Inspirational Living Rooms

PUBLISHED: 11:37 26 March 2009 | UPDATED: 15:53 20 February 2013

'Amaranta' by Harlequin, this cheerful fabric collection features laid-back floras with a subtle 1940s influence.

'Amaranta' by Harlequin, this cheerful fabric collection features laid-back floras with a subtle 1940s influence.

Sharon Kilby seeks natural inspiration that brings the outside into the living room

Having spent the winter months safely wrapped up inside your own four walls the likelihood is that your living space could do with an overhaul, and this is the perfect time of year to get rid of clutter and give soft furnishings a whole new lease of life.

The living room is in constant use and therefore subject to wear and tear. If you want to improve your living room there are some simple ways of bringing energy and style into the space with the clever use of fabrics.

Texture, colour and pattern are all elements of fabric that play a part in bringing an interior scheme together and being brave can give you eye-catching results. If you opt for more traditional whites and creams or muted natural shades, a room will have a timeless classic appeal but will still benefit from the odd splash of colour. Accent pieces of furniture, such as a vividly upholstered chair, bold sofa throw or striking canvas print will help lift a neutral scheme.

Why not bring touches of the garden into the home? Butterflies, flora and fauna feature on printed fabrics this season and can give a quirky feel, whereas more classic botanical designs are perfect for traditional or period interiors.

Devon-based fabric designer and author of English and American Textiles, Celia Rufey, suggests: "Give rooms a spring wake-up call by reviving the old idea of seasonal soft furnishings. Refresh sofas and chairs with washable linen slipcovers and switch warm winter drapes for unlined white linen curtains or Roman blinds. A love of old floral patterns for relaxed living inspired my collection of furnishing prints and plains taken from old English and French textile fragments, all in pure tumbled linen."

Space - clear the clutter

The living room easily collects clutter. Remove objects that are no longer used or do not fill you with joy. Try to combine furnishings that are both functional and beautiful, a fabric-covered ottoman or storage chest can add to the overall look whilst also providing valuable storage. We tend to fill rooms with furnishings we don't really need. You'll be amazed what a difference removing furnishings that are not necessary will make.

Take a seat - revive sofas and chairs

A tired sofa can date any room. Once the clutter has gone, your furnishings will become the main attraction so it is crucial that you choose the right style sofa.

If you're creating a modern feel, choose sofas with sleek, contemporary lines. Alternatively, if your living space is more traditional, choose a sofa that will bring warmth and charm.

Replacing or fixing worn furniture can be expensive and one way of updating your furnishings is with simple cotton slipcovers, which can offer an instant update for sofas, armchairs and occasional furniture. Covers offer practicality as they can be removed and washed, whilst also giving the opportunity to rethink your colour schemes.

Best dressed - window treatments

You'll be amazed what a difference clean windows can have on a room. If your windows are sparkling, it will purify the light coming through, which will lift the mood of the room. Try using curtain fabric and colours that will complement your sofa and flooring; colour co-ordination will help with the overall look. Don't be too restrained though - remember to inject your own personality into the space.

Windows are the link to the outside and provide a natural connection to the garden or exterior. If you enjoy good views don't detract from these with heavy or detailed curtains. Consider simple blinds or painted shutters instead.

Bright and breezy fabrics can alter the overall feel of the room and clever fabric combinations can give the illusion of height or space. There are some beautiful springtime fabrics available with details drawn from the natural environment.

Mix colours and textures

Colour can affect your mood and can determine the overall feel of the room. To create a contemporary feel, use neutral tones such as summer colours, keeping a natural palette throughout. Keep everything simple and allow details in accessories to add splashes of bold colour or interest in the form of texture. Rugs and cushions can introduce colour.

Different weights and weaves can give depth and a feeling of indulgent comfort. Silks and satins work well against velvets and waffled fabrics; natural linens and cottons are the perfect companions to woollens and leathers.

Up close - a personal touch

To bring a few interesting or contemporary touches to a space, introduce some oversize cushions in eye-catching designs or a couple of table lamps finished with beautiful trimmings. The best living rooms are those that have evolved over time. The beauty of using fabric to bring life to a space is that it can be altered, added to or simply rearranged to reflect your own taste.

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