For a calm living room that keeps your mind and mood healthy, it’s all about light, lightness and gentle texture. Here’s how to achieve it
With ever busier lives we have begun to place a higher value on our living room’s role as a relaxing place where we can feel nurtured and grounded.
While rest and relaxation are essential to well-being, everyone de-stresses in different ways, so tailor your living room to the activities that you know will help you unwind. For some, it might be watching a box set on a sofa that can easily fit the whole family on; for others, an oversized armchair or a daybed and a task light will be the perfect set-up for hunkering down with a book.
John Lewis & Parterns’ research into how people are using their living rooms found that 18 per cent of those quizzed had used their space for exercise/yoga or to practise mindfulness.
In this case, a flexible layout where you can easily move furniture out of the way to create room for these activities – a lightweight coffee table, rather than a chunky solid one, for example – is a good idea.
Think about storage, too: “I do yoga in my living room, and I have a big basket of yoga stuff that sits behind a chair. It’s always ready to go, but also easy to put away,” says Prinsloo.
While you could certainly create a calm living room using deep, rich colours, lighter tones will better enhance any available daylight, a sure-fire well-being-booster.
“A neutral space where the colours don’t jump” is Prinsloo’s recipe for a relaxing room, but that doesn’t mean a bare, all-white box: “It’s not about it being a boring space, it’s about creating a sense of harmony.”
She suggests using layers of texture to add interest: “So, there might be a pattern on a rug, but it’ll be created by the texture – you can see it and feel it with your feet, but it’s not demanding your attention all the time.”
Using materials such as timber, linen and wool is a way to forge a link with nature, creating an intrinsic sense of calm.
Sunlight and candlelight
During the day, let in as much light as possible, whether that’s through voile panels instead of opaque curtains to create a soft, diffused light that still retains privacy, or a strategically placed mirror. And when the sun goes down, use artificial lighting to create a calming mood.
“Overhead lighting can feel a bit strong, so create a ‘landscape’ of lighting from a mixture of sources – table, wall and floor lamps – for a chilled-out vibe,” says Prinsloo. “Having dimmable lights is also a brilliant idea.”
For the ultimate relaxing lighting, the warm glow and flickering flame of candlelight can’t be beaten. Make a big statement with an oversized hurricane lantern filled with one or more pillar candles.
Scents and soft sounds
Aim for an all-round sensory experience that complements the gentle textures, natural materials and muted tones of a calm living room. For example, introduce fragrance with specialist aromatherapy candle or diffuser.
Acoustics are really important, too. “Those fabrics, rugs and baskets all help to absorb sound,” points out Prinsloo, and if you request some gentle music via a hands-free speaker, you don’t need to move an inch from your blissed-out state to hear some soothing sounds.