In the contemporary home, the living room serves as a multi-functional space where technology and comfort converge. As lifestyles become increasingly integrated with technology, the need for a thoughtful electrical setup has never been more critical.

This article explores how to best accommodate the intricate web of devices in three typical living room scenarios: creating a room from scratch, designing an extension and adapting an existing setup. 

Designing from scratch

When you have the luxury of designing your living room from the ground up, it presents an optimal scenario for creating an efficient plug socket system. Think comprehensively about the appliances commonly used in a modern living room: televisions, sound systems, gaming consoles, laptops, phone chargers, lamps, heating panels and potentially hobby-specific equipment like aquariums or crafting tools.

But don’t forget those other essentials, like vacuum cleaners, irons, hairdryers, reclining chairs, foot massagers and any medical needs you might have. We all have different lifestyles, so make sure you have a good think about how you live.

It’s also worth future-proofing when it comes to living room electrics. It’s likely that future needs will exceed current ones, so perhaps plan in a few extras, or go for a three- or four-gang socket where you’d normally choose a double socket. Also consider USB sockets. If you charge your phone or tablet while you’re sitting on the sofa, you can free up a socket if you get a front plate with USB slots. Even if this doesn’t fit your lifestyle, it might be a selling point when you plan to move house.

You can save a few pounds by having inexpensive plastic sockets in hidden areas, such as behind furniture or on the far side of a chimney breast. Where they’re more visible, you can have feature sockets like brushed metal or brass effect, or something to match the light switches.

Best practices

  • Television and audio equipment: Place sockets directly behind where your TV will mount or stand. This hides wires and makes access easier for auxiliary devices like games consoles and soundbars.
  • Charging stations: Consider including USB ports within wall sockets near seating areas for easy phone and laptop charging. A mix of standard plug sockets and USB-equipped ones ensures all device types are catered for. It’s always handy to have some USB sockets for guests, as well. 
  • Flexible lighting: Add sockets in various parts of the room to accommodate standing lamps or string lights that can alter mood lighting without permanent fixtures.
  • Peripheral devices: Ensure extra sockets are placed discreetly behind furniture for devices that require continuous power like routers, home hubs or clocks.

Expanding your room

When enlarging your living area – be it through an extension or by knocking a wall through – reassess your electrical needs to match this new space’s potential. It’s likely that existing socket layouts will not match the new plans you have for furniture placement or utility.

Be prepared to completely rethink the locations of sockets, and not just make do to save a bit of time and money. You’ll certainly regret it if you spend a small fortune on a new living room but find you have to run an extension cable across the floor to use your laptop.

Best practices

  • Enhance coverage: In larger rooms, the distance between sockets should decrease to prevent overreliance on extension cords which can be hazardous and unsightly.
  • Central points: Consider centralised floor sockets for freestanding furniture setups like sofas that might sit in an open space rather than being against a wall. They can be completely flush with the floor, and can be covered with a rug or furniture if your plans change later.
  • Aesthetic integrations: Use conduit wiring under floors or along new walls to seamlessly add outlets where necessary without disrupting existing structures. 

Adding sockets to an existing setup

In many UK homes, historical electrical layouts do not align well with modern demands, where older lounges might feature only two or three sockets. Many people tend to just improvise with extension leads, but installing a few new sockets in more convenient places can have a refreshing effect on your lifestyle and the aesthetics of the room. It’s where you spend most of your time and entertain friends and family, so it’s definitely worth it.

Best practices

  • Supplement strategically: Identify which areas bulge with overused four-way adaptors; these locations need supplemental sockets. Typically these spots cluster around entertainment units and side tables. Imagine the difference it will make to have each plug with its own socket – and no more switching everything off and rebooting set-top boxes just because you want to charge a vacuum cleaner or use a heater.
  • Employ circuit additions: It might be necessary to introduce new circuits to balance load across added sockets, which is especially relevant in older homes. Talk to an electrician about your existing capacity and whether it’s based on old-fashioned power demands. You might need an upgrade.
  • Décor-conscious placement: When introducing new sockets to an existing décor framework, use colour-matched faceplates or even integrated units that offer minimalist lines, keeping the modern feel intact.
  • Changed uses: Many living rooms now double as home offices. Is your setup optimised for that new reality? You might need more technology like computers and printers, as well as more lighting, so don’t be afraid to reflect that with new wall sockets. Remember to mention it to your boss.

Living room sockets that match your lifestyle

Whether starting anew, expanding or retrofitting a traditional setup, the goal remains the same: use socket planning to put convenience seamlessly into everyday living spaces. Contemporary socket placements should take increased demands into consideration too, and that’s only likely to increase as time goes by. Ultimately, thoughtful placement makes your living room a more comfortable place to, well, live.