Mix and match patterns, embrace bold colors, layer rugs, and so much more! Try these tips to create a pretty space to enjoy conversations with friends and family.
No matter if you call it a living room, family room, den, or even a keeping room–you’ve got that one room in your home, aside from the kitchen, that’s intended for both family and company. And, we bet, you want it to look both pulled together and comfortable. We are here to tell you it’s possible to create a well-decorated living room that will impress company and will be enjoyed by your family. Here are our best easy decorating ideas ranging in all different styles for those that love a more formal living room or a cozy den or a relaxed family room. What ever your style–we’ve got the decorating tips and ideas for your beautiful living room, beautiful family room, or your beautiful den. One thing is for sure, you’ll be inspired by all of these chic decorating ideas.
Coastal Lowcountry Living Room
Materials that connect to the location are key to character building. Sisal hints at the marsh grasses in an elegant way and is also durable, easy to clean, and ideal for layering. The alligator skull speaks to the local wildlife, while palms in antique glass and fern-patterned pillows are additional nods to the room's Lowcountry vibe and provide a carefree polish.
Layering a vintage kilim over a natural sisal rug acts as an attractive barrier against water, sand, and other elements.
An elk antler trophy is the focal point in this living room, and the palm tree triptych and a blue, green, and mulberry palette create a comfortable environment.
Unite Your Living Space
Designer Sam Blount used the biggest rug possible to tie this blue and white space together. "I’m a big fan of large rugs in small spaces—too many bitsy ones visually chop up the floor." says Blount.
Forgo the Chairs
These oversize sectionals allow everyone to sit, without touching each other. The bench-style seat cushions look cleaner and don't shift around like multiple seat cushions do.
Use a Barn Door
A barn door allows the living space to be separated from the kitchen if nessessary, while taking up less space than traditional hinged doors.
Modernize Heirloom Pieces
The settee in this room was given a modern update with wild fabric, while neutrals were used for the curved vintage sofa and rounded swivel chairs.
Lighten Up with White
Mix Mod and Traditional
The 11-foot-long vintage sofa in this living room is a mod counterpoint to a pair of traditional antique chairs.
Mix Instead of Match Fabrics
The designer started with fabric selections to set the room's happy mood and a bright color palette of pink, turquoise, and chartreuse. Fabrics don't have to be matchy-matchy to communicate with each other. If they share a similar vibrancy and color temperature, they'll look good together.
Invest in Antiques
As your budget allows, invest in one fine antique per room. Here, the a round French marble-topped gueridon table becomes a focal point of the space.
Mix Up the Seating
Seating shouldn't be limited to club chairs and sofas. Utilize benches, ottomans, and odd side chairs to accommodate more people.
Visually Divide a Great Room
Use architectural details, like the cedar ceiling beams in this room, to help visually divide and define the rooms in the open space of a great room.
Mix Your Styles
You can mix old and new, formal and casual, neutral and bold to make an inviting and comfortable space. A neutral-toned sofa and armchair introduce contemporary lines while custom draperies add a touch of tradition.
Layer Neutrals for a Relaxed Look
"To give Country French my minimalist spin, I avoid the expected ruffles and plaids and keep it about the painted antiques and white linens," says homeowner and designer Regina Lynch. "In this house, curtains would have been too much, so instead I painted the trim a dark gray for a similar, but cleaner, look."
Get the Gallery Look
Give a random collection of art pieces museum-worthy treatment by hanging them together on a single wall.
Accessorize with Historic Elements
Use a flat-top trunk as a coffeee table to bring a sense of history to a room. This chocolate-brown piece coordinates with the neutral color scheme of the room, and the nail-head trim is mirrored in the decorative sofa hardware.
Create Open Space
To keep the traffic flow open, pull the furniture away from the walls and into the center of the room―a type of arranging commonly referred to as a “floating furniture plan.” An octagonal ottoman in a bold fabric set on a cowhide rug anchors the arrangement in this room.
Blend Elegance and Comfort
Comfortable and formal can go together. Use antiques to anchor your room and then mix in modern touches with bold fabrics, mid-century lighting, and sculptural accessories. Pair silk curtains and mirrored tables with clean-lined upholstery and lots of colorful pillows.
Use Unexpected Materials
A stone chimney is beautiful, but it’s also expected. The natural horizontal wood paneling around this fireplace ties it together with the built-ins flanking the hearth.
Mix and Match Patterns
This living room shows that you don’t need to shy away from bold patterns in a small space. A floral rug and coordinating pillows add color to the space, while an animal-print chair heightens the drama. The herringbone fireplace tile is a nice geometric touch.
Use Modern Classics
If you want a contemporary edge, you can’t go wrong with the modern classics like these white-leather Barcelona chairs and Lucite coffee table.
Create a Faux Fireplace
Give your living room a focal point by creating a faux fireplace with an antique mantel. This fireplace was set on a rectangular piece of slate as the hearth. .
Let the Light In
Short on windows to capture natural light? Replace solid exterior doors with glass ones for an airy feel and pretty views of your yard.
Pick a Favorite Time Period
This living room was designed to resemble an early-1900s library; the living room contains a wall of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Two large double-hung windows punctuate these built-ins, along with cozy window seats below.
Let In Lots of Natural Light
This living area has floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that fill the room with light. Horizontal mullions in the glass doors are reminiscent of Japanese shoji screens. They complement the space and guide your eye around the room.
Don’t be afraid to personalize the items you buy. Almost every chair in this room was refinished: Two armchairs were whitewashed, and the blue velvet chair was gilded.
Know When To Save or Splurge
This sofa with its supreme comfort, rich color and fabric, and clean lines is definitely a forever piece, so it was worth spending a little more money on. The honeycomb mirror over the fireplace was an inexpensive piece bought at a chain store.
Embrace Bold Prints
Don’t be afraid to fall in love with a bold print. The designer of this living room was inspired by the floral side chair fabric and let it dictate the colors found elsewhere in the room.
Look for Inspiration in Unexpected Places
This homeowner found inspiration for her walls in a bag of gourmet marshmallows: She used the soft, sophisticated colors to dictate her palette. The plate rack that once showcased antique plates in her parents’ home holds cherished photos.
Look for Unused Spaces
This living room is a genius use of often-overlooked space; the upstairs landing was transformed into a small den that makes an inviting, casual family hangout. An upholstered wall softens the space above the built-in bench, while bamboo Chippendale-style chairs and vibrant turquoise Moroccan poufs add plenty of extra seating.
Add Interest with Decorative Trim
The designer of this room added trim to the bottom of a basic sofa to dress it up and used a mix of custom pillows to pull colors from around the room.
Hold onto Inspiring Samples
Keep a file of your favorite samples and inspirational images even if you can’t afford a makeover yet, or haven’t found the home of your dreams. This homeowner/designer kept all the fabric samples that she loved in a bag until she found the right home to settle in. She'd also been acquiring updated yet traditional pieces for just the kind of collected look she liked.
Decorate with Memories
Make your living room unique and nostalgic by using heirloom pieces. This homeowner’s great-grandfather owned a bungalow, and he fondly remembers childhood visits to the family home. He filled his own bungalow home with family furniture and one-of-a-kind attic finds.
Accent with Red
Use bright colors and strong patterns to punctuate an otherwise neutral space. The red accessories in this living room add an energetic punch without overwhelming the area.
Design for Real-Life Use
You don’t have to give up style even in your high-traffic living room. Guests and kids need not reach for coasters before putting drinks down on the distressed coffee table. Scrapes and dings only add to the character of the piece. A patterned area rug is forgiving of spills and dusty feet.
You can pull off a patriotic color scheme without being kitsch. Try hints of red with a pretty blue backdrop. Use natural linen instead of bright white.
Bonus Tip! Hide the flat screen. The painting above the fireplace can be rolled along the galvanized metal track, revealing a television.
Fake a Tall Ceiling
Ceilings look taller when the baseboard and crown molding are the same color as the wall.
Get Inspired by a Favorite Textile
Use a fabric pattern to inspire the color scheme and style of your room. The fabric on these armchairs pulls together the tones of this living room.
Create a Keeping Room
Since guests typically gather in the kitchen, a keeping room is ideal for overflow and comfort. Keep your furniture comfortable and durable-it is sure to be the most used in your home.
Display Your Collection to Advantage
If you have a lot of collections, always keep the base neutral so your displays won’t overwhelm the space. Here, a collection of turquoise lighting elements stands out against the cream walls and plays off of the colors in the large painting.
Create a Conversation Corner
If you have space, create a separate, more intimate seating area in your living room for quiet conversations.
Slipcover in Style
Ready for a change? Washable slipcovers in lighthearted new fabrics perk up old upholstery.
Choose a Sunny Palette
Crisp whites combined with punches of bright colors immediately transport you to the coast. In this living room, aqua accents in the pillows, throw, and rug mimic the ocean’s dazzling blues, and the pops of bright orange are inspired by the magnificent hues of the setting sun. Whitewashed horizontal shiplap planking evokes the feel of old Gulf-front beach houses.
Buy the Whole Bolt
Inspiration for this design struck in the form of a 30-yard bolt of black-and-white- hound’s-tooth fabric that was on sale for an amazing $30. Even after the window treatments, upholstery, and pillows there was plenty of leftover fabric to be used down the road as seat cushions on new finds, lampshades, and even place mats or a tablecloth.
Asymmetrical arrangements can be intimidating, but formal symmetry is easy to pull off and adds a calm balance to a room. The simple arrangement above this fireplace is clean and elegant.
Layer a variety of patterned rugs over a neutral sisal rug covering for an exciting floor treatment.
Add Architectural Interest
Add architectural interest to your living room with a ceiling treatment. The coffered ceiling in the room creates a striking structural feature to the space.
Create a Cozy Spot for Reading
This armchair is re-covered in a botanical print fabric. The legs are painted white to lighten the visual weight of the piece. Tucked into a corner of the living room and paired with a set of nesting tables, the chair is a perfect spot for reading.
Mix Lights and Darks
Decorating is not like doing the laundry. Lights and darks go together just fine. In fact, they’re made for each other in this living room connected by a large cased opening.
Open Up Your Living Space
Although less than 2,500 square feet, this cottage feels larger because of the homeowners’ clever decision to open up and connect the main living spaces. The family room is also vaulted to reveal the loft space above―yet another way of providing extra volume to a relatively modest space.
Mix, Don't Match
This homeowner bucked the “matchy, matchy” rule by placing different end tables and lamps on either side of the sofa in her living room. The mismatch works because, even though one table is a white Asian-inspired look and the other is a black step-like design, both tables are the same height. A sleek brass reading lamp pairs nicely with the simple white table, while a large silver-leaf table lamp fits with the more substantial black table.
White Wash the Walls
These homeowners wanted to let their guests be the color to their space, so they painted all of the background surfaces, including the brick fireplace, a clean shade of white. A vintage advertisement and an Arkansas license plate hang on the wall. The casual furniture is covered in washable slipcovers for easy cleanup when inevitable spills happen.
Play Up Your Favorite Color, but Keep the Base Neutral
If you’re a frequent redecorator, keep the base neutral in order to let accessories really shine. White or off-white walls and slipcovers stay the same even as this homeowner flirts with new obsessions. She tires quickly of things, and has gone through phases with several different colors, so she tries to change things up with pillows and throws.
Spruce Up Your Space With Curtains
Draperies do more than block out the sun. Window treatments can transform a room, adding personality and character. These ceiling-to-floor draperies make the space seem taller and more grand.
Upgrade Your Doors and Windows
To enhance the home’s 9-foot ceilings, these homeowners upgraded to 8-foot-tall doors and 6-foot-tall windows to let in maximum light. They also aligned the doors and windows at the same height to draw the eye up and create the illusion of more space.
Flip Your Color Scheme
Flip tradition and paint your ceiling a bright color while leaving your walls white. Bring the color down into the space with coordinating accessories like window-coverings and pillows.
Accessorize with Local Pieces
Tortoise and conch shells accessorize this coastal living room, while starfish adorn the mantel. Books on South Carolina’s coastal area lie stacked on the coffee table and topped with shells. Vases of palm fronds simply picked up from outside complete the tropical decor.
Pick Furniture That Will Work in Multiple Spaces
Everything this home can work in most any room in their house. Everything in the living room—the sofa, two club chairs, and two armchairs—has lived and functioned in other areas of the home. The style continuity is part of this home’s peaceful, tranquil feeling.
Repeating patterned fabrics in adjoining spaces is a great way to tie them together. Here, the dining chair upholstery is repeated in accent pillows on the living room sofa.
Get Inspired by Art
Over this fireplace, a painting by the homeowner’s aunt provides playful color inspiration. Its coral hues are repeated in fabrics and accessories. Wallpaper remnants are placed inside the built-in glass cabinets to hide DVDs and toys and provide an inexpensive style fix.
Mix Modern and Traditional
Anchor a room with a traditional rug and accessories, and then juxtapose them with modern art for a fresh feel. The hues of this heirloom rug play off of the colors of the bottle-cap portrait above the fireplace.
Build-In Your Entertainment Area
These homeowners flanked the hearth with an additional bookshelf designed to accommodate the television.
Retrofit Your Lighting
Don’t be trapped by a light’s intended use. This homeowner painted an outdoor lantern and wired it for indoor use.
Create the Illusion of Taller Ceilings
Hang art above cased openings to draw the eye up and make the ceiling look even higher. Here black and white photographs play off of other black and white patterns in the room.
Use Durable Upholstery Fabric
A sectional sofa covered in a khaki Sunbrella sailcloth floats in the center of this room. The outdoor-rated fabric won’t fade and will easily shed stains.
Mix Patterns the Smart Way
Mixing patterns is a great way to add interest to a room. To keep the look cohesive, use patterns from the same color family and vary their scale.
Use Animal Print Rugs
The cheetah print rug in this family room hides a multitude of sins.
Use Flexible Furniture in a Great Room
This living area contains leather swivel chairs that can be rotated to face the kitchen or the TV and fireplace. The long upholstered ottoman does double duty as a coffee table and a bench.
Create a Grown-Up Space
Bring the formal parlor back to your home—this one’s for Mom and Dad, not the kids. Created with the feel of a warm and cozy den, this front room contains rich upholstery and textiles, dark-stained furniture, and a leather wing chair.
Curate a Rotating Mantle Display
Above the mantel, this homeowner displays an ever-changing arrangement of artwork and accessories. An avid flea market and antique store shopper, as he finds new collectibles, he likes to bring them in as a quick way to change up the look.
Choose Furniture that Fits the Scale of Your Room
In this living room, rolled-arm sofas are sized up to fill the airy space. For a coffee table, the homeowner had a Duncan Phyfe dining table cut down a few notches to a comfortable height for playing games or propping feet.
Make Room for Family
The easy flow between family room and kitchen is welcoming to all ages and offers plenty of room for this homeowner’s extended family, friends, and groups from church to gather. This contiguous space is the heart of their house.
Find Meaningful Local Art
Local artwork is a meaningful accessory. A locally painted scene of Florida live oaks hangs above this family room’s cast-stone fireplace.
Use Picture Molding
Family photographs instantly add warmth and personality to your home. Take them out of the attic, off your computer, or out of the infrequently viewed albums on your bookshelves, and enjoy them every day. Pick a wall, corner, or entire room. If your chosen spot already has picture molding (found in many older homes), your job will be easy. If not, adding new molding is not that complicated.
Plan Ahead for Artwork
A stacked fieldstone fireplace takes center stage in this family room. Rather than just a sheer wall of stone, the exposed chimney is designed with a central recess for artwork, along with tapered edges on either side, to keep it from appearing too overpowering. Sconces mounted directly to the stone are an attractive way to shed plenty of light on the antique timber mantel.
Get Creative with Your Ceiling
Don’t forget to address the ceiling of your space. This vaulted ceiling has a rough-hewn wood treatment that warms-up the feeling of the room.
Splash on the Color
This pool house living room sports sherbert-colored hues and feminine flourishes. Quirky cobalt table lamps from Stray Dog Designs and an eccentric teak table serve as foils for the sofa's old-fashioned fringe.
Create Display Cubbies
Cozy built-in cubbies provide the perfect place to display antique collectables and heirlooms in this living room space.
Salvage Original Materials
In this living room, the heart-pine flooring came from a South Carolina textile mill. It has the original nail holes, and if you look closely, you can still see oil stains from factory weaving machines.
Maximize Space with Dual-Purpose Built-Ins
Built-in bench seating in this small sitting room provides a lot of seating and storage for books and games.
Incorporate Personal Touches
Can't find the exact table or chest that you need? Just add your own touches, such as a paint finish or unique drawer pulls, to convert an available piece into a one-of-a-kind item. The designer of this living room set a piece of custom-cut stone on top of the wooden coffee table in the family room, giving it a more durable surface.
Add Occasional Tables
Several small tables in this living room offer enough room for drinks and can even be used as additional seating when necessary.
Make Large Rooms Cozy with Multiple Seating Areas
How do you make a gigantic room look cozy and appropriate for today when it's actually an old Virginia cow barn?
Steven Gambrel, one of America's top-tier interior designers, recently had a chance to consider the question. Although he lives and often works in the most urbane precincts of Manhattan, Steven grew up in Virginia and still has ties there. When the owners of a Middleburg horse farm asked him to convert one of their barns into a place for large, casual parties and just hanging out and watching TV, he took it on with relish—his first barn, and on home turf.
Use Bold Accessories
A geometric flat weave is more casual and youthful than a heavy Oriental or wool rug. Balance it out with a large piece of modern art framed in a simple white gallery frame. Finish with blue glass lamps or a pretty bowl to add sparkle and dimension.
Window Treatment Texture 2
Barn builders used post-and-beam construction in rough-hewn yellow pine. Linen curtains with vintage trim add elegance to the rustic room.
Use a Mix of Hues
The homeowners combined several shades of blue, from almost-black navy to royal, in the light-filled living room. The hand-blocked batik print on the curtains and bench is by John Robshaw Textiles.
Inviting Family Room Design
Reclaimed-wood beams ground the airy, white space. A large but delicate chandelier with a burnished brass finish helps anchor the room, while a vertical custom metal-framed mirror emphasizes the room's height.
Give a Small Room Big Style
A pair of oval mirrors bounces more light around the bright white room and draws the eye up, underscoring the lofty ceiling height.
Choose a Statement Sofa for a Large Room
A tufted chesterfield sofa covered in family-friendly Sunbrella fabric adds scale and traditional style. Tip: A large sofa needs large pillows—ours are 26 inches square.
Editor's Tip: Reinvent vintage finds in a new setting. Here, an old flat file cabinet works as a coffee table.
Use a Range of Textiles
A range of textiles (including velvet, wool, linen, and cotton) adds texture and keeps the muted hues of the C. R. Laine upholstery from falling flat.
Balance Rustic Elements
Front and back doors open directly into a two-story-high living room, where spruce-planked walls and wood beams salvaged from an 1890 Tennessee barn reflect the home’s rural setting and give the space a refined, barnlike feel. Interior decorator Phoebe Howard balanced the rustic elements with color. “I added an air of elegance with a soft color palette that reflects the surrounding sky and hills,” she says.
Pull Out a Bold Accent Color
With the multihued curtain fabric as her jumping-off point, designer Ashley Whittaker splashed an amped-up version of pink in three places in the living room—the footstool, the contrasting pillow welt, and the slipper-chair trim. "We wanted the home to feel bright and colorful like Florida but not like a vacation home," says Ashley. She pulled off the cozy yet elegant vibe by grounding the sun-and-surf palette with serious touches, such as the antique demilune tables.
Love it? Get it!
Wall paint: Pale Powder; farrow-ball.com. Drapery fabric: Celeste Robin's Egg by Raoul Textiles, available through DCOTA; 954/921-7575.
Layer Patterns and Bold Prints
Layers of classic patterns and bold prints connected by a warm palette of brown, ivory, and green give this D.C. cottage a hefty dose of handsome hospitality.
Love it? Get it!
Designer: David Mitchell, David Mitchell Interior Design, Washington, D.C.; davidmitchellinteriordesign.com.
Surround Your Fireplace with Built-Ins
An inglenook is a space next to the fireplace that often includes seating. These built-in window seats provide extra seating and are a comfy place to read.
Add Privacy without Losing Light
Add a little privacy to family rooms without sacrificing light by installing drapery panels that don’t have a thick lining.
Embrace Ideas from the Past
Try a great idea from the past. The triple-hung windows on either side of the great room’s fireplace are found in many older homes in the Deep South. When the two lower sashes are raised, the openings serve as passageways to the screened porch beyond.
Antiques are the hallmark of Southern homes, but you don’t have to have a room full of fine antiques—one nice piece in a room can elevate everything around it. The antique desk in this room gives a sense of history.
Decorate with Cottage Style
Layer floral and geometric patterns on casual furniture for a cozy, cottage feel. Punch up your floral patterns by pairing with them with fresh flowers in mismatched vases.
Create a Statement with Art
With impressive artwork and sleek, sophisticated furnishings set against a perfectly pale palette, this space is a constellation of star elements.
Take your decorating cues from your surroundings. This home is on a lake surrounded by trees. Moss greens and mushroom browns paired with a twig-and-bark side table truly bring the outdoors in.
Modernize the Classics
Make a classic print—like houndstooth check—modern by playing with the scale of the pattern and using it in an unexpected color.
Try Natural Textures
Warm up a room with interesting textures. Woven accessories and ottoman keep things simple and natural.
Bring the Outdoors In
Use naturally occurring colors and textures to give an earthy feeling to your living room. Potted plants and wicker furniture give this home a casual comfort.
Love the Lodge Look
Get the lodge look by pairing rich leathers with rustic wood elements and classic tartans. Candles and lanterns further add to the atmosphere.
Give Your Living Room a Sense of Place
Coastal and nautical touches abound in this family room beginning with the seashell-print pillows. Coastal artwork over the fireplace flanks shelving that is filled to the brim with shell frames and boxes.
Play with Scale
Use large-scale pieces in unexpected places. This distinctive coffee table is constructed using the base of two columns and a stone slab.
Get Hands-On with Casual Finishes
This living room has a please touch, no fuss feel. It’s comfortable for a young family or grandparents with visiting grandchildren. Hand-rubbed finishes on furnishings lend vintage appeal.
Mix and Match Your Wood Tones
Your wood pieces don’t have to be the same color. Here, a dark wood desk is at home among blond occasional tables because the pieces have similar clean lines.
Bright and Airy Living
A simplified, white color scheme allowed decorator Alana Woerpel to add controlled shots of blue into this bright and airy living room.