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Formal Living Room with large window, fireplace and brown sofa

Welcome to our epic formal living room design gallery.



Browse all of the hundreds of formal living room designs below or filter your search with the many search filters to the right.  We add new living room photos all the time so be sure to come back.

Formal Living Room Photo Gallery

Features

Color

Style

Size

Ceiling

Lighting

Flooring

Fireplace?

 


Huge living room with a vaulted ceiling and glass doors together with a white sofa set and laminated flooring.Zillow Digs TM


Large white living room with plenty of recessed ceiling lights and a white sofa set together with a rug and laminated flooring.Zillow Digs TM


Vaulted ceiling living room with glass doors and a fireplace together with bookshelves and white sofa set.Zillow Digs TM


Elegant-looking white living room with a fireplace and a rug along with tray ceiling and recessed lights.Zillow Digs TM


The action star's home boasts a bright and sunny corner living room with a perfectly placed sofa set on a hardwood flooring and lighted by an elegant-looking chandelier.Trulia


Another look of Anna's living room showcasing the hardwood flooring and the scattered recessed lights while the fireplace keeps the room warm.Trulia


While the entrance to the estate is full of refreshing greens, the entrance to Anna's living room is looks grand with the wide glass door and walls together with the flagstone ground.Trulia


The living room is a perfect bonding place for family and friends with a wide flat screen TV and a beautiful sofa set on top of an elegant rug.Trulia


Huge white living room with candle light chandelier and a rug along with a nice sofa set and a fireplace.Zillow Digs TM


The elegant living room boasts a candle light chandelier and a ceiling with beams along with a traditional fireplace.Trulia


The white theme embraces the living room and it blends well with the hardwood flooring. It also features a wide flat screen TV on wall and scattered recessed ceiling lights.Trulia


Another shot at Rihanna's living room where the white sofa set is the focus.Trulia


White glam living room with elegant table and lamp shade along with with rug and a fireplace.Wayfair


Traditional living room with white walls and hardwood flooring together with built-in shelving and a fireplace.Wayfair


Traditional living room with white walls and coffered ceiling together with hardwood flooring and a fireplace.Wayfair


Modern and contemporary living room with tiles flooring and dome ceiling together with red stylish wall design and rug.Wayfair


Modern and contemporary white living room with gray sofa set and white floor lamp.Wayfair


Glam white living room with elegant rug and built-in book shelves together with elegant table and lamp shade.Wayfair


Eclectic living room with hardwood flooring and rug with pendant lighting and white walls.Wayfair


White country living room with candle light chandelier and wall lights together with elegant glass-top table.Wayfair

In recent years, living room design has moved toward a more casual and comfortable style and away from the stuffy “drawing room” designs of past centuries.  In fact, in many homes (big and small), the living room serves as both the entertaining space for guests as well as the family room.

Our gallery, while it includes living rooms on the formal side, you’ll notice that while these rooms are more often than not from luxury homes, they’re designed to be used regularly, are inviting and comfortable… many featuring plush sofas, sectionals and comfortable armchairs.

Nevertheless, the move toward a more casual living space hasn’t diminished the aesthetic appeal.  In fact, I much prefer an inviting and comfortable living room over a stuffy and formal space loaded down in ornate design and uncomfortable furniture.

Another interesting design element to note is room size.  Living rooms can be incredibly beautiful in both big and small spaces.

In fact, a large cavernous space doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a nicer room.  Our gallery below features many smaller living rooms that are beautiful, functional and no less inviting than the larger rooms.

While at first glance it may seem designing a kitchen or bathroom is much more difficult than creating a beautiful and functional living room due to the technical requirements, that isn’t necessarily the case.

The reason designing a living room can be challenging is the many elements that must be considered – from floor to ceiling … and then furniture selection.  It’s not an easy task to turn an empty space into a spectacular living, but it’s done all the time and our gallery is evidence of it (even if you don’t like some of the designs – we’re confident you’ll find some that would be perfect for you).

A living room can serve several functions in a home including a formal space especially if you have a separate room. Many have the luxury of two places, the more classic style and the casual family living quarters. According to the National Association of Home Builders, 52 percent of new homes have a dedicated living room.

You often see these spaces in the front of the house as the room you’ll see from the outside. That makes it an obvious choice for a formal style to showcase your home to passersby. Check out our gallery of living rooms to see what possibilities you can explore.

A. Preliminary Formal Living Room Planning

You may think that formal living room design ideas mean an expensive price tag. While that may be true sometimes, you can also find options to fit any budget. The right piece or change, even if it is a small one, can totally change the mood of a room. The essential thing is to do your homework with several considerations in mind including:

  • Your budget
  • List of possible changes/additions to research
  • Purpose of the room

With these things in mind, you can come up with a plan that will work for you.

B. Formal Living Room Cost

Your budget will undoubtedly be your biggest consideration. To avoid any nasty surprises, you should look into everything involved with a change. For example, the average cost for a building permit is $1,237, enough to throw a wrench into your plans. And remember, most additions fall into a range of prices so that you can stick within your limits.

1. Cheap Formal Living Room Design

Don’t discount the impacts that little things like a fresh coat of paint can have on a room. White, for example, is the most popular choice for a wall color in over one-third of living rooms. It brings a sense of spaciousness and sophistication that would certainly be right at home with a formal living quarters. You can easily update the room’s look with less than $400.

2. Mid-Range Formal Living Room Cost

You also have some excellent options at the $1,000 to $2,000 range. The average cost of remodeling an existing room is under $5,000. Again, simple things can make a big difference. You can install built-in shelves for about $2,000. Or how about a change in the flooring? Hardwood is the favorite type in over 70 percent of living rooms.

3. High-End Cost

For a set of new furniture, drapery, and accessories, budget between $10,000 and $20,000. (Source: Realtor Mag)

Of course, if you’re willing to do a lot of renovation work yourself, or make concessions in price in the right places, you can get your cost down quite a bit.

Find out more about living room costs here.

Styles

There are dozens of different styles out there, but we’ll lay out the basics of some immensely popular styles.

Craftsman – Otherwise known as ‘arts and crafts’, craftsman style living rooms focus on furniture with simple, natural beauty. You’ll see a lot of wood in a craftsman living room; and never painted. Oak is the most iconic wood used in this style.

Modern – Shape and form are the most important aspects of modern living rooms. Ridged squares and geometric shapes are common, along with smooth, clean lines. Furniture should be unembellished and  simple. Wood and plastic are common, although wooden pieces are often painted to cover the wood grain. Stainless steel is also heavily favored, as is glass.

Traditional – Traditional designs reflect the classic, elegant European decor, with deep wood tones, unique architecture details, and elegant furnishings. Wing-backed chairs, claw-footed tables, and curved furniture are hallmarks. You will often see antique pieces in traditional living rooms.

Cottage – Cottage style living rooms are comfy, casual, and lived-in. The fabrics are forgiving, and small treasures and mismatched furniture are welcome. Cottage style living rooms are welcoming and full of heart.

RusticRustic designs vary quite a bit. They’re eclectic and emphasize natural materials. Furniture and accents in rustic living rooms are homespun, timeworn, handcrafted, distressed, and natural. Architectural features include wooden beams and columns, as well as a large stone fireplace.

Mediterranean – Mediterranean style living rooms consist of a few different styles; southwestern, moroccan, tuscan, Spanish, and Italian villa. Warm, earthy, and rich textures are common, with wrought iron, patterned tile work, arched windows, and rustic wooden beams.

Country – like Mediterranean, country is a varied style, consisting of French country, English country, and American country. A country style home is humble and homey, with an emphasis on handmade furnishings and textiles. Soft, cheerful colors, mixed with plenty of white, will get you well on your way to a country living room. Tableware and pottery are popular accent items.

Asian – Asian design takes cues from Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, and many other Eastern cultures, and can vary widely. Look for lacquered boxes, tatami mats, futons, or shoji screens for a Japanese aesthetic, or choose red lacquer and paper lanterns to lean more towards Chinese style.

Shabby Chic – Shabby chic is far from looking messy; it’s a feminine design style that embraces the romantics of vintage pieces. The difference here is that the timeworn, distressed furniture keeps it from looking like a genuine period design.

Examples by Style

CraftsmanModernTraditionalCottageRusticMediterraneanCountryAsianShabby Chic

Colors

When picking a color for your living room, don’t be afraid to go bold. While it’s probably not wise to paint your entire living room a neon green, you don’t have to stick with neutrals either.

Finding the right balance is key. When done right, color, bold or subtle, can look utterly gorgeous and appeal to just about anyone. So don’t be afraid of color because you think you’ll be trying to sell your house soon.

Invest in color, but do it smartly. Accent pillows, rugs, and other items are a great way to add splashes of color without turning off potential buyers.

See our gallery featuring living room color ideas for more ideas and designs.

In a traditional, elegant living room, a warm butter yellow on the walls contrasts with the white wainscoting, crown moulding, and furniture. White can seem uninviting sometimes, but a warm color on the walls is a great way to keep the space light and bright. It also draws out the warm undertones of the wooden furniture.

In a traditional, elegant living room, a warm butter yellow on the walls contrasts with the white wainscoting, crown moulding, and furniture. White can seem uninviting sometimes, but a warm color on the walls is a great way to keep the space light and bright. It also draws out the warm undertones of the wooden furniture.

A warm beige on the bottom section of the walls is accented by darker stripes of purple that draw color from the pale lavender chairs on one side of the room. In rooms with tall ceilings, adding treatments to the upper portion of the wall can make a room feel more cozy.

A warm beige on the bottom section of the walls is accented by darker stripes of purple that draw color from the pale lavender chairs on one side of the room. In rooms with tall ceilings, adding treatments to the upper portion of the wall can make a room feel more cozy.

This earthy green color is a great example of using color in a living room. A darker color will work great in a room that gets a lot of natural light, but should be avoided in small, dark living rooms.

This earthy green color is a great example of using color in a living room. A darker color will work great in a room that gets a lot of natural light, but should be avoided in small, dark living rooms.

Check out more living rooms in earthy tones!

A soft, yet vibrant blue is used on two of the walls in this lengthy family room. While a bright color like this might get oppressive in a very large room with a lot of open wall space, this room features a lot of built-ins that help break up the color.

A soft, yet vibrant blue is used on two of the walls in this lengthy family room. While a bright color like this might get oppressive in a very large room with a lot of open wall space, this room features a lot of built-ins that help break up the color.

Even a rusty brick red can look great in the right design. When paired with light furniture and a rich light honey oak floor and tables, the red is warm and inviting.

Even a rusty brick red can look great in the right design. When paired with light furniture and a rich light honey oak floor and tables, the red is warm and inviting.

Furniture

You’ll also want to pick the right furniture for how you’ll use your living room space. A sectional isn’t always appropriate for a small living room that you won’t be spending a lot of time in. If you’ll need storage space, bookcases and end tables with storage are a great option.

Like to put your feet up? An ottoman might be great for you.

We have an entire gallery dedicated to showcasing 22 marvelous living room furniture ideas.

Sofas

Every living room needs a sofa! They come in all kinds of styles and materials, so it’s easy to find the perfect match for your design vision. Check out some of the best living room sofas!

A sleek brown leather sofa with accent pillows. When paired with dark wooden tables, a lighter brown rug and light, neutral walls, the rich chocolate color stands out in an elegant way.

A sleek brown leather sofa with accent pillows. When paired with dark wooden tables, a lighter brown rug and light, neutral walls, the rich chocolate color stands out in an elegant way. Learn more here.

If painting the walls a bold color isn't for you, but you still want a splash of color, try choosing a sofa in a bold accent color, like this button tufted sofa with curved arms in a rich royal purple.

If painting the walls a bold color isn’t for you, but you still want a splash of color, try choosing a sofa in a bold accent color, like this button tufted sofa with curved arms in a rich royal purple. Learn more here.

Tables

Whether it’s a coffee table or end tables, a table or two will help round out your seating areas. Place lamps on them for additional lighting or use them to set down drinks while watching your favorite tv show or a movie.

There are tons of different ways to set your living room up with end tables, coffee tables, and even console tables!

If storage is at a premium in your living room, invest in a coffee table and end tables with storage. This large coffee table is actually two narrower tables placed together. Lower shelves ensure that any blankets or books may be stored out of sight.

If storage is at a premium in your living room, invest in a coffee table and end tables with storage. This large coffee table is actually two narrower tables placed together. Lower shelves ensure that any blankets or books may be stored out of sight.

If you're less interested in having a place to set your magazines and more interested in having a place to set your feet, a coffee-table ottoman might be a better option. Just be sure to pair it with a couple of functional end tables.

If you’re less interested in having a place to set your magazines and more interested in having a place to set your feet, a coffee-table ottoman might be a better option. Just be sure to pair it with a couple of functional end tables. See more of this home here. Designed by Rinaldi Interiors.

Ottomans

Ottomans are best for putting your feet up after a long day at work, but they are also invaluable storage products, with many having space inside for blankets, pillows, or other sundries you don’t always want laying around. They can also double as coffee tables.

When choosing an ottoman, if you decide to go with fabric, choose a fabric that can be echoed in a chair or in accent pillows to help tie the seating arrangement together.

When choosing an ottoman, if you decide to go with fabric, choose a fabric that can be echoed in a chair or in accent pillows to help tie the seating arrangement together. Shop the Look.

If you like the look of an ottoman but also need a traditional coffee table, this is a great way to have the best of both worlds. Each of the four ottomans can be pulled out for extra seating and then put back under the coffee table so that they're stored out of the way.

If you like the look of an ottoman but also need a traditional coffee table, this is a great way to have the best of both worlds. Each of the four ottomans can be pulled out for extra seating and then put back under the coffee table so that they’re stored out of the way. Shop the Look.

Chairs

For living rooms with an odd shape, you may need to add chairs in place of loveseats or sofas. Whether it’s a recliner or a gliding rocker, a chair is always a great pick for living room seating. Check out some incredibly comfy options!

In front of a fireplace, these matching red armchairs with a subtle swirl pattern provide a satisfying pop of color in contrast to the white mantle. They're wide enough to curl up comfortably with a book next to the fire.

In front of a fireplace, these matching red armchairs with a subtle swirl pattern provide a satisfying pop of color in contrast to the white mantle. They’re wide enough to curl up comfortably with a book next to the fire.

Perhaps you're looking for something more modern. This colorful, sleek chair is just the thing for modern homes, featuring black and white leader, a unique silhouette, and plenty of color.

Perhaps you’re looking for something more modern. This colorful, sleek chair is just the thing for modern homes, featuring black and white leather, a unique silhouette, and plenty of color. Learn more here.

Shelving

Storage always seems to be at a premium in any house, whether it is large or small. Store your books or accent pieces in a lovely bit of shelving, whether that ends up being built-ins on either side of the fireplace or floating shelves.

You’ll want to take a look at our extensive guide to living room shelving ideas.

This living room is filled with seating, so a wealth of storage was built into the walls on either side of the elegant screened fireplace.

This living room is filled with seating, so a wealth of storage was built into the walls on either side of the elegant screened fireplace. Source: Zillow Digs™

For a more modern, minimalist look, upper wall cabinets and floating shelves can easily corral books and magazines and keep them from cluttering up lower shelving and table tops.

For a more modern, minimalist look, upper wall cabinets and floating shelves can easily corral books and magazines and keep them from cluttering up lower shelving and table tops.

Decor

Furniture is important, but before you even get into buying your furniture, you’ll need to make sure your room has an attractive, well designed skeleton. The right flooring, ceiling architecture, lighting, and focal points can really make or break your living room renovation.

Be sure to check out our guide to 26 interesting living room decor ideas!

Flooring

Carpet, stone, wood, or laminate, picking the right flooring for your home is important. The battle lines between carpet and wood are pretty well defined, so you probably already know exactly what you want. The next trick is to figure out what color you want.

Please see our gallery featuring 22 stunning living room flooring ideas.

This is a great example of low pile carpet, which doesn't attract as much dust and hair, but still keeps the warmth. This deep charcoal color is the perfect accompaniment to the light beige walls, white dining table, and pale orange sofa.

This is a great example of low pile carpet, which doesn’t attract as much dust and hair, but still keeps the warmth. This deep charcoal color is the perfect accompaniment to the light beige walls, white dining table, and pale orange sofa.

A light hardwood is great for creating an open, spacious feeling room, and it's easy to match with almost any furniture. However, if you're looking to create a traditional style room, light wood might not be for you.

A light hardwood is great for creating an open, spacious feeling room, and it’s easy to match with almost any furniture. However, if you’re looking to create a traditional style room, light wood might not be for you.

If your living room happens to be sharing space with a dining room or kitchen, consider installing a stone tile. Stone is easy to keep clean and is not damaged by any accidental water leakage in a kitchen, or spills in the dining room. Installing tile throughout an open space is a great way to create continuity.

If your living room happens to be sharing space with a dining room or kitchen, consider installing a stone tile. Stone is easy to keep clean and is not damaged by any accidental water leakage in a kitchen, or spills in the dining room. Installing tile throughout an open space is a great way to create continuity.

Ceilings

While a plain ceiling isn’t exactly a bad thing, adding detail to a ceiling or bumping it up to create a dome, tray, or even cathedral ceilings is a great way to add value to your home. Potential buyers will love the attention to detail.

Don’t miss our extensive guide showcasing 60 fantastic living room ceiling ideas!

A slight arched vault in this living room is coupled with skylights and a few exposed beams to give height and natural light to this otherwise slightly dark living room.

A slight arched vault in this living room is coupled with skylights and a few exposed beams to give height and natural light to this otherwise slightly dark living room.

This elegant living room may not have a skylight, but additional rope lighting was placed inside the tray ceiling to add a gentle illumination to the room.

This elegant living room may not have a skylight, but additional rope lighting was placed inside the tray ceiling to add a gentle illumination to the room.

Coffered ceilings are a great way to add an elegant architectural detail to any room, but look particularly impressive in living rooms and dining rooms.

Coffered ceilings are a great way to add an elegant architectural detail to any room, but look particularly impressive in living rooms and dining rooms.

Your ceiling design is really only limited by the scope of your imagination. This modern living room has an incredible glossy ceiling design with colors abound. In the center is a low profile but glittery chandelier.

Your ceiling design is really only limited by the scope of your imagination. This modern living room has an incredible glossy ceiling design with colors abound. In the center is a low profile but glittery chandelier.

Or, combine options for a truly unique ceiling. Here, we see cathedral ceilings mixed with coffered details at the very top. A balcony overlooks the living room below.

Or, combine options for a truly unique ceiling. Here, we see cathedral ceilings mixed with coffered details at the very top. A balcony overlooks the living room below. See more of this home here. Designed by Rebecca Mitchell Interiors. Photography by Drew Hadley.

Lighting

Ensuring your living room isn’t too dark is a huge step towards great design. Light can come from large windows, skylights, lamps, chandeliers, or recessed lighting. You’ll just want to make sure your lighting sources are layered, so you’re not relying on one source all the time.

For an extensive look, see our complete list of living room lighting ideas.

 This is a great example of layered lighting. Sunlight pours through the enormous windows, lighting the room during the day, while a large chandelier brightens the space as the sun begins to fade. Lamps and candles can be used for softer mood lighting as the night wears on.

 This is a great example of layered lighting. Sunlight pours through the enormous windows, lighting the room during the day, while a large chandelier brightens the space as the sun begins to fade. Lamps and candles can be used for softer mood lighting as the night wears on. Source: Zillow Digs™

This elegant living room has exterior windows that face a covered porch, limiting the amount of natural light that the room gets. Lamps and a trio of chandeliers fill in the gaps.

This elegant living room has exterior windows that face a covered porch, limiting the amount of natural light that the room gets. Lamps and a trio of chandeliers fill in the gaps. Source: Zillow Digs™

 The combination of lamps, daylight windows, and recessed lighting are enough to ensure that this tall room is well lit all day and night long.

 The combination of lamps, daylight windows, and recessed lighting are enough to ensure that this tall room is well lit all day and night long. Source: Zillow Digs™

A single skylight can mean the difference between a light and dark room. The skylight is rimmed by recessed lighting for dark days.

A single skylight can mean the difference between a light and dark room. The skylight is rimmed by recessed lighting for dark days.

Storage

As we’ve mentioned before, storage is necessary in any room, but you have some great, creative options for living rooms.

Check out the wide world of living room storage options in our extensive post.

Storage can be found in a multitude of places, including in small drawers located in your coffee table and end tables. Fight the clutter!

Storage can be found in a multitude of places, including in small drawers located in your coffee table and end tables. Fight the clutter! Shop the look.

Attractive small cabinets are a great place to store DVD players and sound systems. They keep cords hidden and aren't bulky like typical entertainment centers

Attractive small cabinets are a great place to store DVD players and sound systems. They keep cords hidden and aren’t bulky like typical entertainment centers. Learn more here.

Fireplaces

The ambient flames of a fireplace are something that many people enjoy, and why not? The warmth emanating from a fireplace is the best place to snuggle with a loved one.

You won’t want to miss our complete guide to 41 living rooms with fireplaces of all types and styles.

This slim gas-burning fireplace sits neatly below the television in a stone encasement. This is a great option for those who love the sound and look of a fireplace, but don't want to deal with the mess of an open hearth.

This slim gas-burning fireplace sits neatly below the television in a stone encasement. This is a great option for those who love the sound and look of a fireplace, but don’t want to deal with the mess of an open hearth. See more of this home here. Designed by Angelica Henry Design.

If you prefer the traditional look of a wood burning fireplace, a raised hearth is necessary. The scent and crackling is well worth it though

If you prefer the traditional look of a wood burning fireplace, a raised hearth is necessary. The scent and crackling is well worth it though. See more of this home here. Designed by Ellen Grasso & Sons.

In an open-concept space, a dual-sided fireplace is the perfect addition, so you can get the atmosphere in both a living room area and in the dining room.

In an open-concept space, a dual-sided fireplace is the perfect addition, so you can get the atmosphere in both a living room area and in the dining room.

Wall Ideas

Decorating your walls tastefully can help define your style in any room, but this goes double for living rooms.

Be sure to check out our complete list of 24 stunning living room wall ideas.

Family photos in a neat collage are a great way to make your living room feel welcoming and homey, but there are other ways to make an impression. Wallpaper is used in this living room to define the dining room from the living room.

Family photos in a neat collage are a great way to make your living room feel welcoming and homey, but there are other ways to make an impression. Wallpaper is used in this living room to define the dining room from the living room.

 If traditional is your style, a tapestry might look great in your living room. Just be sure you can explain it if it has any significance!

 If traditional is your style, a tapestry might look great in your living room. Just be sure you can explain it if it has any significance! Source: Zillow Digs™

Sometimes bare walls look great, and in this case, the shiplap ceilings and walls really make this attic living room look unique.

Sometimes bare walls look great, and in this case, the shiplap ceilings and walls really make this attic living room look unique. Source: Zillow Digs™

Animal hides are another way to decorate the walls, but they should be used sparingly, as to not overwhelm the room.

Animal hides are another way to decorate the walls, but they should be used sparingly, as to not overwhelm the room.


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101 Living Room Design Tips

Planning a Focal Point and Furniture

1. The first thing to consider is the focal point of the room. You can have a single focal point or even two: the fireplace, the entertainment center/bar or both.

2. Basic elements in living rooms include a sofa and a coffee table. The rest depend on function and desired tone.

Formal Hosting/ Entertaining Room Furniture Tips

Large formal living room with fireplace and grand piano

3. Formal entertaining areas can gain a touch of elegance from a sophisticated, eye-catching fireplace mantel. This can be your focal point for a formal living room used for entertaining and hosting.

4. Formal furniture work best, like chesterfield sofas, wing-back armchairs.

5. Mahogany works well in coffee tables and bookshelves for formal rooms.

6. A matching bar cart can be a useful addition.

7. If you own a grand piano, it can fit in well here as a talking point and for musical guests.

Family Room turned Entertainment Room Furniture Tips

Family and living room combination with television and fireplace

8. If you have a single room for lounging with family and guests, it can still be sophisticated, but it should be more like a TV room with a sofa sectional, a gaming spot and media console. Remember that if you have small kids, they are more likely to use it as a playroom, so keep the needs of everyone in your family in mind.

9. Choose sofas that are modern and comfortable. You can find some examples at the source linked at the end of the article. [1]

10. Family rooms that double as entertaining areas for guests should have plenty of shelves, bookcases, drawers and cabinets.

11. Book-cases can store your picture frames, books and other knickknacks.

12. Built-in media consoles and TV centers take up less space and can house your movies, music, games, electronics and TV.

13. A table or desk is also useful for family nights together when homework help is needed. It can also work as a craft station.

14. Decide type of storage based on the tone you want to achieve. Cabinets and built-in shelves for books and decorative items work in all living rooms, no matter how formal. Mahogany is more formal. Lighter colored wood furniture adds a more informal feel.

15. Make the most of window seats. Convert them into a reading station or an area to take a short nap. [2]

Playing With Lights

Stylish living room with recessed lighting

16. The lights you use will again depend on the tone you are trying to achieve. They can be hidden and functional or they can become decorative statement pieces and focal points of the living room. They also add warmth to a living room, depending on the color you choose and the color/texture of the ceiling.

17. Do not exaggerate the lighting if it is a family room. If you decide to rearrange the room in the future, statement pieces may no longer be fully functional. The idea behind contemporary living rooms is to keep it simple.

18. If you have plenty of natural light entering the room in the daytime, focus on simple, recessed lights near the windows for the night and light up the darker areas of the room with more visible lighting.

19. Recessed lights are functional and work well in simple living rooms. Depending on the color and texture of the walls, they can lend warmth or coolness to the room.

20. Use recessed and concealed lighting in key areas, over accent wall paintings, against indoor stairs and lend character to a room like in the example in the reference below. [3]

21. Hidden lights in the corners of rooms, on shelves and sideboards can lend spaciousness to a room.

22. Suspend a series of mini pendant lights or decorative bulbs to add interest to a textured ceiling. [4]

23. Place contemporary, modern chandeliers centered above the sofa sectional for adding a point of interest in an otherwise simple living room. Clean crystal chandeliers or multi-light chandeliers on wooden frames work well in large, formal living rooms.

24. Chandeliers should be placed in a way so as not to create too much shadow.

25. Use directional spotlights for throwing focus on accent pieces in the room, such as an interesting painting or a textured wall.

26. Multi-light pendants add interest to corners above plants or statement side tables.

27. Arco lamps and similar minimalist, modern lamps work well to complement simple furniture in a semi-formal room.

28. When placing large floor lamps in corners, remember that it can create large shadows as well. Work in other lights accordingly.

29. Illuminate posters and photographs with low-voltage lamps mounted on the frames or just above it on the wall to send a beam of light across the surface.

30. To achieve a romantic ambiance, use wall lights with candles or LED bulbs.

General Tips for Painting a Contemporary Living Room

Family painting a living room

31. White, cream and other neutral colors are great for living rooms as they allow you to work with furniture and accents.

32. Remember that white walls combined with cool temperature lighting can create a cool ambiance. This is typical for minimalist rooms and for rooms that want to appear larger.

33. Warm buffs, creams, olive and beige stains on walls, when combined with warm lights, make a living room cozy and comfortable. Mood lighting can add greater atmosphere to such living rooms.

34. Family rooms with themes can make a more flexible use of color. A beach theme, for instance, can combine sea blue with neutral shades and complementary accents to create the experience of a beach-side holiday. [5]

Paint, Color and Lighting Tips for Rooms Based on Location of Room and Natural Light

35. White walls are best in reflecting light and they complement furniture of any color. But depending on the direction your living room faces, the paint or colors you use can appear different. Plan wall paints and furniture colors depending on whether your room is south, north, east or west facing.

36. Rooms that are south facing and let in plenty of natural light can be painted with both cool and warm colors, since all colors look great. Use pale tones and a limited color palette to create an airy and light space. Pale blues can create an airy ambiance while red-based light neutrals lend warmth and sophistication.

37. Bright white lighting on woodwork and walls can add crispness to south-facing rooms.

38. East facing rooms can be bluish, so a blue or green color palette should be used. Keep the colors pale and watch them come alive in morning sunlight.

39. Light in east facing rooms can change throughout the day. Darker tone furniture helps to make the walls appear lighter.

40. Blue or green-based whites can be used in east-facing rooms.

41. North facing rooms can be difficult to create space and light in. Dark, strong colors that work best with nature should be used in these rooms. Shades of chocolate and purples create intimacy and drama.

42. Lighter tones can also be used in north-facing rooms with some restrictions. Stick to creamy neutrals and yellow-based colors that allow natural and electrical lights to reflect.

43. Avoid gray or green based colors on walls in living rooms that face north.

44. West facing rooms look great with white walls and give an airy ambiance.

45. Use gray neutrals that are light in rooms that face west.

46. Soft pinks can also work to add warmth through the afternoon. Remember that the colors will change dramatically throughout the day in west-facing rooms.

Accent Walls, Wall Art, Window Treatments and Ornaments

contemporary living room with wall art

47. Wall art can be a great focal point in a living room. Choose a huge canvas mounted on an invisible frame and hang it on a wall. Surround it with modern furniture and ornaments, taking care not to overcrowd.

48. If you do not have a fireplace, you can create a point of interest with a large piece of unique art such as a modern sculpted or faux taxidermy ornament. [6]

49. Create a natural look by leaving brickwork, ceiling beams and other original features exposed. You can whitewash brickwork and varnish or stain the beams. Mix with large, comfortable sofas and cushions for a cozy yet contemporary family room.

50. You can use accent rugs in all sizes to add interest to the floor. But you can go one step further by placing a bold, patterned wall to wall carpet of a complementary color.

51. Unusual, patterned floor tiles in clean, contemporary designs can work as great alternatives to rugs for simple rooms.

52. Use patterned drapes instead of rugs to achieve a similar effect.

53. If you want to mix patterns such as floral and stripes, be sure to adhere to a similar color palette.

54. Use cellular blinds or shades for a clean, contemporary look in place of drapes in minimal living rooms. [7]

55. Cellular cordless shades are best for family rooms with kids, as they are safer than corded ones.

56. If a living room is too crowded, skip the drapes and choose tall, ceiling high shades or blinds for a clean look. [8]

57. Use bold drapes only when you lack other points of interest. Otherwise, stick to neutral shades.

58. Combine shades and drapes for greater flexibility in how much light is let in throughout the day.

59. If you have darker furniture, light window treatments are recommended.

60. If you have interesting window treatments, such as carved oriental screens, remember that they will draw the eye. So be sure to keep the rest of the window area and furniture neutrally decorated.

Special Tips to Make a Living Room Appear Larger

Small living room that looks larger with smart design and modern furniture

61. Make a small living room appear larger by placing a large mirror in place of wall art. It can have a simple frame or be frameless.

62. Use shades of white wall paint (keeping in mind the location of your room) to increase reflection of natural light.

63. Pastel colors for windowless rooms or those with few windows also work well.

64. Use sophisticated modular furniture to keep furniture compact yet comfortable.

65. Clear furniture such as glass end tables, consoles and chairs add spaciousness.

66. Clear glass or Lucite coffee tables with clean hardware can work best in a small living room.  Low platform-style coffee tables also create the illusion of a larger space.

67. Woven furniture and coffee tables also make a room appear more airy.

68. Keep your windows unobstructed if you can.

69. Wall-mount the TV in a small family room to save space.

70. Have a wall niche build to store electronic equipment.

71. Push back the furniture against the wall and leave the center of the room as open as possible. Balance the look with a large accented lighting in the center of the ceiling and round-edged rugs to offset the appearance.

72. Use sectionals to make a small room appear larger. Neutral wall colors that blend with the furniture can make the room look more spacious than it is.

73. Offset a small room with more vertical lines, such as with a floor lamp.

74. Use recessed and built-in shelves and cupboards to display ornaments, books and photographs.

75. During the day, draw the curtains or shades open to extend the space by extending the view.

76. Keep the coffee table the center of your room and arrange the furniture around it as close as possible to avoid bumping into them.

77. Small area rugs that match the floor and are surrounded with furniture can trick the eye into believing there is a lot of floor space.

78. Window seats can help to create additional seating arrangements and leave space for storing a radiator or cabinet underneath.

For more incredible small living room designs, be sure and click here to view our outstanding gallery!

Tips for Contemporary Living and Dining Room Areas

Dining room and living room in open concept interior design

79. A room that combines living and dining rooms in the same open space can work well with or without sectionals. [9]

80. When using sectionals, place a large area rug in the living area with the furniture around it. You do not need to separate the dining section with a partition in that case. Keep the rug bold and the dining room furniture complementary to the living room furniture. [10]

81. You can also use lighting and accent walls to visually separate the dining and living room area for a small narrow room. [11]

82. Use glass panels as partition to separate the two areas, and mood lighting for a contemporary, luxurious ambiance.

Tips to Using Red and Bright Colors in Minimalist Living Rooms

Small apartment living room with red furniture and red rug

83. Add a spot of color and contemporary chic to an all black and white room with pieces of bright red furniture.

84. Balance reds with pops of white.

85. Gray and red make great combinations and add class. Limit the reds to wall panels, rugs and cushions or lampshades.

86. Red can be used as a primary color for furniture in a large room with otherwise neutral shades and lighting that focuses on the walls rather than on the furniture.

Other Tips

87. You can mix patterns with colors, but stick to minimalist color palettes. Let the patterns be in neutral shades if mixed with bright colored furniture.

88. Earth tones work well together. Mix browns, coffee, beige and white for a chic living room.

Elegant contemporary living with earth tones and wood decor

89. Keep details like cushions in mind when choosing lampshades in an otherwise neutral room.

90. Make a room simple but classy by sticking to a warm or cool color palette for furniture, walls and lighting.

91. Gray and black in furniture, carpets and rugs and accent walls add a touch of class.  Another idea is incorporating zebra prints into your living room decor.

Stylish living room with black furniture and dark grey wall

92. Use modular furniture for minimalist living rooms and play them up with contemporary accents.

93. Make your small, few-windowed living room appear larger and brighter by using all-cream furniture and wall color. Use a similar shade on wall-mounted cabinets. Use concealed lighting in key areas, and add some interest with patterned or textured walls.

94. A simple trick to add color to an otherwise all-gray living room is to add a large, brightly colored pendant light at the center.

95. When using all-white furniture, add a patterned area rug or bright drapes.

96. Introduce different textures in an all-white room with a crocheted sofa throw, a nubby rug, rough linen etc.

97. Condo living rooms look great with minimal, contemporary furniture and some spots of color.

Living room with modern furniture

98. Old furniture can be updated for a contemporary living room. Keep the upholstery in solid, supersaturated colors and match with some modern pieces like a glass coffee table and simple, cream or white neutral walls and drapes.

99. For a family room, use an extra large coffee table that can double as a game table.

100. If you want to be able to change the accents with the seasons, keep the basic room neutral. Add pops of seasonal color through cushions, throws and paintings.

101. Cool metals can make great accents to add to a room’s sophistication – in mirror frames, coffee table and furniture legs and silvered andirons in the fireplace.

Have fun planning and doing up your living room!

Check out 73 stylish living room designs in pictures here.

[1] 40 Absolutely Amazing Living Room Design Ideas, One Kind Design

[2] Window Seat Living Room Design Photos, Houzz

[3] Basin Ledge Residence Contemporary Living Room Austin, Houzz

[4] Various Contemporary Living Room San Francisco, Houzz

[5] Basements That You Will Never Want to Leave, image #5, The Enchanted Home Blog

[6] Faux Taxidermy Adornments, Trendhunter

[7] New Look Blinds, mrpri.com

[8] Cae Sharp Blue Blinds in the Living Room Decoration, Tim Ticks

[9] Great Living and Dining Room Designs: White Modern Dining Room Living Room, varrell.com

[10] Minimalist Living and Dining Room Combo Pictures, eblandar.com

[11] Interior: Elegant Modern Living and Dining Room Design, paseoner.com