We spend a good portion of our time in the living room, so it’s important to have it represent us well. As the world has become more connected that ever before, allowing everything from foods to fashion to be introduced to new lands, there are still some interesting differences between cultures and their choice of décor.
As a room often used to greet guests, the living room should work to represent you as well as be functional. People love to add their own, unique nod to their living rooms; some people pick interesting sculptures and art, others love beautiful ethical homeware.
We’re setting out to explore how living rooms are designed and decorated all around the world.
Reflecting elegance: French
Echoing the expectation of French elegance, living rooms in France tend to exude richness and luxury. A traditional French living room will have a high ceiling, which allows everything else in the room to be grand in size and mirror the look of the Palace of Versailles.
French living room walls are often proud owners of artwork and paintings. Not only that, colours differentiate too, although this does depend on the set décor. However, in traditional settings, the paintings are usually big and bold with aims to capture the imagination.
The high ceilings of French living rooms are perfect for showing off long and rich curtains. To offer a regal feel to the room, these are often tied back and curved in shape. The French pride themselves on the sharp details of their furniture, and the threads of their curtains are no different — with intricate designs making each room feel bespoke.
French sofa trends are big and plush, with extra cushioning. However, the design is more noticeable than other countries we have mentioned. A common sofa design in France is the use of thick stripes that are symmetrical.
As a focal point of the living space, the French enjoy using big, complex-patterned mirrors. With large mirrors and high ceilings, the entire room can be captured and make the room feel much bigger than it actually is!
Embellished in gold: Arabic
A flurry of gorgeous, bold colours and complicated designs are a common feature to Arabic living spaces. Usually, Arabic homes are filled with some of the most luxurious pieces of furniture that truly have the ability to catch the eye. These living rooms all embody a sense of community and are one of the most important rooms in the home for Arabic families, as it’s a place where everyone can get together and bond, usually on an evening.
Arabic families tend to use gold as the main feature colour of their living rooms. The colour is associated with royalty and luxury; so Arabic families are bound to use it throughout their homes. On top of the colour gold being used, these living rooms usually include lots of prints which delivers a strong presence within the room.
Arabic furniture is usually swathed in beautiful, intricate designs and patterns. Sofas, in particular, usually take a curved shape and are decorated with countless cushions that are there for presentational purposes.
Akin to British living room choices, a wooden coffee table is frequently used in the middle of an Arabic living room. These coffee tables are then dressed with plain throws with a patterned runner positioned on top. You’ll then find vases, fruit bowls and other essentials.
A unique point of Arabic living rooms comes in the form of a low-hanging, flourishing chandelier.
Clutterless character: Japanese
An iconic Japanese decor item, tatami mats are featured in many homes in Japan. These mats were once used by the wealthy but became more commonly used and can now be found in almost every home in Japan — so much so, living rooms are now referred to as tatami rooms.
Japanese households have a number of other home styles. There are other elements used throughout Japanese living spaces that make them incredibly unique. Japan is big on sliding doors, which are usually referred to as fusuma or shoji. Although they are both different in appearance, they both give an edgy-studio look. Fusuma doors are made up of wooden frames that are covered by thick, opaque paper and can usually be removed to create a larger space — these are usually accompanied by wooden transoms. The shoji differs slightly as it is covered in translucent paper which allows the light to filter into the room.
Many tatami rooms feature low-rise tables, given the tendency to sit on the floor. However, during the colder months, heated low tables (kotatsu) are popular. Essentially, they are covered by a blanket and are heated underneath. For those who opt to not sit directly on the mats, cushions are usually used. Often, they are put on top of low chairs that don’t have legs to support the back.
A minimalist style is favoured in Japan, where other countries often use the living room to display items. A clutter-free space allows them to properly clear the mind once they’ve returned home after a busy day at work.
A trip down memory lane: English
If the kitchen is the heart of an English home, the living room is the soul. Traditionally, this room in the home is used to bring the family together and discuss what happened throughout the day. It’s also a great space to occupy guests.
It’s predicted that 27.02 million British houses will have a TV set by the end of 2018. It’s the main way we consume media and keep up to speed with the drama on iconic shows like Emmerdale and EastEnders. The television is usually placed on a stand in the corner of a room, so that no matter where you’re positioned in the room, you can still watch it.
Most sofas in UK homes are rather compact in design and use only one or two plain colours. However, although this design may sound simple, it’s compiled with cushions and throws to add a bit more character. Think threaded patterns and bold colours that bring the room together and make everything stand out.
It’s common to find photographs framed in the living room, displaying friends and family and events. Brits like to mix and match with frame styles and colours and place them in different areas of the room, including wall and unit placements.
Carpeted floors or wooden floorboards are the primary flooring options in the UK. Wooden floors are usually a dark/natural oak and are accompanied with a bold rug. However, this is often a no-go for those that have softer surfaces in the room.
A key selling point of many UK homes is a good fireplace. However, more people are installing stoves into their homes and forming the iconic inglenook look on their chimney breast.