How to design a timeless living room that is trend-proof in 10 steps

Avoid your space looking outdated with our design pros' timeless living room ideas

Neutral living room with gray carpet and furniture
(Image credit: Morgan DiRocco)

Avoid accidentally dating your space with a timeless living room design that will work for you for years to come. We all like to be on trend but as we know, trends come and go. 

So, If you want to design a living room space that won’t be dictated by what’s hot and what’s not, it’s a good idea to put together a scheme that you love and isn’t influenced too heavily by current trends, our pros say.

Classic and traditional living room ideas don’t have to be dull and uninspiring. Instead, they offer a timeless feel that will elevate your space. 

Designing a timeless living room

Looking for living room ideas that you aren’t going to get bored of? Redesigning a room is an investment and if you want to create something that isn’t all about what’s trending then keep reading.

Where our interior designers have recommended products, we've found matching items highly-rated by customers and from trusted retailers to help you shop the guide.

All prices were correct at time of publication.

Step 1: Consider the architecture and layout

fireplace with alcove bench seating

(Image credit: Brian Madden. Design credit: Nina Lichtenstein)

Every room is different and it’s important to work with both its strengths and weaknesses. Your living room layout is going to dictate the configuration of furniture and what lighting you choose for a timeless space.

Ayten Nadeau, founder of i-TEN Designs says, "start by evaluating the existing architecture and layout of the room. This will guide your design choices and help you make the most of the space. Respect the architectural integrity of your home and enhance it with your design choices." 

For example, if you have a fireplace, it’s a good idea to make a feature out of it. Perhaps you could arrange your furniture around it, or wallpaper the wall behind it to make a bold statement, or use the mantelpiece as an opportunity to show off decorations that you love. 

This Vintage Poppy peel and stick wallpaper is a great wall-covering option and shoppers rate it for being easy to install and looking gorgeous when finished.

Step 2: Invest in quality upholstery and furniture

upholstered ottoman with wooden tv unit in living room

(Image credit: Michael Hunter Design credit: Gaia G Interiors)

One of the biggest investments you’re likely to make when it comes to designing a timeless living room is the furniture. If you want to achieve a timeless feel, then try to stay away from anything that boasts trendy shapes or finishing and opt for more classic pieces instead, like this Parker Upholstered Ottoman from Wayfair, which comes fully assembled, is available in eight great colors that can either blend in, or become a needed pop of color. 

We particularly like the brown velvet version, a color that has seen a resurgence in recent times for it's brilliant ability to warm up any space. Pair it with a nice blue for a timeless aesthetic.

"Choose upholstered furniture and key pieces like sofas, armchairs, and coffee tables that boast quality craftsmanship and classic silhouettes," says suggests Nina Lichtenstein, founder of Nina’s Home Design.

"Look for durable fabrics such as linen, cotton, or leather in neutral tones. Avoid overly trendy shapes or patterns that may quickly go out of style. Consider having furniture custom-designed to provide one-of-a-kind timeless pieces that reflect your personal taste and elevate the room's uniqueness."

The Wayfair ottoman above has a fabulous button tufting that has been seen across many decades of furniture design because it's chic and never goes out of style.

Step 3: Clean lines and comfort

white living room with alcove shelving and armchair

(Image credit: Ashley Ippolito Photography Design credit: Gaia G Interiors)

A fail-safe rule for choosing furniture and living room storage that has a classic feel is to focus on clean lines and how comfortable the piece is. 

Gaia Guidi Filippi, owner of Gaia G Interiors says, "Keep your furniture choices comfortable but with clean lines." 

With that in mind, this Hertford accent chair,available on Wayfair is a winner in our eyes. 

Gaia goes on to say this technique when designing a timeless living room aesthetic "ensures the space feels inviting yet uncluttered and updated yet classic." She adds, "Of course you can throw in something ornate or detailed for personality, but for longevity, work around mostly clean lines and you’ll be less likely to hate your furniture 10 years down the line."

Gaia Guidi Filippi

Gaia Guidi Filippi is the owner and Principal Designer of Gaia G Interiors in Dallas, TX. She founded her interior design firm out of a love of combining her innate creativity, discerning eye and endless resourcefulness to help people create spaces they can’t stop looking at. Her creative process merges beauty and functionality, culminating in bespoke, design-forward yet welcoming spaces.

Step 4: Embrace timeless patterns and textures

Colorful floral patterned wallpaper in living room alcove

(Image credit: Wayfair)

"Incorporate timeless patterns and textures through area rugs, throw pillows, and curtains. Classic patterns like stripes, plaids, nature-themed designs, and subtle geometric add interest without overpowering the space," explains Nina.

We’d suggest opting for natural textures such as wood, stone, and woven materials to create depth and warmth. Bespoke wooden furniture further contributes to a classic and handmade aesthetic, ensuring your timeless living room feels both unique and stylish. 

This timeless Patterned Area Rug from Amazon would look fabulous as a focal point in any living room. 

You also can't go wrong with stripes, such as the Vietri Nuovo Stripe Stemless Wine Glass from Saks that would look so chic on any bar cart.

Step 5: Focus on functional and elegant lighting

beams in house with chandelier and flowers

(Image credit: Brian Madden. Design credit: Nina Lichtenstein)

One of the most important elements in your process will be picking living room lighting. You need to think about the type of ambiance you want to create and enjoy for years to come, and how you can achieve this with your choice of lighting, even if you need to get savvy for renter-friendly lighting.

"Choose a combination of overhead lighting, such as recessed lights, chandeliers, or pendant lights, and task lighting like table lamps and floor lamps. Opt for fixtures with clean lines and timeless finishes like brushed nickel, brushed brass, or matte black," says Nina. 

This Banty Arched Floor Lamp from Wayfair is sure to never go out of fashion with it's sleek lines and simple, neutral shade.

Or, add ambiance with a statement lamp on your side table, such as with the Jonathan Adler Belvedere Vanity Lamp from Saks that's made from crystal, linen, and brass.

Step 6: Incorporate versatile storage solutions

Wayfair Duong TV Stand in alcove in living room

(Image credit: Wayfair)

One of the key things that you can implement into a timeless living room design is effective storage solutions, like this Numenn storage unit available at Amazon. To ensure the longevity of your living room design, making sure there’s enough space to store everything that you need is vital. 

Nina suggests"investing in timeless furniture that offers both style and functionality, such as media consoles with concealed storage, bookcases, and window seats or ottomans with hidden compartments. If you follow this functionality rule you can make sure the majority of the items in your timeless living room have more than just one use and end up worth the spend. This makes it a bit easier on the conscience to splurge a bit when you know you're get lots of use for years to come.

In small living rooms, this is especially important so you can save on precious floor space that might otherwise be taken up by storage items with no other function. 

Step 7: Strive for symmetry and balance

Two red armchairs with ribbed cushion design and square yellow legs and arms, plus red and pink checkered rug and bay windows with French paneling

(Image credit: Benjamin Moore)

You don’t have to follow the exact principles of living room Feng Shui when designing a timeless living area, but our interior pros say it’s worth striving for symmetry and a sense of balance.

"Create a sense of harmony and balance in your living room by arranging furniture and decor symmetrically," says Nina. "Place key pieces like sofas and armchairs in a balanced layout around focal points such as the fireplace or a large window. Use area rugs to anchor furniture groupings and define different zones within the space."

Step 8: Bring in nature

yellow sofa in living room with large potted snake plant and yellow and green bouquet centrally placed for natural focus on mid-century double layered coffee table

(Image credit: i-TEN Designs)

Biophilic design has become a buzzword in the world of interiors (and for good reason)! It centers the importance of bringing nature into your home for harmonious and peaceful living. 

"A touch of green can do wonders. Place a plant in the corner to add life and a natural element to the room," says Gaia. This sizeable Walmart Indoor Palm Plant would do the job perfectly.

Naturally, plants are very unlikely to ever go out of fashion therefore incorporating them into your living room design is a fantastic idea for bringing life and color into the space. 

Psychological studies have also shown simply looking at colors that occur in abundance in nature such as green or blue can have a calming effect on the body's nervous system, encouraging feelings of wellbeing.

Step 9: Pop of color

blue velvet sofa in white living room

(Image credit: Wayfair)

Neutrals are utterly timeless but this doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate colors you love into your living room design. Rather than honing in on one particular color and drenching your space in it, consider adding pops of color instead. 

Gaia advises, "Add your personality to your living room with colorful accents. Pillows, textural and printed window treatments, accent chair fabric and other small accessories are perfect for this." 

Furthermore, using soft furnishings to inject color instead of paint and more permanent fixtures means that you won’t be wasting money if you eventually want to switch things up or fancy a small seasonal change to mark an important holiday.

This Wayfair Rafael Throw Pillow will add a pop of color and texture to your living space.

Step 10: Add personal touches with accessories

yellow living room with mantelpiece featuring red coral, blue heart sculpture and sunflowers in white bobble vase

(Image credit: Benjamin Moore)

A beautifully designed living room is all well and good but you want to make sure that it feels personal and unique to you. 

An effective way of incorporating a personal touch is to do it with accessories. "Incorporate curated artwork, plants, and personal items that reflect your taste. These can be updated over time to refresh the look without overhauling the entire design’, says Ayten. We love this Set of Two Abstract Floral Artwork from Wayfair for it's quirk and visual interest. 

Ayten goes on to say, "As you embark on your design journey, remember that the goal is to create a space that is both functional and beautiful, where every element is chosen with care and every detail speaks of quality."

Meet our experts

headshot of Ayten Nadeau
Ayten Nadeau

Ayten Nadeau is the founder and owner of i-TEN Designs based in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her design studio provides high end residential, commercial and staging design services.

A picture of Nina Lichtenstein, a woman wearing a green jumpsuit
Nina Lichtenstein

For close to a decade, Nina has showcased her in-depth construction and design expertise on projects spanning the North East with her interior design firm Nina's Home Design. 

Over the years, Nina has become known for designing spaces that inspire wonder, drawing the eye from one to another, inside and outside, night or day.

Designing a living room that you love is the most important thing. It’s an area in the home where you spend a lot of time in, so you want to make sure it feels individual to you and isn’t led solely by what’s on trend.

Whether you’re a maximalist interiors lover or prefer something a little more minimal, we’d always recommend designing a space that feels timeless and that resonates with you.

Freelance Writer

Becca Cullum-Green is a freelance interiors content creator and stylist. She fell in love with interiors when she landed her first job as an editorial assistant at a leading UK homes magazine fresh out of university. You can find her renovating her 19th-century cottage in the Suffolk countryside, consciously trying not to paint every wall with Farrow and Ball’s ‘Pitch Black’. Her signature style is a mix of modern design with traditional characteristics. She has previously worked for House Beautiful, Grand Designs, Good Housekeeping, Red, Good Homes, and more.