In the fast-paced and competitive world of interior design, there is little margin for error. Every designer faces the challenge of finding good clients and then satisfying their exacting standards often with tight budgets and limited time frames. 

Successful living room design, in particular, poses several challenges, being both a personal space and the focal point of a home. To create a room that is beautiful, practical, perfect for the unique needs of the family, and still suitable for entertaining requires no small amount of skill.

What are some of the challenges that interior designers face when tackling a living room design for a client?

Living Room Design Challenges

Most designers agree that the most important part of their business is managing client expectations. Champagne taste on beer money is a common problem, with clients wanting all the bells and whistles minus the price tag. 

Others have entirely unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved in the limited space they have available. 

We’ve curated some of the biggest bugbears (with a couple of ideas of our own) to assist designers on their path to the perfect living room.  

The right sofa

Often the focal point in a room, the choice of sofa will likely be the starting point for a design. 

Trying to find something “off the shelf” which is the right height, depth, length, colour, and fabric can be nigh on impossible. Yet, this is a part of your design where you simply can’t cut corners or make do. 

Many interior designers choose to arrange custom-made living room furniture for their clients when this is the case. A made-to-measure sofa offers the benefit of getting exactly what you want, in the right size, colour, and design. 

Additional benefits include a long-lasting and top-quality product, two aspects that never go out of style.

Houzz comments on living room furniture in small spaces. They say, “When space is at a premium, small sofas, love seats, chaises and chairs work best. They fulfil function while being visually light and giving the living room a look of spaciousness. Visual bulk can be further reduced by having low-height sofas, furniture with thin legs, a centre table with a clear glass top and other such choices. Finally, sufficient lighting, underplayed hues and sleek textures can help you build the decor of your small living space.”

Custom sofas are also the best design solution when you’re working with awkward spaces. For example, some older homes may have charming features such as low or sloping ceilings or angled walls. Likewise, lofts or repurposed commercial buildings offer beautiful but problematic rooms.  

Certainly, the right custom sofa can make the difference between a great design and an unsatisfied client.

Storage space

Most people suffer at some point from the perpetual misery of insufficient storage, especially when they have large families. 

Too much “stuff” can quickly make even the best design look cluttered and take away from the magic that we are looking for.  In a living room, we want to ensure that what the client needs is easily accessible without compromising the design. 

Built-in wall units are an excellent way to keep possessions, ornaments, or photos visible yet contained. For a lighter, minimalistic look, closed storage containers, drawers, or ottomans are a great option. These are easy on the eye being sleek and simple, but still enormously convenient.

Side tables with doors or shelves are another useful and practical way to keep clutter to a minimum whilst still enjoying a user-friendly living room. Baskets, vintage suitcases or trunks, and ladder-style shelving are also gorgeous ways to add interest and storage. 

Ideal Home says, “It’s even more important to keep on top of storage solutions when space is premium. The last thing a small living room needs is to be overwhelmed with clutter. The key to getting living room storage spot on is choosing pieces that offer as much multipurpose storage potential as possible.” 

Multiple focal points

It’s always great to have options when designing the best living room for a client, but sometimes, too much choice can be a bad thing. 

We understand the concept of a focal point in a room such as a beautiful fireplace, a stunning picture window, or a feature wall. 

What, though, if a room has all of these? 

Suzy Worthing, designer, and blogger has a few practical ideas for this common issue. 

“Choose the element you most want to draw attention to. Take steps to draw the eye, arranging furniture so that the largest pieces are facing the main focal point.

“De-emphasise secondary focal points by toning them down, softening them with the use of paler colours, simpler patterns or smoother textures. 

“Create multiple groups of furniture within the room. Use the largest pieces around the main focal point.  Use fewer and smaller pieces grouped together at or near the secondary focal point.”

Useful and valuable points to note. 


A budget is certainly one of the first things that will be discussed and agreed upon when overhauling a living room. However, because this room must serve so many functions, time and costs can quickly run away from you. 

Defining what’s on the client’s wish list as compared to their budget is an important conversation to have, as is determining their priorities. 

Priorities in living room design will almost certainly include furniture, as confirmed by design consultant Alicia Lund

“Save on the trendier pieces and splurge on the everyday furniture (i.e.: couch). I say get the pieces that make you happy, but this is an area to save.  

“Instead splurge on your couch–a piece that the room is most likely centred around and where you will spend most of your lounge time.  And make your furniture feel fresh again for the new seasons with pillows.”

Interior designer Lucie Ayres of 22 Interiors adds a couple more excellent tips.

"Create a spreadsheet and prioritize the 'must-have' items, like the sofa that is an investment or the chandelier you've been coveting, and then work around that. And be sure to put in a contingency line item in for those amazing finds or extras you forgot about (rug pads, storage baskets, or vases for the console table)."

In Summary 


While we all love great design and personalized spaces, we do have to consider how we invest our hard-earned cash.

A good designer will be sure to channel their solutions towards quality pieces with one eye on the future. Investing in costly wallpapers or bespoke flooring, for example, may produce a stunning living room, but the investment will be lost once you move to a new house.  

However, custom sofas, vintage pieces, beautiful art, and personal accessories will instantly create a unique space in your new home.  

If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind sofa to suit your exacting needs, please give us a call on 03300 564 111. We have a massive range of styles and fabrics to create the unique piece that you want.