August 12, 2022

Ema Peters

Contrary to popular belief, there’s a lot more to a living room than a soft sofa or an impressive entertaining setup. As one of the most trafficked areas of the house—one that can be rivaled only by the kitchen—a living room offers a unique look at a dweller’s design aesthetic. Since the living room is the backdrop for cozy nights in and intimate happy hours, it’s important that it has the right ambience to match.

But, as the saying goes, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder—and this common area is no exception. Whether you want to keep your decor minimalist, experiment with a statement-making light fixture, or incorporate a bold color palette, there is no one way to decorate a living room. To help you find inspiration that matches your taste, we combed through the ELLE DECOR archives to highlight the very best living room ideas. The list below has something for everyone, from a shape-shifting space in West Vancouver to a tropical retreat in Boca Raton. So no matter which scheme, style, or layout you’ve gravitated toward, this roundup proves that a little bit of creativity and thoughtful planning can go a long way.

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1

Depth-Defying Milan Living Room

Milanese architect and designer Hannes Peer took this Italian living area to new heights—literally—by drawing inspiration from the Alps. The low-slung furniture—which includes a brown leather couch from B&B Italia and a vintage daybed—deftly balances out the high, slatted wood accents.

2

Maximalist Chicago Living Room

Anyone who has a more-is-more aesthetic will find a lot to love about this zesty prewar apartment in Chicago. Designer Summer Thornton doubled down on boldness with jewel-toned seating, a pair of pendants from Urban Electric Co., and a sweet wallcovering by de Gournay.

3

Moody New York Living Room

This Upper West Side apartment single-handedly proves that the dark side has plenty of perks. Designer Kevin Dumais created a space that’s equal parts handsome and homey with a plethora of textures. The suede wallpaper by Holly Hunt, custom ottoman, and Daniel Wenger lounge chair give this space the tactile treatment.

Craving some much-needed pops of color? Take a cue from lighting designer Marie-Lise Féry’s French abode. Swathed in Farrow & Ball’s Blue Gray, this room features a velvet Christophe Delcourt sectional and candy-coated Magic Circus Éditions lamp, offering a grown-up take on a rainbow palette.

5

A Living Room with Seating a-Plenty

As this Hollywood Hills living room—which was designed by firm Nickey Kehoe for Suzanne Goin—proves, you can never have too many seats. This Spanish-style space pairs the original Douglas fir-beamed ceiling with a cornucopia of sofas and armchairs, all of which are from the designers.

6

Pattern-Packed Palm Beach Living Room

Embrace your bold streak with strategically placed patterns. In this Palm Beach villa, Mark D. Sikes turned this living room into a delightfully whimsical retreat with a hypnotic array of prints. But since each repeat boasts a similar blue-and-white scheme, the room is eye-catching, not over-the-top.

If movie nights in are your top priority, you’ll love this space that Kovac Design Studio created for Hollywood agent Todd Feldman. The spacious great room boasts a custom motorized screen, creating a floating home theater. A sectional by Patricia Urquiola for B&B Italia, RH, Restoration Hardware cocktail table, and a rug from Armadillo make this the perfect place to Netflix and chill.

8

St. Petersburg Living Room

Looking for a red-hot living room idea? Consider making the fireplace the focal point of the room—just as Tim Veresnovsky did in this St. Petersburg apartment. The oak-paneled hearth is flanked by a Sergei Khrabrovsky sofa, vintage leather armchair, and Zara Home side table.

Make your living room feel like an otherworldly oasis, just as Fawn Galli did in this Boca Raton retreat. From a rattan cocktail table by India Mahdavi to a half-moon shape Lejeune sofa—which is swathed in Dedar velvet and Scalamandre’s Maquis Tapestry Agave repeat—this space offers vacation vibes around the clock.

10

Shape-Shifting Living Room

For a pared-back way to make your living room pop, play with different shapes. When decorating this Vancouver pad for a mother-daughter duo, PlaidFox’s Ben Leavitt featured an angular, 1970s-inspired chimney breast in red- and pink-toned Mutina tiles. Rounding out the room is a custom curvaceous couch and leather ottoman from Moroso.

11

Modern Midtown Living Room

For an easy (yet effective!) way to rack up the compliments, consider adding a punchy couch to a neutral space. Here, Dorothy Berwin added a bright red sofa from Francis Sultana to a high-contrast space.

12

Mix-and-Match Living Room

Why settle for one design style when you can enjoy a few? In this Palm Beach abode, designer Caroline Rafferty juxtaposed a 20-foot-long white sofa from CB2 with contemporary art and an antique cocktail table designed by Pierre Jeanneret. The crisp palette and jolts of primary colors strike a happy balance between subtle and statement.

It’s no wonder that the living room packs the “wow” factor of this apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Designer Stephen Sills paired the bright Lee Jofa wallcovering with a Louis XIV marble mantel and antique French chairs draped in a Clarence House silk.

14

Chic London Living Room

Decades after its last refurbishment in 1991, a well-known Kuwaiti family enlisted designer Nebihe Cihan to spruce up their charming London flat. Cihan used sculptural details and a jewel-toned sofa from Minotti to give the space a modern edge—without stripping it of its rich history.

15

Relaxed Upper West Side Living Room

Danielle Colding achieved her signature “cozy cool” look in this prewar apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The crisp white living room is anchored by a sofa from Jayson Home and a Papilio chair, creating an oasis of simplicity, ease, and eclecticism.

16

California Coastal Living Room

When Kim Alexandriuk was tasked with designing a family’s vacation home in Montecito, California, she sought to highlight many of the space’s European features. In the living room, she added a Paola Navone sofa and a slipper chair by Paul Marra Design to play off the extravagant fireplace.

17

Star-Studded Living Room

Designer Isabel López-Quesada refreshed this charming Madrid apartment—which the actress Ava Gardner used to call home—with soft, romantic details. Highlights include sofas reimagined in Brochier velvet, Pierre Paulin’s Mushroom chairs, and artwork by Donna Huanca.

18

Cozy Upstate Living Room

Three years after a fire broke out in the back of his home, designer Shawn Henderson restored his upstate New York space to be a soothing escape from the big city. This petite living room is undeniably serene, thanks to a Kaare Klint sofa, a chair by Kerstin Hörlin-Holmquist, and a versatile cocktail table courtesy of Frits Henningsen.

19

Antique-Filled Living Room

Think of Chiqui de Echavarría’s Colombian home as a passport-free way to travel the world. With an antique bench from India, South Africa–sourced paintings, and a Spanish Colonial sofa in a Palma de Mallorca fabric, this brick-clad living room has a true global edge.

20

Hudson Valley Living Room

Sheila Bridges took her Hudson Valley, New York, living room to new heights (literally) with a mobile she co-designed with Elizabeth Parker. Rounding out the room is a Hammertown Barn sofa, a vintage side table, and a fireplace by Ortal.

21

Refined Upper East Side Living Room

Designer Tom Scheerer added some uptown opulence to this Manhattan apartment with a 1950s Danish desk by Jacob Kjaer and textiles from Holland & Sherry, Borderline, and Kravet. With a neutral backdrop—as well as the occasional pops of green and blue—this living room is both elegant and eclectic.

22

Modern California Living Room

Designer Ernest de la Torre updated this Tudor-style home in Bel Air—which was built by Hollywood architect Paul R. Williams in 1934—with modern panache. A vintage Jean Royère chair and a rug by Edward Fields soften the sleek space.

23

Art Nouveau Living Room

When restoring her apartment in Tbilisi, Georgia, interior designer Eka Papamichael juxtaposed the space’s rich Art Nouveau architecture with a vintage cocktail table, a Murano glass ceiling pendant, and sofas by Gervasoni.

24

Bold & Bright Living Room

Srila Chatterjee and Mahesh Mathai put their bold aesthetic on full display in their Mumbai living room. The vibrant purple walls are paired with flea-market finds, a tiger sculpture from Kerala, and a custom ottoman and chairs.

25

Muted California Living Room

Blending two distinctly different styles in one space is a tall order. When newlyweds asked Natasha Baradaran to decorate their Santa Monica, California, home, she filled the living room with various textiles in an easy, neutral color palette. The result? The perfect compromise between bohemian and Art Deco.

26

16th-Century Tuscan Living Room

At this 16th-century retreat outside Siena, Italy, restored by Hubert Zandberg, more is more. The designer added a hefty dose of color into the living room, covering the furniture in textiles from Mulberry and de Le Cuona.

27

Sophisticated Milan Living Room

Being neck-deep in a gut renovation—in the midst of the pandemic, no less—can feel overwhelming. However, Dimorestudio’s Emiliano Salci turned his new Milan apartment into a theatrical abode. He furnished his pigmented living room with antique finds as well as pieces from his home-furnishings brand, Dimoremilano.

28

Classic-Meets-Cool Living Room

When designing his San Francisco home, Antonio Martins took a trip down memory lane for inspiration. From a gallery wall of 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century portraits to the sleek RH, Restoration Hardware cocktail table, his living room bridges the gap between old and new.

29

Hotel Lobby–Esque Living Room

As the mogul behind 1 Hotels and the Baccarat Hotel, Barry Sternlicht brings a well-appointed eye to his hospitality ventures. So it’s only fitting that his personal residence follows suit. Sternlicht gives his Miami Beach living room the first-class treatment with a Jean de Merry armchair, side tables from MS Ceramic Design, and a sofa covered in Loro Piana fabric.

30

Fun and Feminine Living Room

When Lucinda Loya was tapped to design fashion model Maya Henry’s London flat, she wanted to fill the cold space with plenty of personality. From the fringed Munna chairs to a candy-coated color palette, this living room feels feminine and edgy in equal measure.

31

Art-Filled Hamptons Living Room

Furniture doubles as art in this Hamptons home. A white sofa matching the wall and floors sets the stage for cream vintage Joe Colombo chairs that flank a custom Marmoreal coffee table. The Egan Frantz artwork spans the length of the sofa.

32

California Casual Living Room

Exposed beams, a plaster fireplace, and wrought iron door frames create a Mediterranean vibe in this Newport, California home. A mix of cream upholstery with wood furniture and floors looks elegant but not fussy.

33

High-Contrast Living Room

An accent wall made of dark charcoal tiles boldly stands out in this elegant Mill Valley living room. Deep blacks complement warm whites with gold accents to create a glamorous scheme.

Modern updates like industrial lighting and a polished cement floor create an eclectic aesthetic in this old-word living room. Cube-shaped poufs and linen-upholstered Bergère chairs add softness and texture.

35

Glam Chicago Living Room

A sophisticated, neutral living room in Chicago’s historic Palmolive building features a clever mix of antiques and vintage finds, which create a sense of balance.

36

Palm Beach Living Room

A 1920s Palm Beach home, owned by art adviser Heidi McWilliams, serves as the perfect backdrop for displaying her impressive collection. The living room is furnished with claret armchairs (right) and a hexagonal table by Rose Tarlow Melrose House, along with a neutral rug by Patterson Flynn Martin. An Anish Kapoor mirrored wall sculpture accentuates the 16th-century Italian limestone mantel, and the coffered ceiling, which is original, adds character to the room.

37

Minimalist Living Room

Kara Mann’s Chicago living room is a lesson in minimalist design. A pair of white chairs complement the marigold-colored rug by Miyabi Casa. The floors are large-scale limestone tiles.

38

Serene Ibiza Sitting Room

This Ibiza living room features local-limestone floors covered in custom Spanish esparto rugs from Antonia Molina. Walls covered in a sandy lime plaster, and a wood-beam ceiling set a rustic tone in the living room. Custom sofas are by Atelier Tapissier Seigneur and the curtains are in a quilted Braquenié fabric; the Oeil cocktail table by Pierre Chapo is vintage, the lacquered-coral sculpture is by Maurizio Epifani, and the painting over the mantel is by Alex Katz.

39

Refined Buenos Aires Living Room

In a Buenos Aires home, the original marble mantel in the living room was specified by Maison Jansen, who decorated the apartment in the 1930s. The circa-1940 chairs in the foreground, the console (left), and the side table (right) were designed by Jean-Michel Frank for the Argentine firm Comte. The 1930s Frits Henningsen settee is covered in a Holland & Sherry mohair, the chairs next to the fireplace are 18th-century Gustavian, the circa-1950 Sphere cocktail table and lamp are by Jean Royère, and the 1930s table (front left) and sconces are by Maison Jansen.

40

Amanda Seyfried’s Living Room

41

California Bungalow Lounge

For designer Patrick Printy, his bungalow in Oakland, California is all about eccentric design. In this living area attached to his study, a pair of vintage sofas are upholstered in a Ralph Lauren Home stripe, the Eero Saarinen table is from Design Within Reach, barstools by CB2 are covered in a Katie Ridder fabric, the ceiling lantern is by Visual Comfort, the rug is by Ralph Lauren Home, and the busts are by Oly.

The artworks include photographs by Jason Fulford, Garry Winogrand, and Richard Misrach, flanked by silhouette portraits by Julian Opie.

42

Jewel-Toned Living Room

This London townhouse has a living room filled with custom designs, such as a sofa covered in a Donghia patterned velvet, another upholstered in a Le Manach silk velvet, and a round banquette, which is topped with a 1940s French bronze sculpture.

43

Bright Greek Island Living Room

The living room in this Greek Island home features a custom cocktail table and banquette, and striped pillows upholstered in a Les Toiles du Soleil fabric. The Queen Elizabeth II print is by Andy Warhol.

44

An Airy Loft Living Room

New York-based designer Becky Shea crafted a stunning New York City loft for Homepolish co-founder Will Nathan. The living room, which showcases a mix of industrial elements as well as Shea’s organic-modernist aesthetic, is a lesson in open-concept living.

45

A Pattern-Filled Hollywood Living Room

Actress Minnie Driver’s inviting Hollywood living room features a mix of vintage fabrics and patterns. Window treatments in complementary colors add balance to the light-filled space.

46

Christiane Lemieux’s Living Room

Christiane Lemieux’s New York City loft includes artwork by Robert Swain, custom sofas covered in a neutral linen, and a coffee table and side table from the Brimfield Show and a Paris flea market.

47

Light-Filled Living Room

White walls and contemporary furniture give this living room a clean and classic feel. Natural elements, by way of driftwood and greenery, bring the outdoors in.

48

Clean and Bright Washington, D.C., Living Room

Architect Piet Boon and designer Jennifer Schmidt transformed a Washington, D.C. loft with a palette of grey, white, and wood in light tones. Textured accents, including grey velvet chairs, add interest to the open space.

A Brooklyn townhouse in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, features a sofa from ABC Carpet & Home upholstered in a fabric by Soraya Shah for Studio Four NYC. The space also includes a chaise by Timothy Oulton, a Danish cocktail table, the Akari pendant light by Noguchi, window treatments in a Rebecca Atwood fabric, and a vintage Moroccan rug. The walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Huntington White and the trim in Iron Mountain. A photograph by Claire Nitze and a cameo portrait by Doug Meyer complete the living room.

50

Gramercy Park Living Room

For a Gramercy Park apartment, designer Bennett Leifer upholstered a settee in a Sabina Fay Braxton velvet, and chose a pair of carved wood armchairs by de Gournay covered in a Stark velvet. The Empire console is from Lucca Antiques, the cocktail table is by Ebanista, the vintage stool is by Maison Baguès, the Louis XVI secretary was purchased on 1stdibs, the Tabriz rug is antique, and the walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Alexandria Beige.

51

Statement Fireplace Living Room

Architect Luís Bernardo Brito e Abreu renovated his São Miguel home to reflect his family’s artistic, maritime history. The living room features a vintage chair by Illum Wikkelsø, and the mantel and stone benches are both of local basalt. The sculpture of a head on the bench at right is by Ernesto Canto da Maya, and the wall sculpture above the mantel is a 16th-century naval decoration.

52

Chicago Penthouse Living Room

Alisa Bloom recreated the environment of a French interior in her sophisticated Chicago penthouse. In the living room, she opted for a custom sofa in a Kravet fabric with pillows in a Jim Thompson silk. The 1970s chairs are from Revival, and the vintage cocktail table is from Martin La Brocante. She finished the space with a console by Crate & Barrel, a vintage chandelier by Hans-Agne Jakobsson, and curtains in an Oscar de la Renta fabric for Lee Jofa. The walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Cement Gray.

53

Concrete And Navy Living Room

54

Japanese-Style Living Room

In the living room of Vivia Horn’s Japanese-style retreat in Hunter, New York, the leather-and-plastic Italian sofas, cocktail table, and wool shag rug were purchased in the 1980s at Bloomingdale’s. The Japanese-style fire pit and tin range hood are custom, the floor lamp is from the ’70s, the sisal carpet is by Stark, the ceiling beams are Douglas fir, and a series of color lithographs from Japan are displayed along the pine wainscoting.

55

Eclectic Farmhouse Living Room

56

Central Park Aerie Living Room

58

Contemporary Living Room

In the living room of Kris Ghesquière and Eva Claessens’s house in southeastern Uruguay, which they built on the remains of an 1810 roadside general store, the chair was constructed by a local carpenter based on a picture in a magazine, the vintage table in front of the sofa was found at an auction in France and the rug is from Iran; the yellow lamb sculptures are by William Sweetlove, and the paintings and feather sculpture are by Claessens.

60

Antiques-Laden Living Room

In the living room of an antique-laden apartment in Greenwich Village, the antique Swedish sofa and Baroque chair, right, are upholstered in Robert Kime fabrics, the armchair is 18th-century French and a vintage Persian Soumak rug from Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar rests on a sea-grass rug from ABC Carpet & Home. Among the items on the wall are an antique water-buffalo skull, 19th-century French gouaches and a drawing by Jean Cocteau.

62

Color-Doused Living Room

John Robshaw’s vibrant Connecticut house is overflowing with character: The living room sofa and its fabric are by John Robshaw for Duralee. The armchair, custom banquettes, and bone-inlay side table are all Robshaw designs, the cocktail table is from India, the table lamps are by Christopher Spitzmiller, and the dhurrie is a custom design. An Elliott Puckette artwork sits on the mantel, which is painted in Yukon Sky by Benjamin Moore, and the large painting of a perfume bottle is by Doug Wada.

63

Pastel Patterned Living Room

64

Nature-Embracing Living Room

In a remote New Zealand surf town, architects Lance and Nicola Herbst ingeniously tuck a spacious weekend retreat amid a lush grove of exotic trees. In the living area of the house, designed in its entirety by the couple, the sofa is a custom design, and the fireplace by Masport Heating is set in a custom-made steel cabinet; the pendant light is by Secto Design and the walls are sheathed in black-stained western red cedar.

65

Midcentury Living Room (with a Texas Twist)

When San Francisco residents Sam Hamilton and Jen Chaiken decided to buy a second home in Marfa, Texas, after holding their destination wedding nearby, they knew they wanted a layered aesthetic.

In the living room, a Poul Henningsen light fixture and a Navajo rug in the family room; a cabinet by Robert “Mouseman” Thompson holds an Ansel Adams photograph, and the walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White.

66

Chic and Airy Living Room

67

Bright and Bold Living Room

68

Emmy Rossum’s Living Room

69

Modern Nautical Living Room

70

Stately Historic Living Room

71

Happily Eclectic Living Room

The Manhattan home of interior designer Frank de Biasi and textile artist Gene Meyer flaunts a living room with a circa-1790 American secretary, a pair of bamboo étagères that are from a Paris flea market and curtains of a John Rosselli linen. The screen is by de Biasi, and the vintage wicker stool is by Franco Albini.

In the living room of Evan and Ku-Ling Yurman’s TriBeCa apartment, the mid-century furnishings include a pair of Nanna Ditzel chairs, a Hans Wegner armchair and a cocktail table by Hendrik van Keppel and Taylor Green, purchased at auction.

73

Retro Chic Living Room

74

Art-Filled Modern Living Room

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