by lifting the seat area,
trunks can serve as a multi-purpose function for a
coffee table and storage. Open and/or closed bookcases
can serve as library space in a living room. The key is
to use storage type furniture pieces for multiple use.
This will eliminate the clutter.
Again, please use the expertise of
an Interior Designer to achieve your look! You and your
loved ones and friends will be impressed in an
attractive, sustainable space!