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How to decorate a lounge

From the Resene decorating blog

Nothing spells chill out better than a beautiful lounge. The place to relax, this room should be able to cater for someone wanting a cup of coffee in the sunshine on their own, as well as a group of friends catching up over a glass of wine.

A harmonious lounge

Rectangular shapes echo each other in this lounge, through the coffee table, couch and sideboard, for a harmonious effect. A tall pot plant stretches high to balance with these low-lying shapes, its greenery breaking up the warm, earthy tones. Plywood wall stained in Resene Colorwood Sheer Black with battens in Resene Lustacryl tinted to Resene All Black, floor in Resene Colorwood Natural, sideboard in Resene Snow Drift, coffee table in Resene Snow Drift, pillar in Resene Black White, pendant lamp in Resene Black White, plant pots in Resene Snow Drift, vase in Resene Half Black White, tall woven candle lantern in Resene Half Black White and small fluted bud vase (on coffee table) in Resene Quarter Drought. Project by Laura Lynn Johnston, image by Wendy Fenwick.

When it comes to colour, moody tones create a sense of calm and comfort. Think walls in the indigo blues of Resene Space Cadet or Resene Cobalt, or the chocolate browns of Resene Dark Rum or Resene Sambuca. Gentle warming hues are on-trend and for a good reason, they relax us, bringing us down to earth. Use the pinky coral of Resene Cashmere, pale ochre of Resene Gold Coast or the warming caramel of Resene Pendragon.

Once your colour scheme is set, a key player in the furniture is a sumptuous sofa, on which you can't help but relax. Of course, then bring in your cushions – velvet, cotton or linen, to soak back into.

Window treatments are also key to framing a view, if you have one, from your lounge and bringing in privacy if you need it. They can also help create warmth and atmosphere. Floaty white sheers can tie in with a seaside setting, velvet curtains speak sumptuous while texture linen evokes a rustic feel. Sheer curtains can add a layer of softness. Even if your room has a masculine tone, you can still bring these in with dark hues.

A large soft, rug will anchor your space and provide soft texture underfoot and another dimension of colour and pattern.

There's more to your walls than paint too – if your budget allows, an artwork can take centre stage in your lounge to inject bursts of colour. You can use it as a starting point for the room's décor and colour palette. Tie in your cushions, couch, occasional chairs and a rug in similar tones.

With lounges that are separate from the kitchen, it's easy to arrange your space in a way that creates a setting for conversation. Simply place your couch opposite two occasion chairs, so that all face inward towards each other, providing easy conversation. If you feel this isn't enough seating – you never want to have any guest looking for a seat – bring in an ottoman or extra chair, casually placing them in a way that works with your existing seating arrangement.

If your lounge is part of an open-plan space, a modular sofa can work well with occasional chairs, as the set up will allow a smooth flow out of the space to the kitchen. While you want to create a lounge zone, you don't want to close it off from the rest of the kitchen. A patterned rug and a central coffee table can help to anchor this zone within an open-plan space. What is key is that communicating with others in the room is easy, and walking through the room is uninterrupted.

A comfortable lounge with a strong visual interest

Visual interest fills this lounge with the curves of the rug, lamp and side table meeting the angles of the painted stripes, mantle and cushion print. Soft whites, grey and black blend harmoniously while a touch of tan provides a warm element to the comfortable setting. Walls painted in Resene Triple Merino with hand-painted pinstripes (above mantle) in Resene Double Cod Grey, floor in Resene Kensington Grey, mantle in Resene Raven with painted arch (on wall) in Resene Double Cod Grey, chess board table in Resene Double Cod Grey and Resene Seashell, bowl (on mantle) in Resene Leather, tall cylindrical vase in Resene Balderdash and other small accessories in Resene Double Cod Grey and Resene Seashell. Armchairs from King Living, rug from The Ivy House, grid cushions from Citta, scrolled wooden stool from Thread. Project by Kate Alexander, image by Bryce Carleton.

If the architecture of your home is ornate and worthy of attention, you may want to keep your furniture simple and pared back. If your interior is simple, bring the focus to your couch and chairs by way of colour and texture.

Various types of lighting are key, so include a dimmer switch to set the mood if you want more of a laid-back setting, and include a scattering of table lamps in various place around the room. This will cater to that one person enjoying their coffee in a cosy corner and the wider party of people if need be. Bring in soft pools of light, don't simply use one central pendant light or a series of downlights as they won't bring that element of visual cosiness that you need in this room.

A neutral lounge with a fresh white floor

The fresh white floor in this lounge gives a freshness to the Resene Tea walls, which soothe and invite. These gentle neutrals ensure you have a place in which to relax and take comfort. The coffee table and dark rug anchor the seated zone, a side table provides a place to show off personal items and artwork on the wall brings personality and character. Wall in Resene Tea, floor in Resene Blanc, large coffee table in Resene Half Sandstone, plinth pot with plant in Resene Sandal, small bowl/vase in Resene Tapa and other vases in Resene Sandal and Resene Quarter Drought. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Bryce Carleton.

If you can create a reading nook, place a comfortable chair with a footrest in a corner, complete with a gentle wall light that is a statement in itself. Beside the window with the view is ideal.

Key to comfort in this room are layers of texture and fabrics, by way of throws and sheepskins, which will always ensure your space feels warm and welcoming.

Interior designer Hamish Dodds says a big problem in living rooms can be the furniture. "Most people have a good idea of what they want with their living room space," he says. "The problem is you don't want a couch with a high back. If you go out shopping, you should have graph paper and scale it on. Put all the windows and doors and heights on it."

A soothing and relaxing green lounge

This soothing, relaxing lounge has been crafted with nurturing shades of green, evoking that same peace we find outdoors. A central part-feature wall balances the space, in which you can sit back amid easy off-whites. Cabinets provide storage and personality, blending each colour in this setting with its two-toned panels. Large coffee table painted in Resene Norway, small coffee table in Resene Quarter Fossil, tall and round white vases on cabinets both in Resene Rice Cake, tall vase with big handles in Resene Amulet, small line vase in Resene Pale Leaf, spotted vase in Resene Amulet with dots in Resene Rice Cake and large bowl in Resene Highland. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Bryce Carleton.

"Survey your space, then go shopping. When you're looking at the space you can measure the couch, check dimensions and plot it onto a pad to make sure it fits. There's nothing worse than a couch with a back higher than the window. It doesn't work. It's essential to get the correct scale."

A coffee table will help ground your space, guide where to sit and extend your room's style, and cater to your need for practicality. But some don't find these suitable, and prefer a small table close to each chair.

A sophisticated dark green lounge

A moveable screen is an easy way to decorate a lounge, bringing in additional colour and pattern to tie in with the overall scheme. Wall and fireplace painted in Resene Midnight Moss, floor in Resene Half Fossil, folding screen in Resene Tequila with ‘leading’ in Resene Midnight Moss and coloured ‘stained glass’ in Resene Bandicoot, Resene Rob Roy and Resene Lightning Yellow, plant pot in Resene Black Forest, vases in Resene Leather, Resene Rob Roy, Resene Clover, Resene Sushi, Resene Lightning Yellow and Resene Bandicoot, lidded dish in Resene Tequila, painted books in Resene Lightning Yellow, Resene Clover and Resene Rob Roy, votive holder in Resene Lightning Yellow, tealight holder in Resene Rob Roy and coaster in Resene Half Fossil. Project by Laura Lynn Johnston, image by Wendy Fenwick.

It's key, in a lounge, to have somewhere where people can place their drinks easily from their seats. So while you don't want so much clutter that people can't walk across the room without tripping over, they need to have a table nearby.

"I'm not a fan of coffee tables, I prefer to use side tables," Hamish says. "Lighting should set the scene and light the full room and use ambient lighting so you can dial it back and feel warm and snug."

Colour blocking helps create a cosy lounge

Colour blocking in this lounge draws you in and invites you to sit in this cosy corner. The two tones work harmoniously throughout the room too, on the cabinet, decorative items and coffee tables. Wall and floor painted in Resene Ravine with square in Resene Pumice, cabinets in Resene Blue Smoke, coffee tables in (from large to small) Resene Pewter, Resene Haven and Resene Harp, plant pot in Resene Yucca, vases, bowls and smaller accessories in Resene Napa, Resene Yucca, Resene Blue Smoke, Resene Pewter, Resene Ravine, Resene Haven, Resene Pumice, Resene Armadillo, Resene Eagle and Resene Harp and frame in Resene Napa. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Wendy Fenwick.

Whatever table you decide to use, let it echo the style of furniture elsewhere in the house. If your kitchen island has a black base with a marble top, go for the same style in your coffee table. Whatever accents you have elsewhere in the kitchen or dining room can be applied here too for continuity.

Also, consider your materials and how they work with other decorative items. As Hamish says, don't put cushions on leather couches, they only slide off.

April 17, 2021

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