When we hear the words "living room makeover," many of us think a few cans of paint and a new sofa — and don't get us wrong, those two things can work wonders. But creating a welcoming, tranquil space is about so much more than the colors and the furniture. It's about combining practicality with aesthetic so you can enjoy living in and looking at it at the same time.
Before you go down a rabbit hole of living room ideas you'll want to figure out how much space you're working with. Measuring a room beforehand can save you tons of headaches down the road: You'll know how many buckets of paint to buy, you can compare your space to similar-sized rooms on the internet, and you can think realistically about that oversized coffee table — before you have a chance to get too attached.
Once you have a rough blueprint of your living area, it's time to narrow down a particular aesthetic. What's your design style? Do you prefer bright, minimalist spaces, or do you agree that a little bit of clutter makes a room especially cozy? Find your niche and carry it throughout your design — but remember that not everything needs to match. The best interior designers blend and overlap styles in order to create something new, so don't be afraid to experiment with the occasional outlier.
Finally, pinpoint furniture and designs that are both functional and pretty to look at. If you're redecorating a smaller space, each well-used square foot adds up to create your dream living room — so make the most out of every inch. Not sure where to start? Whether you're adding a few statement pieces to your apartment's sitting area or doing a wall-to-wall renovation of your formal living room, these 30 ideas will show you how to liven up any space.
1. Accent Walls
Accent walls give you the opportunity to experiment with color and texture — without forcing you to fully commit. Choose a bold paint color or take it a step further and use unexpected materials. This wall houses the fireplace and TV, but it also ties in all of the room's colors while simultaneously giving the space an upcycled feel.
2. Plenty Of Plants
Bring your garden inside to create a happier, healthier living space. Potted plants contribute to your home's natural aesthetic and break up monotonous color schemes with fresh, bright shades. Assuming they'll get enough light, they can be your go-to filler for any drab area, including an empty shelf, a bare side table, or an awkward corner.
3. Raised Ceilings
You might be surrendering some storage space, but for those vaulted ceilings, it's probably worth it. Taller walls immediately make a room look bigger, while exposed beams add some much-envied rustic charm. Paint them the same color as the walls for an airy look or opt for a dark contrast to make a statement.
4. Gold Brass Accents
There is no denying that brass is back. This shiny gold-colored metal can be found on everything from side tables to kitchen fixtures. To make the most out of this elegant trend, opt for furniture that doubles as a statement piece, like the coffee table pictured above.
5. Curved Couches
Maybe you're hesitant to use bold patterns and colors or maybe your space already has plenty of both. Either way, experimenting with shape is a great way to liven up your living room. This curved sofa has a functional design (no matter where you sit, you can reach the coffee table), but it also adds an unexpected vintage element to your home.
6. Practical Statement Pieces
Statues and paintings may look nice, but that's about where their functionality ends. For that reason, minimalists should spend their money on a practical statement instead — like the fan in the above photo. Yeah, it's chic, modern, and ties the room together, but it also keeps your space breezy on a hot summer day.
7. Ample Reading Material
There's nothing quite as cozy as a home library — but just in case you're not living in the castle from Beauty and the Beast, you don't have to give your books their own room. Instead, display them in your living area, in built-ins or on freestanding shelves. Your space will look a lot more hygge, and your guests will probably assume you're very well-read.
8. Floor Seating
Does your living room double as a pass-through to other areas? No problem. Rather than closing off the space with clunky furniture, use floor seating to accommodate guests without overwhelming the room. (Pro tip: This design idea can also make smaller rooms appear a lot bigger.)
9. Gallery-Style Wall Hangings
When you're not sure what to do with a big blank wall (or you're not into the idea of thousands of dollars on one huge painting), break up the space with several gallery-style wall hangings. The best news? They don't have to match and you can share all of your varying interests in one place.
10. All-White Rooms
Not great when it comes to color-coordinating your decor? Don't worry: An all-white room still makes for a magazine-worthy makeover, especially if the space is traditional-looking or small. When you opt for white paint, furniture, trim, and ceilings, even the most standard accents will immediately pop.
11. Unique Seating Options
The right accent chair can make a serious statement — and it doesn't necessarily have to be loud or busy. The one pictured here utilizes neutral colors and natural textures, but in an original way; the three legs and reclined position make it a seating option unlike any other.
12. Exposed Brick
If this room just had painted sheetrock, it'd probably look like it was missing a little something. Fortunately, the exposed brick gives it an elevated loft appearance that instantly sets it apart from most other living rooms. Beige brick looks particularly elegant and airy while red brick is great for cozier spaces.
13. Modern Wainscoting
Wainscoting has a reputation. Some might think of it as stuffy and old-fashioned, but it can look really sleek when done well. Instead of dull colors, this homeowner opted for a modern gray with white trim that highlights the contemporary artwork. The full-wall design (as opposed to the more common half-wall wainscoting) draws the eye all the way up to the high ceilings.
14. A DIY Aesthetic
Don't feel like your entire space needs to look like an interior design magazine. Some rustic elements and DIY projects make a room way more accessible while unfinished structures give it an industrial vibe — plus, if you go for the artist's loft feel, you never have to put your supplies away again.
15. A Touch Of Old-World Charm
"Old-world" doesn't have to be synonymous with "outdated." A few select elements — like rich wood trim, overlapping rugs, and a tile fireplace — can make your living room feel like a European sanctuary. When contrasted with new wood floors and fresh beige paint, it's anything but antiquated.
16. Bold, Rich Paint Shades
Certain paint colors aren't for the faint of heart, but the right shade can give your entire living room a facelift. The furniture pictured above is dark and traditional, but when paired with rich burnt-orange paint, the room immediately looks bright, bohemian, and modern. Stark white trim makes the color pop even more.
17. Big Mirrors
Yes, an oversized mirror will break up a plain, monotonous wall, but it'll also reflect more light to make the room seem bigger. Experiment with shapes, sizes, and designs to find a practical wallhanging that doubles as a statement piece.
18. Built-In Shelving
This is one of those aforementioned design trends that's both practical and gorgeous. Built-in shelves house your books, decor, and necessities while adding character to a space. They don't necessarily have to encircle your fireplace, either; build some next to your front door, above the toilet, inside your pantry, or under your stairs.
19. Eye-Catching Light Fixtures
Take a look at this living room and you'll probably notice the small footprint, neutral colors, and wood coffee table. However, the bold light fixture is what really makes it stand out. The industrial design is both stylish and practical since the six far-reaching bulbs direct light to all corners of the room.
20. Cozy Clutter
There's something to be said about a clean, minimalist home — but not all clutter is bad. Some toys, excess throw pillows, blankets, and baskets add charm to your living space. Best of all, it feels lived-in; guests can relax instead of worrying that they'll mess up your super put-together house.
21. Natural Elements
Recently, there's been a huge reclaiming of all things natural. Rather than synthetic elements, go for furniture and accents from mother nature herself. In this picture, it's easy to see how wooden floors, natural textiles, potted plants, and leather seats effortlessly mesh together.
22. An Eye-Catching Coffee Table
There are swaths of articles focused on styling your coffee table. Apparently, the items you choose (and the way you opt to display them) say a lot about your home and personality as a whole. Pick decorations of varying heights and display them in a way that looks balanced to you. Don't forget the intriguing reading material!
23. Uniform Wood Tones
Pick a calming wood shade, like the light oak built-in here, and use it throughout your living room. Floors, doors, shelves, furniture, you name it. Suddenly, you've got a Scandinavian-inspired home that feels clean and cozy all at the same time.
24. Contrasting Colors
We're huge fans of moody colors, but when you're painting a smaller living room, a dark shade on all four walls can make the area appear smaller. If that's your dilemma, opt for a contrasting accent wall instead. The black pulls the eye in and makes for a modern, unique atmosphere, but the white keeps things bright and uplifting at the same time.
25. Musical Instruments
If you're one of the lucky ones who has extra square footage to spare, consider adding a musical instrument to your space. Pianos make a room look much more sophisticated — and they give you the chance to learn a new skill. For smaller living rooms, a guitar or a keyboard is a bit more relaxed, but just as functional.
26. Tons Of Textiles
The mid-century modern trend is all about sleek, hard surfaces, but adding texture into a space can instantly help it feel more comforting. This designer used plenty of textiles to warm up the room: velvet on the sofas, layered rugs on the floor, and even a faux fur wall hanging.
27. Wall-To-Ceiling Windows
If you have the privilege of replacing an entire wall with windows, do it. It'll amplify the natural light, make the room feel much bigger, and bring the natural world inside — who needs a TV with a view like that?
28. Cubby-Style Benches
Short on space? Instead of multiple sofas, opt for a cubby-style bench. Depending on the length, it'll probably accommodate more people than a couch (no arms means more seating space) — plus, you can store your essentials underneath when you've run out of room in the closet.
29. Open-Concept Layouts
Keep an eye on your kids while they're watching TV. Talk to your guests while you're preparing dinner. Enjoy more natural light and the illusion of a larger space. There are plenty of reasons to love an open-concept layout, and this living room design makes expert use of it. If you're concerned about clashing color schemes, choose neutral woods, monochromatic furniture, and a single accent shade.
Not everything needs to be perfectly symmetrical, but balancing a room can help it feel calming and inviting from the get-go. Since this living area is off-center due to the stairs, the designer compensated with two matching chairs, symmetrical built-in shelves, and a coffee table right in the middle.