Elegant and comfortable, classic style is a popular choice for a living room, creating a restful ambiance for relaxing, or an impressive setting for entertaining.
A classic living room has an air of effortless style and comfort, as though all the contents have been cherished and handed down over the centuries. Soft, gentle color schemes give an impression of space and light, while period architectural details, such as a marble fireplace or decorative cornicing, add to the look of a well-established home.
Deeply upholstered sofas and armchairs are surrounded by antique-style furnishings - a sparkling glass chandelier, an old brass-handled chest used as a coffee table, and richly draped curtains all reflect an earlier era of gracious living. Small details are important too, such as dainty tassels that finish a tablecloth corner or dangle from a window shade. Complete the effect with formal groupings of pictures, lavish flower arrangements, and precious-looking china, glass, and silver.
Creating the Look
Choose easy, gentle shades for walls, keeping to pale shades if the room isn't large. Creamy yellows, shades of rose, off-white, or beige make good backgrounds for stronger accent colors, and contrast well with rich, polished woods. Plain latex or interesting paint effects are suitable, with detail added in the form of plaster moldings, paneling, or wainscoting. Pick out any details in a delicately contrasting color, or rub them lightly with gilt wax for a faded sheen.
A period fireplace makes an important focal point; an Regency-style plaster surround has a graceful effect, while marble looks imposing - you can imitate this successfully with paint. Carved and polished wood has the right look too. A number of firms specialize in original fireplaces - check out architectural salvage companies before buying an expensive imitation.
Wallpaper designs are traditional - smart stripes, scrolled designs, or stylized flower and leaf prints all flatter the look, but patterns should be fairly subtle. Keep woodwork pale - white gloss looks fresh and crisp - or strip back to the wood, then stain and polish to an aged mahogany or oak effect. Make sure details such as door handles and fingerplates are all in period style - opt for gleaming brass or crystal rather than chrome.
Pale/matte: plain pale latex; decorative paint effects - ragging, marbling, or dragging; symmetrically paneled areas with plaster beading, or wainscoting; white, pale gloss, or stained and polished woodwork. Wallpapers: formal stripes, subtle florals, or small traditional motifs such as wreaths or classical urns; ornamental borders or trompe l'oeil effects of classical moldings.
Elaborate: full-length lined curtains on imposing wood or brass rod; elegant swags and tails; formal pleated valances or shaped cornices; fringes, tassels and braids.
Shutters/blinds: folding shutters; simple roller shades in plain cream with tassels.
Traditional: polished wood or parquet; fitted carpet in subtle neutrals or small all-over scrolling designs.
Rugs: traditional Persian and Turkish-style in rich, toning colors; tapestry rugs in gentle browns, pinks, and blues.
Rich/traditional: gleaming damasks, silks, glazed chintz, woven stripes; small woven motifs or velvets for chairs; tapestry or needlepoint cushions.
Period style: comfortable sofa and armchairs; upholstered ottoman, stool, chairs; polished wood or Chinese lacquer occasional tables; small antique-style desk; fitted glass-fronted cupboards or shelving.
Grand: central chandelier in gilt and cut glass; period-style wall sconces; brass or wooden floor lamp with large pleated silk shade; table lamps; candles in silver candlesticks.
Antiques, objects d'art: delicate porcelain and china; silver; gilt-framed pictures and mirrors; leather-bound books.
Flowers: large formal displays of seasonal blooms with trailing greenery; small flowers in tiny jugs; bowls of dried flowers or potpourri.