Right White: Residential designer Jodi Macklin followed up by coating virtually every surface of the living room in crisp, clean white. The paneling, trim, and ceiling got Donald Kaufman Color Collection DKC #38, the walls got the slightly darker Donald Kaufman Color Collection DKC #51, and the floors got a hardworking Benjamin Moore enamel (Moore’s Latex Floor & Patio Enamel #122).
"The room doesn't get a lot of light, so I decided to make it cozy and turned it into an English-style portrait room, which is ridiculous, but fun," says celebrity chef Alex Hitz. Taking the cozy route in a living room without a ton of natural light is a great solution. And what's cozier than a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf with seating beckoning you to curl up on it? To display your books more creatively, offset them with artwork. In this room, a Peter Rogers portrait of Alex Hitz's close friend, the late Nan Kempner, hangs over the bookshelves to create some contrast.

A neutral palette comes alive when it consists of a combination of light to dark hues in mix of textures, as this rustic living room by designer Melissa Ervin exhibits. From top to bottom, natural woven-shade capped lamps sit atop metal-and-wood side tables, pillows made from vintage textiles decorate a mohair and leather sofa, and a hide rug tops the nubby sisal floor covering.
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.

A hand-me-down buffet's original cherry finish felt a little formal for this Arizona ranch home, but with some matte chalk paint, the item took on a more casual look that set the tone for equally laid-back vintage pieces, from the leather luggage (that stores extra blankets) to a coffee table made from an antique mission door. A midcentury turquoise sofa adds a splash of happy color.


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.

As we've mentioned a few times already, a small space doesn't mean you can't have fun with color. So if you love incorporating pretty pastels or vivid brights but want to make sure your living room doesn't look chaotic, the trick is to stick to a tight color palette. Mixing patterns is also fair game, especially when done as masterfully as this cheerful room designed by Ellen Kavanaugh.


Use ottomans in place of a traditional coffee table to make better use of your space (because a tiny house means your living room often does double or triple duty when people come over). You can top them with a tray to hold flowers and books, or use as extra seating. Then when it's family time, they become footrests. These red leather ottomans in a small family room designed by Redmond Aldrich strike that perfect balance between formal and casual.
When you want to introduce just a hint of rustic appeal here and there in your living room, consider the Rule of Three to prevent your efforts from appearing random or lackluster. This philosophy, long observed by interior designers, says that groups of similar items create visual impact; odd numbers make the most eye-pleasing groupings. In this living room, for example, a trio of tree stumps creates a clever coffee table arrangement with rustic flair.
Channel this South Carolina screened-in porch to create the ultimate rustic living room. To get the look, start with a rusty-red painted floor and a massive stone fireplace (don’t forget a hand-hewn wood mantel!), add a mix of rattan or Old Hickory hoop chairs plus a cozy braided rug, then substitute the sofa with a charming wood bed swing. Wrought-iron light fixtures and striped pillows complete the rustic look.

Go Green: Bringing in plants into your living room adds both color and life to the room. Adding greens to a room always makes it look classy and cool. Buy a couple of potted plants and arrange them in a corner of the living room where there is some light. You can also keep your plants in a dark corner and hang a lamp on top. This will not only make sure that your plants live; it will also result in a beautiful corner arrangement.


In the living area of this Martha's Vineyard home, furnishings are awash in a sea of blues, but slight variations in tone and subtle patchwork motifs take the place of sharply contrasting patterns and hues. A patchwork rug from Nomadic Trading Company anchors the living area, furnished with linen sofas and a wingback chair by Cisco. The glass top on Groundwork's reclaimed-oak coffee table displays a collage of vintage art.
Imperfections are perfect for rustic living rooms. In fact, rough is one of the words used to define rustic. So when you incorporate elements into your rustic decor, celebrate any less-than-pristine aspects of the piece. This large hutch retains doors once stripped of almost all the paint but was never repainted. The resulting natural wood frames with specks of paint draw attention to the treasures displayed inside while exuding rustic charm.
This Leiper's Fork, Tennessee, home is bursting at the beams with ingenious ideas for all things rustic, reclaimed, and repurposed. In the living room, a panel of salvaged corrugated metal provides the perfect backdrop for the vintage Orley woodstove, while matte gray-black paint is a sophisticated canvas for a casual mix of framed and unframed family silhouettes, oil paintings, and a vintage deer mount. Slipcovers made from drop cloths (sold at home-improvement stores) make for a durable, family- and pet-friendly furniture covering.
Contemporary living room décor resists the minutiae of ornamentation and instead puts the focus on space, shape, and color. Its lightweight construction and pliable materials allows designers to explore sleeker lines and implement more daring shapes into their living room decorating ideas. Contemporary style makes a bold statement without being overstated. Browse Living Spaces’ selection of contemporary furniture for living room ideas.
One of the most fundamental features in a rustic living room is the fireplace. Consider dressing yours in authentic native rock, which brings the rugged beauty of the outdoors inside. A brick border outlines the curve of this fireplace, giving it a graceful note. White, transitional club chairs lighten the look and provide a comfy spot to enjoy the fire.
×