Our practical yet stylish family living room ideas are designed to keep the peace and help everyone relax. It’s important that everyone in the family feels at home and nowhere more so than in the room where we come together to watch a movie or chat with our friends.
The living room is the most sociable room in the house, so make sure it provides enough seating for the whole family, plus a few guests. If you don’t have the space for extra chairs, an upholstered or leather pouffe will do the job and can be used as a footstool when not needed as a seat.
If you’re looking to buy a new armchair, check whether you have room to upgrade to a loveseat that can seat two people who are happy to snuggle up together.
Family living room ideas
Above all, living rooms needs to offer comfort. If your room leaves you feeling cold, make it feel more cosy simply by adding soft texture. Plush carpet or a rug can transform the look of a room, instantly making it feel more welcoming.
So what makes an ideal snug family living room? ‘It’s all about having that deep, cosy sofa that’s large enough for the whole family,’ says Dani Burroughs, head of product for Snug. Deep sofas with plump seats adorned with a line of squashy cushions will entice the whole family to settle in and spend the evening together, rather than in separate rooms.
A low-level table that can double up as a desk for drawing will be useful for everyone, and bean bags or knitted pouffes will serve as comfy seats for little ones. Choose hard-wearing flooring and loose-covered sofas with removable and washable covers that can stand up to a few spills.
1. Zone areas for all the family
Whatever ages within the family home, the living room will need to cater for many different needs. From a playroom for tiny children, to a movie room for young adults and a home office for parents, the modern living room has never worked harder!
Make the space feel inclusive while retaining dedicated zones for different purposes – especially important in small living rooms.
Wondering how to arrange living room furniture? Dedicate an area of the room, whether large or small, to ensure everyone has a place for their needs. Set up a work station at a small table in the corner of the room away from the central hub of entertainment to avoid any distractions.
2. Create a comfortable space for play
Create an inviting space for kids to feel free to play during the day. Layer the living space with soft textures from plush rugs to cushions and blankets to create a kid friendly zone within a main living room if your home doesn’t have the luxury of two separate living rooms.
Just be sure to use clever living room storage ideas and solutions to tidy all toys away at the end of each day, to avoid it feeling like a playroom during parent’s down time in the evening.
Dressing the space with colourful and characterful accessories is a creative way to make it feel like an inviting space for all.
3. Welcome a sizeable sofa bed
Important for all living rooms, but especially for family livings rooms, is a comfy sofa – as Danni from Snug pointed out above. It’s essential to have a sofa big enough for all the family to gather and snuggle up together.
It’s also an added bonus with a family to have a sofa bed element incorporated into the sofa design so little ones can lay down for a nap but still be within sight. A sofa bed is not just for families with young children. Teenagers might need a place for friends to crash too.
‘A snug/family room isn’t the place to compromise on style,’ says Dani. ‘Go for something that’s just as luxurious to look at as it is to flop on. I’d recommend a plush corner or even a corner chaise – for ultimate TV viewing comfort.’
4. Childproof furniture for young kids
While you don’t want to compromise on style, your furniture choices need to be thoughtful in family living rooms with very young children. An easy way to make furniture more child-friendly is to soften the edges on coffee tables etc.
The UNDVIKA corner bumpers ‘reduce the risk of your child getting hurt on the sharp corners of tables and cabinets,’ says IKEA. Simple, effective and cheap – all the design boxes ticked for a busy family home.
5. Create a gallery wall
What’s the secret to this joyful living room? The bold teal sofa bed teamed with clashing, colourful cushions are a vibrant starting point. However, we think incorporating the kids artwork into the gallery wall is a genius touch.
This family space doesn’t take itself too seriously and the graphic and painterly prints are an ideal base for swapping in and out your kids creations with pride. The use of all-black frames also gives the gallery wall a cohesive finish. If you’re renting, try Command Picture Hanging Strips for an easy, drill-free way to secure the frames to the wall.
6. Stay on top of clutter with a storage wall
If storage space is at a premium or you want to avoid plastic boxes lined up in the living room, look to the wall to help clear the clutter with savvy storage solutions. Hang wall baskets for a quick end-of-day tidy-ups for toys, books, magazines, iPads and other stuff that tends to lay about.
Tech can be stored out of reach in the higher baskets. Use sturdy, decorative metal hooks that can take plenty of weight.
7. Set up a flexible work space
A full family house may mean space is at a premium and a separate room for an office or homework station just isn’t an option. To create a slimline workspace within a living room, use adjoining floating shelves within an alcove or across an empty wall. Bear in mind the shelves may be leaned on, so secure with heavy duty floating brackets.
Using this minimalist trick in place of a desk or traditional home office furniture means it won’t intrude on the living room. Pick a comfortable and supportive chair that doesn’t look too ‘officey’ allowing it to blend into the decor of the room.
8. Utilise every nook for storage
Make the most of the floor areas in a bay window with a built-to-fit seat. Drawers under the seat add storage and are more practical than a lift-up lid.
The storage space is perfect for the speedy tidy up before guests arrive. Give each drawer a purpose to help keep it organised. Stash anything from toys and books to tech, chargers, consoles and games. The angled end section doubles up as a built-in side table.
9. Invest in adaptable modular furniture
Look for a sofa that will not only seat the family plus friends for a movie marathon, but one that features hidden storage too. This double duty design is aimed at catching the eye of families and ever evolving households.
The very flexible friend, Harry, is a modular sofa made for building, mixing and matching, so you can create a chaise, a lounger or modular sofa, all with a nifty stash space beneath. So as the household grows and changes, so can the modular pieces.
When it comes to sofa shape, Lynsey Ford, architect and designer at Lynseyforddesign; featured on BBC’s Interior Design Masters would go modular. ‘I’m always changing our house around so I love the idea of being able to reconfigure the shape of my sofa when I fancy a rejig.’
10. Add a hidden bed
It’s hard to believe there’s a bed nestled beneath this plump perch, but this smart seat transforms into a comfortable double. A multifunctional piece like this is ideal if you don’t have space for a guest bed in a spare room or bedroom – it’s a sleepover saviour! The lid lifts to create a plush headboard and the hideaway bed is available in 150 fabrics.
11. Spark joy with colour and pattern
Create an inviting, family-friendly living room with a yellow sofa. The pairing of the sunny colour with the blush pink walls is a warm, contemporary combination that’s perfect if you’re looking for summer living room ideas.
Pop in a spotty footstool, layered monochrome rugs and a line up of geometric cushions for a fun, graphic injection to complement the block colour upholstery.
Mix up the print scales, from large triangles to small shifting shapes. Echo these playful shapes around the room by picking sculptural vases, accessories and streamlined lighting.
12. Create an area that’s made for play
If you don’t have a separate playroom, it’s wise to dedicate one corner of your living room as a play area for the kids. Without one, toys could spread everywhere turning your entire living room into one big playroom – not ideal!
Family living rooms require plenty of storage, so make sure everyone in the family has an assigned cupboard, drawer or trunk to hide their things inside. Make sure there is plenty of it – at the end of the day, you’ll be glad of somewhere to banish the toys so that you can enjoy some much-needed adult time.
Here, brighter accessories added to a neutral background can be easily swapped as children get older and the function of the room changes.
13. Add photographs
Personalise your living room with an arrangement of favourite family photographs. A bare expanse of wall above the sofa or a sideboard makes the ideal spot for a personal living room feature wall idea, like the one shown above. Choose frames that are identical in size and colour and arrange in a grid formation to make a visual impact.
14. Incorporate technology
Hiding a TV isn’t always possible, but you can create a media-friendly arrangement in your family living room. Choose low units that won’t overwhelm the room and keep the wall space above feeling open by putting up simple floating shelves.
‘TV units are a great way to hide away those game consoles and controllers that can clutter a snug/family/TV room,’ says Dani, ‘and choosing something in a natural finish will help keep the space cosy.’
Go for a pale colour scheme for furniture and walls, like this pale striped living room wallpaper idea, to give a unified look and hide all TV-related gadgetry in wicker baskets.
15. Keep on top of clutter
Create a clutter-free living room by keeping shelves orderly and free from lots of objects. Keep paraphernalia hidden in wooden storage boxes and store books and magazines neatly between stationary box files. Use the often forgotten space above the sofa for a single picture shelf to display coherent black and white family photos.
16. Choose durable furniture
Who says you can’t have a stylish and sleek living room in a busy family home? Paint walls a fresh off-white in a wipeable finish and update fussy curtains with clean-lined shutters.
Choose hardwearing leather sofas for an easy-clean option; they look even better once well loved. Then add modern glamour with a show-stopping ceiling chandelier – it will be well out of reach of little fingers!
17. Socialise the space
Modern family life can be busy, so create a living room that encourages you to stop for quality family time and enjoy each other’s company. Create an intimate space within a split-level, open-plan area by adding comfortable sofas in a communal group.
The sunken effect shown in this mid century living room idea is very impressive and is sure to be a conversation starter. Shades of fresh white on the wall with pink and blue accents will keep the room bright and friendly, while dark wood flooring introduces warmth.
18. Use family-friendly flooring
There are numerous living room flooring ideas to choose from, but for a family space consider the most practical options. Choose wooden floors for a classic look that is easy to clean. Keep it feeling snug with one large or several smaller rugs.
Storage is important so that bits and bobs don’t take over. A chest with lots of drawers is a good option, as each family member can have one or two of their own. The sheep is a cool quirky touch that kids will love and it can even double as a seat when visitors are given priority on the sofa.
19. Make room for everyone
Be sure to put a large sofa at the top of your wish list! Not only will it play a vital part in family life; a corner design will accommodate everyone and save space. The layout also means there is a large floor area for children to play.
A neutral scheme allows plenty of scope to add colour and pattern, which makes for a fun room. Check out our guides to the best sofas and best sofa beds to find a super spacious and stylish option.
20. Get in the zone
Open–plan living rooms are a great choice as the social aspect is perfect for family interaction. Design allocated zones for lounging, dining and working to keep the room organised. Use soft textures and uplifting colours, with plenty of cushions and blankets so that everyone can snuggle in comfort.
21. Incorporate more than enough storage
Use a basic free-standing unit in multiples to create a bank of storage to fit your space and then fill them with box files and colourful objects for interest. Use the space above to store rarely used items in boxes that blend in well with the walls.
Baskets near sofas can be used for children’s toys so they are never strewn across the floor. And a coffee table with drawers underneath makes it easy to keep the surface clear.
22. Make it feel cosy and appealing
Large squashy sofas with plump feather-filled cushions provide all the temptation needed for a relaxing cosy living room idea. Add atmosphere with a warming stove fire and plenty of wooden furniture.
Woollen or linen throws folded over sofa arms will visually soften the room as well as providing warmth when needed. Every one loves a blanket so make sure there are plenty to go around.
What is a family room vs a living room?
Spacious homes with the luxury of a family room and a living room dedicate very different purposes to each living space. A family room will be a room dedicated to hanging out as a family to play with toys and enjoy movies and home entertainment, while a living room will be more of a formal setting for entertaining guests and enjoying some grown up time.
Does the TV go in the living room or family room?
‘Where possible, we always recommend having a separate TV/family room or snug,’ says Céline Erlam, co-founder of interior design studio Indie & Co., ‘which often ends up as a more casual space than a formal living room, sometimes doubling up as a playroom.’
‘Nowadays, we tend to divide a house based on how its occupants will use it rather than opening everything up like we used to. We also try to avoid having a TV in the main living space as they look rather ugly and can become the focal point in a room, which is a shame.’
How do you make furniture kid friendly?
You can make your existing furniture more kid-friendly by softening hard edges and corners with simple gadgets you can pick up in hardware stores.
IKEA is a great source of accessories to make furniture a bit safer around little ones. The Corner Bumpers are, in the words of IKEA, ‘Made with the safety of children in mind, but also loved by adults. Corner bumpers reduce the risk of your child injuring themselves on sharp table edges and corners.’
Soft surfaces are best at lower levels to cushion any falls as small children find their feet while walking around a family living room.
Additional research and words by Jennifer Morgan.