Once upon a time our living rooms were hardly used at all as nobody had time for just ’ lounging around’. The living room or ‘parlour’ as it was known was considered to be a formal space that was only used on special occasions when we entertained visitors.
Then came the television set and the living room became a place for relaxing and a hub where the whole family could sit together and watch their favourite shows.
These days your average house has 3 TV sets so the family can spread out and choose what it is that they want to watch or play? With the invention of the x box and the wiii our sets perform quite a few different functions, but not all of us might want to be in close proximity when the latest version of ‘call of duty’ or ‘just dance’ is on.
So the living room is not quite the hub that it used to be but it is still the place that we go to relax, or read, to entertain and to play.
To make the space work for all these requirements the lighting and electrics really need to be worked out well so that all the gadgetry can be fitted without ugly cables everywhere and it can also feel like a nice calm place to be.
Ceiling lights provide great general lighting, but it is nice to have the option of indirect softer lighting around the room. Five amp sockets scattered around the walls connected to one or two dimmer switches give great flexibility. Then you can have pretty floor standing and table lamps all controlled by a central switch. This creates a more traditional or boutiquey look. If you fancy a slicker contemporary feel you can now buy led strip which has rows of mini leds stuck to sticky tape. This can be hidden under shelves and provides a really nice subtle concealed light, it comes in two light colours and I would recommend the warm white.
For a look that’s a bit more rock ‘n’ roll you can create dramatic colour changing lighting effects cheaply with fluorescent strip lights. The light tubes can be covered with coloured sleeves. Then two lights are fitted side by side and concealed behind shelves or wall cupboards. You then choose which light you switch on for a pink washed wall, blue, green or whatever you fancy and when you want a new colour you simply change the plastic sleeve.
If you want a surround sound system to go with your new super slim led TV then you must consider the cabling before you decorate. All good speaker systems will come with a sub-woofer which is non-directional and generally quite ugly so it can go just about anywhere in the room. A good place to hide it is under or behind a sofa. You will need to conceal the speaker or phono cable attaching the sub-woofer to your surround sound amplifier in the floor or wall and it will need a power point next to it. The system will have floor or wall mounted speakers which will also require cables to be chased into the walls prior to decorating. Then one big cupboard with adjustable shelves in it and heaps of 13 amp sockets at the back can house all the gadgetry that you want. A ‘magic eye’ is a very useful devise that looks like a little bug and attaches to the TV screen; this allows you to use your remote control with the cupboard doors shut keeping things nice and tidy.
A fireplace in the living room gives a great feeling of nostalgia and a focus to the room, but can make positioning the TV a bit tricky. Having the TV mounted over the fireplace is not ideal as the wall can look a bit congested. If you have a traditional fireplace with a mantel piece the TV would also be mounted higher than the ideal viewing position. If possible it is best to mount the TV on the same wall as the fireplace but beside it so that the settee or armchairs can face either the fire or the settee.
There are great contemporary fires around that don’t need to sit so high up the wall, in fact the long low fires look the most elegant and are more in keeping with a modern TV. There are now gas fires that work well even if you don’t have a flue. If you don’t have gas either then you can go for a gel fire but these are only really decorative and don’t give out a great deal of heat, nevertheless they still give the pretty glow of a fire and create a relaxing heart to the room.