Mix and match patterns, embrace bold colors, layer rugs, and so much more—we have plenty of tips for decorating the space where you enjoy conversations with friends and family. No matter if you call it a living room, family room, den, or even 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. It’s possible to create a well-decorated living room that will impress company and remain relaxed enough for your family to enjoy. Here are our best easy decorating ideas to create a living room that’s just right for you, whether that’s a more formal living room or a relaxed family room.
Bring the Outdoors In
Materials that connect to your location are key to adding character. In this coastal Lowcountry living room, a natural sisal rug hints at marsh grasses and is also durable and easy to clean. The alligator skull speaks to the local wildlife, while palms in antique glass and fern-patterned pillows add to the room’s Lowcountry vibe and carefree polish. A vintage kilim is layered over the sisal rug in a spot that is protected from heavy traffic.
Enhance an Architectural Feature
The owners of this historic Louisiana home painted the coffered ceiling in a whimsical light blue to make it stand out. A similar approach could be used with decorative wall paneling. An Early American sofa is covered in a contrasting dusty rose silk velvet.
Invest in Antiques
As your budget allows, invest in one fine antique per room. Here, a round French marble-topped gueridon table becomes a focal point and provides rich color in an otherwise ivory room. A pair of armchairs by the windows creates a secondary gathering space in this Birmingham home.
Use a Bold Accent Color
White upholstery and the natural texture of the rug, blinds, and furnishings set the tone in this relaxed room. Vibrant pillows and drapes in bright, beachy colors add a tropical flavor. Try a strong punch of your favorite color to add interest to a subdued space.
Visually Divide a Great Room
Modern homes often have an open floor plan in the living space. Use architectural details, like the cedar ceiling beams in this room, to help visually divide the living room from a dining area or kitchen. In this Georgia home, a rug and a pair of leather chairs also define the space.
Modernize Heirloom Pieces
The settee in this room was given a modern update with wild fabric, while neutrals were used to cover the curved vintage sofa and rounded swivel chairs. The brightly colored lamps, art, and fabrics add a punch that keeps this room from being stuffy or staid.
Lighten Up with Whites
Achieve a luxe neutral look with white upholstery and decorative accents in a variety of soft hues to add extra depth and dimension. By using overstuffed furniture, this formal living room feels more relaxed. Try washable slipcovers if you have a high-traffic area.
Embrace Ideas from the Past
Try a great idea from the past. Glass-fronted cabinets are a common feature in historic bungalows that can be incorporated in a newer home. In this living room, green leather chairs offer a modern touch.
Let History Take Center Stage
Comfortable furnishings, historic moldings, and museum-quality antiques go together in this 1830s Charleston living room. “Rooms in Charleston have a personal, collected look that is rich with layers of history,” says interior designer Jenny Keenan. “If you don’t include those traditional pieces, such as an antique secretary, you’re cheating all the people who lived in your home before you.” Use antiques to anchor your room and then mix in modern touches with bold fabrics, mid-century lighting, and sculptural accessories.
Make Existing Pieces Work
Because the house was already full of furniture, the designer, Allison Allen, didn’t have to start from scratch. In the living room, for instance, Allen re-covered the traditional sofa in a white stripe and wrapped a couple of ottomans in a cheeky animal print. New pieces—like the pair of skirted love seats and wicker urns from Mainly Baskets Home— provide a welcome layer of youthfulness.
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. Close it to make your living room feel private and intimate. Then slide the door open anytime you have a free-flowing party.
Unify Your 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. The rug and upholstered chairs also have similar prints that tie them together.
Play With Color
An elk antler trophy is the focal point in this primarily gold-hued living room. The soft wall color and muted ceiling keep this space feeling relaxed, while a palm tree triptych and blue, green, and mulberry furnishings and fabrics provide colorful accents. Adding splashes of color in an otherwise monochromatic space makes for a more lively room.
Whitewash the Walls
Allow your guests rather than your walls to provide any color to the space. Here a homeowner painted all of the background surfaces, including the brick fireplace, a clean shade of white. A few touches of deep blue make the whites appear even more brilliant.
Forgo the Chairs
These oversize sectionals allow everyone to sit with plenty of room to spare. The bench-style seat cushions look cleaner and don’t shift around like multiple seat cushions do. With a furniture arrangement like this, you’ll be lounging and conversing comfortably for hours.
Create a Neutral Backdrop for Collections
If you’re a frequent redecorator, keep the base neutral in order to let accessories really shine. White or off-white walls and furniture stay the same while a rotating collection can change with the seasons. You’ll have the freedom to add a splash of color or change things up with pillows and throws.
Mix Instead of Match Fabrics
“I don’t think fabrics have to be matchy-matchy to communicate with each other,” Lindsey Ellis Beatty says of her sunroom. “If they share a similar vibrancy and color temperature, they’ll look good together.” The designer set the room’s happy mood with a bright color palette of pink, turquoise, and chartreuse. A base of whites and neutrals helps keep the space grounded.
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. As a plus, the bench in this Sea Island beach house allows for conversation in either direction and can be moved around the room.
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.” Soft green walls and a seashell lamp make the space relaxed and beachy.
Use Unexpected Materials
Horizontal wood paneling clads this chimney from floor to ceiling instead of the usual brick or stone. The wood material ties together with the built-ins flanking the hearth, making the entire wall an interesting feature of the room. Deeply stained wood floors and furniture add additional warmth to the space.
Try Bold Patterns
This Louisiana living room shows that you don’t need to shy away from bold patterns or unusual colors in a small space. A loveseat is covered in an unexpected lilac, while an animal-print chair heightens the drama. A floral rug and coordinating pillows add further texture and color.
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. A skylight was added when renovating this 1935 cabin to make the room even brighter.
Add Historic Charm
Former editor-in-chief Lindsay Bierman sprang for real V-groove wood ceiling to add more character to the ceiling of his lakefront hideaway. Beaded board is cheaper and looks great too. It adds historic charm to any brand-new house. Ditto for chunky window casings.
Add Color to Collectables
Don’t be afraid to personalize the items you buy. Almost every chair in this North Carolina living room was refinished: Two armchairs were whitewashed, and the blue velvet chair was gilded. “Neutrals can be so beautiful, but I am always drawn to bold color because it brings a room to life,” says interior designer Megan Young. “Using a variety of colors adds to the sense that furniture and objects have been collected, not just bought for the space.”
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 purchase from a chain store. It’s unique enough to look like a custom-made piece.
Add Interest with Decorative Trim
The designer of this room in a Georgia mountain home added trim to the bottom of a basic sofa to dress it up and a mix of custom pillows to pull colors from around the room. Diamond-shaped molding on the walls provides an unusual focal point, while grass-cloth walls also add interest and texture.
Accent with Red
Use bright colors and strong patterns to punctuate an otherwise neutral space. The red upholstery and fabric in this living room add energy without overwhelming the area. Boldly patterned pillows also bring in a touch of blue.
Fake a Tall Ceiling
In a restored 19th-century farmhouse, ceilings were made to look taller by painting the baseboard and crown molding the same color as the walls. The uniform wall color also allows the original mantel and wood-paneled ceiling to shine. Wingback chairs and an antebellum piano hearken to the past in this historic home.
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 bright red and gold tones of the family room in this Georgia mountain home. The coffee table and built-in furniture provide space for storing games and books.
Create a Keeping Room
The term “keeping room” is centuries old, but the concept is just as relevant today. Since guests typically gather in the kitchen, a keeping room is ideal for overflow and comfort. They can relax in a small seating area while still keeping company with the cook. Consider using furniture that is comfortable and durable, as this space is sure to be one of the most used in your home.
Center a Collection Around Color
In this living area, we established a pretty focal point with a vintage painted secretary that displays a collection of blue books and collectibles. The secretary also provides a spot for note writing and gift-wrap storage. A blue-striped rug repeats the theme.
Create a Conversation Corner
If you have space, create a separate, more intimate seating area in your living room for quiet conversations. This will allow smaller groups to gather when you’re hosting an event. This conversation corner can also provide a welcome reprieve for adults away from the kids.
Slipcover in Style
Ready for a change? Washable slipcovers in lighthearted new fabrics perk up old upholstery and give the furniture a longer lifespan. Stools at the counter are slipcovered in coordinating fabric.
Asymmetrical arrangements can be intimidating, but formal symmetry is easy to pull off and adds a calm balance to a room. In this Nashville home, the simple symmetrical arrangement above the fireplace is clean and elegant. The stain-treated fabrics in this formal-looking room are designed to stand up to wear and tear.
Layer Rugs Over Carpet
This apartment came with plush carpet that was comfortable underfoot, but not very visually interesting. Add texture and define a space by layering rugs over the carpet. Here, a braided jute rug dresses up the space.
Balance Masculine and Feminine
“You have to give credit to a husband who’s confident enough to handle a pink-and-purple-themed living room,” jokes designer Barrie Benson. Her expertly layered feminine touches are part of the well-executed yin and yang that balance this Tudor living room’s more masculine architecture. She also wove in menswear-inspired fabrics like wools and plaids with floral and chintz patterns.
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.
Open Up Your Living Space
Although less than 2,500 square feet, this North Carolina 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.
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. As a result, this prefab coastal college is airy and bright.
Accessorize with Nature
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 Interchangeable Furniture
Use furniture that can be used flexibly around your home. In this home, the designer peppered the living room with turquoise and lavender, while in the den (which opens to the main living area), a deeper teal and violet dominate. A pair of whimsical Moroccan-inspired stools upholstered in a striped fabric serves as a coffee table, but can be converted to extra seating in either space.
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. At the same time, other prints on drapes and pillows keep the space from becoming matchy-matchy.
Use Art for Inspiration
Over this fireplace, a painting by the homeowner’s aunt provides playful color inspiration. Its coral hues are repeated in fabrics and accessories in this 1920s home. Wallpaper remnants placed inside the built-in glass cabinets hide DVDs and toys and provide an inexpensive, stylish fix.
Build-In Your Entertainment Area
These homeowners flanked the hearth with bookshelves, one of which is designed to accommodate the television. They also removed a wall to open up the space into the kitchen. Now everyone can get in on the action in their Alabama home.
Retrofit Your Lighting
Don’t be trapped by a light’s intended use. This homeowner painted an outdoor lantern and wired it for the indoors. It’s a whimsical choice for a room painted in a lighthearted pink and green.
Use Art to Achieve Height
In this living room, artwork arranged over the door casing serves to draw the eye upward. Painting the ceiling an airy blue also makes it soar. The translucent chandelier and long drapes help the room feel taller.
Use Outdoor Fabric for Durability
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. Outdoor, washable rugs can also be used in a high-traffic family room.
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. In this Tulsa, Oklahoma home, everything is designed to be family-friendly.
Curate a Rotating Mantle Display
Display an ever-changing arrangement of artwork and accessories above the mantel. Pick up one-of-a-kind finds at the flea market or antique store. As you find new collectibles, swap them out as a quick way to change up the look.
Make Room for Family
Designers eliminated the breakfast room in this home and incorporated it into a more casual family room that connects to the kitchen. The den wall was taken down and the space was reappropriated as a sunroom, filling the main living area with more light. A mostly blue palette sets apart the area, which has plenty of seating to accommodate a crowd.
Hang mini-galleries throughout the house to maximize limited wall space and showcase art. Create groupings within her collection of artwork based on styles, weight, and frames. Use artwork wherever you see an opportunity –above doors, between windows, or even wrapped around the TV.
Create a Nook 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
Create a distinctive ceiling for your space. This vaulted ceiling has a rough-hewn wood treatment that warms up the feeling of the room. The paneling draws attention to the clerestory window in this light-bathed living area.
Splash on the Color
Don’t be afraid to try a rainbow of colors. This cheerful space incorporates lemon yellow, green, and tangerine. A neutral sofa and rug help keep the room grounded.
Create Display Cubbies
Cozy built-in cubbies provide the perfect place to display antique collectibles and heirlooms in this living room. Built-in shelves and floating shelves add additional display space. Beautiful baskets can do double duty, hiding away your collection of remotes.
Salvage Original Materials
Salvage materials to add unique architectural features to your home. Doors, windows, and trim can be rescued from an abandoned home or found at an antique or reuse store. In this living room, simple Shaker-style cabinet doors from a lumber salvage yard mimic the look of a custom paneled wainscot for much less.
Maximize Small Spaces with Built-Ins
In this small room off of the front entry of this Kentucky home, a built-in bookshelf also provides storage behind closed doors and a flip-out desk. This multi-functional room can serve as a workspace, a quiet escape, or a fun entertaining space. Especially with more families working from home, these multi-functional areas are becoming more popular and a priority.
Add Custom Touches to Furniture
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. We changed the look of this table by taking it to a wallpaper hanger who gave it a custom look by covering it with grass cloth.
Divide Up Large Rooms
How do you make a gigantic room look cozy in an open floorplan? Turns out it’s all about dividing the room into cozy seating areas. A console table and lamps behind the sofa help to separate the space.
Go Bold With Color
“I thought I could be a neutrals girl, but I’m not. I’m embracing who I am and throwing in color wherever I see fit,” says homeowner Stacie Abdallah. She fearlessly painted these bookshelves in her remodeled home a bold navy to great effect. The bookshelves were an Ikea purchase that she repainted and framed in for a custom built-in look.
Dress Up a Rustic Room
Even a rustic wood cabin can be softened and made more sophisticated with fabric and furnishings. Barn builders used post-and-beam construction in rough-hewn yellow pine in this farmhouse living room. Linen curtains with vintage trim add elegance to the rustic room.
Mix Up Monochromatic
Make monochromatic more interesting. The homeowners combined several shades of blue, from almost-black navy to a pale sky blue, in the light-filled living room. A print over the fireplace also plays up the monochromatic theme.
Make the Room More Inviting
In this family-friendly remodel, multiple rooms were cleared away to make one large living space. The sofas offer plenty of room and invite conversation and games. With such a light, inviting space, the family is certain to spend hours here.
Add Your Own Creations
In his cottage living room, designer P. Allen Smith wanted a one-of-a-kind art piece over the mantel. “It’s more affordable than you might think,” says Allen, who mounted old farm tools to make a big impact for little cost. “Original artwork adds so much soul to a home.”
Choose a Statement Sofa for a Large Room
A tufted chesterfield sofa covered in family-friendly Sunbrella fabric adds scale and traditional style in this farmhouse restoration. Tip: A large sofa needs large pillows—ours are 26 inches square. Bonus Tip: Reinvent vintage finds in a new setting. Here, an old flat file cabinet works as a coffee table.
Use a Range of Textiles
In this Tudor renovation, designer Barrie Benson combined 10 different textiles and prints in a single, orderly viewpoint without flinching. “I’m not shy about mixing patterns,” she admits, “as long as the scale is significantly different.” Three boldly distinct but equally strong upholstery selections converse easily with one another in this mise-en-scène, and the lighthearted purple, pink, and white leopard print on the window seat cushion keeps pace with the other prints without overwhelming any of them.
Add In 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 in this Nashville house with color. “I added an air of elegance with a soft color palette that reflects the surrounding sky and hills,” she says.
Layer Patterns and Prints
Sprinkling the same print throughout a room (on throw pillows, curtains, and walls) is an old decorator’s trick. Scattering patterns that are similar—in scale, motif, or color (like the diamond shapes in the living room)—but just a little different keeps things interesting and really wakes up the room. Colorful, loose abstract art pieces keep a formal room from feeling stuffy.
Hide Private Spaces
Use design elements like these louvered doors to make private spaces inconspicuous. “We needed a powder room in the part of the house where the living was going to happen, but having bathrooms right off living spaces is a real pet peeve of mine,” says architect Chris Sanders. In this Austin home, he helped design a wall of louvered doors that hide an almost 5-foot-wide powder room, a small wet bar, and a row of air vents that run across the top.
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 hutch in this room gives a sense of history.
Decorate with Cottage Style
Layer floral patterns and stripes on casual furniture for a cozy, cottage feel. Try a knotty pine table that won’t be ruined by spills and scratches. Cottage style is all about creating a comfortable space for the entire family.
Create a Statement with Accomplishments
A family collection of fishing-tournament awards were arranged here to create a gallery feeling in the den. The walls and sofa reflect a color pulled straight from one of the pieces. With such bold colors, matching the sofa to the wall color prevents it from overwhelming the room.
Keep it Neutral
Keep the beautiful views the primary focus. A neutral palette is devoid of area rugs or window treatments, camouflaging this lake house living room with its surroundings. The soft color gives the room a restful feel.
Make An Indoor Garden
A classic floral chintz pattern was used here for both the curtains and the armchairs. Chalky green walls and botanical-themed accessories, like the prints around the fireplace and even a branch under the coffee table, complete the garden effect. The shades and lamps also add a natural element.
Bring the Outdoors In
Don’t underestimate your living room’s greatest feature: the view. The two-story-tall window in this living room maximizes natural light. An undivided lower sash and a window seat take maximum advantage of the serene exterior view.
Give Your Living Room a Sense of Place
This home’s boho beach style is well-developed. Palm fronds and shells are scattered around the room. A painting of a seascape hangs on the wall, and the blue-and-white color scheme echoes the area’s white sands and blue waters. A large rattan coffee table gives the room a mellow, beachy edge and doubles as a game table.
Reflect Your Surroundings
In this mountain home, interior designer Lauren Liess infused the living room with earthy color palettes and a tree-stump side table to create a cozy gathering space just as relaxed as the beautiful Blue Ridge setting. The living room had to be equal parts hangout spot, entertaining center, and functional pass-through. “I often use new upholstery but bring in quirky antiques—like the Victorian armchair—to add charm,” Lauren says.
Put Your Feet Up
Designer Whitney McGregor wanted every room in this Highlands, North Carolina cabin to be more inviting than the next. “This is a mountain cabin, and the wood is cozy, so I decided to roll with it and keep the walls,” she says. While a crisp white sofa and chintz slipper chairs dress the space, McGregor favors ottomans over coffee tables. “I want people to lie back and put up their feet. Comfort is my number one goal,” she says.
Make Height a Showstopper
In this 1940s Georgia home, an addition provided the opportunity to create a showstopping living room. The space is adorned with clean, traditional moldings and a hipped box-beam ceiling set just high enough to wow. Atlanta designer Amy Morris accentuated that height with a statement light fixture from Currey & Company and enhanced the room’s feeling of openness with a pair of large-scale mirrors to “create a feeling of windows all around,” she says.
Save With Thrifty Finds
“I love the hunt of finding cool things for a good deal,” says homeowner EJ Brown, who scored the round wood coffee table for $20 at a local Goodwill store. “I look for furniture you can feel comfortable in. You can put your feet up on that table like it’s no big deal,” she says. Mixing thrift store finds with newer modern pieces like the shimmering Serena & Lily globe pendant keeps this Alabama cabin feeling fresh.
Maximize a Small Space
In this small living room, the 7-foot chocolate brown sofa fades into the wall and the skirt hides a pullout mattress. Filling the room with upholstered pieces creates a plush look and extra seating. Artwork and a mirror expand the room upward and give the impression of a larger space.
Harmonize High and Low Style
This unpretentious living room seamlessly blends one-of-a-kind finds with discount-store purchases. Luxe custom upholstery and antique-auction furnishings mingle well with bargain buys such as a modern flower chandelier from Ikea. Interior designer Virginia Mary Brown sought to create a woodsy vibe with the tree-adorned Arbre de Matisse Reverse Brown on Tint fabric by China Seas (quadrillefabrics.com) on two bold club chairs, along with other nature-inspired accent pieces in the space. To ensure the room’s look didn’t skew too rustic, Brown layered in sleek pieces like the lacquer-and-acrylic plastic coffee table.
Keep the Charm
Built around 1890, this beautiful Tennessee mountain cottage is a study in simplicity, mixing natural materials including stone and timber to create a warm, inviting, and welcoming space. A neutral color palette and beaded board ceilings throughout the home allow historic features to shine. “There’s not one thing that feels contrived about this house. It’s relaxed and natural,” says homeowner Terry Banta.
Celebrate the View
Stunning views of the marshland drove the design of this Palmetto Bluff living room. The floor-to-ceiling clerestory bay window is more than just a grand gesture to the landscape; it also ensures that the wraparound porch won’t steal a sliver of light from this ethereal space. To balance the towering white walls, the dark, richly colored floors and hearth draw the eye downward.
Make a Strong Impression
Bold, geometric prints reign supreme in the artwork, fabrics, and floor covering of this living room. The soft neutral upholstery and wall color allow each piece to pop. At the same time, the limited color palette of the prints prevents the room from being overwhelmed.
Open the Floor Plan
These days most every homebuyer—or home remodeler—wants an open plan house. A multi-purpose room lets people in the kitchen keep an eye on the goings-on in the living room and vice versa. Being able to see what is happening in every room is both inclusive for hosts wanting to be included in the party or parents with busy toddlers. That’s why this practical layout is undoubtedly here to stay.