I've never thought about the importance of the size and dimensions of a common or living room, but I realize (very much) now that having enough space is crucial.
My apartment is a fraction of the size it was meant to be. It sits above a main street business and the apartment was originally designed to occupy the entire second floor, which included a gigantic kitchen, front living area that looked out onto the street, two bedrooms, bathroom, and a screen porch in the back.
Since then, the living room and a chunk of the kitchen were separated by a wall and allocated to the business as a gallery/studio/meeting area. One of the bedrooms became the current living room, out of which the "front door" leads downstairs to the business. For me, it has proven extremely challenging to make a bedroom-sized living room feel comfortable, especially when it is used as a thoroughfare from the door to the kitchen.
The other problem is that I hardly ever use the room. It's called a living room, but it's mostly dead space. It serves as storage for my vast quantities of books, magazines and record albums, and a depository for random furniture that doesn't quite fit anywhere else. I have mad love for a pair of lucite chairs that I found at an antique mall in Waterloo, Wisconsin a couple of years ago, and though they are an odd addition to a living room, they are pretty much an odd addition wherever they go.
I have a TV, but it isn't hooked up to an antenna or a box, so it is used specifically to watch movies, and even that happens maybe once a week at most. Essentially, the room is a glorified hallway/storage space. The main problem is that I throw junk in there because I never go in it, but there is a giant open doorway leading from the kitchen (where I spend almost all my time) into the room, so no matter how untidy and ugly it looks, I have to look at it all the time.
Note the exploded, "unpacked" suitcase from a vacation to Europe two months ago. Stacks of books. Shoes. Bags of yarn and unfinished knitting projects. Random painting I did in college... And Porter, feeling the pain.
This is how we feel about dirty rooms and having to clean them. My cat, Porter says, "Whyyy do you put me through it. Why."
All those books were giving me a headache. And Porter is still exasperated.
I decided that I had to do something. For one, the rug was disgusting. It hadn't been properly brushed/cleaned in over a year, and you don't want to know the amount of accumulated cat/chinchilla fur that managed to get in it. I'm just going to say that I now have a designated rug brush and will be brushing regularly from here on out. Lesson learned.
Also, it's worth noting that I hadn't a penny to spare to buy new shelving or wall art or anything like that. So I essentially rearranged and borrowed items from other rooms to revamp. There is one wall by the record player that could really use a floating shelf, but other than that, a couple hours of cleaning, organizing, and rearranging really made a difference.
Nice clean rug! Polaroid cameras and picture frames on the table instead of stacks and stacks of miscellaneous books. The rug is turned at an angle to complement, as you will see, the angle of the bookcase. The little black chair that held the exploded suitcase is gone (reclaimed by its rightful owner, my sister) and replaced by one of my lucite lovelies. Porter still seems exasperated, though this time with me moving things around, I'm sure. And it was hot.
The Hokusai wave is a little high, but my "Nothing is Black and White" painting sits by the front door now, and the stereo has been moved into the corner rather than sitting along the wall. Check out my sweet homemade Slinky lamp also. ;)
The bookcase (I color-coordinated the books! See what I did there!?) and my album covers in something of a media corner, although forget I used the phrase "media corner."
This is taken standing right inside the front door. I think the suitcases add a little something extra, if purely decorative, so that when entering through the door, one doesn't just see an ugly chair back.
I'm really happy with the feel of the room now. I've got a paint swatch stuck in the window frame in a yellow hue -- I'm trying to decide if I'd like a light yellow wall in here. Until then, at least it's inhabitable, and I enjoy looking at it so much that I might even choose to live in my living room from time to time now...