10 Tips for Designing a Living Room with Shirry Dolgin

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Neutral and Blue Living Room Design

I caught up with talented interior designer Shirry Dolgin and she shared 10 tips for designing a living room. The living room is often the center of the home and where you entertain guests and gather as a family. See below for Shirry's expert advice for creating a beautiful and functional living room design.

Shirry Dolgin and Interior Designer

LAMPS PLUS: What is the first step in developing a design concept for a living room?

SHIRRY DOLGIN: The first thing I would recommend is to nail down the furniture floor plan. This is vital in ensuring the room will function properly. Try to make at least one focal point, have enough seating, and make sure there is good traffic flow around the furniture pieces.

California Home and Living Room Design

LAMPS PLUS: What are a few tips for adding personality to the living room design?

SHIRRY DOLGIN: One of the easiest ways to add personality is by installing a unique lighting fixture. If you think about it, the lighting in a room can really dictate the personality. Something like an arc lamp gives a throw back to the 1970s, while a crystal chandelier offers a completely different feel.

Natural and Blue Living Room Design

LAMPS PLUS: How is the living room unique from other rooms in the home?

SHIRRY DOLGIN: The reason the living room is unique from the rest of the home is because it's a public space in the home, unlike the bedrooms, where the family lives and people are entertained. So therefore, it needs to feel inviting and it has to serve many purposes. Think about the number of activities you do in a living room; everything from watching TV, to playing board games with your family, or hosting sporting events. So all these activities need to be considered when designing this space. In the living room featured, I seperated the living room into 3 zones which include the main sofa area, a dining nook, and a reading corner.

LAMPS PLUS: Is there a rule of thumb for selecting the right size area rug?

SHIRRY DOLGIN: I would say that the rule of thumb is the area rug needs to be large enough to at least fit under the front legs of all the furniture sitting on it. If you think your thinking of buying a rug and trying to choose between two sizes, go for the larger one!

Modern Fireplace and Contemporary Living Room Design

LAMPS PLUS: How do you decide on the type of seating options?

SHIRRY DOLGIN: This really is a matter of the size of the room and how people move around the space. Placing two sofas in a room requires a lot of square footage because you still want to be able to move around them. The nice thing about using one sofa and two chairs is that it gives you the opportunity of introducing another fabric and furniture style in the space.

LAMPS PLUS: What are some tips for creating intimate lighting in the living room?

SHIRRY DOLGIN: I feel it's important to think of lighting in different heights and at different times of the day. General recessed lighting is great, but it's so important to having lighting at eye level to create different moods in a room. This is why sconces and lamps are fantastic for lighting a space. Try using pairs of lamps or sconces to create a focal point at one end of a room and incorporate a mirror that to reflect the light back.

Another great tip is to add under cabinet lights below a buffet or credenza. If you have a piece of furniture like a buffet which sits on legs, then you can simply install a strip LED light to achieve a nice glow from under the piece of furniture. This is perfect if you want a dim light in a hallway for those late night trips to the kitchen.

Contemporary Living Room and Arc Lamp

LAMPS PLUS: I love that you used a ceiling fan in your design! What are your favorite modern ceiling fans from Lamps Plus?

SHIRRY DOLGIN: These are my 3 favorite ceiling fans on Lamps Plus right now...

36" Casa Vieja Revolve Ceiling Fan


54" Casablanca Stealth Brushed Nickel Ceiling Fan


60" Edge Possini Euro Design Ceiling Fan

Images: Erika Bierman 

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  • I really like the open, modern look to the room. The arc floor lamp is the perfect exclamation point for the room.

10 Tips for Designing a Living Room with Shirry Dolgin