Your living room is a blank slate to express your style and reflect your home decor theme. The central meeting spot of the whole home, the living room can alternate between a study room, a napping area, or a home movie theater in just one day. It’s also the prime hosting area when guests come to visit.
Your living room decor can set the tone for how you want you and your guests to feel in this special space. In this living room guide, we’ll explore how this space can fit into your overall home decor—from arranging your furniture to incorporating some of your favorite inspirational wall art.
1. Mid-Century Charm
The sleek and simple retro look of mid-century furniture adds an instant sense of style to a living room. Simple geometric tables, chairs, and couches create an effortless style throughout the room without being bland. Choose one item that celebrates retro-inspired colors with a warm leather couch.
2. Plan Around The Couch
Not sure where to start planning? The couch is often the focal point of the living room. It identifies the central seating area and sets the tone for the living room color scheme and balances the room design. If you have a neutral-colored sofa, add accent items around it to showcase the look.
3. Create Space
If you’re hoping to expand your room, move your main furniture slightly away from the walls instead of pushing it flush against them. This is a well-known trick for making the space look larger than it is. You can bring the seating or entertainment area together with an area rug or circle of unique seating.
4. Showcase Inspiration
As the central gathering area of the home, the living room is the perfect place to hang an eye-catching work of art. Choose a large inspirational piece with significance and arrange your seating to showcase it further. If you like using vibrant colors, reflect these in your furniture and rug choices.
5. Artistic Series
Create a cohesive look in your living room by choosing paintings or prints from the same series. Hang them in a row as a set above your sofa or spread them throughout a small living room to tie together the theme of each wall. You can even break up a favorite large photo into separate panels for a modern living room look.
6. Theme Your Lighting
Tie the look of your living room design together with creative lighting. Choose a design theme like modern minimalism, country-chic, or retro. Base your table and floor lamps around a common theme to tie the look together from one corner to the next.
7. Keep It Warm
Always choose warm lighting when decorating a restful space like a living room. White lights can seem too jarring in the evening hours as you wind down with a book or a movie. Choose lampshades and bulbs that create a rich yellow glow.
8. Create Air Flow
Avoid blocking access to any of the windows in your living room, even if you’re working with a small space. You want to ensure you have a steady cross breeze on warmer evenings to create a crisp and fresh energy in such a popular room of the house. Accentuate your window with flowing curtains that catch the breeze.
9. Decorate Upwards
If you have tall ceilings but an otherwise small space, draw the eye upwards to elongate the walls. Keep your main photos and artwork at eye level but add accent items, lighting, and television mounts higher than usual. The effect will make the room feel more expansive while properly utilizing more space.
10. Remember The Views
Not sure which way to angle your living room seating area? Instead of surrounding an entertainment center, focus your seating toward your most beautiful set of windows. Invite guests over for an evening of sipping cocktails and taking in the scenery or skyline of your neighborhood.
11. Focus on Family
Explore all the creative ways to weave your favorite family images throughout your living room design. How many places can you incorporate photos into the design? Create a photo wall with a range of framed images, drape a photo blanket across the sofa and pop a photo throw pillow on the loveseat. You can even highlight your best memories on a set of wooden coasters.
12. Plan Your Hearth
Your fireplace is the natural gathering place in a living room. Whether you have a natural hearth or not, designate one area in your living room to act as this gathering space for your most precious items. Include family photos, meaningful decor, and bits of greenery. This area also acts as your main area to hang festive items around the holidays.
13. Style Your Shelves
Bookshelves are more than just a storage spot for your vast library. Transform the whole look of a living room by mindfully styling your shelves. Leave space between books for additional accent items, color-code your book bindings, or add creative lighting to liven up the look.
14. Reshape With Shiplap
Shiplap wooden paneling is making a big comeback in modern design. Give your living room a cozy cottage feel by reinvigorating your walls with white, gray, or beige paneling. You don’t have to cover the whole room with paneling if you don’t want to—choose an accent wall to add this popular layer.
15. Grow Your Garden
If you’re low on outdoor space in your home or apartment living room, add a feast of greenery to your space to keep it looking lush and vibrant. Add hanging plants to each window, small succulents along your windowsill, or even a small potted indoor herb garden on your server. Choose a unique vase for the center of your coffee table to fill with fresh flowers each week.
16. Soft Colors
Create a cohesive color scheme by keeping your hues soft and light. For a modern living room, choose pale beige, soft blue, and the palest of grays to pull together your furniture, wall colors, and artwork. Add plants to include pops of natural green throughout the space.
17. Cozy Knits
Everyone will want to cozy up in the living room in the wintertime if you fill the room with thickly knitted throws and pillows. Loosely drape a throw with an oversized knit pattern over the sofa and tuck a collection of throw pillows into the corner for comfort. Don’t leave a chair without a blanket or pillow for ultimate comfort.
18. Convenient Surfaces
Think through you and your guest’s day as you interact with the space. Do they have a place to set down their bag if they sit on the couch? Are coasters accessible? Be sure to include a surface for placing drinks and plates next to each seating area.
19. Coffee Table Photos
Take the traditional coffee table book a step further by creating your own book of family photos or prints. Each year, add a new display to your coffee table collection. Highlight big milestones, weddings and events with new albums to show off every time guests come to town.
20. Color Code Your Walls
Curating an art wall can feel daunting without a place to start. Consider beginning with complementary color combinations such as black and white, blue and gold, or even a retro-inspired hunter green and orange. Choose works of art and accent items that fit within that color world to tie together the look.
21. Urban Farmhouse
Even if you’re living in the heart of the city, bring the charm of a rustic farmhouse into your living room. Fill the space with white knits, live-edge tables, and cozy flannel patterns. In the winter, fill your mantelpiece with decorative branches, ivy, and evergreens.
22. Children’s Corner
Do you have energetic toddlers at home? Keep your furniture sleek and simple so you can alter your space quickly for playtime and movie nights. Create a corner in your living room that’s dedicated to your child’s projects, games, and toy storage. It will keep you organized but also provide an inspirational space for them to grow their imaginations.
23. Trendy Jewel Tones
Vibrant jewel-inspired hues are taking center stage in living room design today. Accent one wall or fill your whole space with these bold colors to wake up the mind and create a stylish hub in the center of your home. Be sure to choose a color that complements your furniture upholstery and favorite artwork.
24. Timeless Neutrals
No matter your design style, you can’t steer off course with a soft gray, tan, or beige color palette. Your artwork and photographs will further stand out against the calming neutral hues. Create a minimalistic design with framed modern art, add bursts of color with family photographs, or add a vibrant tapestry to act as the focal point of the space.
25. Chic Black Accents
Use black paint, upholstery, and artwork where it will stand out the most. Choose the smallest wall in your room to paint a deep black, add black accents to pop against a white wall or include black furniture to balance an otherwise neutral space. Black works into a vast number of color combinations and living room themes.
26. Fireplace Makeover
Reinvent the design of a room by focusing on its focal point: the fireplace and mantel. Replace the old copper or brass fireplace border with a modern touch like shiplap, stone, or cement. Keep the colors and decor balanced and simple for a minimalist look. Clear off your mantel and start fresh. How little can you use to decorate to make a big statement?
27. Eclectic Curation
If you have a collection of unique items from your travels or trips to the antique store, spread them throughout the space with pride. Find unique ways to display each item on bookshelves, side tables, or even the walls. Steer clear of bunching them all together in one spot where they can look a bit cluttered.
28. Built-In Shelves
If your living room features the coveted built-in wall bookshelves, use this as an opportunity to set the tone for your room. Add a pop of color to the back of the shelves by adding patterned wallpaper or paint the whole shelf with the same accent color. Keep it simple by only placing your favorite books on the shelf, broken up by plants, artwork, and your favorite photos.
29. Brighten And Reflect
As is the case with all rooms of your house, open up a space by reflecting your natural and manmade lighting with the unique use of mirrors. Framed photos and mirrors on each wall create balanced lighting in the most well-used space in your home. Other reflective items include chandeliers, large clocks, and decorative wall pieces that feature crystals and metallics.
30. Hang A Frame Rail
Frame rails are an excellent way to spread photos and artwork throughout your room without damaging multiple spots in your walls. They also give a room a classic look while using modern design materials. Smaller frame rails are also simple solutions for creating a photo collage wall within minimal measuring.
31. Surround Your System
Blend your entertainment system into the natural architecture of your room by adding it to a built-in bookcase or a large armoire. This allows you to frame your television and music system with personalized decor, books, and live greenery. If you don’t have a permanent bookcase in your living room, house your TV in an oversized freestanding bookcase and carve a small space for connecting wires.
32. Spread Your Values
Fill your living room space with loving and inspirational messages. Favorite phrases, lyrics, and quotes can set the tone for a living room for your family and when welcoming guests. Create your own quote display by hand as a special DIY project to further personalize the living room accent.
33. Stone Statement
Architectural gifts like exposed brick, natural stone, or marble finishes should be highlighted in any living space. Let the rugged building materials shine by using minimal decor or furniture to cover up their beauty. Incorporate colors, textures, and designs inspired by the stone throughout the rest of your room’s decor.
34. Combine Spaces
If you’re decorating a small living room, apartment, or open floor plan, play with combining two living areas into one. For example, separate the dining and living room area with something as simple as an area rug. You can even block off the living space by redirecting the sofa to create a false separation between the two spaces.
35. Color-Coded Patterns
Looking to fill the room with playful patterns? One way to tie everything together is to choose one color and switch it up the patterns within the same scheme. If you’re decorating a blue living room, choose blue accent items with stripes, polka dots, houndstooth, and paisley. Balance out the energetic design by choosing solid items in a complementary color like white or gray.
36. Cozy Track Lighting
Traditional overhead lighting can come across as too harsh for a living room, especially as you’re winding down at the end of the day. Install track lighting with a dimmer switch for a softer, more directed look. You can also create a unique living space—such a dining area or study spot—with track lighting on the edge of a room.
37. Glass Accents
If you’re reinvigorating your tabletop decor in your living room, decorative glass is both versatile and classic. Combine clear, blue, and pale green vases or jugs in a cluster on the coffee table, for example. As seasons come and go, fill your containers with fresh or dried flowers. You can also choose a collection of glass photo frames or prints.
38. Statement Rugs
Looking to make a statement in an otherwise simple room? Explore handmade rugs with an artistic flair. Many come in unique shapes, handwoven patterns, or vibrant colors. Place your area rug at the center of the room with minimal furniture on top to distract from its design.
39. Statement Curtains
Make a bold statement in a modern living room with eye-catching curtains in a bright color or interesting design. Unique window treatments are perfect in an otherwise minimalist space with a basic color scheme. Their vibrancy will pull the eye toward the window and set the tone for the overall energy of the space.
40. Window Seats
Do you have a ledge by one of your living room windows? Cover the seat with a custom-made cushion to perfectly fit within the space. This transforms the window spot into a perfect place to curl up with a book or take in the scenery with a cup of coffee. Add personalized throw pillows and a cozy blanket.
41. Blend With The Outdoors
Consider your country or city views when choosing living room color schemes and decor. If you have expansive windows that look out onto panoramic views, which colors can you incorporate into your wall colors and furniture? Cityscapes pair well with vibrant colors to balance the architectural view and to reflect light.
42. Celebrate Your City
Do you have great pride for your hometown or big city? Reflect your love of home with works from local artists, images on your town, and photographs of your family taking in the city. Include an outline of your favorite skyline above your mantel or bookcase as a great focal point.
43. Clever Storage
Every room needs its own storage space, especially if you have a large family. Choose furniture items that double as other important living room staples. These may include steamer trunks, side tables with cabinets, or coffee tables that store blankets and pillows. Storage is especially key when looking for small living room ideas.
44. White and Gold
One of the most popular color combinations today is a white living room with hints of gold or silver. This modern living room color scheme creates a minimalist, clean look that’s easy to accent throughout the changing seasons. Add coffee or side tables with gold frames, add gold mercury glass vases to the mantel, or fill the room with golden Christmas decor around the holidays.
45. Creative Spaces
Do you collect and create creative decor? If you want to display all your unique and colorful items, cluster your art into thematic accent walls around your living room. Even if you choose to hang an eclectic mix of decors, mindfully choose how your items group together for display.
46. Travel Map
Celebrate all your family’s travels with a DIY travel map frame and hang it right in the center of your living room. This makes an excellent addition right over your mantelpiece or dining room table. Not only will your map inspire more adventures, but it’s also a great conversation starter when guests come to visit.
47. Yellow Highlights
Add sunny accents to your room no matter your wall and furniture color combination. Yellow throw blankets, picture frames, and flowers instantly brighten up a room. You can even brighten up the light of a room with pale yellow window treatments.
48. Chalkboard Wall
Add an interactive space in your living room by marking off a small wall with chalkboard paint. This is especially fun if you have kids in the house or simply want to encourage daily works of art or a spot for loving messages in your home. Include a small desk with colored chalk, erasers, and stencils for creating new designs.
49. Dim The Lights
Lighting is the key to transitioning your living room from family time to a relaxing evening. Be sure to include different lamps that offer varying levels of brightness. If possible, add a dimmer switch to your overhead lighting to easily switch from late afternoon to evening.
50. Create Sacred Space
Though the television typically acts as the focal point of the living room, you can also create a technology-free zone with separate seating and resting space. Designate an area of the room for reading, meditating, or hosting friends. You can accent the decor with items that make you feel at ease. This is especially helpful in more formal living rooms.
51. Conversation Layouts
How does your living room seating facilitate good conversation? Walk through how your friends and family members will interact with the space, especially when there’s a large group visiting. Be sure there is space to walk through the room with ease as well as see everyone in the room when hosting a large party.
52. Pet Corner
If you have lots of furry friends in your home, designate a living room space to gather their toys and bed. Though they may still be prone to leaping up on the couch, this at least attempts to carve out a space for them to spend their time. Design a pet station with all their favorite things so they’ll be more likely to know it’s just for them.
53. Adjust For The Holidays
You may need to move furniture around when the holidays arrive, especially if you plan to set up a large Christmas tree. Keep this in mind when choosing where to place your furniture. Is it easy to transition the space for decor and large groups?
54. Basket Storage
For a rustic approach to storage, look for large woven baskets for easy solutions in your living room. Place them by the sofa, love seats, and next to the hearth for a cozy accent. Fill each basket with things you take in and out of storage on a regular basis like blankets, pillows, and books.
55. Clean With Ease
An open layout is easier to clean than a living room filled with furniture. Keep your cleaning habits in mind when arranging furniture. Easy-to-move furniture is much more conducive to sweeping up or going through your springtime deep clean.
56. Layered Patterns
Make a bold statement in a modern living room by laying bright and busy patterns one onto the next. Deliberately mixing a wide range of colors and patterns give your space a true bohemian feel. Pick up your pattern-heavy style in your paintings, pillows, and upholstery.
57. Simple Surfaces
Declutter your space by starting with all of your living room surfaces. Keep minimal items on your coffee and side tables, TV stand, mantel, and bookcases. Simple decor will create the appearance of a calm and balanced living room.
58. Modern Florals
You can still incorporate floral patterns into your space without looking outdated. Frame vintage painting of flowers and plants in a series across your photo wall. If you choose a fabric with flowers, keep them light and simple for modern style.
59. Plush And Pink
Plush and luxurious fabrics like velvet look works well in a warm rose hue throughout a formal living room. Create an ornate, classic style in your living room by choosing deep pink, overstuffed furniture items. You can also add fun accessories like ottomans and stools in this color palette.
60. Vintage Charm
Are you a skilled antique shopper? Display your best vintage items where they’ll be seen the most. Surround your retro record player with a mod-style lamp and accent with artwork that shows off the era.
61. Flexible Seating
One way to create more seating opportunities in a small living room is to pick flexible seating. Some coffee tables offer removable stools and eating surfaces, for example. You can even store padded folding chairs in a nearby closet when larger parties come to visit.
62. Exposed Firewood
No need to store your firewood out of sight. Putting it on display is a cozy place brings the coziness of the outdoors right into your living space. Keeping the wood indoors also keeps it dry and safe from any outdoor pests.
Once you have a space that feels like home, be open to change as your style and preferences evolve. Simple living room designs are easier to slightly alter each season, whether you live in an intimate apartment or expansive country home.