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Layer up your living room

It's not just for fashion, you know! Charlotte and Mary of Sussex interiors store Kell & Collins show you how to use layering to create the perfect living room.

Layering is all about mixing different patterns, shapes, and textures to create depth, balance and contrast.  Just as with fashion, layering your living room pulls together a styled look while adding personality. 

While the heart of the home has always been thought to be the kitchen, it is the living room that is arguably the space in which we spend the most time relaxing – never more so than in the past year, when it has been important to create a comfortable and functional space – a snug room with a personal and meaningful narrative at its core that is welcoming for the entire household.

Daisy chain seat pads, £26 for two

Mini or maxi?

A minimalist style is pared-back and simplified. Space, lighting and objects play equally important roles. 

Maximalism, while being completely the opposite to the minimalist style, isn’t about clutter or excess but bold colours, patterns and creativity. It fills a room with interest and variety. 

Whichever camp you do fall into, remember, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”  By using William Morris’s broad philosophy, you won’t go far wrong.

Pineapple jar with lid, £19

Back to basics

To achieve a coherent design, you must get the basics right.  By this we mean the floor, walls and ceiling.  A continuing trend is neutral walls – both dark and light – with wooden floors.  Wall-to-wall carpet has its place, but light, dark, natural or painted wooden floors, particularly parquet, are currently the byword for style.   Overhead, a bold colour on the ceiling or a bright lampshade will bring the whole room together. 

Add colour

Building on these foundations with texture, colour and shape will soften hard lines and bring the room to life.  Colourful rugs, sheepskins, floor cushions and pouffes are all very much on trend this year.  Lighting is fundamental to pulling together a cohesive look – floor or table lamps play an import role in zoning areas and creating atmosphere and function.  Lamps in the shape of pineapples, palm trees and female forms will continue to headline in interior design this year.  

Colour plays a very important role in bringing together the whole look. In recent years we have seen a move towards muted darker neutrals, while natural tones; warm greys and whites are perennial favourites and work well as a backdrop to other colours and layers. Adding a pop of colour to an otherwise light neutral base refreshes and adds interest to a room.  Adding bold dark colours to one or more walls will add depth and create a more intense background for furniture and decorative items. Earthy tones – moss greens, ochres and inky blues, for example, are very much in evidence this year, with nature providing the inspiration for fabrics, wallpaper, paint and decorative items.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall

Mirrors remain an essential element, bringing light and interest to any room.  Place opposite a window for extra light and circular mirrors can help create curves in an otherwise angular room. This year bamboo, brass and natural wood are the frames to have.  Pop a plant, vase of flowers, a candle, a lamp or a decorative item in front of the mirror to visually expand the space.   

Get cosy

Palm tree beaded cushion, £45

Comfort is the watchword for all seating – as well as looking good sofas and chairs need to be hardwearing and sumptuously inviting.  This year we will see the a continuation of mixing contemporary and vintage furniture for an eclectic look.  Layering colour and texture brings different styles of furniture together to create a cohesive and harmonious look.  Corner sofas, wingback armchairs, and love seats combined with natural materials such as cane, wicker, bamboo, and rattan are very much a recurring theme in interior design. Adding a sessional throw to a chair or a sofa will enhance the look and create additional comfort.

With summer on the horizon swap out heavy wool blankets and cushions with lighter-weight textiles such as linen and cotton, and cheerfully coloured velvets.  Textiles inspired by nature remain popular and help bring a little of the outdoors in.  This year we will also see geometric designs and art-inspired pattern – think Picasso and Matisse. Don’t forget sheepskins, which work brilliantly all year round.

Andas black stripe throw, £78

The finishing touches

Artwork and decorative items add yet another layer – whether they’re inherited heirlooms or Ikea prints. Walls can look bare and rooms soulless if underdressed. Strong themes for this year are inspired by nature, abstract design and bold colour.  Mix it up a little with vintage finds and even mirrors to create a gallery wall.

If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace, make it the focal part of the room and dress the mantle with artwork, cherished possessions and potted plants.  If you don’t have one, make the most of your shelving – display books and decorative pieces alongside other possessions for a cohesive look.   

Sideboards, particularly mid-century styles have made a strong return to the living room in recent years and provide another wonderful focal point to a room. Arrange your artwork, books, ornaments, vases (particularly now those with human characteristics), and possessions that evoke memories, for a curated look.

Whilst trends come and go, the key is to create a space that works for you and your family and contributes to your wellbeing.  Surround yourself with the colours, textures, and the things that you love, and you’ll have a sitting room that you won’t want to leave.

Large lady print vase, £42

1 comment on “Layer up your living room”

  • Caroline Robertson March 30, 2021

    I have done this over the years – especially by picking up interesting items at auctions or in bric-a-brac markets (particularly in France) and at boot fairs. Sometimes, an item that cost pennies becomes a much-loved focal attraction in the room and the starting point for the decor/colours that you choose to surround it.


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