You don't have to have gone to college to study interior decorating to make your living room look good, it's simply a case of finding some good tips and ideas, look in magazines, ask friends, or go online and check out the many home decorating websites.

Most homeowners want their living room to look homely and comfortable as they spend a lot of time here and it's commonly an area of relaxation. There are some fundamental design principles to consider before you start, add a few tricks of the trade to the mixture and you'll soon have an area that's inviting and looks amazing.

The first thing to do to make the task easier is empty the contents from it as much as you can, then you are starting with an empty space and can look at the area with a fresh view without all the old furniture getting in the way and affecting decisions.

Launch yourself into the decorating project with a plain canvas and you'll find it much simpler to decorate in a new fashion, whether this is one that's retro or traditional, modern or shabby chic or any other kind of style you come up with. Remember that you will be the one spending time there not anyone else, so make it to suit your own tastes and don't worry about what other people will think of your choices.

You don't need to get in the professionals to paint your living room, just take some care and attention and you should be able to do the job perfectly well, if you're really not up to it then search for a local handyman or ask a friend or neighbour if they'd like the extra work. Go for a bold colour on one of the walls only as this will create a stunning effect and still make the room livable, you don't want too much drama in the family room as there is likely going to be enough of that anyway over the years! The colour scheme should be coordinated to fit in with your other living room furniture too, such as the sofa or the carpet, or any art you might want placed on the walls.

More and more popular these days is to install patio doors so the room can be extended out into the garden, if you have a budget then this might simply be impossible at this time, but if you do have a nice garden then it's worth thinking about for the future. Plants also look nice in the corner of the room or placed on coffee tables and help cleanse the air too with no need for artificial fresheners which can be foul smelling and unhealthy for the atmosphere.

Lighting is a straightforward way to modernize the look of your space. Overhead lighting can be harsh and bright, not conducive to snuggling on the sofa with your better half or watching a movie. Use lamps and track lighting instead to create mood and atmosphere. Lamps next to armchairs on the sideboards are handy if you want to read without disturbing the others in the room.

As a final point, bear in mind that you don't have to do the whole lot immediately, begin with the painting or wallpapering to start with and replace the furniture as you find items you like and can afford them. Accessories and other decorations can be added at any time, what really makes a living room special is when it has obviously had a lot of thought put into it, anyone can go out and buy a whole living room set in one go if they have the funds but where is the fun in that? What will make your room special is a unique look and an individual touch.