The country living room is the heart of the home, the best place to kick back and relax, surrounded by creature comforts.
One of the hallmarks of country decor is that it’s easy to tailor to your style – fill your space with heirloom furniture, clashing patterns and bold colours, or keep it pared back with muted shades, natural finishes and plain fabrics.
However, there are a few details to consider when creating this look, so read on and you’ll have a welcoming and restful country living room in no time.
- See: Living room ideas – to suit all styles in our dedicated design gallery
1. Use muted colours on country living room walls
Off-white shades or dusky pastels are the quickest way to create a calming, fresh feel in a room. And when a space feels calm, it feels welcoming.
From a practical standpoint, a light color scheme will make a small country living room feel bigger, as well as giving you a versatile backdrop to explore a wider range of furniture and accessories options.
2. Add country character to a plain room
'When it came to designing this sitting room I added the beams on the ceiling and the rough beam over the fire place to create a rustic feel to this country house,' says interior designer Marion Lichtig. 'This is reflected too in the rough hewn coffee table.'
Lichtig then added a few finer items, such as beautiful antique furniture, an elegant scallop back sofa and decorative lighting. 'I like to mix objects to give a room balance, layers and plenty of interest,' she shares.
- See: Country decorating ideas – for more inspiration for your country home
3. Create a conversation area
To give your country living room an atmosphere of warmth and welcome, arrange seating to make conversation – not the TV – the focus.
'In this room, the armchairs and sofas face each other across an upholstered ottoman, on which a tray of drinks or afternoon tea could be placed,' says interior designer Jojo Bradley. 'The comfortable furniture is softened further with cushions that invite you to relax and settle in for a while.'
This type of furniture arrangement works really well for small or larger groups, too. The pair of armchairs with their own side table provide an area for two people to sit and talk together, while the sofas provide additional seating when crowds gather.
4. Add depth with lighting
A standout light can seem the obvious solution to bring the wow factor to your living room. But bright and shiny isn't always best, especially when it comes to country-style schemes.
'A common mistake is to focus on a show-stopping piece and forgo lighting the rest of the room, leaving it lacklustre and without atmosphere,' explains Mary Buchanan, Creative Director at Laura Ashley. 'Contrast light and shade to create a dramatic finish.'
Buchanan suggests lighting a room from the ground up. 'Wall lights, table lamps and floor lamps are perfect for layering,' she says. 'You can also use these to spotlight favourite objects in the room and light up cosy corners for reading and lounging.'
5. Use expert tricks to make small rooms look larger
Country homes, with their beautiful oak beams and thick stone walls, are brimming with history and character. But the rustic architecture runs the risk of making rooms appear small and dark.
When you're planning out country living room ideas, copy some of the tricks used by interior designers to bring a sense of light and airiness to a space. Think Perspex or glass 'invisible' tables; large furniture pieces, such as sofas, raised on elegant feet; and coffee tables made from elegant metal, rather than heavy wood.
6. Make a large room look cozy
Drawing in the furniture away from the walls of the room will make a large space seem more intimate – a tip interior designers use when creating living room schemes for barn conversions, lofts and other airy country spaces.
To avoid a railroad effect, with galleys on either side of sofas, for example, use additional pieces to fill the void.
Here, interior designer Jojo Bradley has placed a console table against the wall. It provides a handy perch for table lamps, while occupying the gap behind sofa.
7. Paint beams white
Older country homes featuring traditional dark oak beams and smoke-stained fireplaces can be too oppressive for contemporary tastes.
Keep the charm while updating the look by painting walls, woodwork and even bricks or stone in a bright white.
This will transform a country living room in an instant and given an uplifting spirit to your country home.
8. Make sitting by the fire an experience
Whether it's an original inglenook fireplace or a contemporary wood burner, gathering around the warmth of real flames is a quintessential country experience.
Your home may have an existing hearth and chimney that requires you to plan ideas for your living room around it. Or you may have the luxury of installing a new fire or stove in the place that suits you best. Either way, it's important to think about how you can integrate the fireside experience into your decor.
Factor in seating placed close enough to feel the warmth but not too near to be damaged by heat or sparks. Add a table or two, plus a footrest so you can warm your toes.
Finally, make your fuel, kindling and fireside tools a part of the room scheme by organising them in attractive baskets and log holders.
9. Add in iconic design pieces
When your country property is a repurposed rural building such as a barn, it can be difficult to know how to furnish the space. One answer is to take your cue from the architecture – often large, lofty and with an industrial edge – rather than the age of the building.
For your country living room inspiration, look to iconic midcentury design, with its clean lines and unfussy styling.
10. Make the most of the view
Living room furniture tends to point towards the TV but there's a far bigger screen to enjoy – the view in your window.
Position your seating to make the most of the view, without lining it up so that it looks as if you are at the cinema. A sofa facing the glazing, with comfy armchairs at an angle at either end, will mean you enjoy the landscape in front of you and still be able to chat easily to family and friends.
11. Add a statement accessory
When you're coming up with country living room inspiration and ideas, don't play it too safe.
'A fabulous accessory, such as a statement mirror or outsized pendant light, will add a dynamic, look-at-me quality to a room that makes it an exciting place to spend time in,' says Sara Bird, Decor Editor at H&G's sister title Country Homes & Interiors, who styled this living room for the magazine.
Keep it country by choosing a design with a rustic touch, like the natural materials that decorate this mirror frame.
12. Include some florals
Pattern – especially big, blowsy florals – is synonymous with country living room decor, and an eye-catching pattern in bold colors is a great way to add a focal point.
Using pattern in large swathes in blinds, wallpaper or curtains will make the biggest statement and draw the eye to a specific part of the room.
If you’ve decided that curtains are the best way to get your pattern fix, go for a full-length design to increase the cozy factor.
13. Pick pale wood for furniture
Light-colored woods, such as beech, whitewashed pine and ash, have a more informal feel than dark woods and better fit the ethos of a rustic country look. The choice of complementary colours for paint, soft furnishings and accessories is also much wider when you choose pale-wood furniture.
Here, soft furnishings from Susie Watson Designs add punches of pink, mauve and mulberry, which sit nicely against the relaxed look of bleached-effect furniture.
14. Heat the space with a woodburner
Nothing embodies a cozy, rustic feel quite like a stove or woodburner. Whether it’s a modern, freestanding design or one that’s nestled in a brick fireplace surrounded by craggy logs, both will offer warmth – literally and figuratively – and provide your country living room with a stylish focal point.
15. Include texture with rattan, wicker and reed
Natural materials are a big part of nailing the country look, so incorporate them into your decor.
A rattan chair or bench is a good place to start if space permits but if not, rattan and reed baskets or a jute rug will all create a rustic look that has all the more charm because of their non-uniform finishes.
16. Choose laid-back seating for country living rooms
Country-style seating has rounded armrests and cushions, and either chunky, turned-wood legs (with or without castors) or a pleated skirt that skims the floor. However, you can achieve a smarter country feel by putting the emphasis on the fabric pattern and going for more streamlined silhouettes for the furniture.
If you have a spare corner, fill it with a statement armchair and place a side table topped with a lamp next to it to create a cosy reading nook.
17. Show off brickwork or wooden beams
If you have wooden beams or exposed brickwork in your living room, highlight them to give the country living room look bags of authenticity.
'I don’t think you can really get the right look without using old things – rugs, paintings, antiques,' explains Vivien Greenock, interior designer and former senior director at Colefax and Fowler.
'It’s those things that give a room a permanent look, and a depth of feeling.'
Fabrics and trimmings, Vanessa Arbuthnott.
18. Go for distressed finishes
Whitewashed original floorboards, a timeworn finish on furniture, unglazed pottery, unfinished wood ornaments, mercurized mirrors and cable-knit cushions and throws are all very effective country living room ideas for creating a rustic, lived-in feel – but that needn't mean the room can't look smart.
Neat silhouettes on furniture and pared back decor will help a smaller country living room feel larger and brighter.
'Antiques are not for everyone,' acknowledges interior designer Emma Sims Hilditch at Sims Hilditch, who uses antiques extensively in her schemes. 'Instead replicas can be made that have never been used before but can mimic the styles of pre-loved pieces. We work with a fantastic cabinetmaker who specializes in creating antique-style furniture that is brand-new and yet has such an old heart.'
19. Light up corners with lamps
Lighting is the most effective way to create mood, and supplementing a main ceiling light with plenty of table and floor lamps will lend a cosy feel at the flick of a switch. Add to the ambience with smoked- or amber-glass bulbs, rather than clear ones with bright white filaments.
The living room (above) is in interior designer Kit Kemp's house – take the tour in our dedicated feature.
20. Bring the outdoors in with flowers and house plants
A country living room should be simple, relaxed and natural, and nothing evokes this better than house plants and fresh flowers. Choose several different kinds of house plant and put them in unexpected places, such as on the top of a cabinet or in bookcases, for a quirky feel.
Add to the scheme with fabrics in equally botanical prints, such as this Forever Spring collection from ILIV.
We answer three key questions so you can get your country living room decor spot-on.
How can I decorate my living room in a country style?
Do you want a traditional country look or a more pared-back, modern feel? If your living room has lots of period features, such as beams, fireplaces or ornate plasterwork, a traditional look will enhance these features.
You can then afford to be bolder with colour and pattern, and more is definitely better, so pack plenty of furniture, soft furnishings and accessories into the space.
Matt Deighton, managing director and Chesterfield sofa specialist at Sofas by Saxon, says: 'Consider choosing sofas and armchairs in different finishes, rather than co-ordinating fabrics, to maintain an eclectic feel.'
Modern country living rooms are less cluttered, favour a muted colour palette and use pattern, including stripes and checks, more sparingly. The best way to add a cosy, lived-in feel here is with plenty of unfinished wood, chunky knits, sisal, wicker and other natural materials.
To give your scheme a French country feel, painted furniture with ornate detailing is a must, while pale greys, muted blues and dusky pinks are the go-to colours.
For a shabby-chic slant on country style, flaking paint on furniture, mercurised glass and floral prints are key. Keep walls white or off-white and add colour with soft furnishings and accessories in sugary pastel shades.
How do I make my living room feel cozy?
If you have the space, a woodburner will create a cozy mood in an instant. One less obvious way is to include a bookcase – either freestanding or built into an alcove – as the old-world, familiar feel that’s created when you’re surrounded by books oozes comfort.
Switching bright white lightbulbs for soft white or even coloured-glass ones offers a much more intimate feel. Go one step further by including plenty of soothing candlelight too.
Lastly, tactile materials such as velvet, chunky wool and faux sheepskin are the cosiest of choices for cushions, throws and rugs, and will help soften the hardness from any wood furniture or beams.
How should I arrange my country living room?
A country living room should look relaxed – perhaps even a little haphazard. Place armchairs and tables at 45-degree angles to walls in the corners of your room, layer sofas and chairs with cushions and throws, pile logs in baskets and arrange plants so that the leaves cascade down the sides of cabinets and tables.
See: Country bedroom ideas – bring charming rustic style to your master and guest bedrooms
It’s also important not to leave too many bare spots in your living room – a floor lamp or trug filled with folded blankets is better than wasted space.
Landing storage ideas – 10 ways to add utility and stay stylish
Adopt smart strategies for organizing with these chic landing storage ideas
By Sarah Warwick •
Remodelling ideas for small kitchens – 10 expert tips for tiny spaces
Remodelling small kitchens can be a challenge, but these clever ideas will inspire you to get creative
By Sophie Warren-Smith •