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Expert Interview | Living Room Styling Tips with Zoe Gilpin (The DIY Decorator)

Known for her affordable home decorating, Zoe Gilpin, a.k.a The DIY Decorator is a Perth-based qualified interior decorator. She has worked as a visual merchandiser, property stylist, and product stylist over the years. Zoe owns and operates The DIY Decorator, an e-design decorating studio, where she shares her knowledge and love for decorating on a budget. From online consultations to inspirational mood boards, Zoe offers her industry expertise and a keen eye for bargains to help and inspire clients to decorate on a budget.


Living Room Styling Tips with Zoe Gilpin from The DIY Decorator.


The living room is our most used room in the home. It’s not only a place to relax but also where we gather and connect. So, it’s important that not only is it a comfortable and functional space but one that looks great as well. Even though each living room in each individual house is different, there are some key decorating tips to keep in mind that can help you create a homely and inspiring space.


Mood board design by The DIY Decorator.


Above is a living room mood board I created using items from popular furniture and homeware retailer, Interior Secrets. An example of what furniture pieces to use, from coffee tables to entertainment units and seating, it shows the key pieces often required for this room to make it both a functional and attractive space.



A mistake often made in homes is having the incorrect amount of furnishings or the wrong sized pieces within a room. Using too many items in a smaller space or not enough in a larger one instantly unbalances the room’s proportions, which can result in it not looking or feeling right. Use smaller sized furniture and not too many pieces in a smaller space. And for a larger one, select larger sized pieces that fill the space rather than get lost in it.


Denmark 3 Seater Sofa - Light Grey | Ivan Marble Coffee Table | Alto Entertainment TV Unit | Linear Portrait Night 2 Wall Art.


A common problem that people have is not knowing how to arrange their living room furniture.  Furniture doesn’t just need to be pushed up against the walls of a room; furniture should be positioned facing a focal point. In the past, furnishings were usually directed to a focal point of a room, which was the fireplace. These days the focal point is generally a TV. So, the seating should be arranged in the best position to the TV for comfortable viewing. If you don’t have a TV in the space, create a focal point using an item, such as large artwork, to direct the seating towards it instead. Also, think about positioning furnishings so that they create conversation areas. Consider the traffic flow in the room too, and position the furniture so that they are easy to walk between and are not in the way.


Phoenix Reclaimed Entertainment Unit | Canova Coffee Table | Vera Chaise Sofa | Faded Hillside Wall Art | Casa Designer Diamond Rug - Blue.


In modern times, there are two main pieces to focus on when decorating a living room: the seating and entertainment unit. These are the pieces that we need in the room to make it functional. After including the main furniture pieces in the space, everything else added in can work around them. If there is room, add in items such as a coffee or side table. When it comes to choosing matching furniture pieces or not, I don’t think it’s a must. As long as the pieces are of similar style, they can work nicely together even if they aren’t from the same matching range.


If you don’t have wall space to hang art or wall decor, or perhaps you are renting and can’t hang items at all, use pieces such a floor lamp and tall plants to add some height and interest instead. When it comes to adding decorative pieces to your living room, remember that they are simply the items to complement your furnishings, not take over and distract from them. Adding just a few items on top of a piece such as a coffee table or console table is all you need to give that stylish look without creating a cluttered or over-decorated space.



Robin Marble Coffee Table | Troy Right Chaise Sofa | Alicia Side Table - Black | Vogue Grey Rug.


If you struggle with setting a colour or style theme for your living room, start with adding larger items such as art or a floor rug. From those pieces, pull the tones, textures and patterns from them to decide on what soft furnishing and homeware items to use. Repeating colour and texture within a room is a great way to help it flow while feeling homely and inviting. Choose your decor items depending on the size of the room and use what the space needs, remembering the important decorating rule: sometimes less is more.


My biggest tip when styling your living room, or any room in your home really, is to plan first. Like everything in life, planning ahead can save both time and money by saving us from purchasing the wrong item too many items. Using the above tips, arrange and style your living area so that it’s both a practical and attractive room. But most importantly, remember to use items that you love and ones that reflect you and your family to make it an enjoyable space and the heart of your home.