Living Room Ideas. Design & Decor Guide
Make your living room ultra-stylish or ultra-cosy with these fab looks!
Living rooms should be comfortable and inviting. They’re a place to entertain guests, enjoy time with the family, and relax after a hard day. If you find it hard to leave your living room, you’re doing something right!
As it’s such a personal space, people often have their own ideas about how to decorate the living room, reflecting what they personally find most relaxing. Sometimes, just going with what feels right to you is the best way: no-one says you have to stick to a design scheme!
But if you’re in need of a bit of style inspiration for your space, take a look at the ideas below. Covering everything from traditional to modern to vintage and art deco to industrial, these living room design tips could help you breathe new life into the family’s favourite room.
Modern living room ideas
A contemporary living room is one of the simpler looks to achieve – and a popular one, so all the bits you need are readily available. Inspired by Scandinavian design, it aims for a kind of cosy minimalism.
The modern look is all about simplicity, space and understated style. The four main elements – that’s the sofas, curtains, rug and table – should all work well as a unit. That doesn’t mean they have to all be the same colour or pattern, but they should all complement one another without “fighting”.
You can then add in subtle details and splashes of personality in your accent pieces like lampshades, wall hangings and houseplants. Minimalism doesn’t have to be boring! Think about quirky, modern shapes and styles for accent pieces, but don’t overdo it – a few is all you need.
For colours, think light neutrals first: off-white walls, creams and light beiges help to create an airy, fresh feeling. To break it up, pick a colour accent for your cushions and rug, or choose geometric patterns. This helps add a bit of visual interest, without overpowering the serenity that’s at the heart of the modern living room design.
You can keep your sofas light neutral, or choose a dark neutral like navy blue or charcoal for a dash of contrast. For tables, go with glass for a modern, sophisticated feel, or if you find that’s too clinical, wicker or simple white wood will soften the look.
Carpets can work in a modern living room, but it’s more common to go with bare floorboards (or wood-effect lino or laminate flooring), then soften it with a cosy rug.
Traditional living room ideas
If you’re going for the traditional, country cottage-style living room, we don’t blame you. There’s nothing quite as welcoming and cosy as an open fire, chunky sofas made for falling into, and warm tones.
Despite the name, this look doesn’t have to be stuck in the past. It’s more about using the traditional, like solid wood furnishings and exposed beams, in a more modern and practical space.
Think about this when you’re picking your focal pieces: they should give an impression of age, while looking timeless. Items like leather armchairs, oak tables and bookshelves help to provide the homely, lived-in feel that this look’s all about.
Tactile fabrics like knitted wool throws are a perfect addition, along with a rug or two. Thick velvet curtains with tiebacks and tassels can pair really well with the cosy theme, along with classically styled sofas upholstered in soft fabrics.
Traditional living rooms usually focus on warm, welcoming tones like burnt oranges, dark greens and deep reds, complemented by dark natural wood textures. For a more up-to-date appearance that still sticks with the theme, neutral beiges and creams can work very well too.
Having a real fireplace or wood-burning stove is a real asset for the traditional living room, but it’s not a requirement! If you do have one though, you have a ready-made focal point. Accent it with an elegant brass-framed mirror over the mantelpiece, or a stack of logs for that “curl up and get cosy” look.
Vintage living room ideas
Want to get the chic, retro groove in your living room? The vintage look isn’t a million miles from the traditional living room, but it tends to draw more on handicrafts, quirky pop art and kitsch from the 60s, 70s and 80s.
It’s very easy to overdo this kind of style, but you only really need a few key items to bring it all together. Go shopping around your favourite vintage and antique shops and grab a few unique bargains, or have a look online - places like Etsy and eBay are good places to start. Keep an eye out for decorative items too: old typewriters, framed prints of classic advertisements and any other curiosities you can find are great additions.
Whether it’s low-slung seating, a stylish leather sofa or an old clothes chest repurposed as a table, these are your statement pieces of furniture and they should take centre stage. You can use lots of patterned fabrics to liven things up: classic or striped cushions can make things pop.
There’s no set colour scheme you have to work with, but starting from a neutral white base is a good idea so that your statement pieces can stand out. Touches of pastel like duck egg blue can soften the look, or if you want something a bit more lively consider papering just one wall in a floral pattern.
When it comes to curtains, take a look at stripes and geometric patterns - these were hugely popular in the 60s and will help tie the look together. Don’t worry too much about staying in the style of one era, either: the vintage living room look can be as eclectic as you like, as long as you can make it work!
Art Deco living room ideas
Art Deco was a popular design movement in the first quarter of the 20th century, and it’s still a highly sought-after look today. Think of the glitz and glamour of early Hollywood, the excitement of discovery, skyscrapers and scientific marvels, and you’re in the Art Deco zone.
Luxury, modernity and appreciation for aesthetics are the keystones to the Art Deco living room. It can be a tricky look to pull off, but a very stylish and rewarding one if you have the patience for it!
Finding genuine Art Deco furniture can be one of the hardest parts, but you can always make do with modern equivalents. Look for stand-out items that emphasise form over function: chairs and sofas built around wavy, rounded lines, and metal-and-glass tables decorated with bold, ornate detailing.
Art Deco has its roots in Cubism and emphasises clean lines and geometric patterns. This can be expressed with liberal use of geometric cushions, while for your window dressings, add a touch of opulence with silk and taffeta curtains.
Colour-wise, go bold: rich, deep colours and stark contrasts are what makes this look work. Combine different textures such as wood, stone and metal in your furnishings and wall decorations. Accents of gold, silver and chrome provide the luxurious and modern appearance this style is famous for.
Don’t neglect the walls: a colourful modern art print is the perfect way to brighten up an empty space, and a few glass and metal objets d’art will help nail that Art Deco sophistication.
Industrial living room ideas
This style might seem a bit left-field at first, but it’s emerged from the trend for converting former industrial spaces like factories and mills into modern city-centre apartments and homes. Instead of trying to hide the building’s heritage, the industrial style embraces it.
This look tends to work best in a certain kind of space. If you’ve got high ceilings, exposed brickwork, concrete walls and metal staircases, you’ve got a great foundation for an industrial living room. You can still make it work without these features, it just might take a bit of extra effort!
For colours, think mainly in terms of browns and beiges, but you can offset these with the occasional pop of bright reds or greens to stop things getting too dingy.
When it comes to sofas and chairs, dark leather is a great way to inject a bit of cosiness and luxury to offset what can be quite an austere style. A few Art Deco-style furnishings (see above) can also work really well, lending the space a more human touch.
If you’ve got high ceilings, lights dangling from hangers, or alternatively track lighting are good choices, preserving the industrial look while adding some modern pizzazz. Big and bold wall features like metal clocks, pipework or even neon signs can also bring a bit of character into the space.
Polished wooden floors work really well with brick walls, but make sure to break things up by scattering a few rugs around: it’s a living room, not an office! And instead of curtains, think about venetian blinds in wood or metal, which can look fantastic against brickwork.
Have our living room design tips inspired you to revamp your lounge? We’ve got a huge range of curtain fabrics, cushions, home accessories and more to help you achieve the look you’ve always dreamed of.