Living room ideas – 70 smart ways to update living room decor
These living room ideas offer classic and smart, contemporary and cozy, colorful and natural decor options – plus a ton of advice
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Whatever the living room ideas you're searching for – whether elegant, classic or contemporary, we have wonderful decor schemes to suit your home's style and your color preferences. Plus, we have included a ton of added-value design advice, too.
So whether your living room decor is expansive, open-plan, a shared home office space or on the compact side, there are looks to suit.
Plus, of course, we have catered to a wide variety of styles, color preferences, and budgets, and, as ever, there are ideas you can adopt quickly – and whole-renovation inspiration.
Living room ideas
These are our favorite living room ideas and we've added in-depth advice from well-known designers and our own team of experts, too, so that you know how to design a living room with aplomb.
1. Start with a moodboard
Sometimes the hardest thing to do when looking for living room ideas is to actually get started. We asked Patrick O’Donnell, Brand Ambassador at Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab) for his invaluable advice and the most important part? Get moodboarding to inspire living room color schemes.
‘Remember that any room is a sum of various parts so try and create a moodboard with as many elements as you can get your hands on. When choosing paint colors, think about the aspect of your room (north, east, south, west) – a color you have seen in a magazine or friend’s house may not respond in your room so sampling is essential, try and paint large swatches that you can move around the walls at different times of day to see how the color transitions in all natural light conditions.’
This beautiful room by interior designer Cortney Bishop (opens in new tab) is the perfect example of successful moodboarding. If you don't know where to start, knowing how to make a moodboard will help you to create a useful tool that with prove essential to achiving the interior project of your dreams.
2. Paint all the surfaces in one single color
'We have found that as we’ve all been spending more time in our homes, there has been a really exciting shift in how experimental we’re being with living room paint ideas and our customers are increasingly focusing their living room scheme on a tone that they want to immerse themselves in,’ says Dominic Myland, CEO of Mylands (opens in new tab).
‘One such trend is head-to-toe color – painting the walls, woodwork and even the ceiling one color for a welcoming, immersive room with a modern edge. We’d always recommend really thinking about how that color will interplay with the light in your room and trying samples first to make sure you love it.
'A full immersion of color, with one stunning shade for all walls and woodwork, can bring interest into the room without overwhelming the eye; mid-tone colors work particularly well for this. The style also complements strong architectural features in a fresh and modern way’ - great for living room ceiling ideas.
3. Match walls to furniture
Another fabulous living room idea that we’re starting to see appearing is to match your walls to your furniture.
‘We all strive for cohesive interiors when planning our décor and color choices are core to creating the mood and theme for your home,’ says Patricia Gibbons, Design Team at Sofa.com (opens in new tab). ‘When looking to match your walls to your furniture or vice versa, the question is to match or to contrast as each will produce a different style.
'If you love a color and are wedded to the idea of mirroring it throughout the space, whether it be a dusty rose sofa on pink walls or green wallpaper to match an olive sofa – matching color on color is a fun, considered way to stamp your personality and style into the space.
'We recommend breaking up the upholstery and wall color with textural touches via accent pieces and accessories: think woods, brass, woven finishes and greenery, to keep the end-look balanced and welcoming.’
4. Choose two or more shades of the same color
For a thoroughly modern feel – in a period property – choose a couple of shades of the same color and use them in various spots in the living room. Consider painting the ceiling too, it’s been a big trend recently that we feel will carry on for a good year or so. Here, you can see how well it works with the Masquerade shade, and the patterned rug pulls the tones together.
Little Greene (opens in new tab)'s color cards, ‘Color Scales’ and a refined and refreshed ‘Colors of England’ feature collections of beautiful graduated shades that all work together.
5. Perfect positioning is invaluable
Once you’ve got your key ingredient – the color scheme – in place you can start considering furniture and where to put it. Correct placement in living room layouts is invaluable and can make or break a scheme.
For the formal living room in this Park Ave apartment in NYC, BarlisWedlick (opens in new tab) removed one of the cabinets that flanked the fireplace and incorporated a custom settee with rounded edges and fur trim in its place.
Colorful, jewel-toned throw pillows add a liveliness to the room, which features subtle pale gray-green walls and neutral fabrics. Artwork placed directly across a tinted yellow mirror balances out the opposite side of the room and allows the artwork to be seen from those sitting directly under the sofa.
6. Consider an accent color if your walls are neutral
If you’ve decided to keep your walls neutral or white, but still fancy a splash of color then consider choosing accent colors to boost interest. It’s a fabulous way to incorporate a shade you love and you can go all out with patterns too – it needn’t be all about plains.
This refreshing grass green shade turns this white painted living room into a modern space full of contemporary prints teamed with natural wood and woven touches to soften the overall look.
Gathering a few two-tone prints in a similar palette helps to keep a scheme feeling cohesive. So even with lots of different pattern, the colors help all the diverse elements to sit together happily. The pattern mix here include the Anna French (opens in new tab) lampshade fabric, Schumacher (opens in new tab) curtains and plump Rapture & Wright (opens in new tab) seat cushions.
Botanical artworks compliment the textiles and add to the country feel. Clean white walls and white pieces such as the lamp and side table ensure the space feels modern, light and airy - useful if you're looking for small living room ideas.
Natural materials, as seen here with the wood console and woven rattan chair, are an essential part of any modern country look, and help to add warmth and an organic softness to the scheme.
7. Embrace the trend for reimagined ditsy florals
This minimalist living room idea from one of H&G's decorating shoots is brought to life with a fabulously vibrant twist on traditional chintz – perfect country living room ideas when you want a more contemporary feel.
The neutral backdrop allows for the bright, colorful textile pattern to take center-stage. The simple lines of the elegant, contemporary sofa have been covered with this glorious Spring Garden textile design for a heavenly pairing. The pink kilim, artwork and co-ordinating cushions all help to pull the living room together for a modern twist on a classic look.
8. Layer color on color for a warm, welcoming space
A harmonious and joyful living room has been created using the colors in the rug as the center point, pulling tones out to feature within the scheme. Muted pink walls offer just the right background palette and work well set against the crisp whites, which are key in the mix to offer breathing space amid all the color.
Shapely furniture in warm hues is layered alongside a classic sofa in chalky white linen, punctuated with accessories in jewel brights.
9. Rethink the colors you choose for woodwork
Sometimes it’s good to think ‘out of the box’ when it comes to searching for living room ideas – we’re so often ruled by the ‘paint your skirtings and woodwork’ white that we forget that we can do something different.
We love this look by Andrew Dominic Furniture (opens in new tab) – the sash windows and panelling painted in this inky blue shade creates a stunning focal point that acts as a perfect backdrop for the hand-made furniture placed in front of it.
10. Tuck a sofa into a window bay
A common solution for a bay window in a living room is to covert it into a window seat. Instead, use a bay window as a bright-but-cozy inlet for a statement sofa, a la this space by Connecticut-based Camden Grace Interiors (opens in new tab). Think of it as the window seat's sophisticated older cousin.
Add sconces and you'll have your new favorite reading nook.
11. Choose a bold wallpaper for an impactful space
If maximalism is your thing, bold living room wallpaper ideas, like the one in this living room by Morris & Co (opens in new tab), are a good way to create a space that feels eclectic, lively and fun. Choosing a pale green or blue for a maximalist design is a good choice for a living space – it will tone down the effect of the pattern to create an overall much calmer feel.
‘For a playful room go for a vibrant printed design on your furniture. If you’re not brave with pattern choose a plain hardwearing woven fabric and add some stylish cushions,’ says Hayley McAfee, Design Director, Villa Nova (opens in new tab).
12. Don't be afraid to mix different eras
You don't need to have a one-track mind when looking for living room ideas.
'We aim to create spaces that are inviting and timeless and we love to create a balanced mix of older antique pieces juxtaposed with vintage items and contemporary designs,’ says Susie Atkinson, Founder of London-based Interior Design Studio Susie Atkinson (opens in new tab).
‘Sometimes we might incorporate antiques that our clients have had forever as a starting point for a living room scheme, or we will source some characterful pieces for them. Mixing the old and the new ensures that a room won’t be overly influenced by current trends and date quickly, while statement pops of color and pattern combined with natural materials will really bring it to life with a tone of modernity.
'For this room, we sourced a beautiful antique bobbin chair and updated it with a lovely slubby antique linen which we had dyed in this sunny yellow color, and the sleek lines and mirror finish of our cube steel side table contrasts it beautifully.’
‘We love to incorporate different design styles into our spaces, including mixing new with antique pieces. It helps to make the space feel layered and like it has been around for a long time,’ says Heidi Caillier, Founder, Heidi Caillier Design (opens in new tab).
13. Use rugs to tie living room colors together
Living room rug ideas aren't used as much as they should be – but they can add so much to a scheme, including color and pattern. We asked Clara Ewart, Head of Design at Kitesgrove (opens in new tab) for her thoughts on how important they can be to a scheme.
‘A strong rug can be transformational, bringing personality, texture and warmth to a living room. Sometimes they are a subtle design that anchors the overall scheme but sometimes it’s a stronger statement piece that dictates the tone of the whole room. We love to work with our clients to source something special and then use this as the starting point for the wider scheme.
'Whether you have a dramatically patterned rug that will be complemented by softened tones in the rest of the room, or a more neutral rug that will work with bolder colors and patterns, it’s likely to be an investment piece that will stand the test of time. As a guide, we always recommend making sure your living room rug is as large as possible – anything too small will look pinched and uncomfortable.’
14. Let artwork inspire the best color for a living room
More often than not, we choose our living room art ideas at the end of the decorating process, but actually, a favorite painting can be used as your starting point, as Cath Beckett, Co-Founder of British Interior Design Studio, Yellow London (opens in new tab) explains:
‘We often start with artwork our clients choose or already love and extrapolate a wider scheme from there, drawing out striking paint colors to create harmony within the room. Art is so personal but if it is a piece that really speaks to us, it is a great place to start a scheme as it will say a lot about a client’s general style and color preferences.
'Once we have those details decided, complementary upholstery and the softer details will flow more naturally to create a cohesive and beautiful scheme.’
‘Art is always part of the picture for me. For me these final elements are what gives a house soul and a touch of magic,’ says Rebekah Caudwell, Founder, Rebekah (opens in new tab)Caudwell Design (opens in new tab).
Adding artwork is also an excellent way to make your living room look expensive without costing the earth.
15. Choose earthy tones for an enveloping feel
How we love the terracotta tones of this living room, which has been created with a Zinc Textile (opens in new tab) x Martin Hulbert Design collaboration. Plaster-effect walls combine with dark wood to conjure up a desert-home feel that's really appealing. The low-slung sofa is a clever trick designers use to make rooms seem loftier.
16. Layer color for an energizing space
If you're up for a bold stroke, try decorating your living room floor-to-ceiling in saturated color, like this Palm Beach room by Peter Pennoyer (opens in new tab).
There are a few ways to pull off such a daring look. One, choose an inspiration piece, like a rug or artwork, to pull hues from. This ensures your room stays cohesive and creates a reference point for each color.
Two, keep the colors in a similar shade or tone, like brights or pastels. Matching tones will keep the room feeling unified.
Or three, if you're partial to a single color, mix up a monochrome look by incorporating various shades and tones of a single color.
17. Pile on texture with classic living room ideas
Piling on texture can be smart when creating neutral living room ideas.
'In a quiet corner, the elegant form of a classical pedestal table offers the perfect perch for a display of shapely vessels. The cool white marble top, ensures a modern classic feel, as does the monochrome palette which works beautifully against the natural plaster walls and warmth of the cane chair seat, wooden floors and woven rug,' says H&G's decorating editor Emma Thomas, of this room that we recently created for a Classic Decorating set.
‘Consider texture to be as important as color and pattern. There is nothing worse than a flat design.Try mixing different textures such as natural linens with soft velvets or robust leathers with thick wools,’ advises Camilla Clarke, Creative Director, at interiors agency Albion Nord (opens in new tab).
18. Warm up a monotone scheme with wood
South Carolina-based interior designer Cortney Bishop is known for her modern design vision that runs the gamut of style and structure, balancing comfort with creativity and functionality.
She brings this to the living rooms she designs by combining neutrals with a ton of wood textures, which make the spaces feel easy to live with, airy and bright, but warm and welcoming, too. Here, the wooden ceiling is the star of the show, subtly echoed below by the warm tones in the furniture and soft furnishings.
19. Plan the layout to the last inch
UK-based designer Tiffany Duggan of Studio Duggan (opens in new tab) believes careful planning is all-important when it comes to design – and since your living room ideas are quite literally the center of your home, it's all the more important.
'Measure and plan where you are going to put each piece of furniture and make sure you have sockets in all the right places before you get decorating or ordering,' she says.
20. Divide a living room to suit your daily routines
Where once living rooms were somewhere we watched TV in the evenings, they're now invariably sitting rooms, homework studies for kids, home offices for adults and, of course, movie rooms – which is why searches for broken plan living rooms are rising sharply.
So how to pack this all into one space? If yours is a long living room you can divide it semi-permanently without closing off an area of the room entirely. The smartest, most permanent way to do so is with a wall of glazing, as above, which can include doors – allowing family members some time apart to pursue different activities, while keeping the room feeling spacious and open.
21. Create a welcoming space with a ton of texture
If you are looking for long living room ideas that make cold and disunited spaces feel more cohesive and welcoming, look to this room. ots of texture in furnishings, furniture and even wall surfaces and flooring, can make the space feel more cohesive and warmer.
In the living room picture above, the rug is the dominant textural feature in the room, echoed by the material the blinds are made from and the various pieces of wooden or wicker furniture. The effect is heightened and complemented by the texture of the wall panels.
22. Use furniture scaling to exaggerate a living room's proportions
If your living room has low ceilings – or you want to make a living rooms ceilings feel taller than they are – picking a low-slung couch for a small living room is a simple way to make the room feel taller.
Note, too, low furniture creates a much more relaxed living room, while taller furniture or high-backed seating creates a more formal feel.
23. Enliven a plain scheme with bold artwork
Whether you are considering a quick living room update or are looking for living room ideas for creating a focal point, artwork is an excellent option.
'Knowing the ambiance you are aiming to achieve in your living room helps,' advises Federica Barretta Director of Opera Gallery London (opens in new tab). 'Consider the architectural features of the room you are buying for, from ceiling height to the color scheme and lighting, when choosing a work of art. Living rooms are where the family gets together and where guests are entertained, making them the best places to showcase the richness and eclecticism of one’s art collection.'
24. Rely on metallics for living room glamour
Metallics in a living room needn't be limited to hard surfaces such as light fittings and furniture – upholstery or curtain fabric with a shimmering finish can also bring glamor and enliven an otherwise neutral space.
'Velvet is extraordinarily hard-wearing fabric,' says Homes & Gardens Editor in Chief, Lucy Searle. 'I inherited a sofa from my parents that they bought in the 1970s. It is a classic velvet piece with a strong, sculptural frame, and the fabric looks as good as it did when they bought it. If you are considering living room seating ideas, know that a well-cared for velvet sofa will still look fabulous in decades to come.'
25. Mix motifs but keep the scheme simple
Monochromatic color schemes make for very restful living room ideas. Using a variety of motifs in one hue and keeping pattern to the upholstery, while walls and floors remain plain, brings depth to a scheme without it feeling too busy. In this room, a striking wave design on the sofa offers a contrast to the more subtle prints elsewhere.
26. Create an accent wall with art
Looking for accent wall ideas to give your living room focus? If you are considering a display of artwork in a living room, one way to really make it shine is by painting the wall behind it a bold shade that's a total contrast to the colors within the pictures or paintings.
This series of foliage prints set against a vibrant emerald-green wall offers a very modern take on the botanical theme. Sparse accessories and the clean lines of the furniture add to the contemporary flavor of the space.
27. Highlight original features with paint
Just a few simple living room paint ideas can transform a neutral living space into one that's really quite special.
Here, the black-painted window frame and original shutters provides both a contrast to the walls of the room and creates a frame for the deep emerald green sofa, drawing the eye for a dramatic focal point.
The lustre of brass elements shine brightly when set against a calm backdrop of cool greys, too.
28. Pick a subtle mural to add definition to a plain room
Intriguing and subtle, this architectural mural adds a lighter decorative touch to this scheme in which neutral, muted furnishings allow it to take center stage. A ledge of rustic wood echoes the horizontal lines of the print and creates display space for elegant accessories.
29. Make a dark living room feel instantly summery
If your living room is north- or east-facing, or if it lacks natural daylight, your choice of decor can change its mood dramatically.
This is where green living room ideas can come in useful: it's a transformative color that can connect indoors with outdoors, and make a room feel brighter and more cheerful, even when the tones you choose are quite subtle or elegant. This trellis wallpaper speaks of blissful summer days in the garden. Working geometric motifs into the scheme gives the finished look a modern edge.
30. Layer texture—and rugs—for a cozy space
Layering a variety of textures is a surefire way to make a room feel inviting. In this seating area, design firm WellXDesign (opens in new tab) mixed and matched a smooth velvet sofa with nubby boucle chairs, and a petrified wood coffee table to achieve texture harmony. On the floor, a wool rug is overlaid on a jute version to create another tactile moment.
31. Give a muted living room a bright spot (or two)
The term 'pop of color' has become a bit of a decorating cliché, but like all clichés, there's good reason for it. Adding a dose or two of color to an otherwise neutral room can turn a pretty space into a memorable one.
If you're looking for a way to liven up white walls and neutral furniture, try on color with bright drapery, throw pillows, and a floral arrangement.
32. Layer natural tones on natural tones for a calm appeal
Mixing elegantly crafted contemporary pieces with a serene palette of materials and hues gathered from nature will create calming interiors with a focus on the finer details.
Timeless living room decor offers respite from the whirlwind of modern life – and with the neutral elements in place, it is easy to play with the balance of your palette as seasons change.
33. Enliven an all white scheme with clever accessorizing
A black cane sofa arranged with palm leaf-motif cushions against plain ochre linen lends an elegant exotic feel to a classic scheme – and it's a look that you can create quickly, and update again by simply swapping out the cushions.
Dark wood flooring and a table of leafy plants complete the look.
34. Pick mismatched chairs for a relaxed look
Don't feel you always have to match everything in your living room – in fact, a mismatch can be charming if the colors you use complement each other.
Simple utility is given a light and pretty dimension with horticulturally themed decorative flourishes and happily mismatched pattern in schemes that embody relaxed charm.
35. Use checks for a smart update
This smart living room decor, which mixes different-sized checks on upholstery, blinds and cushions in a dashing combination of black, white and yellow, gives traditional gingham a refreshing contemporary twist.
36. Focus on flooring
Living room flooring sets the scene, so it is a very important starting point for a living room design. ‘Usually, I begin thinking about the hall floor,’ remarks Sean Cochran, creative director, Cochrane Design (opens in new tab).
‘For instance, if I’ve used straight wooden boards along the length of the hall, I might use parquet in the same tone and finish in the living room.’ We have seen a resurgence of interest in wood flooring, so there are now all kinds of parquet styles, extra-wide boards and different finishes available.
37. Design a picture perfect living room
Yellow living room ideas can be really elegant if you combine them with antique pieces and traditional furniture, arranged in considered fashion around a central coffee table to create a classic look. The grand proportions of the room are accentuated by the series of prints hung symmetrically across one entire wall, adding both personality and color to the scheme.
38. Instill purity in your space
Going back to basics with your living room ideas is a surefire way to make your living room beautiful. Alongside all the clamor of color, pattern and shape in current interior design, there’s a quieter story of considered, understated forms and textures at their finest.
Dress your scheme with simple linen or silk, sleek metal, rich wood and polished stone to bring an elegance and timelessness to interiors, placing them above and beyond seasonal fads. Here polished concrete flooring offers a smooth, subdued contrast to organic-shaped furnishings, while a smart grasscloth wall covering lets dramatic artwork do the talking.
39. Add an element of light elegance
An antique Persian rug defines the seating areas in this living room. The rich colors of the rug and traditional armchairs add warmth, their formality offset by comfortable couches covered in natural linen to introduce a lighter mood.
Furniture is symmetrically placed to create a balanced look, while the eye is drawn to the focal point fireplace in this cozy living room.
40. Create interest through scale and texture
‘Pattern is a great way to introduce character to living room decor,’ explains Bunny Turner, interior designer, Turner Pocock (opens in new tab). It can be used to define a space and change the tone of different areas. ‘For example, you might want a bolder pattern on upholstery in a formal living area with a constant pattern used in an adjacent snug.’
The key is to start with a fabric that has a striking pattern featuring more than three colors. From that fabric choose the colors to be used in the scheme, then select a combination of designed in that palette, perhaps a stripe, a geometric, a floral and a textural option such as a coarse linen or herringbone.
41. Create a wall feature
The space above the couch itself can often be forgotten, but it needs just as much attention as other living room ideas. Choose prints that coordinate with the overall scheme of the room and hang in an assortment of matchings frames. Group in odd numbers to create harmony and visual interest, or play around with a symmetrical look to create balance.
42. Make a statement
Go bold and inject color with a mix of textures and prints. If you’ve got a plain backdrop, opt for a vibrant couch, such as a shade of striking blue, and dress it with a collection of contrasting cushions for a real visual feast. And don’t neglect the area under your feet – add a patterned rug to anchor the space.
43. Invest in a rug underfoot
A tactile rug on top of a wood floor adds a layer of interest and comfort to a living room. Choose a large rug, so you can position all the furniture on it, rather than half-on, half-off, which is distracting.
In a large open-plan room, a rug can define the seating area. If there is a signature piece of furniture, for example a blue chair, pick a rug with an accent of blue to make the chair stand out.
44. Let the light in
A refined palette or soft colors and pared-back style give this modern family living area by interior designer Cortney Bishop its bright, uncluttered feels. Sinuous living room ideas, such as the curvaceous furniture, accentuate the light mood of this design.
Note the color punch supplied by the patterned rug, which adds interest and warmth to the room, and the filmy curtains that allow light into the room.
‘A quick and easy way to turn your window into a decorative feature is to introduce trimmings to existing curtains. For patterned curtains find a trim that complements the print and use it to add an interesting border, whilst with a plain fabric you can have a bit more fun, use the trim to create a stripe effect across fabric, creating a unique design feature,' says Hayley McAfee, Design Director, Villa Nova
45. Use lighting for dramatic effect
Chandeliers and pendants are popular living room lighting ideas for dramatic effect, but they don’t need to be in the center of a room. Try hanging a pendant low over a desk or table, or perhaps three blown-glass spheres suspended at different heights in a corner. Using a pendant is an unusual way can add a fun layer to your lighting scheme.
46. Pick a stand-out piece of furniture
Just a single piece of living room furniture can transform a living room scheme. It needn't be as bold as the sideboard above – it may be shapely, from a contrasting period (think mid-century in an otherwise country-style space) or it may be its proportions.
Or, to look at it a different way, it may be that you can add a single, boldly colored piece that's an utter contrast to your living room paint ideas. This will require some bravery, experimentation, and a willingness to admit when you have got it wrong.
47. Keep it neat and tidy
Modern life requires that the main room of the home fulfil a multitude or functions, so well-planned living room storage is key when designing and planning a living room. Good storage is essential in a family room, and this shelving unit provides generous space for displaying favorite objects, books and photographs, while built-in cupboards and drawers conceal DVDs, games and AV equipment.
48. Make a feature out of a monochrome scheme
Black and white is ideal for a living space, where you can really go to town with pattern, texture and prints. If a white sofa isn’t practical, then choose a design in charcoal or pewter and layer with throws and cushions in various muted black and white. Plenty of black and white prints and an eye-catching pouf or rug will make a statement, and you can always soften the look with pale tones of grey, beige or creamy whites.
49. Let the floor do the talking
Introduce pattern and natural character to the home with an ever-popular wood floor. Wood remains an enduring choice for interiors and is wonderfully versatile. An intricately laid parquet combining marquetry and parquetry demonstrates the highest level of craftsmanship in this living room by architectural and interior design company, Point 3 Design (opens in new tab).
Take a light-touch approach with other aspects of the decorating and keep the rest of the scheme neutral to focus the eyes.
50. Take inspiration from nature
Interior designer Sophie Ashby (opens in new tab) reveals that nature provided the inspiration for this scheme’s welcoming, earthy palette. This is quite a grown-up room, and the seating arrangement reflects this, with a pair of bespoke, classic couches in a sage-green velvet, teamed with a tan daybed.
‘The palette was inspired by Holland Park in London and features neutral colors: greens, blues, russets, oranges and yellows,’ says Sophie. ‘We started with the rug, which we designed as an ode to the park, incorporating peacock feathers as well as leaf motifs.’
‘When looking at softer aspects within a space, opt for richer colors that can give a sense of warmth. If you are looking for a more trend led design then focus on investing in items with fringing or trims as it adds more depth to the design,’ advises Holly Gannon, Design Manager, Milc Interiors (opens in new tab).
51. Unite classic with contemporary elements
Katie Harbison of property development and design studio Banda (opens in new tab) achieves an elegant mix of modern and mid-century modern living room design in this room. Allow the room’s beautiful proportions and original moldings to shine by keeping the backdrop neutral.
‘Walls are painted in a subtle grey and the floor is a natural oak, topped with a silky grey rug,’ explains Katie. The sofa’s rounded shape almost embraces the angular coffee table by artist Thomas Markunpoika. Every piece in the room is individual, but together they create a sense of harmony, thanks to their natural colors and subtle textural interest.
52. Pick a single stand-out accent fabric
A plain room can look utterly different if you add in some brave upholstery – here, an otherwise neutral living space has been given a touch of classic glamour with upholstery in broad stripes.
Decorating with stripes like this can also play with a room's proportions – putting them vertically on upright chairs will make the chairs look taller and narrower, creating a subtle focal point in the room.
53. Be sympathetic to the age of your property
Work with the age of your home to create a sympathetic living room decor scheme that is both timeless and stylish. To reflect the age of the property, interior design company Sigmar (opens in new tab) used traditional grey for the walls, providing a contemporary note with pale-green doors and woodwork.
A stronger color was added with green Kaare Klint Safari chairs and cushions in sea blue tones to create a calm but edgy look. ‘This space was stripped of its Victorian details in the 1960s,’ says designer Ebba Thott. ‘We reinstated cornicing and deep skirting boards, raising the door frames to celebrate the ceiling height.’
54. Give florals a modern twist
Use the latest foliage and floral motifs to bring uplifting color and decorative interest to your living room ideas. Pair botanicals with dramatically dark walls to give a surprising contemporary twist to a traditional look. Use vibrantly colored upholstery to add further layers of richness.
55. Decorate with a sea of blue
Breathe new life into the classic coastal look with a breezy palette of blues, from soft shades of pale through to denim, teal and Breton navy, all complemented by pops of vibrant red.
Opting for bold, block color, such as azure, denim or sapphire, on upholstery and in rugs allows depth to be added with pattern.
In this blue living room, a fine ticking stripe and geometric print fabrics provide lively highlights that catch the eye.
56. Mix and match materials
Accents of chalky terracotta, brown and duck egg blue combine beautifully to bring depth to this scheme’s neutral base. Incorporate accessories in a variety of materials, including glass, metal, ceramic and wood, to create a modern look. Soften the scheme with plush upholstery fabrics, which enhance the feel of understated luxury.
57. Create a second focal point with a TV cabinet
If you have both a TV and a fireplace in your living room, they don't have to co-exist. In fact, many interior designer would cringe at the thought of mounting a television above a fireplace. Instead, Connecticut-based Camden Grace Interiors (opens in new tab) allowed each of these prime living room features its breathing room by building a wall cabinet for the television. The furniture layout is fluid enough to allow either attraction to take center stage.
58. Introduce wood for warmth
If you're looking for living room ideas for a cool space – perhaps one served by north- or east-facing windows that only deliver morning daylight, if at all – it is a wise idea to add warmth to the room with structural materials. You can do this with a wooden floor, wood-paneled walls or wooden ceilings.
Or, of course you can simply add warmth with wooden furniture and complementing colors and textures in other furnishings.
This gorgeous room is by Champalimaud Design (opens in new tab) in New York.
59. Furnish wisely around statement lighting
If you are picking out statement living room lighting for a room that doesn't have really high ceilings, ensure your furniture – particularly the coffee table and seating grouped on an area rug beneath the lighting – is low-slung. This will allow the room to breathe and for the lighting to be a focal point without the space feeling crowded.
'Do not be afraid to play with scale when it comes to bespoke statement lighting,' says Natalia Miyar (opens in new tab), an LA-based interior architect and designer, who designed the room above. 'There are some wonderful high street options available if you do not have the budget to commission something bespoke. My advice is to not play too safe and use this as an opportunity to have a little fun.'
Architectural lighting is a solution that designers also use to light dark areas, surfaces and to highlight a room's structure. 'Think of the angles in the room and how to light them,' continues Natalia Miyar. 'What you want to achieve is a range of light sources, light should be emitted from various points of the room and at different levels.'
60. Pick a dark wall color – but add touches of light and warmth
Stefani Stein (opens in new tab), who runs an interior design studio in LA, specializes in room schemes that are easy to live with but which still create impact.
This dark living room above typifies her approach – drama in the contrasts, curvaceous furniture that's modern but welcoming and a really traditional feel, despite the modern approach.
If, like Stefani, you wish to use a dark color on your living room walls to create a cozy, intimate feel, be sure to balance out the darker shades with pale colors, seen here on the sofas, the floor and at the windows – and add a touch of warmth with accent colors in furniture and accessories.
61. Pick an eclectic combination for a welcoming living room
London-based interior design studio Kelling Designs (opens in new tab) love to design rooms that waver between elegance and practicality – and we think this living room encapsulates that perfectly. The eclectic mix of patterns are perfect for weathering busy family life, while adding color, interest and – importantly – warmth to the space. The use of contrasting patterns work because the color palette is complementary, with each subordinate to the couch.
62. Go for a calm, pared-back look
Featuring beautifully crafted pieces with cleaner lines than their rustic cousins, this season's take on country style shows perennial favorites in an elegant new light.
For pared-back living room ideas, upholstered furniture should have a simple silhouette and minimal detailing. To achieve this look, opt for a neat sofa in a plain linen with no buttoning, while loose covers can be made for existing armchairs. Hints of subtle pattern and color can be introduced with soft furnishings.
63. Use a bay window for storage and seating
Inspired by the timber-clad summerhouses of Scandinavia and New England, this relaxed decorating scheme, which echoes the delicate shades of nature, has been designed to blur the boundary between indoors and out.
Better still? The window seat provides a pretty focal point, can hide storage beneath a hidden, lift-up lid, and is a wonderful place to perch.
64. Go for contemporary grey
'Grey living room ideas' is one of the most searched for phrases online – but many are really just a whisper away from neutral or beige living rooms, so pale are they. If you want to create a dramatic scheme that's cozy at night, a deep, contemporary grey like the one in this room is a bold but rewarding move.
Be sure to add warmth to the scheme with hotter colors, but choose them to match the depth of the grey so that the look remains modern and so that they can stand up to the grey.
65. Embrace symmetry
Symmetry in interior design is usually introduced to create a balanced, calm space that's perfect for a living room that you want as a retreat. The simplest way to create symmetry is around a fireplace, but you can use a large piece of furniture with matching side tables and lamps for the same effect.
66. Decorate in a neutral palette
The search for the ideal neutral is not as easy as it would initially appear. Pure whites can often be too stark, while trying to warm it up means possibly straying into magnolia territory. The color wheel is your oyster when it comes to choosing accompanying shades. For a soothing feel, sage or olive are perfect partners, soft browns and whites add elegance, while dusky pinks add subtle vibrancy.
Here, a nature-inspired palette of cool neutrals provides a beautiful backdrop to a host of raw materials, delicate texture and lush greenery.
67. Pick a palette of primary colors
One or two primary colors against a muted palette has an artistic edge. If you are too nervous to go all-out with a primary palette – a single vase or key piece of furniture will suffice.
68. Add an unexpected twist
Inspired by carnival in Rio, we are transported to warmer climes with these bohemian living room ideas. Feel the heat with a warming palette of earthy red, spicy coral and sandy yellow mixed with a riot of pattern. A plain curtain fabric is brought to life with a vibrant pattern on the reverse.
Set against a warm neutral stone backdrop, the warm tones used throughout are layered up for maximum impact, from the curtain fabrics with trim pelmet above, to the pattern-rich sofa, cushions and rug. All the colors and pattern make for a happy and uplifting combination.
69. Create a conversation area
To give your country living room an atmosphere of warmth and welcome, arrange seating to make conversation – not the TV – the focus.
'In this room, the armchairs and sofas face each other across an upholstered ottoman, on which a tray of drinks or afternoon tea could be placed,' says interior designer Jojo Bradley (opens in new tab). 'The comfortable furniture is softened further with cushions that invite you to relax and settle in for a while.'
This type of furniture arrangement works really well for small or larger groups, too. The pair of armchairs with their own side table provide an area for two people to sit and talk together, while the sofas provide additional seating when crowds gather.
70. Introduce an artistic touch with a painterly mural
Meandering florals and block-printed patterns are paired with rattans and jewel-like teals for a living scene with a Far East twist – it’s like a gentle stroll through serene Japanese gardens. Warm and cool tones work well together, as here with the contrast of the cool teal blues of the coffee table and sofa, upholstered in rich velvet, set against the rich earthy reds of the wallpaper panel and painted cabinet.
How should I decorate my living room?
A good starting point for decorating a living room is to think about how many people you need to fit in your space on a regular basis. This will help you to choose the right living room furniture and living room storage.
Your floor plan should consider the room’s layout from a social and practical point of view. Plan seating in groups to ensure conversation flows when you have guests and consider scale and how different pieces will sit together. Seating heights vary so balance is key, but make sure guests are seated at the same level.
'Not everything has to be two-by-two when it comes to layout,' says interior designer Nina Campbell (opens in new tab). 'By combining different styles, colors and finishes you will create an effortlessly eclectic look.'
'Do put together a measured plan of your living room before buying new pieces of furniture to understand the sizes you require,' explains Emma Sims Hilditch, interior designer at Sims-Hilditch (opens in new tab). 'That way you will avoid making expensive mistakes.'
In terms of color, your living room should reflect how you want to feel in that space. It is the room in which you will spend the most time in, so it is important to get it right.
Which colors make a living room look bigger?
'White and neutral shades are always the go-to color as they make a small living room look bigger, airier, and more open,' says David Harris, Design Director at Andrew Martin (opens in new tab).
'However, for small space living, you can be more daring. Don’t be afraid of dark and rich colors, like coffee or dark grey, such as or try teal or even orange, for a braver burst of color.'
These hues bring richness, intimacy and extra depth and make a living room more beautiful whilst allowing you to show personality and flair. Layering these deep rich colors with artwork also adds fantastic texture and interest.
Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.