The living room has replaced the kitchen as the heart of UK homes but we’re not relaxing on three piece suites anymore, and now we’re working in this space too!
Today, John Lewis & Partners has published a report entitled "The Things We Do In Our Living Rooms (and the things we wish we didn't)", which reveals how we live in our living rooms is changing, what we call this communal space at the heart of British homes, and what we’re buying and no longer buying to furnish it.
Insight from 3,409 shoppers has revealed that over half of those asked spend the most waking time in this room - nearly twice as many as spend the longest in their kitchens.
While TV remains the main activity done in this room with 96%, of those surveyed, having done so in the past month, this room now has more purposes than ever before. Research uncovered a list of 25 activities which shoppers had done in their living rooms in the past month which included: sleeping (68%), entertaining (63%), ironing (27%), nail painting (21%), working (19%), dancing (19%), changing outfits (13%), exercising (12%), applying makeup (9%), meditation (6%) and making cocktails (5%).
Half of the UK workforce is set to work remotely by 2020 and this trend is already putting our living room spaces under a lot of pressure to perform. Almost one in five (19%) said they had worked from their living space in the past month, with this figure rising to nearly one third (30%) of those with families. Even those who aren’t doing paid work in this room are working in this space with two-thirds having done life admin in this room in the past month.
In response to this, John Lewis & Partners has seen a shift in demand away from traditional desks with lots of storage in favour of more style-led pieces, with sales of this type of desk up 80% year on year. There has also been a huge growth in office chairs which have a softer more homely feel rather than technical ones. Sales of these chairs with wood rather than metal legs, and fabric rather than plastic or mesh seats are up 125% year on year, as people look to create office spaces which blend in so they can forget them when they’re not working.
Nearly one third said they now do things in their living rooms that they wouldn’t have done five years ago. Around one in five (19%) said they had started eating in theirs, while 15% said they are now more likely to have a nap in this space, and 5% said they would now bring a duvet in to snuggle up on the sofa.
Pip Prinsloo, Partner and Head of Design for Home commented: “We’re wanting more from our living rooms than ever before and the changes in how we live are strikingly visible in this space. From reflecting our personalities, being a space to work, exercise and much more our living rooms have never been quite so alive, flexible and unique.”
What we’re buying and not buying for our living rooms:
Johnathan Marsh, Partner and Home Buying Director said: “When it comes to decorating our living rooms around half of shoppers (48%) who are planning to re-decorate this year expect to be bolder in their choices. Over the past year nearly one third of customers have bought brass, copper, velvet or marble items for their living rooms, and pink is replacing grey as the new neutral colour to decorate with.
“Demand for three piece suites has all but diminished and been replaced by statement sofas and accent chairs which enable us to express our personal styles. Sales of modular sofas are up, as they’re perfect for open plan spaces that have been the biggest architectural change in this space in recent times.
“When it comes to accessories, households are adopting the US trend for gallery walls but we’re not making galleries with clip frames, which have dropped so much in popularity that we will stop selling them this year.
“Customers are choosing round mirrors over rectangular ones, and opting for the latest tech. Sales of smart speakers are up 35% year on year but mantel clocks are down by 30%. Sales of curtain tie backs are down 20% on last year, as customers opt for smart blinds and wave headed curtains.”
What we call this room:
It’s a room with many purposes and almost as many names. The younger you are the more likely you are to call it the ‘living room’ as two thirds of millennials do. The older you are, the more likely you are to call it the sitting room. Those who are middle-aged (35-54 years) are most likely to call it the lounge.
Despite TV watching being the activity nearly all of us do in this space, only 1% of those asked call it the TV room, and just as few call it the drawing room.
What we want to do less of in our living rooms:
Everyone asked had one living room habit they wanted to change. Two-fifths want to eat less on their laps, or while watching TV. Nearly one fifth want to do less ironing in their living rooms and nearly as many want to get out of the habit of answering their phone while eating or watching TV. One in seven want it to be used less as a playroom and one in ten wish they watched less TV.
Living Room Installation
At their flagship shop on Oxford Street, John Lewis & Partners has created an interactive installation called ‘In Residence With…’ which showcases five different living room spaces. Five experts - Director of The Geffrye Museum of the Home, Sonia Solicari, Artist Morag Myerscough, TV Presenter, AJ Odudu, Editor of Happy News, Emily Coxhead and John Lewis Partner and Home Design Stylist, Jacqueline Dalgarno have each added their unique touch to one of the five living rooms and will be hosting a series of events and workshops in the space from 18 March.