If the kitchen is the heart of the home, the living room is undoubtedly the soul. As a place for hosting, relaxing and hanging out with family, the right furnishings and decor can make a world of difference. You want this room to be not only stylish but also functional, welcoming and cozy.
If you're designing this space from scratch, you might be wondering what living room necessities to buy. This comprehensive living room essentials checklist will go over must-have furniture and nice-to-have accent pieces, as well as accessories and decorative objects that'll give your indoor gathering place warmth and personality. Let's get started.
Living Room Essentials: Furniture
If you're stumped on what to put in your living room, start with the basics. Every living room needs furniture, but what are the most important pieces? And aside from the must-haves, what else should you consider when designing your space?
This living room furniture list covers the essentials, including a sofa, accent chairs and a coffee table. It'll also go over comfy, stylish add-ons like a loveseat, side tables, a media console and a credenza, along with tips for upholstery colors, styles, sizes and placement.
First up on this living room basics list is a sofa. While there are some exceptions, pretty much every home needs one. But just because this living room essential is a staple doesn't mean it has to be boring.
From tufted leather to statement velvet to retro tweed, there are myriad ways to make a statement with couch upholstery. Of course, you don't have to choose anything bold. Neutral designs are more versatile, making it easy to play around with different decor styles.
Size-wise, couches typically seat three people — sometimes more. Most importantly, make sure your sofa is comfortable, functional and durable enough to last several years (or longer) under everyday use. And if you have pets or kids, look for something easy to clean.
Need some inspiration? Explore these 35 Stylish and Functional Living Room Sofa Decor Ideas.
Loveseats can be furniture staples, depending on who you ask. But in larger spaces, they're definitely living room necessities. A slightly smaller version of a full-sized sofa, this piece is designed to seat two people comfortably. It can feature two seat cushions or one bench-style seat.
Like couches, you can find loveseats with a wide range of upholstery materials, including leather, tweed, velvet and linen, to name just a few. And while there's nothing wrong with a matching set, your loveseat doesn't have to be the same as your couch.
Another option is to forgo both the sofa and loveseat and get a sectional instead. This type of furniture can be L-shaped, U-shaped or simply feature a chaise lounge on one side instead of a third seat cushion.
Many sectionals are also modular, meaning you can adjust the configuration or choose which side has the chaise. They can work well in formal living rooms, but due to the comfy, laid-back design, people often place them in dens, family rooms and home theaters.
Speaking of which, you'll definitely want to have these Movie Watching Essentials ready next time you stream a flick at home.
Once you have your main furniture picked out — whether it's just a sofa, a couch and loveseat or a sectional — choose at least one accent chair. This will provide additional seating while breaking up any monotony of your larger pieces.
Accent chairs typically don't match the couch or loveseat. This is an opportunity to choose a slightly varied style, upholstery material or color. If you get two chairs, they can be different or a matching pair. Matching chairs are often placed side by side or facing each other on either side of a couch. In any case, select a style that complements rather than clashes.
What chair should you choose for your space? Find 31 Living Room Accent Chair Ideas here.
Chaise lounges aren't necessarily living room essentials, but they can be a great alternative to an accent chair or loveseat. This type of seating can also go next to a window or in a cozy reading nook.
A chaise can offer a luxurious touch to your sleeping quarters. Check out our Bedroom Furniture Essentials list for more ideas.
Should Dogs Be Allowed on Furniture? Get insight in our article, and find out why dog beds are on our checklist for living rooms in homes with pets.
Once you've figured out your seating arrangement, you'll want to get a coffee table. While traditional rectangular designs are never a bad idea, this can also be a good opportunity to explore statement options.
Since sofas and chairs often cost more, it's wise to invest in versatile, long-lasting designs. But if you want to incorporate round shapes, asymmetrical pieces or modish silhouettes, a coffee table is an excellent way to do it. Additionally, you can find options with built-in shelving or drawers, which can be a big plus for small spaces with limited storage.
Find your ideal coffee table set-up in the guide to 27 Ideas for Decorating a Coffee Table.
An ottoman is one of those hybrid furniture pieces that offers both functionality and aesthetic appeal. It can act as a footrest as well as an additional seat, and some lidded options provide hidden storage. Some can even double as a coffee table.
Think of an ottoman like an accent chair. Instead of opting for a perfect match to your larger furniture pieces, choose something in a different color, texture, material or style.
Make sure you have one or two side tables in your living room. Offering a surface to set drinks, place books or stash the TV remote, these living room essentials provide a similar function to a coffee table. Side tables are typically placed next to the armrests of sofas and chairs to keep everything within reach.
If you have a TV in your living room, you'll probably need a media console. Even if you mount yours to the wall, this low-profile storage cabinet can house the cable box, internet router or speakers.
If you own lots of books, a bookshelf will give them a home while filling a blank wall. You can position this piece in a corner, within a reading nook or on a main wall. Another option is to place one on either side of your media console.
Sometimes called a sideboard, a credenza is a free-standing storage unit with cabinets. It looks like a cross between a media console and a dresser. You can place one behind your sofa, against a wall or even use one as your media console.
Bookshelves and credenzas aren't necessarily living room necessities, but you're wise to include a least a couple of storage solutions. For more ideas, see our blog, Getting Organized With Parachute.
A hutch is something like a bookshelf-sideboard hybrid. It's usually somewhat tall, with cabinets on the bottom and shelves on top. This is an excellent choice for record players, speaker systems or simply displaying decorative objects while keeping others concealed.
What else do you need when relocating to a new space? See our New Home Checklist for a comprehensive breakdown of essential things to buy or upgrade when moving in.
Living Room Necessities: Accessories and Decor
Furniture is undoubtedly a crucial component of any indoor gathering space. But to make it look welcoming, tasteful and full of character, you'll want to add a few living room accessories and decor pieces.
This section of our living room checklist will cover everything you need to complete your space, including an area rug, curtains, decorative pillows, throw blankets, baskets, wall art, light fixtures and small accent pieces. Let's dive in.
First and foremost, you'll need an area rug. This piece helps indoor spaces look and feel cozier and more welcoming, absorbing sound and adding insulation to hard floors. But make no mistake, area rugs are considered living room essentials in carpeted spaces as well.
Not only that, but a rug will help your furniture arrangement look complete and section it off from the dining area in an open-concept space. A good rule of thumb is to place each furniture piece either with all legs on top or just the front two.
For more guidance on sizing and placement, check out these Rug Styling Ideas to Consider for Your Home.
Curtains product pic (in living room)
Window curtains are must-have living room necessities. They add insulation, filter natural light and help protect your furniture and art from fading. One common mistake people make with drapery is choosing panels that are too short.
Instead of stopping at the windowsill, the bottom of your curtains should skim the floor. You can also achieve a high-end look with extra-long curtains hung from a rod installed an inch or two below the ceiling.
For more on this topic, see our article on the Dos and Don'ts of Hanging Curtains.
Every living room needs at least a few decorative pillows. In addition to providing back support and a plush surface to rest your head, they're a great way to add volume, texture, dimension and a pop of color to your space.
Compared to other living room necessities, throw cushions are very affordable. This means you can swap them out each season or any time you want to switch things up.
Our guide on How to Style Throw Pillows Like a Designer has expert tips and tricks.
Throw blankets are living room accessories that walk the line between functionality and style. It's nice to have a cozy cover within reach when you're feeling cold, watching a movie or cuddling up with a good book.
But throws are go-to decor pieces too. You can toss one across the back of your sofa, drape it over an armrest, roll it up and place it in a decorative floor basket or fold it and hang it on a blanket ladder.
Speaking of decorative floor baskets, these woven storage solutions can house not only extra blankets but also pillows, books, magazines or firewood.
They're great for keeping toys tidy and out of the way too. You can stash stuffed animals, rattles and figurines on a shelf or in a cabinet, then pull them out when your kids are ready to play with them.
Here are 23 more Basket Decor and Storage Ideas for all around the home.
Houseplants are often considered living room essentials. They're primarily decorative, adding a touch of greenery and an organic appeal. And while fake plants can look convincingly lifelike, not to mention impossible to kill, real foliage might help improve your indoor air.
Here are the Top 16 Indoor Plants for Clean Air in Your Home.
Negative space is important, as it can help a room look more expansive and uncluttered. However, you'll still want to hang something on at least two of your four living room walls, assuming windows account for one.
You can use traditional framed art, a gallery wall, mirrors, an oversized map, a mural, floating shelves or built-in shelving. You can also make this living room essential part of the wall itself with wallpaper, a bold paint color, shiplap or wainscotting.
No living room is complete without a few light fixtures. In addition to overhead lighting, add some layered illumination. This could be a floor light next to the sofa, a pendant in your reading nook, table lamps on your side tables or a battery-powered lantern for your coffee table.
Want specific tips for incorporating these living room essentials? See our blog about the Best Living Room Lighting Ideas.
Small Accent Pieces
Last but not least, you'll want to choose various decorative objects to place on your shelves, coffee table, end tables and storage units. A few tasteful options include abstract bookends, a globe, vases, small sculptures, catch-all trays, small baskets, ceramic bowls, scented candles and diffusers.
For a deeper dive into styling your entire home from top to bottom, see our Guide to Design and Decor Ideas.
Find answers to frequently asked questions about living room necessities below.
What are the coziest fabrics for living room essentials?
Some of the coziest furniture upholstery materials include linen, tweed, wool and velvet. Having said that, genuine leather gets softer over time, and faux leather can have a similar feel. For rugs, look for wool, jute, sisal, shag, braided cotton or faux fur.
When buying throws and decorative pillow covers, search for waffle weave fabrics, cloud cotton, organic cotton, mohair, bouclé, linen, wool, alpaca or garment-washed canvas.
Check out our Fabric and Bedding Materials Guide to learn about the various textiles offered at Parachute.
What are popular decor styles for the living room?
Some of the most popular decor styles for the living room include modern, farmhouse, rustic, traditional, mid-century and industrial. But everything in your living room doesn’t have to feature the same aesthetic.
For instance, people often accent modern spaces with industrial or bohemian touches. Another example is the coastal grandmother trend, which blends traditional design with a few rustic and nautical elements.
What style best fits your personality? These articles can help get your wheels turning:
How do you make a living room look and feel luxurious?
There are lots of ways to make your home look and feel more luxurious. Floor-to-ceiling curtains have a high-end look. On a similar note, choosing furniture and other living room items that are to-scale with the size of the space will make a big difference. People often hang art that's too small or get sofas that are too big. But when everything's the proper size, your living room style will look more intentional, like it was professionally designed.
Additionally, try to incorporate several storage solutions, like baskets, cabinets, shelving, a lidded ottoman or a coffee table with drawers. That way, you'll always have a place to put things away and can avoid a cluttered look.
Other simple, relatively wallet-friendly ideas include houseplants in nice planters, framed art, a temporary wallpapered accent wall, large mirrors, upgraded light fixtures, plush pillows and ultra-soft throw blankets.
Here are 25 more easy Tips to Upgrade Your Apartment.
Does living room furniture have to match?
Living room furniture doesn't have to match. While matching sets used to be the norm, contemporary arrangements often feature complementing pieces from multiple collections. For instance, you might have a white linen couch, a leather chair-and-a-half and another accent chair in a different style but with the same leather upholstery.
What are some fun conversation-piece ideas for a coffee table?
Don't leave your coffee table high and dry. When buying for your living room, look for items that could work as a centerpiece. Beyond coffee table books, you could place small plants, a short flower vase, a catch-all bowl, a wooden tray, seasonal or holiday-themed objects, small baskets, a stack of coasters, a battery-powered lantern or candles.
What necessities should you have for living room cleaning and tidying up?
When it comes to essentials for cleaning a living room, one of the best steps you can take is to create plenty of storage. That way, you'll be able to tidy up quickly when things get messy.
A cordless stick vacuum with an upholstery head can be a game-changer for regular cleanings. Other than that, you can reach for many of the basics you use to clean the rest of your home, like a mop, a broom and all-purpose cleaning spray.
Furniture, Housewares and Free Styling Consultations From Parachute
Browse the impressive selection of thoughtfully designed furniture, home accents, decorative objects and other essentials for living rooms at Parachute. If you're not sure which route to take when curating your space, a design expert is here to assist.
During your free one-on-one virtual consultation, a seasoned Parachute stylist can help you home in on an aesthetic that fits your personality. If your needs are more specific, they can also provide pointers for everything from choosing colors to layering fabrics to positioning artwork.
Schedule your complimentary design meeting today!