They say you’ll spend one-third of your life — 90,000 hours, give or take — at work, which typically means an office or place away from home. But over the past few years, the home has remained the primary workplace for millions of Americans who continue to work remotely.
But this does not mean that all these people occupied a home office, bedroom or kitchen table as their work area. Research by Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery reveals the room we occupied the most in 2020 compared to previous years was the living room (chosen by 50% of respondents surveyed), with one in three Americans working remotely in their lounges completed.
Consider how formal living rooms, popular with previous generations, have practically gone the way of the dodo bird. Homeowners have had to reinvent this room time and time again over the past few years to make it more functional and valuable.
Which leads to a curious question: Is it time to rethink the purpose and appearance of your living room, which may be more in demand today than ever before?
Replacing a large couch or sectional with a desk and a love seat or scaled down chairs can be an option if you need a home office.
“Since the work-from-home evolution, with people spending so much more time at home, the living room has played a crucial role in the lives of many. It has become more than a place of relaxation; as well as ‘ a place to gather with family, it’s been used as a workplace, a classroom and even a home gym for some,” says Julee Patterson, broker/owner of a boutique real estate agency in Northern California. “Homeowners today want a large, functional space that is flexible to the needs of their families, and the living room can make that happen.”
Amy Lewicki, a home decor blogger from Portland, Maine, isn’t surprised that the living room has become the focal point of the home lately.
“People long for the feeling of togetherness,” she says. “It only makes sense that the room intended for gathering has seen a sharp rise. Friends and family members of all ages find solace in a safe environment. Living rooms allow us to engage in activities that bring our soul together or otherwise nourish, whether it’s cozying up on the couch with a loved one or a game night with the kids.”
Erin Strasen, an interior designer in New York, foresees this trend continuing indefinitely.
“I think more people will continue to work flexible hours and negotiate to work from home to reduce their commute time. Although the formal demands of our living room may diminish in the future, the multifunctional needs of this space are here to stay,” adds Strasen.
Large rooms offer a family plenty of space and design options.
For these and other reasons, it is worth paying extra attention to reinventing or at least updating this room, as needed.
“One of the easiest ways to transform a space is with a fresh coat of paint and/or with more natural light. Don’t be afraid to open the curtains and add an accent lamp if necessary,” states Lewicki in front. “Aim to improve the room’s flow as well. Ask yourself: Does the layout of your furniture make sense? We recently swapped our two large couches for two smaller loveseats and arranged them opposite each other in an L-shape, which instantly makes the room feel a lot more open.”
Finding items that feel at home in your living room but also function for your workday needs can be good investments.
“Consider using pieces that can be dual-purpose, like a coffee table that can double as a desk,” notes Patterson.
A table lamp with a fabric shade or an ergonomic desk chair upholstered in a more residential material can help you achieve that balance between work and play, advises Strasen.
With any renovation or redesign, consider your storage needs. This window seat has storage underneath.
For extra seating without sacrificing too much of your floor space, include chairs or ottomans.
“It can be easily rearranged and hidden or moved around the house if you don’t have a lot of space and still want to make the room feel big,” says Karen Gutierrez, an interior designer at Mackenzie Collier Interiors in Phoenix.
Think of useful storage options that can also quickly unfold the living room.
“Cabinets are your friend for organizing and hiding untidiness. Also, something as simple as adding baskets to throw games or toys in makes cleaning a breeze,” says Lewicki.