How to Turn Your Living Room Into a Luxurious Space to Entertain

Courtesy Jenny Wolf Interiors

From furniture and tech upgrades to design insights from NYC interiors expert Jenny Wolf. 

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Redecorating your living room, whether you’re doing a light refresh, or a complete overhaul to accommodate a home theater setup and a section for games, requires planning, new pieces, and a design vision. Because the living room is one of the main points of focus in any household, not to mention one of the biggest rooms in most houses, it’s hard to know where to begin when refreshing the space. To share living room design ideas, and walk us through every step of a refresh, we tapped Jenny Wolf, who is the New York City design guru behind the up-and-coming Hudson Valley shop, The Huntress, and the recent redesign of White Barn Inn, Auberge Resorts Collection, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property. When they’re not revamping luxury hotels and curating retail shop design, Jenny Wolf Interiors works with residential clients across the country to conduct design refreshes. Here, Wolf shared the insight she’s garnered from her most recent décor projects and her method for approaching a living room redesign. Based on Wolf’s advice, we’ve also searched for this year’s hottest modern living room furniture and living room inspiration to guide your refresh. 

Easy Living Room Upgrades That Add a More Luxurious Feel


Courtesy Jenny Wolf Interiors

Start by Painting

“The easiest way to transition a room that you’ve lived in for years would probably be to paint. Paint can do wonders,” said Wolf. When she refreshed White Barn Inn, Auberge Resorts Collection, painting was her very first task, and she recommends starting with paint as a way to neutralize a room. Wolf is partial to a rich neutral-colored wall, set off by a deeper-colored trim. At White Barn Inn, she took a burgundy room and “neutralized it with paint,” but made the new white walls pop with a dark blue trim. 

Related: The Best Colors for a Kitchen Refresh

Add Color With “Soft Goods”

The accents of the room—i.e., pillows, rugs, and window treatments—are how Wolf likes to apply color to a space. She also sees these “soft goods” as one of the easiest ways to refresh a space because “you’re easily able to swap them out in five years, and then you don’t have to redo everything.” Wolf’s advice is to “pick more neutralized basics for the upholstery in your sofas and chairs so that you can transition to new fabrics in the ‘soft goods.’” 

Styling Your New (and Old) Furniture


Courtesy White Barn Inn

Start With the Floor Plan

“I always start with the floor plan,” explained Wolf. “First and foremost, the seating situation. How many people do you want to accommodate? When [you’re] trying to figure out how to orient a room, you have to think about what we’re doing in this room. Are we watching television? Are we sitting by the fireplace?’ And then I work the floor plan around what the central focus might be.”

Wolf advocates for—before you pick up a paint brush or order a new sofa—defining the space and establishing your goals. Consider how many people you’d host when entertaining, and of course, how many people use your living room on a daily basis. “If you have 10 people you want to seat comfortably, you might want to look at two sofas, or one large sofa and four additional chairs, just so everyone has a comfortable place to sit,” she said. “And then you’ll obviously want to have a large coffee table and side tables so people can put their drinks down—you want to make sure you have enough surface[s].”

Edit Your Furniture and Art

Once you’ve finished with the floor plan, it’s time to make furniture decisions in terms of bringing in new pieces and figuring out how your current furniture can best serve you. Wolf likes to start with “editing” her furniture and art. “Take away the things that don’t bring you happiness or ‘spark joy.’ It’s not an exercise just for your closet.”

Related: The Most Iconic Pieces of Furniture Ever Created, According to Interior Designers

Purchasing New Furniture

As Wolf put it, “If you’re going to purchase items, it needs to be furniture that connects the pieces you love and the edits you’ve made.” She again encouraged redecorators to consider, “How are you using the space? What’s important? Do you want to drink tea by the fire, do you want to play games? If so, we’ve got to get a game table.”

Beyond a coffee table and side tables, couches, and additional seating, Wolf recommended a “banquette moment,” because “it allows for additional seating and another usage of the room.” She also said, “Where we can tuck a little game table in the corner, we do—especially if you live in a big country house, it’s nice to have that—be by the fireplace and have that family moment that’s away from technology.”

Sofas and Additional Chairs

Coffee Tables and Side Tables

Banquettes

Integrating Tech Into Your Living Room


Courtesy White Barn Inn

The final element, after editing your furniture, and expanding your living room entertainment area to include, perhaps, a game area, additional seating, and a new color palette, is to incorporate tech—audio, television, and potentially gaming tech—into the space. From an audio standpoint, Wolf said, “I love Sonos because it’s not something that is fully integrated into the room”—she prefers to have the liberty to move speakers around, which is the advantage of the detached Sonos. When it comes to the television, she advocated for a “behind-the-cabinet situation” such that your family and guests can enjoy a bigger TV but hide it away when you want to curate a more technology-free environment. 

“All our senses have to be hit when we’re designing a space,” said Wolf. “The sound, the lighting, the smell.”

Technology and Entertainment Systems