Sometimes modern design is about thinking of things in a new and different way. Traditionally sofas have been an integral part of living rooms, but this modern space from NDC Homes shows that sofas are not a necessity. While the natural inclination would have been to place a sofa in front of the fireplace, in this room three Barcelona chairs provide a modern substitute.
In the living room of designer of textiles and interiors Kathryn M. Ireland’s compound in Santa Monica, the custom sofa is in a linen velvet from Ireland’s fabric collection; the armchairs are covered in an Otis Textiles linen slipcover (left) and a fabric purchased in Marrakech (right). The rag rug is from Amadi Carpets, the steel-framed sliding doors are by Chateau Domingue, and the wall hanging is a 19th-century suzani.
You spend a lot of time in your living room, so it not only needs to look great, but it needs to be functional and comfortable. Blending all three things can be tricky, but we’ve got plenty of ideas to inspire you. Need ideas for other areas too? Our bedroom and bathroom galleries will get you ready for a full house reno!
In a Buenos Aires home, the original marble mantel in the living room was specified by Maison Jansen, who decorated the apartment in the 1930s. The circa-1940 chairs in the foreground, the console (left), and the side table (right) were designed by Jean-Michel Frank for the Argentine firm Comte. The 1930s Frits Henningsen settee is covered in a Holland & Sherry mohair, the chairs next to the fireplace are 18th-century Gustavian, the circa-1950 Sphere cocktail table and lamp are by Jean Royère, and the 1930s table (front left) and sconces are by Maison Jansen.
All white might seem boring, but a crisp, matte white is totally timeless, and will make your space feel a million times larger. Accent with colored pillows to add contrast.
It adds nice depth to the room, and also makes entertaining guests super easy.
Architect Piet Boon and designer Jennifer Schmidt transformed a Washington, D.C. loft with a palette of grey, white, and wood in light tones. Textured accents, including grey velvet chairs, add interest to the open space.
If you’ve got sleek lighting, classic furniture, and clean lines, you’ve got all you need for a modern living room. This all white palette makes the space feel lighter.
You can do better than hanging up a few pictures. Paint a bold pattern on your walls, or opt for using stick-on flowers, stars, or a geometric decal.
The graphic combination of black and white is ideal for the often graphic sensibilities of modern design, like in this space from ZR Architects. The sharp lines and streamlined silhouettes suit the acute contrast in color and result in a look that is both contemporary and gender neutral.
What many people don’t appreciate about modern design is how easily it can be combined with other styles. This room, for instance, has some traditional architectural bones (courtesy of Murphy & Co Architects) yet the furniture and art skew modern. Together they form an almost transitional style which can be appealing to a wide variety of people.
New York-based designer Becky Shea crafted a stunning New York City loft for Homepolish co-founder Will Nathan. The living room, which showcases a mix of industrial elements as well as Shea’s organic-modernist aesthetic, is a lesson in open-concept living.
In the great room of a Hudson Valley farmhouse, a row of French doors affords panoramic views of the Hudson Valley. The couple’s French spaniel, Georgie, rests on a custom velvet sofa. Collins purchased the antique console, wooden chest, and wingback chairs on trips to Italy. The 19th-century limestone columns are from New Delhi, the custom lanterns and laurel reed–and-leather rug are from Morocco, the pendant above the sofa was fashioned from an antique Italian tole lantern, and the curtains are of a Jim Thompson fabric.
In the living room of an antique-laden apartment in Greenwich Village, the antique Swedish sofa and Baroque chair, right, are upholstered in Robert Kime fabrics, the armchair is 18th-century French and a vintage Persian Soumak rug from Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar rests on a sea-grass rug from ABC Carpet & Home. Among the items on the wall are an antique water-buffalo skull, 19th-century French gouaches and a drawing by Jean Cocteau.
In the living room of a Manhattan apartment designed by Jamie Drake and Caleb Anderson of Drake/Anderson, the sectional sofas by Avenue Road are covered in a Great Plains mohair, the pair of vintage Gio Ponti armchairs are from Karl Kemp Antiques, the glass cocktail table by Fredrikson Stallard is filled with feathers, the round side table is by Holly Hunt Studio, the lamp on it is by Charles Paris and the custom rug is by Tai Ping.
Blue and white is the peanut butter and jelly of color combos. But that doesn’t mean it has to skew French country.
Blue, in this case. Hint: it makes it easier to decorate, since you know exactly what shade you’re searching for.
Use a modern silhouette but bring in a contemporary touch, like this rattan chair. It updates the classic design style and makes it feel more fresh.
Even though modern design was born in the early 20th century, it feels like it’s literally never going to go out of style. Whether traditionally modern or mid-century modern, the clean lined, minimalist aesthetic is about as chic as it can get. You could go full-on traditional with it, or add in some contemporary accents. Whichever your preference, we’ve got plenty of modern living room inspiration for you on this list.
Who says everything has to be matchy-matchy? Contrast your couch and chairs to make things a bit more interesting.
The rich-blue velvet couch pops nicely against the pale, misty gray paneled walls in this Chicago apartment.
A common element found in ultra-modern homes is large windows that open up and connect the space with the outdoors. In order to make the most of this arrangement make sure to stick with a somewhat minimalist style. Make sure there’s plenty of breathing room between pieces and don’t over accessorize. Take this room from D’Cruz Interior Design as a perfect example.
The bookshelves in this living room allow all kinds of opportunity for displaying different items, and also for storage. Adding a ladder for high shelves adds another decorative touch.
Can modern design be fun and interesting? Absolutely! All it takes is a statement piece or two, some bold colors, and the willingness to follow one’s own sense of style. While the majority of pieces in this room designed by Amitzi Architects are modern, the Turkish rug pulls them together in a unique way. Combined with the statement light fixture and bold wall art, this room manages to be modern, yet has its own distinct personality.
If your room has a more minimalist vibe, try an oversized, paper pendant. But take note: If your furniture is large and clunky, or you have a lot of busy decor, it could overwhelm it.
In order to take some of the severity away from modern style, consider light but warm colors. The built-in wall unit in this room from Candace Mary Interiors is most certainly modern in style, but the light wood tone adds softness.
This Ibiza living room features local-limestone floors covered in custom Spanish esparto rugs from Antonia Molina. Walls covered in a sandy lime plaster, and a wood-beam ceiling set a rustic tone in the living room. Custom sofas by Atelier Tapissier Seigneur and curtains in a quilted Braquenié fabric; the Oeil cocktail table by Pierre Chapo is vintage, the lacquered-coral sculpture is by Maurizio Epifani, and the painting over the mantel is by Alex Katz.
In a mid-century modern loft in Tribeca, the living room’s custom furnishings include a sofa in a Lee Jofa fabric, a pair of armchairs in a Rosemary Hallgarten fabric, and a walnut side table from Eric Appel; the custom cocktail table and stools with seats in a Larsen fabric are by Daniel Scuderi; the round dining table is by Egg Collective, the Dessin Fournir chairs are in a Keleen leather, the 1950s floor lamp is from Lost City Arts, the Pamela Sunday table lamp is from Studio Van den Akker, the rug is by Joseph Carini, and the curtains are of a Great Plains wool sheer.
Liven up a neutral space with potted plants and greenery. It’ll feel like an actual oasis in your living room.
The homey and welcoming vibes come through thanks to elevated-folksy Thibaut curtain pattern and 8-foot-long Lee Industries sofas. This room pumps up your pleasure at every turn.
John Robshaw’s vibrant Connecticut house is overflowing with character: The living room sofa and its fabric are by John Robshaw for Duralee. The armchair, custom banquettes, and bone-inlay side table are all Robshaw designs, the cocktail table is from India, the table lamps are by Christopher Spitzmiller, and the dhurrie is a custom design. An Elliott Puckette artwork sits on the mantel, which is painted in Yukon Sky by Benjamin Moore, and the large painting of a perfume bottle is by Doug Wada.
It’s 2018, so you don’t have to decorate like you’re back in the mid-20th century. Keep the aesthetic modern, but add in fun, boho accents, like an ottoman and colored rug.
Want to go a little glam without looking too showy? Add in minimal brass accents, like a side table and sconces.
For a Gramercy Park apartment, designer Bennett Leifer upholstered a settee in a Sabina Fay Braxton velvet, and chose a pair of carved wood armchairs by de Gournay covered in a Stark velvet. The Empire console is from Lucca Antiques, the cocktail table is by Ebanista, the vintage stool is by Maison Baguès, the Louis XVI secretary was purchased on 1stdibs, the Tabriz rug is antique, and the walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Alexandria Beige.
A pop of bright color and a take notice pattern are great ways to add a little excitement to a modern living room. In the case of this room designed by Shirley Meisels, the bright yellow chairs add life and excitement yet they don’t detract from the fireplace focal point. For anyone who thinks modern is boring, this living room should change their mind.
Do you even have a modern living room if you don’t have an Eames chair? Questionable.
It’s hard to go wrong with an all-white color palette. Since modern design is about simplicity, white is a natural fit. It’s also surprisingly easy to add personality. This room from Marina Dagenais at Design Premier is very simple, yet it has a definite feminine flair. The curved lines of the furniture, the shapely chandeliers, and the floral arrangements bring a feminine sensibility to this modern living room.
The easiest way to glam up a modern living room? Gold accents. Be care not to go overboard, or else it could feel too gaudy. Instead, stick to furniture legs, lighting, and a mirror.
Chairs that look good but are totally uncomfortable? Not worth the cute factor. Opt for insanely comfy seating, like a papasan chair, and you’ll want to lounge in your living room forever.
The horizontal wood-paneled white walls help balance out the bold pinks, oranges, and blues in this room.
Blue and white is classic, but you can warm up your space a bit by choosing gray instead. This room is proof it’s not totally dull.
Incorporate traditionally modern furniture made from natural materials with clean lines and a functional aesthetic. To make sure the room doesn’t feel too dated, keep your decor accessories contemporary.
The extra wide panels above this fireplace are a fresh, modern take on shiplap. To make it even more unique, only do a section of your wall.
We do not feel sophisticated enough for this insanely elegant living room. Clean lines and minimalism are key here.
Gray has been the go-to neutral for at least a decade, and it works beautifully in modern living rooms, like this one form Grand Design London. Cooler shades, in particular, speak to the aesthetic of modern design, and when combined with black furniture you get a sleek and urban look.
Blend neutral gray walls with sleek, modern furniture and lighting. It’ll look chic rather than dated.
In the living room of Vivia Horn’s Japanese-style retreat in Hunter, New York, the leather-and-plastic Italian sofas, cocktail table, and wool shag rug were purchased in the 1980s at Bloomingdale’s. The Japanese-style fire pit and tin range hood are custom, the floor lamp is from the ’70s, the sisal carpet is by Stark, the ceiling beams are Douglas fir, and a series of color lithographs from Japan are displayed along the pine wainscoting.
In some corners of the decorating world “modern” is considered a dirty word. There’s a belief that modern rooms are cold and lack personality. But nothing could be further from the truth. Modern living rooms can be warm, inviting, and sometimes even downright cozy. While modern living rooms may lack some of the frills of their more embellished counterparts, they make up for it in their sleek sense of style.
The living room is the place where friends and family gather to spend quality time in a home, so it’s important for it to be well-designed. From sleek lofts to design schemes layered with antiques, these eye-catching living spaces are bursting with personality.
A modern living room with comfortable furniture, cozy fireplace and a stunning view is the perfect place for family gatherings. The key to this room’s comfort is the seating. Raven Inside Interior Design created an arrangement that provides a certain amount of intimacy while the softness encourages comfort and relaxation.
Who says modern can’t be fun? Cleary not the team from Michelle Lewis Interior Design, the masterminds behind this room. Abstract art, a unique light fixture, and an array of colors and finishes come together to create a space that looks great and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Actress Minnie Driver’s inviting Hollywood living room features a mix of vintage fabrics and patterns. Window treatments in complementary colors add balance to the light-filled space.
Bring the garden inside with plant-inspired wallpaper, like the one in this living room that emulates greenery on a trellis. The result? A charming and cheery vibe.
A Brooklyn townhouse in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, features a sofa from ABC Carpet & Home upholstered in a fabric by Soraya Shah for Studio Four NYC. The space also includes a chaise by Timothy Oulton, a Danish cocktail table, the Akari pendant light by Noguchi, window treatments in a Rebecca Atwood fabric, and a vintage Moroccan rug. The walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Huntington White and the trim in Iron Mountain. A photograph by Claire Nitze and a cameo portrait by Doug Meyer complete the living room.
In the living room of a Manhattan apartment, a pair of 1960s chairs from John Salibello is in a Manuel Canovas fabric, the custom sofas are covered in Holland & Sherry fabrics, and the Karl Springer cocktail table (foreground) is from Mantiques Modern; the 1960s stainless steel chairs and cube are by Maria Pergay, the table lamps are by Andrea Koeppel, and the curtains are of a Manuel Canovas silk-cotton blend; the artworks on the wall are by (from left) Richard Prince, Rudolf Stingel, George Condo, and Elizabeth Peyton.
There’s something very soothing about a room with simple furnishings and basic, clean-lined accessories. In this modern living room there’s a pronounced sense of cleanliness and organization, but to keep things from becoming boring or sterile, designer Susan Manrao played with the furniture shapes, contrasting curved lines with straight. A unique wall mirror and sculptural floor lamp complete the look of this simple yet dynamic space.
PR maven Christina Juarez’s New York apartment is colorfully eclectic from floor to ceiling. In her living room, the vintage Milo Baughman sofa is in a Cowtan & Tout velvet and a pair of 1970s chairs are in a Larsen velvet. The cocktail table and floor lamp are by West Elm, the side tables are by Donghia, and the pillows and rug are by Madeline Weinrib. The portraits are by Kimberly Brooks.
The sofas in the living room of this contemporary Hancock Park home are by RH, Restoration Hardware, the 1950s chairs are Danish, the cocktail table is by Charles Hollis Jones, the end tables are from Lucca Home, and the antique stool was a Japanese rice box. The antique mirror is Indian, the mantel is original, the pendant is by Paul Ferrante, the floor lamp is by Visual Comfort, and the sconces are by Ralph Lauren Home.
Modern design makes use primarily of natural materials, so don’t shy away from wood-paneled walls in your house. They can add warmth to the room, without having to go OTT on decor.
If you’ve got a marble top coffee table, take it off and place it on the floor. Prop it up with some books for a bohemian update.
Christiane Lemieux’s New York City loft includes artwork by Robert Swain, custom sofas covered in a neutral linen, and a coffee table and side table from the Brimfield Show and a Paris flea market.
Alisa Bloom recreated the environment of a French interior in her sophisticated Chicago penthouse. In the living room, she opted for a custom sofa in a Kravet fabric with pillows in a Jim Thompson silk. The 1970s chairs are from Revival, and the vintage cocktail table is from Martin La Brocante. She finished the space with a console by Crate & Barrel, a vintage chandelier by Hans-Agne Jakobsson, and curtains in an Oscar de la Renta fabric for Lee Jofa. The walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Cement Gray.
A modern living room can be given a little vintage boost with mid-century modern furniture. This sleek living room from Third Stone boats a smooth paneled wall, glossy floors, and a large picture window, but the Barcelona chairs and sofa, as well as the sunburst clock, add a little 1950’s flair.
In the living room of Steven Gambrel’s Chicago apartment, the custom sofa, in a JAB Anstoetz fabric, is by Dune, the 1950s chair (left) is in a Dedar fabric, and the custom armchair is covered in Arabel fabrics; the 1930s orange lacquer–and-shagreen sideboard is French, the 1950s Murano glass table lamp is by Seguso, the 1955 chandelier is by FontanaArte, the custom rug is by Beauvais, and the Venetian plaster walls are in Benjamin Moore’s Stonington Gray.
Sounds like the dullest color ever, looks incredible. Wood paneling helps break up the dark wall.
Every room needs something special—a conversation piece that grabs your attention and really completes the space. In this room from ZR Architects, it’s obviously the unique light fixture. It stands out and draws the eye to it, but it still fits in beautifully with the space. Notice how the shape mimics that of the side table, creating a connection and a sense of unity.
The living room in this Greek Island home features a custom cocktail table and banquette, and striped pillows upholstered in a Les Toiles du Soleil fabric. The Queen Elizabeth II print is by Andy Warhol.
Arguably, the most comfortable rug ever. This black and white pattern makes it feel fresh and modern.
This jewel-toned color makes a room feel like a Caribbean oasis. Add potted plants and we’re completely swooning.
This hot pink fireplace was inspired by the homeowners’ grandmother’s favorite shade of lipstick. Have fun with little details like that!
In every modern living room, there’s room for one statement piece. And there’s no reason why that piece shouldn’t be either an antique or something totally unusual. In this room from Nicole Hollis, the console table has a decorative Moroccan flair which is a definite contrast to all the other sleek pieces in the room. The piece stands out, but thanks to muted brown finish it doesn’t look out of place with all the other neutral pieces.
They might be overdone, but we still love them. Add a couple of poufs to accent your space.
The couch in this living room is a prime example of perfectly mismatched patterns. The couch maintains a color scheme, and the blue rug beneath it ties the whole look together.
For an unexpected fireplace display, swap logs for stacked books or magazines. Firewood, who?
It’s more than just furniture from Mad Men, but we’ll totally compare our living rooms to that show any day of the week. This one feels easy and inviting.
Paring down a room can leave it feeling stark, fast. Up the homey vibes with throw pillows and a potted plant.
Arts pioneer Virginia Lebermann’s family home in Marfa includes a neutral sofa by Minotti, a white chair by Axel Vervoordt, and a John Derian floor lamp (foreground). The painting is by Charlotte Culot.
In the living room of an Upper West Side apartment, the custom sectional is upholstered in a Le Manach print and the custom sofa in a Loro Piana fabric is topped with a pillow in an Osborne & Little fabric. The table lamp is by Niermann Weeks, the floor lamp is by Aero, the rug is Persian, and the cashmere throw is by Pratesi.
Our Whole Home Project had some pretty covetable interiors—this living room included. It’s totally lived-in and relaxed, but with a touch of glam.
A former barn now serves as guest quarters at actress Amanda Seyfried’s weekend retreat in the Catskills region of New York. In the living area, the sofa is by West Elm, the wool rug is by Restoration Hardware, the flooring is reclaimed oak, and the wall is painted in Benjamin Moore’s White Dove; the photograph is by Sarah Bailey.
An open-concept layout is the key to a lighter, airier space. Choose a white color palette to up the vibe more.
The calming colors in the living room of this North Carolina home are balanced with fun geometric shapes in the prints above the couch, and on the rug below.
The fireplace is almost always the focal point of a room, so why not beef it up to create an entire focal wall? In this modern living room, the focal wall (designed by Beinfield Architecture) is not particularly flashy, but it has a huge impact on the overall look and feel of the space. The metal panels add texture which provides more depth than something flat like paint would. It’s minimal, yet the results are huge.
White walls and contemporary furniture give this living room a clean and classic feel. Natural elements, by way of driftwood and greenery, bring the outdoors in.
In a San Miguel de Allende home, the living room’s sectional is custom, the Lee Industries armchair has a slipcover in natural white linen, and the leather chair is from the Rela Gleason Collection. The cocktail table is an inverted polished tree stump, a stone mill wheel serves as a side table, and the 16th-century monk’s chair in the entry hall is from Colonial Arts. A Persian rug is layered on a cowhide, and the painting of the Guanajuato countryside is by Margarette Dawit.
I’ve never understood how whenever you see a picture of a totally aspirational living room, it’s completely devoid of a television. Like, doesn’t that totally defeat the purpose of a living room or something?! But now you too can fake out everyone on Instagram, thanks to a bifold-panel painting that hides your television behind gorg art.
In the formal living room of the Connecticut farmhouse of sisters Ariel Ashe and Alexi Asher Meyers (plus, Alexi’s husband and Late Night host Seth Meyers), an RH, Restoration Hardware sofa is in a Perennials linen, the custom bench is in a Ralph Lauren fabric, and the walls are in Oval Room Blue by Farrow & Ball.
Modern design has the capacity to be very sexy and dramatic. Long, luxurious drapes, a take notice fireplace wall (courtesy of Apex Custom Fabrication), and a restrained color palette comprised mostly of charcoal make it happen in this living room. To create a look like this avoid anything that could be considered visual clutter and focus on large expanses of color and material.
Make a small modern space appear larger with a white color palette and see through furnishings. This modern condo designed by Lori Pedersen Staging & Styling has a small footprint but thanks to the use of negative space (mainly around the acrylic coffee table) it appears larger than it really is.
In the living room of Jean-Louis Deniot’s Miami penthouse, the sofa from Deniot’s collection for Baker is in a Martyn Thompson Studio fabric, the 1930s Jindrich Halabala chairs are in a JAB Anstoetz fabric, the vintage cocktail table is by Paul Frankl, and the gold side table is by Hervé Van der Straeten; the 1920s bronze-and-alabaster chandelier once hung in the Villa Kerylos in France, the indoor-outdoor rug is by Galerie Diurne, the artwork is by Franz Kline, and the shelf holds a Roger Desserprit sculpture (center) and a French 1940s lamp.
Architect Luís Bernardo Brito e Abreu renovated his São Miguel home to reflect his family’s artistic, maritime history. The living room features a vintage chair by Illum Wikkelsø, and the mantel and stone benches are both of local basalt. The sculpture of a head on the bench at right is by Ernesto Canto da Maya, and the wall sculpture above the mantel is a 16th-century naval decoration.
In the living room of Kris Ghesquière and Eva Claessens’s house in southeastern Uruguay, which they built on the remains of an 1810 roadside general store, the chair was constructed by a local carpenter based on a picture in a magazine, the vintage table in front of the sofa was found at an auction in France and the rug is from Iran; the yellow lamb sculptures are by William Sweetlove, and the paintings and feather sculpture are by Claessens.
Modern design is really ideal for those who favor minimalism. All unnecessary elements can be stripped away, be it furniture, accessories, or decorative embellishments. The simple and streamlined aesthetic encourages thoughtful design and suggests that items that are not absolutely needed can be eliminated, leaving an open, unencumbered space. This is a great way to showcase beautiful flooring, like in this room courtesy of The Hudson Company.
What’s not to love about a room with comfortable furniture, a soothing palette, and a take notice focal point? This modern living room from Raven Inside Interior Design has them all. The sleek lines and no-frills approach to decorating is both modern and minimal, yet there’s nothing cold or impersonal about it. The warm finishes and soft furnishings make this a great room for spending a cozy night in.
Despite the fact that there are guidelines for every style of decorating, there really are no rules. This room, courtesy of M.B. Jesse, definitely fits the bill for modern style, yet it has a number of unique elements that separate it from the crowd. Between the wow-factor feature wall, large-scale art, and ball side table, this modern living room has a style all its own.