How To Decorate a Modern Living Room | 101 Simple Design Ideas For Decoration, Color, Lighting & Furniture

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how to decorate a modern living room

Whether you're designing a space for your client or decorating your own home, we can all lack inspiration when it comes to living room decor, color schemes, lighting and furniture.

Having a clear plan from the start can often be the difference between success and failure when it comes to interior design, so it's important you think ahead and consider all those important details that are guaranteed to take your living room to the next level. 

So if you're looking to create the wow factor for your next living room decoration project, this exhaustive list of 101 simple design ideas should definitely point you in the right direction...

Modern Living Room Ideas

Traditionally Formal

You can't lose with this kind of formal plan, bringing the room's guests together with inclusive seating. A fireplace and lightly toned colors make it the perfect place to relax.

Source: http://mcarchitecture.com/

Understated & Formal

This spacious creation from Bauformat shows us how to let the sun take centre stage. Understated furnishings crowned with a homely rug got it onto our list.

Source: http://www.bauformatusa.com

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Well Spaced

This minimal living room by Clbnetwork shows that sometimes less is more. Well spaced furniture allows plenty of room for movement.

Source: http://www.clbnetwork.com

Wall Storage

Award winning architects created this share-all space where storage becomes living room decor. An innovative way of making the most of limited floorspace. No need for those clunky storage units now.

Source: http://www.maryannthompson.com/

Contemporary Coastal Cozyness

This snug living room acts as a gateway to the outdoors, with a tightly fitted lounge area that makes the most of a small space.

We also like how TruexCullins have whitewashed the room to give the impression of openness.

Source: http://truexcullins.com/architecture/residential/

Lounging Comfort

The perimeter sofa should give you some living room ideas that revolve around utter relaxation. The close proximity of the marbled table adds to the sense that some living rooms are all about minimal effort.

Source: http://denmanconstruction.com/

Eclectic Seating

The circular arrangement is given a multi-seat variation in this interesting design by MT Development. Maybe your collection of odd chairs does have a use after all?

Source: http://www.mtdevco.com/

Family Viewing

Riverbend Builders mixed rustic living room decoration with a bit of traditional tech in this cabin-like space. The layout itself is easily achievable and lends itself well to those who love the great outdoors.

Source: http://www.riverbendbuild.com/

Kitchen Combination

Combining the two busiest rooms in the house can help to dilute the chaos somewhat. Level Exposure used a big table to join the space together while still keeping it nice and open.

Source: http://levelexposure.com/

Opening Out

Who said you can't bring the outside in? We love this Mediterranean-style living room, which has a formal furniture set up with a curtain-covered surprise. You could do this anywhere, though, bringing your garden space closer in.

Source: http://www.odg-interiors.com/Index.html

Different Strokes

Max Humphrey shows us how to decorate a living room for everyone here with his use of custom chairs. The different heights mean it doesn't feel cluttered despite being fairly intimate.

Source: http://www.maxhumphrey.com/

Living & Dining

Here we see a formal dining room backing onto a more relaxed and comfortable living space. The woven rug plays with the chairs in this Kate Marker design to brighten the living area.

Source: http://katemarkerinteriors.com/

Middle Ground

Floorspace is such a big part of decorating a living room, and so we have a lot of respect for Novi Kitchen and Bath. They have utilised this space brilliantly to ensure we are just a little tempted to climb down onto the floor and snuggle up to the warm fire.

Source: http://www.nkbusa.com/

Table For Two

Living rooms don't always need to be informal lounge areas. Why do you need the chaos now the kids have flown the nest? This modern farmhouse might help inspire you to build a more formal area to relax in.

Source: http://duchateau.com/


Wow. It's hard not to be impressed with this living room decor, where everything centers around a stunning fireplace. Placing things so close together really defines the atmosphere of a living room, although matching or at least similar furnishings are required.

And check out those rugs as artwork on the walls. We like, obviously!

Source: http://www.jacquelineadamsantiques.com/

Individual Pieces

What we love about this living room is its commitment to individual items. The chairs are loosely spaced but conform to a uniform style, which makes the room feel open despite its small size.

Source: http://www.mindynicolephotography.com/

Apartment Savvy

Tech plays a big part in this room and couples with the lamp to create a simple and calming space. This type of functional design is growing in popularity as more of us seek to switch off completely as soon as we get home from work. And surely nothing helps us do that more than our favorite albums.

Source: http://www.interiordefine.com/

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Reading Nook

The bookworms among us may have just seen their next living room decoration - or at least something similar. UP interiors have gone for a minimal, specific design that looks really achievable. Just two seats and a simple table can be enough when the room is this obviously functional.

Source: http://upinteriors.com/

Going With The Flow

That odd shaped room giving you trouble might actually be a great opportunity. As you can see here, Ryan Nessing has followed the curved line of this room to create a spacious and effective design.

Source: http://www.nessingdesign.com/

Living Room Color Ideas


We all know beige has a bad rep but just look how it complements dark woods and deep leather in this ClB designed room in Los Angeles.

Source: http://www.clbnetwork.com/

Rich Red

Red works well on living room furniture because it brings out a luxurious and vital feel when put to high quality fabrics.

Source: http://www.rajirm.com/


It doesn't always work to have a blue floor, but inside this coastal living room we think it's right at home. Tom Stringer coming up with an interesting living room color idea here, that's for sure.

Source: http://www.tomstringer.com/


A timeless use of yellow shading by Tucker and Marks on this European living room. Do you have any lightwood furniture to match?

Source: http://www.tuckerandmarks.com/

Mellow Orange

Sapphire Pear saw this modern living room through orange tinted glasses, harmonising it with light green. Yes, Orange and Green. Impressive work from a Barrie Spang Design Co.

Source: http://sapphirepear.com/


Touches of violet in this wonderfully spaced living room show just how dashes of color can stylise a room. It's all about balance, though, when it comes to big colors. But you knew that already.

Source: http://waringarchitects.com/

Black Outline

Do you agree that outlining is a subtle but powerful way of decorating a living room? Laura Britt frames the view and brings us back into her eclectic interior.

Source: http://laurabrittdesign.com/


Deliberately use white as a canvas just like SWZ Architects did when they decorated this modern living room. Then add in pockets of color to define and refine your ideas.

Source: http://swzarchitectsllc.com/


If you're going for clean and concise then this Jay Marc Design is the way to use grey. Think about contrasting it with rich leather to add layers to your living room design.

Source: http://www.jaymarchomes.com/


Multi-toned browns rule when it comes to rustic and country living rooms, especially when you're using leather and wood. This particular example from RemWhirl is the champion of lodge designs.

Source: http://remwhirl.com/


Amy Dutton manages to understate turquoise while making it the defining color in her traditional living room. The light and dark motifs on the centerpiece rug bring the walls, kitchen unit and suite together brilliantly.

Source: http://www.amyduttonhome.com/


Pink is tricky but we like the way Nicole White Designs used it to compliment grey in this room. Notice the upholstery on the chairs in the foreground. Great stuff.

Source: http://www.nwdinteriors.com/

Solid Black

A simple living room idea here from Kelly Sutton, who has tapered black walls down into lighter tones. Perhaps your own home could have a similar living area, tapering either up or down.

Source: http://www.kellysuttoninc.com/

Mix & Match

This 1960s inspired design should give you some modern living room design ideas, considering it's from modern day Denver. K. Brant Interiors has blended blocks of yellows, oranges, blues, browns and blues together with amazing effect.

Source: http://www.kbrantinteriors.com/

Red Walls

Panelled or cabinet walls seem to enjoy bright colors, and red in particular when it comes to living rooms. The grey centrepiece helps break up the changing tones of red in this Bossy Color design.

Source: http://bossycolor.com/


Green is another color we think should be handled with care when designing a living room. Brookes and Hill have used it as an effective reference point here, complementing it with pale furnishings. Would you need more than one wall in green?

Source: http://brookesandhill.com/


Graphics are back in a big way (as you know from our Trends of 2016 Blog) and why not use gold.

The way Tobi Fairley has managed to keep it understated is impressive, and could offer you bit of inspiration. It definitely sparked a few ideas here at Rugknots.

Source: http://tobifairley.com/

Blue Mix

What a fine example of innovative living room design. The pastel blues are a feature as much as a simple wall color, offering a stunning view for the balcony user. Is multi- level wall coloring something that could work for you?

Source: http://jamesmichaelhoward.com/Home.aspx


Light and airy pastels are well suited to modern living rooms because they promote a sense of relaxation. However, have a little think about the personal items you can add to enrich the room's character.

Source: http://cynthiahayesid.com/

Brown Walls

Well done Noz Design for this spark of yellow against a brown backdrop. It's great! As living room ideas go we couldn't find a better one with brown walls. Lovely personal touches with the bookshelves as well.

Source: http://nozdesign.co/

Living Room Lighting Ideas

Multiple Sources

Ambient light from the ceiling, wall mounted uplighters with dimmers, and stair risers ensure this modern living room has a balanced lighting system.

Source: http://www.dcarch.com/

Illuminated Ceiling Panels

One of the more unorthodox living room lighting ideas, these illuminated ceiling panels cast light through a layer of resin and seagrass. Looking to make a real impression with your lighting? Griffen Enright Architects might be able to help.

Source: http://www.griffinenrightarchitects.com/

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Light As Art

Why not decorate a living room while lighting it? Sunscape Homes fit these stunning light 'Shells,' which hang elegantly above this living room's dining area.

Source: http://www.sunscapehomes.com/

LED Strips For Open Storage

You can make shelves or cubby holes into features with the use of LED strips. They are low on energy use and won't heat up like traditional bulbs. We like the low level light of the ones used here by Bulhon.

Source: http://bulhon.com/

Candle Fixtures

Candles can be brilliant (literally), like these by Shakuff, which act as an art piece as well as light source. They can also be the most practical option for those of you guys with a large space to illuminate.

Source: http://shakuff.com/

Track Lighting

Need a solution on a concrete ceiling? Fredman Design Group did so they used track lighting to create another one of their excellent modern living rooms.

Source: http://www.fredmandesigngroup.com/

Counterweight Light

We couldn't help ourselves with this one. Debra Campbell Design import these Italian made pendants to U.S homeowners looking for some artisan chic in their living room.

Source: https://debracampbelldesign.com/

Fabric Pendants

Sculptural lighting by Aqua Creations is a new favourite at Rugknots. Do you like the idea of custom building a set of fabric pendants to hang over your living room?

Source: http://aquagallery.com/

Overhead Lamps

Placed high enough these overhead lamps can act as your central light unit as well as a more focussed reading light. Studio Revolution is doing great work with these swing-out sconces.

Source: http://studio-revolution.us/

LED's As Highlighters

At second glance you notice that it's actually LED's highlighting the floating feature wall in this modern living room. Caisson Studios are using them for tonnes of other stuff too.

Source: http://www.caissonstudios.com/

Well Priced Pendants

CWB Architects lit up this property with bulbous pendants that are best suited to run on a dimmer. We like them because the price range goes from the very high to the ultra affordable.

Source: http://cwbarchitects.com/

Lighting Design Repititions

If you want your lighting to get people talking then go for something like what Dan Phipps used in a Portola Valley residence. The slight variations are brilliant and add another dimension to this already first class living room.

Source: http://dpaweb.com/

LED Cove Lighting

Cove lighting is ideal if you prefer not to receive any direct lighting in your living room. They still illuminate well and in this example by Studio Lab punctuate a white ceiling.

Source: http://www.studiolabdesign.com/

Multiple Small Pendants

David Howell Designs' use of multiple pendants is a great fit for this house. It's a real lesson in how to decorate a living room if you want every detail, from lights to music, to work stylistically together.

Source: http://www.dhd.nyc/

Low Hanging Table Pendants

The options are endless with these low-lying lights, so take your time when choosing and think particularly about shade size. These Cast Iron Trolley Door lights are really unique, made by Restoration Hardware.

Source: http://jdadesign.com/

Wall Mounted Sconce

The extra tone of lighting from a set of mounted lamps might just be the thing you were missing. They just work so well in this type of traditional living room where elegance is paramount.

Source: http://www.gradyogrady.com/

Floating Suspension Lights

What a brilliant design! You almost feel like sailing away on these lights although, considering they're made from crinkled paper, that's probably not the best idea ever. One of our favourites by Ingo Maurer.

Source: http://johnlumarchitecture.com/

Cluster Lights

Creating different depths of light will give your room real atmosphere, which is exactly what Goldrich Interiors achieved here.

Source: http://www.godrichinteriors.com/

Spot Lights

We like these spot lights because they offer non-intrusive, ambient lighting to a room that already has plenty of natural light.

Source: http://www.vanellensheryn.com/

Colored LEDs

Bring some fun into the house with colored LEDs. Installing them is pretty simple as well, using gypsum board with plenty of patience.

Source: http://www.elytronic.net/

Wall Decorations For Living Rooms

Metal Patterning

Decorate a living room with beautiful patterning that nods to other items around the room. These flowing metal patterns are elegance personified. Available at Decorating Den.




Theme Walls

Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. When it's used in context they have a lot better chance of success, like this nautical wall in a beach house living room.

Source: http://www.marcelobrito.com.br/

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Functional Art

Goodspeead Architecture commissioned this piece to solve spatial and acoustic issues. It doesn't look half bad either.

Source: http://goodspeedarchitecture.com/


Variations in material and color make mosaics a good fit for eclectic living rooms. This one punches up the color in a more traditional setting.

Source: http://slcinteriors.com/


Let your taste in art take pride of place. Style with the colors of your room and let the wall space determine where it goes.

Source: http://kendallwilkinson.com/

Accent Wall

Textured copper makes for wonderful living room decor, just ask Cynthia Prizant who designed this whole room around it.

Source: http://www.prizantdesign.com/


Nobody will blame you if floral designs make up the wall decorations for your living room. They're classic and just look how Fringe Home Design used these china ones.

Source: http://fringehomedesign.com/

Statement Piece

Be bold and adventurous with a statement piece. Gonzalo Papantonakis's work brings a confrontational but sophisticated atmosphere to this room.

Source: http://gonzalopapantonakis.com/ 

Play With Shadows

Manipulating the light means your wall decoration changes all the time, casting different shadows all day. Transom Design Build used a Manzanita branch to great effect here.

Source: http://www.transomdesignbuild.com/

Use Lights

You can go a bit further than backlighting and start incorporating the lights into the wall decoration. And why not go big and bold like this Mauricio Nava Design?

Source: http://www.mauricionavadesign.com/


This basket was used to collect tobacco before it became the hero of this room in New York. Is there anything better than finding a workable, oddball antique?

Source: http://www.scandinavianmade.com/

Frames Together

Individual frames can tell a bigger story together. Notice how Anthony Baratta uses these polkadots to provide balance in a colourful living room.

Source: https://www.anthonybaratta.com/

Big Mirrors

The lighting benefits are obvious with big mirrors but check out how Dallas Design Group used this one to compliment the big fireplace. Bold and direct. Brilliant.

Source: http://dallasdesign-group.com/


Yes it brings character and a place for expression, but what we love is that you miss it. It makes the living room the focus of where your thoughts, ideas and memories are.

Source: http://abloomsburylife.blogspot.co.uk/


Construction paper and tacky putty were the main ingredients in this wall decoration, reminding us that you don't always have to spend big to get the modern living room you want.

Source: http://sabbeinteriordesign.com


Homeowners love to have words as decor in the house but it can all start to look a bit samey. That's why this scrabble piece caught our eye. Hopefully it gives you a few ideas.

Source: http://www.jtightinteriors.com/


The painstaking craft that goes into making a piece like this reflects the decadence of the room as a whole. Tapestries are bohemian, eclectic and, we think, well worth considering in a modern living room.

Source: http://www.jtightinteriors.com/


Have you considered a robust, original feature - such as cladding - when thinking about how to decorate a living room? Working on some poppy yellow coloring also gets a big thumbs up from us.

Source: http://semcosurfaces.com/


Hey, if you love your view then who needs wall decorations anyway? Nanawall create movable glass walls/doors that let you enjoy the outdoors, inside.

Source: http://www.nanawall.com/products/hsw66 

All Wood

This is actually another DIY project, where the homeowner used wooden pallets and insulated in behind them. It's innovative, original and provides a canvas for a themed, family orientated wall.

Source: http://ashleyanthonystudio.com/ 

Living Room Furniture Ideas


Natural materials are Ron Mann's speciality and he's created another brilliant set of rustic furnishings here. If you're going for an expansive, contemporary design then this is definitely an option.

Source: http://www.ronmanndesign.com/home.html &

Bright & Bold

Bright motifs help to liven up this traditional modern living room in Minneapolis thanks to Cathy Iverson's custom made design. The muted wall tones and touches of red unite for a superb feel.

Source: http://hendelhomes.com/

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Exposed Legs

Being able to see the floor underneath the furniture makes the room feel more spacious than it is. Niki Papadopoulos used these exposed legs, on large seats, in a compact modern living room.

Source: http://www.markwilliams-design.com/

Large Rugs

This Antique Serepi warms the entire room, bringing together components from both sides to join a formal living room. Check if a Pak Persian rug could do the same for you.

Source: http://www.rugknots.com/collections/pak-persian-rugs

Console Tables

Console tables are ideal for separating an open plan living room or providing structure to a furniture layout. Maybe add stools like these to enhance its practicality.

Source: http://www.houzz.co.uk/pro/eritger/ed-ritger-photography


Midcentury furniture holds its base in simplicity and a commitment to functionality. No shock, then, that it's making a comeback in modern living rooms all over the U.S and UK.

Source: http://kimberleybryan.houzz.com/

Love Seats

Interior designer Antonio Martin recommends using a love seat to make the most of the space beneath a bay window. Difficult to disagree after seeing his work.

Source: http://www.antoniomartins.com/

Curved Sofas

If you have odd angles how do you decorate a living room? Maybe try curved sofas like these. Suddenly, traditional sofa right angle issues are a thing of the past.

Source: http://www.houzz.co.uk/pro/joiewilson/joie-wilson

Side Tables

Side tables can be your own little pocket of art, minding its own business under yesterday's paper. This Roost side table has everything we like among white walls. Understated, perfectly styled and noticeably well made.

Source: https://www.modishstore.com/collections/roost-furniture-coffee-side-table & http://www.nicheinteriors.com/

Concealed TV

No prizes for guessing where it is, by the way. We like the simple panelled cabinet used by Bennet Frank McCarthy in this living room. Oh, you like the rug as well. Check out a few Modern Ziegler's here.

Source: http://bfmarch.com/

Round Coffee Table

Brilliant for keeping the furniture flow going when you don't have a lot of space. Super affordable as well, with tonnes of treats found at local stores. Get this variation by Apic here.

Source: http://www.cb2.com/apis-coffee-table/s649114 


Wicker sets are an awesome living room furniture idea if you get a lot of natural light. This collection grabbed our attention with its preppy pillow touches.

Source: http://colonial-reproductions.com/

Runner Rugs

This use of a traditional runner rug in a contemporary, modern living room remodel is impressive. Urban Rebuilders chose a beautiful design although differing lengths, colors and motifs are available.

Source: http://www.rugknots.com/collections/runner-rugs

Tripod Lamp

Bravo to Dunlap Design Group for using these delicate tripod lamps to lift the furniture higher, one of the often overlooked principles of living room decorating. They're also ideal if you're struggling for floor space.

Source: http://www.dunlapdesigngroup.com/

Chest of Drawers

A lick of blue paint made this old set of French-style chests a real contributor to the room's light feel. They started out the same tired brown color as the ones in your garage!

Source: http://www.valoriehart.com/

Low Furniture

Living room decorating sometimes poses the question of low ceilings. So solve it with low furniture like Barbara Hawthorne Interiors did here.

Source: http://www.barbarahawthorninteriors.com/

Quirky Chairs

Wingbacks are associated with tradition and leather, but take a look at how a long room is cut into formal and informal with this collection of unique chairs. A changed perception might help to divide your elongated living space.

Source: http://www.wundergroundnyc.com/

Chest As A Table

The obvious extra storage comes with the surprise of beautiful chests being available for affordable prices. They can bring a story with them right into your living room.

Source: http://www.antoniomartins.com/

Built-In Cabinets

Another trend that's sparking a lot of living rooms ideas is the tucked away beauty of built-in cabinetry. Light tones are best suited to keep these mystical features away from the limelight.

Source: http://myekdesign.com/

Writing Desks (Freebie)

Simonsen Hickock gave this petite living room grande ideas with a wooden writing desk. Another one of those items you might stumble across at your local thrift shop. Good luck!

Source: http://www.simonsen-hickok.com/


We hope you enjoyed our roundup of modern living room ideas, and that it helps inspire you to make some amazing changes to your home in the near future.

There's just not enough time to grab ideas from different places these days and, to be honest, I've bookmarked a few of these myself, (especially that Floating Suspension Light by Ingo Maurer). If you can add any more then please do in the comments section J

With so much out there we might as well work together on this one, so share as much as you want and I'll look forward to hearing from you!

Thanks for reading and see you soon.

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