You might have to describe a room in English.
The most likely situation for doing this would be in the speaking part of the IELTS test. But it could also be in any other speaking or writing test too.
But it is also just a great exercise for you to improve your general English. Being able to describe anything in English shows you have a good command of the English language.
But where to begin?
How to do it? Where to start?
I am here to show you how.
So let’s get started.
When describing anything — could be an object, a person, a building or a city — you should always start with the basic components.
In the case of describing a room that means you should think of the following questions:
What kind of room is it?
What size is it?
What shape is it?
Let’s go through the questions one by one.
What Kind of Room
In a normal house we have:
There could also be:
For the sake of simplicity, we will use living room as our example.
The mistake that many students make when talking about the size of something is that they often try to be very precise. They might say something like: It is 6 metres long and 3 and a half metres wide, so that is 21 square metres in size.
You don’t need to talk like this. Not unless your job requires that you are exact. But most people have no idea how big the rooms are in their home.
So you can use words to describe the size. Like this:
My living room is pretty big
The living room is huge
My living room is about normal size
It is tiny!
It’s a bit small
It’s kind of big/small
Now does this say anything about the size of the room? Not really.
These terms are relative to the person speaking. So if you say My living room is really small. I might think it is small but if I saw it, I might think it’s average size.
It doesn’t matter.
If you use size words — big, huge, tiny, small — the examiner listening to you has a mental picture of how big the room is. It is enough for him to have an idea of what you are talking about.
Rooms generally come in two shapes:
So you can say:
The living room is a rectangle shape
It is shaped like a square
Put It All Together
So if you combine all three of these elements — what kind of room, what size and what shape — you could have something like this:
The room I want to talk about is the living room. It’s pretty big, maybe the biggest room in the whole house. It’s shaped like a rectangle.
I would like to talk about the living room in my home. It’s like a normal-sized room I suppose and it’s rectangular in shape.
Our living room is kind of small. It’s a rectangle shape just like most rooms in people’s houses.
So that is the basics — what kind of room it is, the size and the shape.
When you say something like this, you are providing a good introduction to the room you are going to talk about.
Then you can go into more detail.
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When we talk about the details of a room, it means we talk about the following:
The Colour Scheme
The Window and the View
Most living room decorations are designed to make the family feel comfortable and at ease in their own home.
You could describe the decor as being:
And that could be enough.
The examiner is not expecting you to describe all the features of the decor in the living room. There may be certain elements or features in your living room that stand out.
So you may have a large painting on the wall — if so, then you can describe the painting and say who bought the painting.
We have a painting of two dogs on the wall of our living room. The dogs walking in a field somewhere and it looks like an old painting but it is not.
My mum bought it in a local shop because she liked the look of it and wanted to have a painting on the wall to make it look less boring.
Or maybe you have a piano in the room:
My mum and dad bought a piano years ago because they wanted me to learn when I was a child. But I was never any good at playing the piano so it just sits there.
It’s more for decoration now.
Are you talking about the painting, the piano or the living room?
You are talking about the living room. The painting and the piano are part of the living room and the little stories you tell about these things are all part of your talk.
The Colour Scheme
In this part, you just talk about the main colour of the room.
Most living rooms are white so just say that.
The living room is white.
There may be other colour elements in the living room but you need to say the main, most important colour first.
Don’t say something like My living room is white, red, green, purple and black.
Your living room may have other colour elements but you need to describe those elements. Don’t just reel off a list of colours!
So you could say:
The living room is white but the window frames are dark red.
Our living room is white but one wall is painted light green.
This is where you can go into more detail.
Let’s look at the main furniture items in people’s living rooms.
Coffee table/tea table
These cover the main kinds of furniture that people have.
And this is how you can talk about these things:
We have a big sofa in the living room. It’s dark blue and made of some kind of soft fabric — I’m not sure what it is. But it is very comfortable. Sometimes I like to lie on the sofa and listen to music or read a book.
The sofa in my living room is made of leather and it’s white. My mother always worries about it being clean enough. We sit on it when we want to watch the TV.
And again, if you talk about the things you like to do on the sofa — watching TV, reading a book — this is still part of your talk about the living room.
You can say similar things about an armchair:
My dad likes to sit in the armchair. He watches the news on TV then falls asleep.
Sometimes our cat jumps on to the armchair. My mum gets very angry about this.
Then you can talk about things like the coffee table and floor lamp.
We have a coffee table in the living room. It’s between the sofa and the TV. We out drinks on it and snacks we are eating. We also keep the TV remote on it. It’s a wooden table but has a glass top so it is easy to keep clean.
The floor lamp is next to the sofa. The light is softer than the ceiling light so it is more comfortable in the evening.
The curtains are light grey. We keep them open during the day and close them at night. We close them and we have more privacy in the evening.
We have a big flat-screen TV in the living room. It is on top of a large TV stand. We can put other things on the stand too.
My mum has a little figure of a horse on the stand.
There is a rug on the floor. It’s dark red and made of wool. It’s very comfortable under your feet in the evening.
My dad always complains if we put our shoes on it because it makes it dirty.
There is a bookshelf in the corner of the living room. It is full of books but mostly my mum and dad’s books. I keep my books in my own room.
But it makes the living room look nice. It’s nice to see shelves filled full of books. It makes the room seem warmer.
On the wall, we have a large mirror. My mum bought it in an antique shop. I think it was quite expensive.
It makes the room seem bigger because of the reflection.
My mum always uses it to check her hair before she goes outside.
These are just some simple ideas of things you can say about furniture in the living room.
You can say what each item is made of and the colour but you can also add little stories too. The examiner will always like to hear stories in the IELTS test.
Window and View
Lastly, you can talk about the window and the view outside.
You just say where the window is and the size of it. Then you say what you can see outside.
We have a large window at the end of the living room. When I look outside, I can see the houses opposite our own house. I can also see the road outside.
We have only one small window and I can barely see anything outside. Just a wall. But the window lets in some light.
And that covers the details of the living room.
Now you can talk about how you feel about the room.
Why do you like this room?
This is where many students miss some valuable thing to say in the IELTS test. Usually, they just say if they like something or not.
This is not enough. You need to say WHY you like something.
So with our example of the living room in your house, just think of all the reasons why you like your living room.
I have put some examples below:
I like the living room because it is usually quiet and I can just lie on the sofa and relax, read a book or listen to music.
I like our living room because it is so airy and light. It feels very bright in the room.
I like the view from the living room. We look out over a nice park.
I like the two paintings in our living room. They are portraits of people from long ago. I look at them and get lost in another world.
Saying what you like about something is very simple. Just say what you like and why you like it!
What do you dislike about this room?
Equally, you can say what you don’t like about the living room.
I have listed some ideas below:
I don’t like the living room because it is always noisy and filled full of people. It drives me mad as there is nowhere to sit and be quiet.
I don’t like the living room because my dad is always watching TV there. And he is always watching the news — it’s so boring!
I don’t like the living room because it is so hot in there. The sun shines right through the window and makes it too stuffy.
Just as when you talk about the reasons why you like the living room, it is just as important to talk about why you dislike it.
What do you do in this room?
And finally, you need to say the activities you like to do in the living room.
Let’s go through a list of things that many people do in the living room.
Talk to my family
Read a book
Watch a movie
Talk to my friends on the phone/online
Do my homework
When describing a room, you can definitely say the kind of things you like to do in the room. This is all part of the description of the room.
And by talking about things you do in the living room, this may lead to a little story and that is always helpful.
Let me give you an example from my own life:
I like to watch movies in the living room with my wife. But she only likes certain kinds of movies. If I select a movie, she usually thinks it is boring and asks me to change it.
But if we watch a movie we both like it is very relaxing. We eat snacks and drink hot tea while watching the movie.
Am I talking about watching movies or describing the living room?
And the examiner would like what I said and it would be great in the IELTS test.
That is about it.
Remember the format when describing the room.
The Details — the decor, the colour scheme, the furniture, the window and the view
Why do you like this room?
Why do you dislike this room?
What do you like to do in this room?
Go through all of these things and you can’t go wrong.
Now why not try by yourself or with your friends?
You can choose the room you are in. Or go online and look at pictures of rooms you can find on the internet.
Just keep practising and you will see great results.
Good luck and let me know in the comments below!