Living Rooms

Living room styling – 7 ways to style a living room like a pro

Interior designer Cortney Bishop's 7 steps for approaching living room styling to add those vital finishing touches

Grey curtains and rug, cream sofa with yellow blanket, designed by Cortney Bishop
(Image credit: Cortney Bishop)

Living room styling is the icing on the cake of a room's design. Those finishing touches can make or break the space – but they take skill to get right. Plus, although they are the last details to be added to a space, they are best conceived as soon as you start planning your new room.  

If you are compiling living room ideas for a remodel now, these living room styling tips by South Carolina based interior designer Cortney Bishop – known for her warm, inviting interiors, and founder of Cortney Bishop Design – are a must-read.  

Living room styling

For Cortney, living room styling isn't so much about colors – you can see from her room designs below that she relishes neutral schemes that use natural textures and vintage pieces to add character and warmth. Rather, Cortney approaches styling and designing a living room from the floor upwards. 

1. Begin with the living room floor

Green themes throughout the living room with green window frames, pillows, cabinet, vases and hints of green in paintings

(Image credit: Cortney Bishop)

'Starting from the ground up, let a rug serve as the foundation to your living room and build from there – I’d even recommend nailing the rug to truly anchor it within the space.'

Cortney also recommends using living room rug ideas to inspire your living room color scheme

'Use this as the opportunity to pull in colors that will set the tone for the rest of the room’s palette and further inspire your design direction.'

2. Hang window treatments that boost light levels

Living room with creams, greys and wooden table

(Image credit: Cortney Bishop)

'Make sure your window treatments are a top priority! Take those rods up, up, up, and off the window trim (if possible) so the maximum amount of light can shine through. The more you play with light this way, the more coziness and warmth you can welcome in.'

3. Choose seating that suits your lifestyle first

Exposed wooden beams, white walls and ceeling, sand colored sofa and green cabinet

(Image credit: Cortney Bishop)

'When it comes to living room seating, think about your head count and all the ways you’ll be using your living room: Do you like to entertain? Do you enjoy snuggling up? Do prefer to lounge or sit formally? Create seating opportunities that fit the way your household thrives.'

4. Layer lighting to vary the living room's moods

Black and white stiped rug, wooden ceiling and furniture with white cushioning, and walls

(Image credit: Cortney Bishop)

'Layer in the living room lighting, and have fun with it! Don’t just rely on one source either – consider overhead lights, wall lamps, and floor lamps to truly make it shine. More layers of light = more mood. And, don't forget to put all of your lights on dimmers!'

5. Boost wellbeing with house plants

Sand colored firep;ace with tiled backing, white, horizontal walls

(Image credit: Cortney Bishop)

'Greenery never fails in the living room, and all forms are welcome! Bring the outside in by situating plants and trees across the space for an unexpected, yet fresh and lively energy.'

6. Buy vintage for character

Pale geen room overlooking the sea with colourful rug with pink polka dot sofa, wooden table and color matched woven lampshade

(Image credit: Cortney Bishop)

'Vintage is gold. Give the people something to talk about and incorporate something unique that no one else will have. Vintage items are instantly a conversation spark, and best of all, I’m confident that you’ll cherish it forever.'

7. Add texture with woven fabrics

Grey curtains and rug, cream sofa with yellow blanket

(Image credit: Cortney Bishop)

'When selecting fabrics for your living room furniture, go for woven with more than one yarn color. If your living room is going to be that true family gathering space, these pieces will get a lot of love and hold a timeless design presence for all to enjoy.'

Lucy Searle
Content Director

Lucy Searle has written about interiors, property and gardens since 1990, working her way around the interiors departments of women's magazines before switching to interiors-only titles in the mid-nineties. She was Associate Editor on Ideal Home, and Launch Editor of 4Homes magazine, before moving into digital in 2007, launching Channel 4's flagship website, In 2018, Lucy took on the role of Global Editor in Chief for, taking the site from a small magazine add-on to a global success. She was asked to repeat that success at Homes & Gardens, where she also took on the editorship of the magazine. Today, Lucy works as Content Director across Homes & Gardens, Woman & Home, Ideal Home and Real Homes.

With contributions from