Informal Sitting Room Design Inspiration

When Ryan and I purchased our house and started to renovate it, we knew that we didn’t want any room to feel too formal. We are about the furthest thing from formal, especially around the house (you’re looking at two people that sometimes are in their sweatpants by 5 p.m.). Sure, I enjoy my fair share of etiquette and of course I want my house to be clean and look nice, but I never ever want the rooms to feel stuffy or unwelcoming to guests.

So, you can imagine my dilemma that we bought a house with what most would consider a formal living room area.

sitting room with four chairs
Photo via

If you recall from our house tour and other recent home posts, the formal living area is one big room that is attached to and flows right into the dining room. I adore the large window that opens up to the front of the house, which brings in a ridiculous amount of natural light that makes the room feel light and airy, and the tall cathedral ceiling makes the room seem bigger than it actually is and adds just the right amount of drama for my taste; however, both of these details can make it seem too formal if furnished and decorated wrong.

Given that the house that I grew up in had a formal living room with furniture that the dog wasn’t allowed on and most people didn’t even go into because it was considered off-limits, I had this idea in my head that this type of room had to have fancy-patterned furniture and a loveseat or two to allow for more seating. But, what’s the point in that if nobody ever sits in there anyways?

sitting room with four chairs
Photo via

Thanks to Pinterest, (you can check out my sitting room board here), enter my new-way concept of tackling this room – the informal sitting room. I adore the idea of three or four chairs grouped in a circle to allow for every person to have their own place to sit and to encourage conversation with one another. I also like that the space between the chairs will maintain the openness and flow of the room to and from the dining room instead of a couch or loveseat that would visually block off one room from the other.

While we’re waiting to make any purchases until after the new flooring is installed, I already have a good idea of what I want to buy for this space. For chairs, we are going to go with the IKEA Ektorp Jennylund chairs. Not only are they affordable and fit our space well based on the dimensions, they also are extremely comfortable – I tested them out when I was at IKEA with my mom back in April, and I was pleasantly surprised! This chair comes with quite a few options for slipcovers, so we are going to stick with the beige color so it compliments the off-white color of our dining table.

sitting room with four chairs
Photo via

I also am lucky enough to be inheriting my grandma’s large china hutch/cabinet, and just like in all these inspiration photos I plan to put that piece in this room and either put dishes on display or more general types of decor (books, etc.). The cabinet currently is a dark wood, so I’m hoping to refinish it in black chalk paint (I want to give this stuff a try) with either white or a soft gray on the inside to make whatever is on display really pop.

I’m still searching for some of the smaller pieces, such as a round coffee table (or maybe ottoman?), lamp(s), a rug and wall decor. If you’ve recently decorated a sitting room/living room or know of any great inspiration sites, please send them my way. I’m looking for all the help that I can get!

On a side note, I want to send a huge thanks to everybody that took the time to fill out yesterday’s reader survey. I appreciate the feedback and comments. If you haven’t yet had the chance, be sure to fill out the survey so I can share the content and topics that you want to see!

Leave a Comment


  1. 5.25.16

    so i missed the survey, i’m sorry! but i love the idea of a more informal sitting room. honestly, if it were me, because i’m super selfish.. i’d turn it into a library. haha.

  2. 5.24.16
    Nadia said:

    I love how you plan on using this space to keep it warm and inviting! I can picture it being such a great place for a sitting room because your windows are so pretty and let in so much beautiful light!

  3. 5.19.16

    I can’t wait to see what you end up doing, I love this idea of a more informal living room! Xo, Stephanie

  4. 5.12.16

    You have done such a beautiful job with all your other projects (can’t wait to see the kitchen btw) so I know this room will be just as lovely when completed!

  5. 5.12.16
    Biana Perez said:

    These all look so inviting and family like!! I totally get right into comfy clothes when I get home -like I can’t get in them fast enough lol! xo, Biana –BlovedBoston

  6. 5.12.16

    Love the idea of nothing being TOO formal- and your sitting room inspo is spot on!

    Le Stylo Rouge

  7. 5.12.16
    Ashley said:

    Oh my gosh these rooms are all so beautiful! I love lived in rooms that are warm and inviting. Nothing too formal for us either!

  8. 5.11.16

    If I am home for longer than 30 minutes I’m in comfy clothes, usually sweats! I love all your inspiration photos! We inherited a china hutch also that I keep saying I’m going to redo. Good luck with yours!

  9. 5.11.16
    Christina Sotherden said:

    Okay, I love all of these! This will be a great space for guests to mingle.

    Oh and… already in my sweats 🙂 haha – we always are too if home!

    • 5.11.16

      Thanks, girl! I always want to encourage conversation and coziness, so I’m hoping this space does just that. Oh, and I’ve been in my sweats since like 4, lol. 🙂

  10. 5.11.16

    My grandparents have a formal living room at their house too, and I remember always being scared to go in there! I love your idea for having an open place that encourages conversation, and I can’t wait to see the final product!

  11. 5.11.16

    Love your inspiration photos! What a great alternative to the formal sitting room idea that no one utilizes!

  12. 5.11.16
    Jenn said:

    These are all awesome inspiration photos! Whenever I want to re-do a room I’m all over PInterest and Houzz. I think I like the first and second photos best!

  13. 5.11.16
    makeupHER said:

    Love all your inspiration, having a big window makes a huge difference in getting plenty of natural sunlight! I love how bright and light the second picture is!

  14. 5.11.16
    Tamara said:

    They’re all so pretty!


    Tamara –

  15. 5.11.16

    So much beautiful inspiration, and yay for inheriting your grandmother’s china hutch! Can’t wait to see it all come together <3
    Green Fashionista

  16. 5.11.16
    Darcy from A Memory of Us said:

    Such beautiful spaces! Love the second one, especially.

  17. 5.11.16
    Debra Stachelski said:

    Love all the inspiration pics here, absolutely the best way to go for your living room space! I agree it’s a shame to have a room that isn’t usable, I may just have to address that in our own living room someday. I know how much you like the furniture in there, haha!

  18. 5.11.16

    Beautiful inspiration pics! I love your idea of having a grouping of three or four chairs together. Can’t wait to see what you do.

  19. 5.11.16

    Amazing inspiration! I love all the light.

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

  20. 5.11.16

    Love your ideas! My parents also had a fancy sitting room that no one ever went into! ha! Such a waste of space! I think making it a more livable space makes sense. I know some people that turn that room into a first floor office or like a cocktail area. I don’t have any other good advice… I confess that ours has turned into a playroom :/

    • 5.11.16

      If there was more separate between the rooms and/or an easier way to put up doors, we probably would’ve made it a front office. But since it’s the main room right off the front door, we couldn’t really do that. Hopefully this will be a comfortable alternative, though!

  21. 5.11.16

    I love this look! And totally wish I would have found that chair before we bought our nursery glider – it looks exactly the same for a fraction of the price! Can’t wait to see it all come together.

  22. 5.11.16

    Love all of these! That second photo is my favorite – I love a good fireplace!

    Southern Style