Modern living room ideas – 30 contemporary ways to decorate

If you're dreaming of a calm minimalist lounge, then these modern living room ideas are perfect for you

A modern living room with velvet blue Vincenzo 2 seater sofa by Fishpools with corner chaise
(Image credit: Fishpools)

Spend your days lusting after modern living room ideas? What a coincidence, because so do we. So, we thought we would gather all of our favorite contemporary living room looks in one place to help get you inspired.

From the get-go we would like to say don't equate the word 'modern' with 'stark'; modern living room ideas 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 these rooms we've handpicked demonstrate.

Modern living room ideas for a contemporary scheme

'As the centre of the home, a modern living room that’s designed round you and your tastes makes all the difference,' says Sabina Miller, head of buying, Heal's.

'Whilst structural elements like the room’s layout and paint choice matter, you’ll also want to consider furniture. No matter how contemporary the space, if the furniture in it is dull and lackluster then it won’t feel like a modern living room.'

1. Pick primary colors for Bauhaus-inspired look

A modern living room idea with primary colored decor and Pooky Larger Wobster lamp in Red, £149, with 35 cm drum shade in Emerald dupion silk, £74, and Athena chandelier, £305

(Image credit: Pooky)

From engineering to interior design, German design has a meticulous attention to detail. 

So if you're looking at ways to incorporate an artistic movement into a modern living room design – paying homage to Bauhaus design is easier than you may think.

Simply combine primary-colored furniture and soft furnishings to this space. We love the contrast between the red and green of the lamp and the mustard living room curtain ideas which are a grown-up take on yellow.

2. Look to industrial chic interiors

A modern living room with grey walls and emerald green sofa with berber-style rug

(Image credit: Sofology)

No matter how neat and tidy you are, industrializing your modern living room can give it the edge you've been looking for.

Concrete-textured living room wall ideas, abstract paint strokes and an adjacent grey wall are a grungy contrast from the predominantly Art-Deco like space centered around a velvet green sofa and gold plant pot.

And of course, no contemporary scheme would be complete without geometric details. So perhaps incorporate cushions with a decorative motif and a Berber-style rug with a  striking pattern.

'Modern interiors are sometimes strikingly traditional, with designs remaining current decades after they were first created,' says Miller.

'This is particularly true with mid-century furniture. This modern living room features a contemporary sofa that takes its design notes from the Art Deco era. One of the benefits of buying a modern sofa rather than an original is that modern technology means they’re often comfier.'

3. Add an oversized lamp

A modern living room idea by Cult Furniture with angled metal floor lamp

(Image credit: Cult Furniture)

In modern design – bigger is always better. Where we have oversized sweaters and hoodies in autumn and winter fashion, think of statement floor lamps and living room lighting ideas in the same light.

Not just for stand-out looks in the sitting room, this larger-than-life retro Scout Angled Brass Metal Floor Lamp by Cult Furniture works with the vertical striped feature wall, shelves and houseplants to elongate the appearance of the room, and draw the eye up.

4. Layer your rugs

A modern living room idea with Fishpools Vincenzo 2 Seater Sofa with RHF Corner Chaise £1749, www.fishpools.co.uk

(Image credit: Fishpools)

One way to upgrade a seventies-style boho-chic room is to add not one, but two (or more) living room rug ideas. Layering your rugs is a modern living room idea shouldn't be overlooked.

Whether you're looking to add a cozy touch underfoot (but don't want to commit to carpet), zone an open-plan living space, or soften a hard floor so that kids can play – there are so many benefits to this quick, easy and (generally) affordable idea. 

Unless you want to splurge on an expensive vintage ethnic-inspired rug design. In which case, we'd recommend somewhere like Anthropologie or Soho Home

A modern living room idea by Desenio with pastel-themed gallery wall and cushions on sofa

(Image credit: Desenio)

Pastel colors are proven to have an uplifting effect on your mood. Adding these colors to your gallery wall ideas is the perfect way to create a joyful, surprising, and playful vibe to your scheme.

Whether you love your modern living room ideas bursting with color at the seams, or prefer a calmer space with soft accents, there are so many ways to make this trend work for you.

If you’re ready to embrace pastels in your home, using on-trend bold colors is a great place to start. Try selecting one key color as a feature, and bringing in other surprising shades as accents. Adding colorful frames and accessorising with home decor will create a whimsical and playful feeling.

6. Bring the outside in

A modern living room idea with Sofology Cordelia 3 Seater in Texas Tan, £1,149, Moonshine Table Lamps, £129, Floor Lamp, £179, Cushions from £35, Furniture from £299.

(Image credit: Sofology)

Leather sofas can often get a bad rap as being a bit outdated when compared to upholstered seats. But if you embrace the vintage and classic feel of this furniture – it can never go out of fashion.

This Cordelia 3 Seater in Texas Tan by Sofology gives us chic Cowgirl vibes, and if you're feeling really out-there, we'd swap the rug for a Cow print motif or faux hide. The benefits of houseplants can't go unmissed, freshening up brown decor.

8. Rethink your living room's layout

A modern living room filled with houseplants by Ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

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, and paring down unnecessary or bulky pieces of furniture will all give your room a less cluttered, roomier feel.

If you're still stuck on how to choose living room furniture, we've got a pretty clear guide that puts things in perspective.

9. Hide away your living room's clutter

A modern white living room with storage by Ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

Next step to create a more modern living room: organize your stuff. When we say 'stuff', we mean all that clutter that is messing with your clean and modern design aesthetic.

Hide as much as you can away in closed living room storage. Then go through and pick out the treasured things that you want to put on display. 

In this modern 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.

10. Think quality of over quantity

A minimalist and airy modern living room idea with furniture from Debenhams

(Image credit: Debenhams)

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 modern living room around them? Our round-up of the best sofas for style, comfort, and affordability could be a great place to start.

Don’t go overboard on their proportions, as you still need to make sure there is plenty of breathing room between your pieces. Avoid over-accessorizing too: less is more.

11. Keep your modern living room furniture low-slung

A modern living room idea with low-slung furniture by Houseology

(Image credit: Houseology)

Not only is this a great trick to make a small living room look bigger, it is also a key tenant of the modern living room. 

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-profile furniture makes a room look more laid back and informal – just what you want in a modern living room.

12. Create a hygge-filled, Scandinvian scheme

Modern living room idea with cream legless sofa and Fishpools Alto rug in cream

(Image credit: Fishpools)

Modern living room ideas tend to be much less formal than the lounge spaces past generations used to entertain guests in. The usual niceties have been switched out for a night of Netflix, and uber-fine dining subbed out for fast food.

Where beanbags and casual seating were exclusively a student's dream, legless sofas are now a viable furniture option for those that want to be cozy. But you shouldn't feel like a couch potato with this sophisticated design.

Complementary taupe and grey decor gives this beige room a L-shaped sofa a luxury Scandi-chic feel.

13. Mix and match old with new

A green modern living room idea using Farrow and Ball's Tessella wallpaper decor

(Image credit: Farrow and Ball)

What we love about the latest approach to modern living room ideas 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 living room wallpaper idea nods towards the traditional architectural elements of the room and creates the perfect contrast with the ultra-modern light fittings and transparent coffee table.

14. Create a scheme full of wooden elements

A modern living room idea by Sofa.com including AW21 Larsen 2 seat sofa in Stone brushed linen cotton, £1490, and Ginger armchairs in Champagne luxe boucl

(Image credit: Sofa.com)

'Something old, and something new' isn't just a bridal tradition. This exercise of mixing rustic with contemporary has long been 'in' for interior designers.

So it's no surprise that this modern traditional living room with its overhead beams and fireplace insert works. With the off-white decor, it's a little Scandi and a touch farmhouse, but there's no doubt it has chic credentials.

15. Layer up on cool colors in a contemporary living room

A modern grey living room idea by Urban Avenue using different tones of light and dark grey paint

(Image credit: Urban Avenue)

Think greys, teals and steel blues. These cooler hues just speak to the modern living room design aesthetic and are so easy to live with and update. 

We love how this grey living room idea uses so many different shades of grey to create a layered effect. And if you really can’t let go of color, try adding a few splashes of contrasting shades in orange and yellow accessories to break it up.

A modern living room idea with lime green velvet sofa in front of a gallery wall

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

If you love a modern look, but also fancy yourself a bit of a maximalist, fear not: you can have both. 

Mixing clean-lined pieces with vintage finds, traditional designs, and on-trend touches can create a look that has modern sensibility, but still feels eclectic and curated.

A modern maximalist living room idea with floral furnishings including furniture and wallpaper wall covering decor

(Image credit: Sanderson Design)

17. Go for an all white living room color scheme

A modern living room idea by Ikea with shutter window treatment and distressed walls

(Image credit: Ikea)

Since modern living room ideas are all about simplicity, it’s hard to go wrong with an all white living room idea

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 color in accessories for a value-added personality.

18. Or splash on the color in your living room

A modern living room by Justina Blakeney with colorful interior furnishings in orange, yellow and green palette, including wall art and hanging egg chair

(Image credit: Justina Blakeney)

Got an all-white living room you want to update? Bold colors 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 living room paint color ideas (small outlay, bigger effort).

Stick to one main accent shade, with a second color used in smaller proportions. 

19. Test out the color blocking paint trend

A blue living room paint color idea with orange velvet sofa furniture

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

As we have hopefully established, you can go a little color-crazy when designing a simple, modern living room. So why not take up the latest trend for color-blocking wall ideas?

20. Add natural materials and textures for warmth

A modern living room idea with wooden beams and rustic decor

(Image credit: Design by Emily Henderson Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp)

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. 

21. Add greenery to a contemporary living room 

A modern living room idea by Desenio with a gallery wall and tall houseplant

(Image credit: Desenio)

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

Looking to find plants to suit your home? Check out our guide to the best indoor plants and for all the tips you need on looking after houseplants, head to our guide. 

22. Hang statement prints

A black and white living room paint color idea with bubble-effect wall art , cow print rug, disused fireplace and large black-framed mirror

(Image credit: Kasia Fiszer)

Nothing brings personality  into a modern living room like a big piece of statement wall art that you love. A striking print or an interest photograph or piece of artwork you felt drawn to, can add a focus to a space and can set the modern tone too. 

Use a print to bring color into a neutral space, or pick something that has cohesive feel and works with the scheme you have going on. Loving this huge, monochrome print that breaks up a dark wall in this living room. 

23. Mismatch your furniture

A white minimalist modern living room idea with blue chairs and stove in corner

(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

An eclectic living room can be modern too, so don't be afraid to mix and match furniture from all different eras and all different styles. Note how in this living room the statement Mid-century modern chairs and statement rug work with the more traditional sofas. 

The all white walls are the perfect minimalist backdrop for this look as it stops it tipping over from modern to maximalist. Plus there's is a vague color scheme going on here with the blues and browns that makes the look feel more cohesive and contemporary. 

24. Stick to simple decor

A modern living room idea with brown leather sofa with round framed mirror by Interior Fox

(Image credit: Interior Fox)

The easiest way to create a contemporary vibe in your living room is to keep it simple. Keep the walls fuss-free with just a single large print or an oversized mirror idea, and make sure all your surfaces are clutter-free with just a few curate displays to add some personality to the space.

Now, we know that minimalist living looks gorgeous in pictures, but in reality, how do you create a living room that looks like this? The answer is: storage! Make sure you also pick out closed storage pieces like sideboards and TV cabinets so you can hide away all that un-aesthetically pleasing stuff you don't want ruining your minimalist vibe.  

25. Choose statement lighting 

A dark modern grey living room with yellow sofa, seagrass ceiling pendant light and brass-framed rectangular mirror

(Image credit: Rachael Smith)

Is it really a modern living room if you don't have some kind of statement light going on? A funky pendant or quirky floor lamp can instantly change the tone of a space –making it feel more on trend and modern.

Look at how this amazing seagrass lampshade takes this living room from 'well that's nice' to 'wow'. And it's made even more of a focal point thanks to the contrasting black wall behind which really makes it pop. 

26. Warm up with woods and leather

S modern living room idea with cassette fireplace, wooden coffee table, brown leather armchairs and TV

(Image credit: MoutainMod)

Modern living rooms don't always have to be sleek and minimalist. If you want a contemporary space that feels more... homey, adding in those warm materials like woods and leather are going to give a more rustic vibe while still feeling modern.

Pair leather furniture with very simple decor, white walls and muted colors to recreate this lovely look. Add in a rustic wooden coffee table to for adding texture and if you are lucky enough to be blessed with a living room fireplace idea, a wooden beam mantle with really add to the look.

27. Create clean lines 

A modern living room using neutral tones of beige and black, grey sofas and natural textures including woven baskets and linen lampshades

(Image credit: Design: Bobby Berk; Photography: @marisavitalephotography)

One things we've noticed with a lot of 'modern' living rooms you see on Pinterest and Instagram is that they don't always have a a lot of furniture in them. 

We get that that's the minimalist vibe, but what if you have a family of five, that all need a space on the sofa, plus a place to park their drinks, books, technology? All of a sudden that, very chic, Mid-century, standalone two seater sofa isn't looking like an overly realistic buy.

But, you can cram in plenty of pieces of furniture into your living room and still have the modern minimalist feel. The key is to keep the visual lines in the room to a minimal. 

See how in the living room the sofas match, as do all the tables and each sits at the right height so they don't visually break up the space. Very clever but easy to recreate in your home.

28. Go for a modern rustic vibe

A modern rustic living room with octagonal wooden table, geometric rug and stone feature wall

(Image credit: One Kings Lane)

Exposed brick, wooden beams, layered up rugs, swishy throw cushion, this modern rustic living room idea is so cozy and inviting and yet still really contemporary feeling.

This kind of modern cabin look is bang on trend right now and is super simple to master, just pick a neutral color palette – browns, creams, maybe throw in some muted terracotta – and in plenty of different textures like wood and fur and rattan. Easy! Who needs a stylish chalet in the mountains when you can create the look in your own living room?

29. Go for a minimalist look with dark colors

A grey living room idea by Neptune with grey-blue upholstered sofas, framed wall art and houseplant

(Image credit: Neptune)

Because modern living rooms aren't all light and airy, they can be dark and dramatic too. Create a very chic, cocooning space by painting all four walls a very dark charcoal or adopt a black living room scheme if you are after something softer.

Decorate with greys and blues to keep with the cooler tones and add in some lighter woods for a bit of contrast. Of course, a massive statement houseplant wouldn't go amiss either. 

30. Add texture

A modern living room idea by Cosy Coco with abstract wall art, dusty pink walls and patterned rug

(Image credit: Cosy Coco)

'Texture is one of the few laws of any room’s decorating scheme, regardless of the style you’re influenced by. Even if you were drawn to the less-is-more side of contemporary design, you’d still need to build layers of texture,' says Joanne Quinn, lead designer, LuxDeco.

'It can be as minimal or maximal as the rest of your decorating choices. Sleek and sophisticated metals, against supple leathers and matte, honed marble will give you three different but subtle textures to keep your mind interested and your eye active.'

'Texture isn’t all about what’s tactile either. You can achieve texture in your living room by combining colour and lighting too – anything that adds a visual stimuli and anything that plays with light.'

What colors should I include in a modern living room?

'Color – one of the most important areas for contemporary lounge ideas,' says  It’s a common misconception that a contemporary scheme is all about bright white. Contemporary living rooms should actually have a stark contrast in the colors used, even if you’ve predominantly used white and there’s one key piece of furniture in the room that purposefully sticks out,' says Quinn.

'Monochrome is a favourite because it lets you move from one extreme to the other. Keep your color choices confident and don’t be nervous about moving across the colour wheel. Contemporary color palettes are strong and love to create interesting contradictions. That’s part of what makes them so dynamic.'

What materials can modernize my living room?

'Metal in contemporary-style living rooms isn’t to be kept for tables and larger pieces of furniture alone,' adds Quinn.

'Use metallic accents like hammered, polished steel on everything from photo frames and metal-trimmed trays to the edging of a floor length mirror or on oversized floor lamps. Glossy brass on an exposed armchair’s frame, a gleaming gold vase or a cuff around a wall or clock are all steps to giving your living room a contemporary edge.'

Hebe Hatton
Hebe Hatton

Hebe joined the Real Homes team in early 2018 as Staff Writer. As a renter, she is always looking for creative ways to make her flat feel like home. She loves boho and 70's style and is a big fan of Instagram as a source of interiors inspiration.

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