In A Manner Of Speaking

In A Manner Of Speaking


Living rooms can, indeed, take on distinctive moods depending on our chosen decorative treatment. 

“You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.”
(John Ford)

Rooms can speak to us. Not literally, of course, but they can communicate distinctly the intent of their owners. Living rooms, for example, are complex. They tend to be highly personal and, interestingly, have the unique ability to be able to set the tone for how they are treated. You could walk into 20 different living rooms and come away with 20 different impressions of what the room means to its family’s daily life.

Living rooms can, indeed, take on distinctive moods depending on our chosen decorative treatment. There are immensely formal rooms which shout loudly “keep your feet off the couch” and “use a coaster” and then there are delicately feminine rooms that whisper “let’s chat over a cup of tea”. There are rooms with play areas for children that proudly declare “yes, children live here!” and there are exotic spaces that state “I’ve lived an interesting life”. Some hope it says to all who enter “cosy up, take some time out and let’s enjoy each other’s company”.

I’m not talking about the current trend for applying quotes to walls here but rather a more subtle communication imparted by the elements in your living room. Colours obviously communicate mood and intent in a decorating scheme.

Blues and soft greens whisper soothing affirmations of calm and relaxation. Bright pink and orange thrown in with some dark woods give exotic messages that time spent in this room will never be dull. Rich reds and yellows speak of warmth and welcome while burgundies and deep mustards speak of opulence and luxury. A soft wash of aqua on timber or a more modern wall colour may indicate you like your decorating to stay young and fresh. The moods that colour can convey are well-documented but, all in all, if you consider how a certain colour makes you feel then it is likely to have a similar affect on others who visit.

Beyond colour, our furnishings will speak volumes as to how we want our rooms to be used. The ultimate country living space will bring together comfortable furniture and sentimental objects to invite guests to relax and linger. But formal seating arranged in rigid order, combined with highly polished surfaces and objects that look expensive and fragile may leave guests feeling somewhat ill at ease.

Soften the seating with some less-formal cushions and arrange furniture so as to invite conversation and you will be well on the way to creating a space your guests will want to spend time in. The addition of vases of big billowy rose blooms can go a long way to allay any feelings of stuffiness and by keeping expensive ornaments safely behind glass, visitors will feel far more comfortable and able to relax.

When it comes to communicating our feelings through our decorating, it is very much the sum of the parts that works to convey the message. Simple ingredients such as foot stools indicate that you can “truly relax here” and vases of flowers underline “you’re welcome”.

Easygoing rooms take their mood from all manner of ingredients, from the layers of soft furnishings to the groupings of family photos on the walls. Rugs can not only define spaces in a living room, they can add a layer of cosiness to bare timber floors and invite guests to kick off their shoes if they wish. Slipcovers may give subliminal messages that it’s OK to get comfy and that any spills or mishaps are of little consequence compared to enjoying the company of friends.

Seasonal additions include a roaring fire to welcome guests in colder months; or jugs of iced drinks and vases of spring blooms could do the same in warmer weather. Adding a throw rug on a chair in winter will convey that the comfort of your guests is important to you as will extra cushions or a side table for their beverages.

The messages conveyed by your living space can take on a very individual feel with the inclusion of personal belongings. You can convey pride in and love for your family through displays of their handicrafts or favourite photographs. You can send messages of remembrance to loved ones long gone by displaying mementoes from their lives. You can use the language of flowers to express messages of devotion, love, affection and even disinterest through bouquets. In a world where we are bombarded by verbal communication from sunrise to sundown, why not go with a more subtle approach and let your decorating speak for you? As singer Ronan Keating so eloquently put it, sometimes “you say it best when you say nothing at all”.

Stylist’s Tip

Here are four ways to convey how much you care to those who visit your living spaces.

1. Update your couch with a grouping of lush new cushions in big florals or cheery prints to add a layer of luxury to your seating.

2. Add sumptuousness and comfort to your room with luxurious fabrics in curtains and lampshades.

3. Have dimmable lighting installed so you can change a room’s mood to suit your activities.

4. Footstools and side tables are small touches that aid in creating a relaxing atmosphere.