The hard working communal spaces in a family home call for design and furnishings that can hold up to both sustained use and a timeless style. We investigate how to make the communal living areas work harder in your home with some help from designer Swee Lim.
Family living spaces look very different from one home to another. You might be spoilt for space or trying to maximise what little you have, you might have a combined kitchen/dining area or have a few seperated communal spaces. Whatever your home looks like, the living areas are likely its beating heart – and with that comes heavy family traffic and the need for hardworking furnishings.
Having explored King Living’s dependable and stylish collections for family living in the past, this time we took it a step further, taking over the Canny Home in Brighton to create a series of spaces that reflect contemporary family living. Leading these spaces was Interior Designer and Art Consultant Swee Lim of Swee Design, who as a mum herself knew the importance of a product selection that was not only sophisticated but sensible.
“Wanting to create light, spacious living spaces, I sought furniture that accentuates these qualities – airy, fine, elevated – to ensure a sense of space” Swee tells us. “The sofa, the cornerstone of every living room, is relaxed but also refined, and sits comfortably alongside simple but elegant armchairs. Key materials such as neutral fabric, and accents such as white marble and dark timber legs tie it all together.” To help tie the spaces together and add subtle visual consistency, Swee selected a timber dining setting, complementing the dark timber joinery throughout.
“Start by building great ‘bones’ for your home in terms of the base pieces of furniture. You can then layer this up with items such as feature armchairs and floor lamps with a great shape to create points of interest in living spaces.”
– Swee Lim, Swee Design
By beginning with the base pieces of furniture – sofa, armchairs, dining sitting – Swee built a strong foundation to layer in personality and dynamic. “Art, accessories and soft furnishing such as cushions and throws add colour, texture and interest” Swee says, highlighting the difference the right piece of artwork can make in elevating the “base” pieces in a space. “Accent colours in soft furnishings, patterns in cushions and rugs, and a mix of natural materials such as leather, timber and marble create a richly layered look for relaxed family living.”
While Swee chose to celebrate and softly contrast the deep tones and rich materials already evident in the Canny home, her thinking can be readily applied to any kind of space – just look to source the best ‘bones’ for your home in terms of the base pieces of furniture and build from there.
For those looking to start their own living room design (or redesign), Swee advises to begin by deciding on a palette for the materials and upholstery, followed by the base furniture selection and then adding texture and visual dynamic. Swee chose a natural palette of off whites, soft greys and sand for these spaces, describing it as “a great base for creating spaces which are classic and timeless”. While you might be lured in by trending colours or popular statement styles, Swee advises to keep a living area palette timeless and trusted. “Having a neutral base palette in the key furniture items allows you to refresh, or even completely change the look and mood of a space by adding colour through smaller furniture items, part and accessories” she says. This builds flexibility into the spaces, allowing you to refresh your look without starting all over again.
Creating comfortable spaces for the family to curl up together, chat over dinner or spread out to ‘do their thing’ without causing clutter was top of mind for Swee in both the indoor and outdoor living spaces. In every space, pieces that are dependable and functional while showcasing a timeless, neutral style will always endure. Here’s hoping these spaces inspire an interior overhaul of your very own.