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The Insider: How to create a lovely living-room

While compiling last week's Insider on 1970s style, I received an apt charity-shop gift from my nice neighbour: Rooms for Living, a 1976 Design Council paperback on the sitting-room. Despite its use of sunken sofas and giant toadstools, the brilliant tips are timeless. As the book is out of print, I'll share some here...

The lived-in look

"Create a room without living in it first and you will constantly bang shins on that table which, when the room was planned, seemed to be in just the right place."

Space odyssey

Build a gallery in high-ceilinged living rooms, to add a separate relaxation area/spare bedroom. It could even be a temporary structure, "made from painted scaffolding". Clever – and that industrial look is right back in fashion.

Something old, something new

"Plain, simple modern furniture and blinds instead of curtains, can reveal the shape and character of a Victorian room, while boxy modern rooms often need a beautiful piece of old furniture for character."

Don't look back

If a kitchen nook or a cluttered work alcove in a white living-room is painted a bright colour, "the eye will notice the colour not the clutter".


"The harsh light from a high, central ceiling pendant neither selects good points nor disguises bad ones." Stuck with one? "Use a cord-deflector and longer flex to take it over a coffee or dining table." (Try historiclighting.co.uk.)

Out with the in crowd

Beyond everything else, forgo fashion: "To live with a style with which you are not completely in sympathy is to place continual strain on every aspect of life at home." Hear, hear.

Find Kate's blog on affordable interiors at yourhomeislovely.com