101 Living Room Decorating Ideas
Mix and match patterns, embrace bold colors, layer rugs, and so much more! Try these tips to create a pretty space to enjoy conversations with friends and family.
"To give Country French my minimalist spin, I avoid the expected ruffles and plaids and keep it about the painted antiques and white linens," says homeowner and designer Regina Lynch. "In this house, curtains would have been too much, so instead I painted the trim a dark gray for a similar, but cleaner, look."
To keep the traffic flow open, pull the furniture away from the walls and into the center of the room―a type of arranging commonly referred to as a “floating furniture plan.” An octagonal ottoman in a bold fabric set on a cowhide rug anchors the arrangement in this room.
Comfortable and formal can go together. Use antiques to anchor your room and then mix in modern touches with bold fabrics, mid-century lighting, and sculptural accessories. Pair silk curtains and mirrored tables with clean-lined upholstery and lots of colorful pillows.
This living room shows that you don’t need to shy away from bold patterns in a small space. A floral rug and coordinating pillows add color to the space, while an animal-print chair heightens the drama. The herringbone fireplace tile is a nice geometric touch.
Take your decorating cues from your surroundings. This home is on a lake surrounded by trees. Moss greens and mushroom browns paired with a twig-and-bark side table truly bring the outdoors in.
This living room was designed to resemble an early-1900s library; the living room contains a wall of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Two large double-hung windows punctuate these built-ins, along with cozy window seats below.
This living area has floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that fill the room with light. Horizontal mullions in the glass doors are reminiscent of Japanese shoji screens. They complement the space and guide your eye around the room.
Don’t be afraid to personalize the items you buy. Almost every chair in this room was refinished: Two armchairs were whitewashed, and the blue velvet chair was gilded.
Don’t be afraid to fall in love with a bold print. The designer of this living room was inspired by the floral side chair fabric and let it dictate the colors found elsewhere in the room.
This homeowner found inspiration for her walls in a bag of gourmet marshmallows: She used the soft, sophisticated colors to dictate her palette. The plate rack that once showcased antique plates in her parents’ home holds cherished photos.
This living room is a genius use of often-overlooked space; the upstairs landing was transformed into a small den that makes an inviting, casual family hangout. An upholstered wall softens the space above the built-in bench, while bamboo Chippendale-style chairs and vibrant turquoise Moroccan poufs add plenty of extra seating.
Keep a file of your favorite samples and inspirational images even if you can’t afford a makeover yet, or haven’t found the home of your dreams. This homeowner/designer kept all the fabric samples that she loved in a bag until she found the right home to settle in. She'd also been acquiring updated yet traditional pieces for just the kind of collected look she liked.
This living room has a please touch, no fuss feel. It’s comfortable for a young family or grandparents with visiting grandchildren. Hand-rubbed finishes on furnishings lend vintage appeal.
Make your living room unique and nostalgic by using heirloom pieces. This homeowner’s great-grandfather owned a bungalow, and he fondly remembers childhood visits to the family home. He filled his own bungalow home with family furniture and one-of-a-kind attic finds.
You don’t have to give up style even in your high-traffic living room. Guests and kids need not reach for coasters before putting drinks down on the distressed coffee table. Scrapes and dings only add to the character of the piece. A patterned area rug is forgiving of spills and dusty feet.
You can pull off a patriotic color scheme without being kitsch. Try hints of red with a pretty blue backdrop. Use natural linen instead of bright white.
Bonus Tip! Hide the flat screen. The painting above the fireplace can be rolled along the galvanized metal track, revealing a television.
Since guests typically gather in the kitchen, a keeping room is ideal for overflow and comfort. Keep your furniture comfortable and durable-it is sure to be the most used in your home.
If you have a lot of collections, always keep the base neutral so your displays won’t overwhelm the space. Here, a collection of turquoise lighting elements stands out against the cream walls and plays off of the colors in the large painting.
Crisp whites combined with punches of bright colors immediately transport you to the coast. In this living room, aqua accents in the pillows, throw, and rug mimic the ocean’s dazzling blues, and the pops of bright orange are inspired by the magnificent hues of the setting sun. Whitewashed horizontal shiplap planking evokes the feel of old Gulf-front beach houses.
Inspiration for this design struck in the form of a 30-yard bolt of black-and-white- hound’s-tooth fabric that was on sale for an amazing $30. Even after the window treatments, upholstery, and pillows there was plenty of leftover fabric to be used down the road as seat cushions on new finds, lampshades, and even place mats or a tablecloth.
Asymmetrical arrangements can be intimidating, but formal symmetry is easy to pull off and adds a calm balance to a room. The simple arrangement above this fireplace is clean and elegant.
Add architectural interest to your living room with a ceiling treatment. The coffered ceiling in the room creates a striking structural feature to the space.
Although less than 2,500 square feet, this cottage feels larger because of the homeowners’ clever decision to open up and connect the main living spaces. The family room is also vaulted to reveal the loft space above―yet another way of providing extra volume to a relatively modest space.
This homeowner bucked the “matchy, matchy” rule by placing different end tables and lamps on either side of the sofa in her living room. The mismatch works because, even though one table is a white Asian-inspired look and the other is a black step-like design, both tables are the same height. A sleek brass reading lamp pairs nicely with the simple white table, while a large silver-leaf table lamp fits with the more substantial black table.
These homeowners wanted to let their guests be the color to their space, so they painted all of the background surfaces, including the brick fireplace, a clean shade of white. A vintage advertisement and an Arkansas license plate hang on the wall. The casual furniture is covered in washable slipcovers for easy cleanup when inevitable spills happen.
If you’re a frequent redecorator, keep the base neutral in order to let accessories really shine. White or off-white walls and slipcovers stay the same even as this homeowner flirts with new obsessions. She tires quickly of things, and has gone through phases with several different colors, so she tries to change things up with pillows and throws.
Draperies do more than block out the sun. Window treatments can transform a room, adding personality and character. These ceiling-to-floor draperies make the space seem taller and more grand.
To enhance the home’s 9-foot ceilings, these homeowners upgraded to 8-foot-tall doors and 6-foot-tall windows to let in maximum light. They also aligned the doors and windows at the same height to draw the eye up and create the illusion of more space.
Flip tradition and paint your ceiling a bright color while leaving your walls white. Bring the color down into the space with coordinating accessories like window-coverings and pillows.
Tortoise and conch shells accessorize this coastal living room, while starfish adorn the mantel. Books on South Carolina’s coastal area lie stacked on the coffee table and topped with shells. Vases of palm fronds simply picked up from outside complete the tropical decor.
Everything this home can work in most any room in their house. Everything in the living room—the sofa, two club chairs, and two armchairs—has lived and functioned in other areas of the home. The style continuity is part of this home’s peaceful, tranquil feeling.
Repeating patterned fabrics in adjoining spaces is a great way to tie them together. Here, the dining chair upholstery is repeated in accent pillows on the living room sofa.
Over this fireplace, a painting by the homeowner’s aunt provides playful color inspiration. Its coral hues are repeated in fabrics and accessories. Wallpaper remnants are placed inside the built-in glass cabinets to hide DVDs and toys and provide an inexpensive style fix.
Anchor a room with a traditional rug and accessories, and then juxtapose them with modern art for a fresh feel. The hues of this heirloom rug play off of the colors of the bottle-cap portrait above the fireplace.
This living area contains leather swivel chairs that can be rotated to face the kitchen or the TV and fireplace. The long upholstered ottoman does double duty as a coffee table and a bench.
Bring the formal parlor back to your home—this one’s for Mom and Dad, not the kids. Created with the feel of a warm and cozy den, this front room contains rich upholstery and textiles, dark-stained furniture, and a leather wing chair.
Above the mantel, this homeowner displays an ever-changing arrangement of artwork and accessories. An avid flea market and antique store shopper, as he finds new collectibles, he likes to bring them in as a quick way to change up the look.
In this living room, rolled-arm sofas are sized up to fill the airy space. For a coffee table, the homeowner had a Duncan Phyfe dining table cut down a few notches to a comfortable height for playing games or propping feet.
The easy flow between family room and kitchen is welcoming to all ages and offers plenty of room for this homeowner’s extended family, friends, and groups from church to gather. This contiguous space is the heart of their house.
Family photographs instantly add warmth and personality to your home. Take them out of the attic, off your computer, or out of the infrequently viewed albums on your bookshelves, and enjoy them every day. Pick a wall, corner, or entire room. If your chosen spot already has picture molding (found in many older homes), your job will be easy. If not, adding new molding is not that complicated.
A stacked fieldstone fireplace takes center stage in this family room. Rather than just a sheer wall of stone, the exposed chimney is designed with a central recess for artwork, along with tapered edges on either side, to keep it from appearing too overpowering. Sconces mounted directly to the stone are an attractive way to shed plenty of light on the antique timber mantel.
Try a great idea from the past. The triple-hung windows on either side of the great room’s fireplace are found in many older homes in the Deep South. When the two lower sashes are raised, the openings serve as passageways to the screened porch beyond.
This pool house living room sports sherbert-colored hues and feminine flourishes. Quirky cobalt table lamps from Stray Dog Designs and an eccentric teak table serve as foils for the sofa's old-fashioned fringe.
In this living room, the heart-pine flooring came from a South Carolina textile mill. It has the original nail holes, and if you look closely, you can still see oil stains from factory weaving machines.
Can't find the exact table or chest that you need? Just add your own touches, such as a paint finish or unique drawer pulls, to convert an available piece into a one-of-a-kind item. The designer of this living room set a piece of custom-cut stone on top of the wooden coffee table in the family room, giving it a more durable surface.
How do you make a gigantic room look cozy and appropriate for today when it's actually an old Virginia cow barn?
Steven Gambrel, one of America's top-tier interior designers, recently had a chance to consider the question. Although he lives and often works in the most urbane precincts of Manhattan, Steven grew up in Virginia and still has ties there. When the owners of a Middleburg horse farm asked him to convert one of their barns into a place for large, casual parties and just hanging out and watching TV, he took it on with relish—his first barn, and on home turf.
The designer started with fabric selections to set the room's happy mood and a bright color palette of pink, turquoise, and chartreuse. Fabrics have to be matchy-matchy to communicate with each other. If they share a similar vibrancy and color temperature, they'll look good together.
The homeowners combined several shades of blue, from almost-black navy to royal, in the light-filled living room. The hand-blocked batik print on the curtains and bench is by John Robshaw Textiles.
A tufted chesterfield sofa covered in family-friendly Sunbrella fabric adds scale and traditional style. Tip: A large sofa needs large pillows—ours are 26 inches square.
Editor's Tip: Reinvent vintage finds in a new setting. Here, an old flat file cabinet works as a coffee table.
Front and back doors open directly into a two-story-high living room, where spruce-planked walls and wood beams salvaged from an 1890 Tennessee barn reflect the home’s rural setting and give the space a refined, barnlike feel. Interior decorator Phoebe Howard balanced the rustic elements with color. “I added an air of elegance with a soft color palette that reflects the surrounding sky and hills,” she says.
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Wall paint: Pale Powder; farrow-ball.com. Drapery fabric: Celeste Robin's Egg by Raoul Textiles, available through DCOTA; 954/921-7575.
Love it? Get it!
Designer: David Mitchell, David Mitchell Interior Design, Washington, D.C.; davidmitchellinteriordesign.com.