12 modern living room ideas

Dreaming of a calm, minimalist living room when in reality you are faced with mountains of clutter? Check out our design tips for transforming your space into a modern haven

Modern living room with storage by Ikea
(Image credit: Ikea)

Designing your living room and want to give it a contemporary feel? Don't equate the word 'modern' with 'stark'; modern living rooms may lack some of the frills of traditional living room designs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still be warm and inviting, as we demonstrate with these inspiring contemporary living room ideas and expert tips.

1. Rethink your living room's layout

Before you begin your transformation, assess the current layout of your living room, thinking beyond the traditional way you might arrange your furniture. Pulling pieces away from the wall, arranging seating around a central coffee table, paring down unnecessary or bulky pieces of furniture, will all give your room a less cluttered, roomier feel that you can move forwards with. 

Loving this modern living room by Ikea.

Ikea modern living room

(Image credit: Ikea)

2. Hide away your living room's clutter

Next step: organise your stuff. When we say 'stuff', we mean all that clutter that is messing with your modern design aesthetic. Hide as much of it away in closed living room storage as you can. Then go through and pick out the treasured things that you want to put on display. 

In this living room, wall cabinets and an industrial metal storage unit have been used to stash clutter, while a select few decorative items have made it on show. Room by Ikea.

Ikea modern living room with storage

(Image credit: Ikea)

3. Think quality of over quantity

Modern design rules dictate that it’s not the amount of stuff you can cram into a living room, but the quality of the pieces that make an impact. So, why not invest in a couple of statement pieces (that needn't cost a fortune, just look like they do), then build your room around them? Don’t go overboard on their proportions, as you still need to make sure there is in plenty of breathing room between your pieces. Avoid over-accessorising too: less is more.

Room by Debenhams.  

Modern living furniture from Debenhams

(Image credit: Debenhams)

4. Keep your living room furniture low-slung

Not only is this a great trick to make a small living room look bigger, it is also a key modern design tip. Keeping all your seating – and associated coffee and side tables – at the same low level creates sharp lines within a room, instantly making the space feel cleaner and simpler. What's more, low-slung furniture makes a room look more laid back and informal – just what you want in a modern living room.

Room by Houseology.

Modern living room by Houseology

(Image credit: Houseology)

5. Mix and match old with new

What we love about the latest approach to modern design is that it’s all about combining contemporary pieces with other styles. So, you don’t always need to opt for glass coffee tables and slimline sofas in a modern living room – try mixing in a few antique pieces or choose a wallpaper with a more traditional print. 

This Farrow and Ball wallpaper nods towards the traditional architectural elements of the room and creates the perfect contrast with the ultra modern light fittings and transparent coffee table. Love it.

Farrow and Ball Tessella wallpaper

(Image credit: Farrow and Ball)

6. Layer up on cool colours for your living room

Think greys, teals and steel blues. These cooler hues just speak to the modern design aesthetic and are so easy to live with and update. We love how this living room uses so many different shades of grey to create a layering effect. And if you really can’t let go of colour, try adding a few splashes of contrasting shades in orange and yellow accessories. Love this living room? Check out out 15 grey living room design ideas

Room by Urbane Avenue.

Grey modern living room

(Image credit: Urban Avenue)

7. Choose one statement piece 

Remember the less is more mantra we talked about earlier? Sticking with that concept, why not pick one statement piece to become the focal point of your room? It doesn’t have to be super modern. In fact, we love how in this living room, the vintage feel of the button back velvet sofa fits perfectly in the space and yet still provides a contrast with the sleek pieces in the room. 

Modern living room with vintage couch

(Image credit: Furniture Village)

8. Go for an all white living room colour scheme

Since modern design is all about simplicity, it’s hard to go wrong with an all white colour palette. Interest in your living room can be added in the shapes and curves of the furniture or by highlighting the architectural elements of the room. Alternatively, try adding a just a few pops of colour in accessories for a value-added personality. 

Room by Loaf.

All white modern living room

(Image credit: Loaf)

9. Or splash on the colour in your living room

Got an all-white living room you want to update? Bold colours work just as well in a modern living room, and you can add it with accessories (cheaply), furniture (bit more of an outlay) or with paint (small outlay, bigger effort). Stick to one main accent shade, with a second colour used in smaller proportions. Going for the decorating option? Be inspired by our fab paint ideas for living rooms.

Room by Loaf.

Add colour pops to a modern living room

(Image credit: Loaf)

10. Test out the colour blocking paint trend

As we have hopefully established, you can go a little colour-crazy when designing a simple, modern living room. So why not take up the latest trend for colour blocking (like here) or take it a step further with an accent ombre wall?

Room by Dulux.

Living room painted in Heart Wood by Dulux

(Image credit: Dulux)

11. Add natural materials and textures for warmth

Layering up textures and adding accents of wood create warmth in a sparse, modern living room. The sleek lines and no frills approach of this living room are definitely channeling some minimalist vibes but the pale wooden coffee table and the cosy soft furnishings prevent the room from being cold and impersonal. 

Room by Ikea.

Modern cosy living room by Ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

12. Add greenery 

When in doubt, stick in a few house plants, a quick way to add a bit of modern style and colour into your room. The large plant in this living room adds a splash of green to a very natural colour palette and (literally) livens up the space. 

Looking to find plants to suit your home? Check out our guide to the best indoor plants.

Add greenery to a modern living room

(Image credit: Desenio)

Looking for more living room inspiration?