Defining the room's use helps in selecting furnishings, fabrics and flooring.
The living room usually is the most important room in the house from a "first impression" point of view; it's generally where we greet guests and gather with friends.
And the living room is unique from a decorating standpoint. A bedroom, for example, should have a bed in it. And a dining room requires a table and chairs in it. But the living room can be abstract in its decor.
Use of the room
Let's begin with examining the intentions we have for the use of this room. Will it be a place for gathering and entertaining? Will it be mainly a formal "front parlor"? Or will it be lived in on a daily basis?
If entertaining is the main use, then the space should be set up in a manner that is conducive to conversation, such as small seating arrangements within a space open enough for mingling. If it's to be a formal receiving room, then formal furniture with perhaps a slight air of sophistication would be appropriate. If the lived-in look is more like it, then comfortable "come-sit-on-me" type furniture is the way to go.
Answers provide ideas
Here are some questions that might help stir up the creative juices. Is the living room immediately on view to guests or is there a hall or foyer blocking it? If immediately visible, then a neat, orderly look is necessary, and this look can fit into any of the above scenarios, i.e., formal or livable.
Another question is the traffic pattern or flow. Is this room the main street to all other rooms? If it is, then be sure the floor covering is durable and doesn't show wear. Be sure, too, that the furnishings are clear of the "runway" so hips, shins and furniture as well stay clear of bumps.
If the room is mainly for entertaining, then the question to ask is how does your family entertain -- formal, casual, come-as-you-are? The seating arrangements as well as the furnishings should reflect this attitude.
Personality is the main ingredient to the living room ... or for any room in the house, for that matter. The room should have a purpose and that purpose should be reflected in the decor.