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The First Things Guests Notice About Your Living Room, According to Experts

There are some decor dos and don'ts when it comes to designing your entertaining space.

There's no denying that a well-designed kitchen and an updated bathroom can make your home feel even more comfortable. But if you're planning on hosting company or creating an inviting ambiance, there's no room quite as essential as your living room. When done right, this versatile space can be the ideal setting for family get-togethers and friendly gatherings that leaves a lasting impression of your home on anyone visiting. Read on for all of the things experts say guests notice first about your living room.

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Your personal touches

young woman hanging painting at home
iStock / DjordjeDjurdjevic

Even though your living room may not be as personal of a space as your bedroom, it's still an important part of your home that will get plenty of foot traffic. That's why experts say it's essential to inject your own creative touches and personality into its look—especially if you're working with a blank canvas.

"The living room is often the space where our decorative items are on display," Yasmine El Sanyoura, home designer at real estate website Opendoor, tells Best Life. "If you haven't yet decorated your walls, consider doing so before guests arrive. A blank wall in the living room can sometimes feel sterile if it's in a central point in the room."

But don't feel like you need to start investing in paintings just to set the mood. "If you don't have art to display, consider hanging a mirror or some framed photos. Create interest with books on shelves and on the coffee table. You can even stack books horizontally to give your shelves some varying height," she suggests.

The color scheme

blush pink room
iStock / onurdongel

Whether you're picking a paint color or shopping for the right couch, coming up with the right color scheme for your living room can be a difficult decision. But as the room in your home most likely to be frequented by guests, experts say that the color scheme is one overarching design decision that deserves your utmost attention. In the best-case scenarios, this can sometimes involve walking a very fine line.

"If you have bold and bright colors, it can be overwhelming—but if you have muted and neutral colors, it can be boring," says Aviva Sonenreich, a Colorado-based real estate broker. "The right color scheme creates a warm and inviting space that makes guests feel at home."

READ THIS NEXT: The First Things Guests Notice About Your Bathroom, Experts Say.

The greenery

woman, taking care of her houseplants

Houseplants can be an easy way to bring a little bit of the vibrancy of the outdoors into your home. Naturally, this makes them a great statement piece or standout option for your living room, as they can be swapped in or out on relatively short notice or on a tighter budget.

"Plants always liven up a space and add color," says El Sanyoura. "However, make sure that your plants are doing well, and put away any that are struggling or wilted at the moment."

There are also plenty of options if you're concerned about the upkeep. "If you don't have a green thumb, there are great artificial plants that look very realistic. And an olive tree in the corner or succulents on a shelf can go a long way to adding 'life' to an indoor room," she says.

How it's furnished

A Full length of happy couple placing sofa in living room of new home

The decor on the walls can give your living room the personal touches you're looking for, but it's the furnishings that will ultimately determine how functional your hosting space can be. That's why experts caution that choosing the wrong pieces or creating a confusing layout will stick out to visitors as soon as they walk in.

"Guests will notice what kind of furniture you have and how it's arranged in the room," says Sonenreich. "It's important to choose pieces that are both comfortable and stylish."

And depending on how your social calendar looks on average, you should consider making sure you're sufficiently prepared to host comfortably. "A couch and a couple of chairs are usually sufficient, but if you often entertain large groups, you may need more seating options," she suggests.

However, don't feel as though you need to find a way to fit multiple sofas into your living room. "Plan ahead with multifunctional pieces like ottomans that can double as seating when guests are over," El Sanyoura suggests.

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How welcoming it is overall


Planning out the perfect living room can feel like a daunting task. But besides creating a motif and hunting down the best furniture, sometimes the most crucial step of the process can be to step back and consider some finer touches that contribute to its ambiance.

"With the living room becoming the new central space in the home, guests should walk in and instantly feel comfortable," says El Sanyoura. "If your living room is dark and crowded, guests will immediately notice, and it can make them feel uneasy. Let light in by opening your shades and blinds. If it's a nice day out, open the windows for some fresh air."

But there are still options even if your entertaining space is short on windows. "Add some throw pillows and blankets on your sofa to give the living room a lived-in feel so that guests feel comfortable, and light a candle to help calm the senses," she suggests.

And don't forget to consider one of the room's major appliances. "If you're hosting guests for a sports night, movie night, or watching a show, having the TV on is okay at arrival, though perhaps with the volume turned down or off. If you're hoping to have a conversation or host a meal, having the TV on can signal to your guests that you're closed off to company or conversation," El Sanyoura says.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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