Make your living room a space you never want to leave with these cool design and decorating ideas
1 of 30Photo by Lisa Romerein
Mix cool and warm
Steel columns make this living room’s glass corners—and airy feel—possible. The fireplace serves as an interesting focal counterpoint, yet keeps the room warm and cozy.
2 of 30Photo by Thomas J. Story
Strive for versatility
In a small space, make furniture do double--or even triple--duty. In this live-work home, a midcentury Hans Wegner daybed in the multifunction main room acts as sofa, guest bed for visitors, and “conference room” seating for business meetings.
3 of 30Photo by Coral Von Zumwalt
Embellish with a quirky find
Add a statement piece, like this reclaimed wood swing (dekorla.com), to make the room's aesthetic unique. You can blend heirloom and global finds for an eclectic look.
4 of 30Photo by Thomas J. Story
Freshen things up
In this bungalow's remodel, the living room kept its original paneling, box beam ceilings, and built-in bookcases, but got a face-lift courtesy of Danish modern furniture and a fresh coat of a cheery yet not overpowering color.
5 of 30Thomas J. Story
Frame a doorway
Bookshelves surrounding the entry from a living room to a dining room make creative use of what might otherwise be under-utilized wall space.
6 of 30Photo by Thomas J. Story
Go for transparency
How do you double a small living space? Appy a few smart design tricks. For instance, glass walls trick the eye into thinking there's more space than there is. In this living room, transparent walls seem to bring the plants into the room itself. It’s a twist on a more traditional take on outdoor living: sliding doors opening onto patios.
7 of 30Photo by Thomas J. Story
Embrace the ethnic eclectic
You can go for an electic scheme that doesn't stray into hodgepodge terrirtory by using a connecting thread of color, tone, or shape. In this living room, floral fabrics mingle with graphic prints, and Moroccan and Mexican accessories with midcentury furniture. All are linked by a ’70s palette.
8 of 30Photo by Dave Lauridsen
Don't forget the ceiling
Small-home living requires creative--sometimes even eccentric--storage solutions. Bicycles held up by a system of pulleys hover above this comfortable living room.
9 of 30Photo by Thomas J. Story
Provide a common denominator
When it comes to displaying your art, diverse mediums and frames are brought to together by a single, shared wall color.
10 of 30Photo by David Fenton
Get a beach-house look
Love the beach-house aesthetic but don't live near the ocean? Fake it with this fun idea. A Craigslist find, this drift boat was reinvented as a sofa. The new owners added a fresh coat of white, cut away one side, and inserted a foam mattress. Instead of cutting off the leftover rope, they coiled it into a floor mat.
11 of 30Photo by Ericka McConnell
A color-blocked daybed adds more hues to a room's decorative scheme while remaining sleek and modern.
12 of 30Photo by Thomas J. Story
An open, studio-style floor plan in the areas used for dining, sitting, and cooking makes for easy entertaining.
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Think in three dimensions
In this living room, an ebony-stained cedar fireplace wall rises 20 feet to the ceiling, serving as a striking view from a lofted home office.
14 of 30Photo by Thomas J. Story
Get cabin fever
Go for a cabin-inspired look that doesn't stray into dated territory with exposed and sandblasted rafters and beams and a granite hearth.
15 of 30Photo by Thayer Allyson Gowdy
Update traditional emblems
In this California home owned by a Spanish emigrant, a metal peace sign gets a boost from white lights and some horns, creating an homage to both California and Spain. The red wall and fireplace underscore the Spanish vibe.
16 of 30Photo by Thomas J. Story
Mix high and low
Inexpensive furniture mingles with high-end touches in this living room: Ikea curtains hang on plumbing pipe behind a $1,200 chandelier; custom pillows sit atop a bargain (at $579) settee from Urban Outfitters; a hand-painted chinoiserie coffee table rests on an old Pakistani rug ($85 on eBay).
17 of 30Photo by Lisa Romerein
Distract the eye
Divert the gaze from the ubiquitous living-room eyesore by hanging a painting larger than the flat-screen right above it. Note: Since the TV already has a frame, ditch the one on the art.
18 of 30Photo by Thomas J. Story
This living room has only what the family needs: a sofa, a video player, blankets, and pillows. The sectional couch here expands to a queen bed; pieces separate for extra seats; and a mirror-top tray turns seating into a table. This minimalism helps the room remain uncluttered.
19 of 30Photo by Thomas J. Story
Expand to outer space
The living room of this sustainably-built home is airy and spacious, with sliding glass windows that open to a balcony and breathtaking tree views beyond.
20 of 30Photo by Thomas J. Story
Define small rooms with furniture that makes a statement. Here, neither the leather sofa nor the Wegner shell chair, both from Room & Board, “matches” the custom coffee table, but they create an eclectic vignette in front of the retiled fireplace.
21 of 30Photo by John Granen
Play with color
This living room finds harmony by combining a mishmash of patterns, offbeat accessories, and colors that might not match 100%, but remain in the same family.
22 of 30Photo by Thomas J. Story
Unify a collection
Even a random collection feels coherent when displayed in a wraparound gallery. The trick here? Hang the gallery centered on a line just above eye level. The piano creates an optional yet strong visual anchor.
23 of 30Photo by Thomas J. Story
Create an anchor
A Danish heirloom bookshelf unit anchors the room with its well-made, classic form. The 1960s unit displays ceramic and glass collections that add personality.
24 of 30Photo by Daniel Hennessy
Put furniture to work
A small living space can accommodate a lot when you use multi-functional furniture and clever design tips. In this living room, the window seat stores extra blankets, and the subwoofer doubles as a side table.
25 of 30Photo by Thomas J. Story
Give guests a comfy oasis
This living room can easily be transformed into a guest room. The futon unfolds into a bed, and the coffee table becomes a nightstand. Futon casters make for quick rearranging.
26 of 30Photo by Thomas J. Story
Marry past with present
The living room of this midcentury ranch home is designed to mesh with the retro style of the architecture, but with fresh touches that keep the look current. The Danish-modern coffee table was purchased on eBay and the side table/planter at an antiques mall for $40. New items include a Crate and Barrel sofa and a flock of Etsy pillows.
27 of 30Photo by Thomas J. Story
Streamline the palette
The blue and white color scheme pulls this room together. Soothing blue furnishings and accents add just the right amount of color while also providing a tasteful mix of textures and shapes.
28 of 30Photo by Thomas J. Story
Be an editor
In this house, knickknacks are few and far between, which results in each item gaining a sense of importance and meaning. This makes the house feel peaceful and―by calling attention to the few well-edited pieces on display―also intensely personal. Except for a mix of items found while traveling and trolling flea markets, the living room is uncluttered.
29 of 30Thomas J. Story
Whenever possible, let natural light dominate a space. When designing a home, or remodeling, take every opportunity to let in more light from the outdoors—add windows, raise the roof, add a skylight.
30 of 30Thomas J. Story
Let utility be part of your design strategy. Here, colorful book spines create an artistic moment, and thoughtfully-designed fireplace tools double as sculptural art.