Designing Your Formal Living Room

If that’s true, it could be the perfect time to redesign your space and make sure you have a formal living room that you and your favourite people will love spending time in. Here’s how to make it happen.

What sets apart a formal living room?

Invoking the word ‘formal’ might carry connotations of stuffiness or staidness for some, but when we talk about a formal living room what we simply mean is a structured space designed for hosting people and making a good impression when doing so. We all want to feel proud of our space when sharing it with the people who matter to us, so it pays dividends to put some thought into how you’ll build a room that’s comfortable and welcoming while still being stylish and refined. Think classy seating positioned to encourage conversation and clear, bright lighting – and almost certainly no TV to distract people from each other.


This kind of living space isn’t so much for curling up in something cosy as it is for more proactive hosting – think firm, springy cushions rather than those that’ll let you melt into them. The same goes for choosing chairs; you want something strong, structured and upright that’ll hold its shape over time, but still stylish. Perhaps the most important element here is a sturdy coffee table with space for everyone’s drinks.

Focal point

If you’re looking to gather people in one room, it helps to have something to gather them around. A focal point is important, particularly for a formal room, as it helps prevent a space from feeling chaotic or disorganised – and that kind of tidy precision is ideal for what we’re doing here. For many traditional living rooms, the focal point is a fireplace. If you have one in yours, great – build around that – but not everyone in the UK does. But you can achieve a similar effect with panelling on one wall that sets it apart from the rest, decorating heavily around a prominent window, or even putting together a faux fireplace using a painted wooden fire surround.

Colours and artwork

A major element of a formal space is colour coordination. You’re going to want a colour scheme that’s mature and refined without being austere – where a cosier room might play in greys and beiges, for example, a formal living room will do better with blacks and browns. It’s also a good venue for hanging or displaying art, particularly if you’re looking to populate a focal point.

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