12 modern living room ideas – easy ways to create a contemporary space

Dreaming of a calm, minimalist lounge? Well, these modern living room ideas are perfect for you...

Modern living room ideas
(Image credit: Ikea)

Spend your days lusting after modern living room ideas? What a coincidence so do we. So we thought we would bring all our fave contemporary living room looks together to get you inspired. 

From the off we would like to say 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 the room below demonstrate. So just keep reading for lots of lovely living rooms with a modern vibe and make sure you head over to our living room ideas feature for plenty more.

1. Rethink your living room's layout

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, 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 and for more living room layout ideas head to our guide. 

2. Hide away your living room's clutter

Ikea modern living room with storage

(Image credit: Ikea)

Next step to create a more modern living room: 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 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.

For more living room storage ideas check out our feature. 

3. Think quality of over quantity in a modern living room

Modern living 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? 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.

4. Keep your modern living room furniture low-slung

Modern living room 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 modern living room idea. 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.

We've for plenty more small living room ideas over in our gallery. 

5. Mix and match old with new

Farrow and Ball Tessella wallpaper

(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 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.

6. Layer up on cool colours in a contemporary living room

Grey modern living room

(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 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 our grey living room ideas for more looks. 

7. Choose one statement piece 

Green velvet sofa in front of a gallery wall

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

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 living 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. 

After your own velvet sofa? Check our pick of the best velvet sofas in our buying guide. 

8. Go for an all white living room colour scheme

Living room window ideas

(Image credit: Ikea)

Since modern living room ideas are 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. 

For more white living room ideas head over to our feature. 

9. Or splash on the colour in your living room

Add colour pops to a modern living room

(Image credit: Loaf)

living room

(Image credit: Justina Blakeney)

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 living room paint ideas.

10. Test out the colour blocking paint trend

Living room paint ideas

(Image credit: Argos)

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? It's a really easy look to copy just check out these colour blocking wall ideas for loads of tips and looks. 

11. Add natural materials and textures for warmth

Modern cosy living room by Ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

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. 

12. Add greenery to a contemporary living room 

Add greenery to a modern living room

(Image credit: Desenio)

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 and for all the tips you need on looking after house plants head to our guide. 

Looking for more living room inspiration?