5 steps interior designer Sarah Stacey takes to a living room remodel

Sarah Stacey of Sarah Stacey Interior Design has pulled together the best tips, tricks and advice for perfecting the living room

Living room with blue book shelves and entertainment center
(Image credit: Sarah Stacey)

If you are looking for living room ideas, it's always useful to garner the opinion of interior designers for their hard-earned interior design tips. Perhaps one of the most important questions to ask yourself before a remodel is where to start? Here, an interior designer offers her thoughts.

'Living rooms are arguably one of the most important rooms in a house – but making a living room functional and inviting while still keeping it a design-forward space can be hard,' says Austin-based Sarah Stacey of Sarah Stacey Interior Design (opens in new tab)

Below, Sarah has pulled together her best tips, tricks and advice for perfecting your living room, whether you are remodeling or just looking for a quick revamp.

1. Define your style

Living room with terracotta chairs looking towards a fireplace

(Image credit: Sarah Stacey)

'What is your style?' asks Sarah. It needn't match what your home's previous owners liked; you can rework what's there now to suit what you love. 'The previous fireplace in this room was very traditional, and the homeowners wanted a more modern aesthetic. Renovating the fireplace wall presented a big opportunity to have a nice focal point and to bring in architectural details.

'The surround tile was replaced with a sophisticated black stone and molding was added to update the wall. The traditional mantel was eliminated to provide a more modern look.'

The easiest way to define your style is to bookmark, screenshot or save living room pictures until you have a cohesive, consistent look you love.

2. Consider your living room's main purpose

Living room with sectional

(Image credit: Sarah Stacey)

Living room layouts are really dependent on how you will be using the room, so consider what you use the room for most regularly, and make not of any deficiencies. 

'Determine how you want to use the space which will inform the layout,' advises Sarah. 'If you frequently lounge and spend family time in the room, for example, look towards implementing functional and comfortable pieces that can be lived in.

'Always do a furniture layout on paper as well as proper measurements to determine exactly what size pieces are needed for the room. Make sure to allow sufficient room to circulate around furniture, even if you're working with a small space.'

Sectional living room ideas, for example, are useful in living rooms that double up as family rooms.

3. Determine your color palette

Living room with blue book shelves and entertainment center

(Image credit: Sarah Stacey)

Living room color ideas are endless, but it is often best to think in terms of a whole-house color scheme.

'Determine a color palette for the room that will coordinate with the rest of the house,' advises Sarah. 'For a quick fix, changing a rug has a big impact on the overall look of the room and can set the tone for the entire space.'

4. Choose accent colors 

Living room looking towards fireplace

(Image credit: Sarah Stacey)

'Identify your accent colors. For a home to feel cohesive, you should always offer up versions of that color in other rooms so as the eye travels from room to room, it is not jarring, but a nice give and take.'

5. Reflect on what you can spend

Living room with couch and coffee table

(Image credit: Sarah Stacey)

Personalizing and living room styling is vital to the finished look, so always make allowance for this in your redesign.

'Narrow in on your budget,' says Sarah. 'Remember to allow at least 30% for accessories. Also, shop your home to see if other areas may have items that could be better used in the new space.

'Lastly, enjoy your new space and remember, nothing is permanent! You can always tweak details here and there to help fit your ever-evolving lifestyle.'

Lucy Searle
Global Editor in Chief

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, Channel4.com/4homes. In 2018, Lucy took on the role of Global Editor in Chief for Realhomes.com, 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 has also taken on the editorship of the magazine.