Your living room is many things. It’s where you build friendships, connect with family, and watch (or binge) Netflix. Beyond function, your living room is the perfect canvas to express your unique style and personality.
Looking for some redesign inspiration? We’ll break down today’s most popular living room styles and how to get the look at home. For expert insight, five interior design professionals weigh in on their favorite color combos, materials, furniture, and decor for every style.
Mid century modern
Modern design hit its peak in the 1950s and 60s, which is why it’s commonly called “mid century modern.” In recent years, this style has made an epic comeback. According to Home Stratosphere’s study analyzing 916,645 living room designs, modern interior design is among the top five hottest design trends in America.
At its core, mid century modern is minimal and functional. Its style notes include clean lines, tapered furniture legs, neutral and earth tones, and natural materials, like jute and wood.
“In a mid century, every piece and every shape is important,” says Chris Barrett, interior designer and owner of Chris Barrett Design, featured in leading publications like Architectural Digest, Elle Decor, and House Beautiful.
“Our favorite way to execute a modern design aesthetic is what we like to call ‘warm minimalism.’ That evokes the feeling of an inviting space with minimal focal points and clean lines,” says Brenda Thompson, Owner and Principal Designer of Atlanta’s HouseLift Design, rated the “Best Interior Design Firm” by Cobb Life Magazine.
Characteristics of mid century modern design
- Materials: Mid century modern features wood finishes, metal accents in black and gold, and organic materials like cane.
- Colors: Neutral shades are common, but you’ll also see rich earthy tones, like rust and forest green. “Modern design doesn’t automatically limit your color palette,” says Thompson, who likes to incorporate darker colors, like moody blues and greens.
- Textures: Bring in natural textures through woven baskets, leather armchairs, and staggered plants.
Components of mid century modern design
- Furniture: Begin with a bold base color for the sofa or sectional, such as stark white or emerald green. Then select coffee tables and media consoles featuring walnut wood and hairpin legs.
- Decor: It’s easy to spot mid century decor at stores like West Elm and Target, but be careful not to over theme. “We would suggest using very minimal styling,” says Thompson. “We never want to over-style.”
- Lighting: Select table and floor lamps with unique curves and lines. For a bold accent, hang a geometric chandelier in the center of the living room.
Scandanavian and Hygge
Simple and sophisticated with a dash of cozy, “Scandinavian style” has been catching eyes the past five years.
Inspired by Nordic countries like Finland, Denmark, and Norway, Scandinavian design has a distinct hygge vibe. “Hygge” (pronounced “hoo-guh”) is a Danish term that uses tea, pastries, blankets, and fireplaces to create feelings of “coziness” and “contentment.”
Like Scandi style, hygge design has also been trending in recent years. Hygge was even on the shortlist for Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year in 2016. Both styles display ample natural light, clean lines, and comfortable textures. The furniture and decor should be functional, first and foremost, emphasizing quality over clutter.
Characteristics of Scandinavian design
- Materials: Raw, natural materials, such as light woods, leather, wicker, and clay.
- Colors: Soft whites paired with earthy, neutral shades, like nude, cocoa, and sage. “The color palette is almost extreme minimalist, so cooler, understated tones,” says Borneman-Street.
- Textures: Ample texture from cable knit fabrics, color variation in wood grains, and plenty of house plants, like snake plants and pothos, for a nature-inspired space.
Components of Scandinavian design
- Furniture: A few carefully curated pieces should be plenty for your Scandinavian space. “Scandinavian design is all about functionality, so every piece has a purpose,” Borneman-Street explains. Start with a plush cream sofa, then add a coffee table in white oak and a wide-frame accent chair.
- Decor: Maintain the minimal aesthetic. Your decor should serve some purpose, so consider decorative elements that add to your hygge feel, like faux fur blankets, pine-scented candles, and chic coffee table books.
- Lighting: Aim for minimal lighting fixtures with warm bulbs to create a homey feel. “Scandinavian design lighting is typically understated, while still incorporating those clean lines and natural tones,” says Borneman-Street.
While your mind may wander to seashell lamps and beach-themed throw pillows, a coastal interior is not quite so kitschy.
“Being in Southern California, I tend to do a lot of coastal-influenced homes,” says Barrett. “I would describe it as inviting, comfortable, and fresh.” Coastal design features ample natural light and organic materials, like wicker and wood. The style embraces white on white decor and furniture, along with waves of blue and green accents.
Characteristics of coastal design
- Materials: A coastal design weaves in driftwood, bamboo, and jute, among other natural elements. It may also feature some glass accents, especially in decor and lighting.
- Colors: Start with white as your base, then add some oceanic shades of blue and green. “Coastal tends to be lighter and brighter, so you see a lot of whites and off-whites,” says Barrett. “I tend to work with blues, blue-grays, [and] teal.”
- Textures: Use casual textiles, like linen and cotton, for a relaxed living room style.
Components of coastal design
- Furniture: Select a sofa with deep cotton cushions in a neutral shade like nude or navy. Choose wicker or rattan frames for armchairs and additional seating. Wood coffee tables, side tables, and media consoles should feature a light to medium stain to keep the look light. Your coastal living room should feel like a vacation home.
- Decor: Invite the outdoors in. Consider palms and grasses in blue ceramic vases, wicker baskets for blankets, and the occasional faux coral piece.
- Lighting: Coastal homes should feature plenty of natural light. Use table lamps with a glass or ceramic base and floor lamps featuring light wood to enhance the warmth.
If you love industrial lighting, shiplap walls, and apron sinks, a modern farmhouse interior is for you!
What began as an offshoot of shabby-chic design in the 1990s has now evolved into a style sensation. The farmhouse trend hit its stride after renovation duo Chip and Joanna Gaines launched their HGTV hit show, Fixer Upper. Google’s Top Charts listed farmhouse style as the number-one trending home style of 2019.
Today, designers aiming for a farmhouse look often add contemporary touches like brass sconces and leather armchairs for a modern farmhouse vibe.
“Modern farmhouse is a thing right now,” comments Kaari Sommer, an interior stylist who manages a home decor blog, The Sommer Home.
Characteristics of modern farmhouse design
- Materials: Farmhouse design incorporates natural materials with a rustic finish, like reclaimed woods and caramel-colored leather and warm metals such as brass and iron.
- Colors: The style primarily uses white, black, and light woods. Sommer recommends changing up accent colors with the seasons: “Let’s say you bring in blush for spring, rust for fall, blue for summer. That’s what’s fun about farmhouse is you have the white, black, and wood, and you can bring in any color to go with that.”
- Textures: Soften sleek, clean lines in your architecture and decor with textures from wood grains and wicker and textiles like cotton and canvas.
Components of modern farmhouse design
- Furniture: Keep your furnishings simple. Choose neutral, muted colors for your cotton couch. Select a mid century modern armchair in leather and wood and complete the space with a simple side table with straight iron legs.
- Decor: Modern details like glossy pottery and abstract art blend well with farmhouse furnishings. Soften the room with sage-colored window dressings and table runners.
- Lighting: Mix and match modern and vintage lighting fixtures. Try an industrial chandelier with a matte black finish and visible Edison bulbs. If you want to lean more rustic, pick a piece featuring reclaimed wood.
Industrial design is raw and rugged, yet warm and inviting, and based on Google Trends, this style is among the top five interior design trends in the country.
“Industrial spaces are so fun because they tend to be really raw and open,” says Borneman-Street. “Think warehouse style.”
Industrial design draws its inspiration from vintage factories and salvaged materials. You’ll find exposed brick, raw wood beams, pipes, and ducting, creating a rough, unfinished aesthetic.
Characteristics of industrial design
- Materials: Industrial design is all about finding beauty in raw and rustic materials such as weathered wood, iron, concrete, and brick.
- Colors: This style balances darker tones, such as charcoal and espresso, with neutral shades, like beige and gray.
- Textures: In an industrial space, you’ll find abundant textures from exposed brick, pipes, and wood.
Components of industrial design
- Furniture: Incorporate vintage furniture with dark colors and textured materials. Tables and shelves may combine metal and wood, while your sofas and armchairs feature leather and velvet.
- Decor: Fashion raw, weathered materials into unique, decorative elements. “This is a great place to bring in upcycled materials, and every piece usually has a story to tell,” says Borneman-Street.
- Lighting: Lighting is crucial in industrial design and should cast a warm, wide glow to cover the open layout. Edison bulbs are especially prevalent, often paired with wire cages or bell-shaped pendants overhead and dark iron bases for table and floor lamps. “The lighting in industrial spaces tends to be very functional and adds a little heart and soul to the building itself,” says Borneman-Street.
While laypeople often confuse contemporary and modern styles, they are far from synonymous.
In the 1970s, a few decades after Modernism shaped art and design, contemporary style emerged, sharing traits like clean lines and minimal decor with its predecessor. “Modern and contemporary styles imply that there is, compositionally, a real play between positive and negative space,” says Jessica Shaw, Interior Design Director with the Turett Collaborative. “These styles are much more minimal and edited than rustic or boho.”
Despite their similarities, contemporary design has shifted over time, following the trends of the day. “Modern is a time, where contemporary is about right now and the future,” Barrett explains.
According to Home Stratosphere’s study, contemporary is the most popular living room style in the country. Today’s contemporary style encompasses cool tones from materials like concrete and quartz, coupled with unique shapes and curves. It’s a popular look among leading retailers like Crate & Barrel and Restoration Hardware.
Characteristics of contemporary design
- Materials: Contemporary style features smooth, glossy materials, such as stainless steel, glass, and painted woods.
- Colors: A monochromatic color palette, relying heavily on blacks, whites, and grays, is a style staple.
- Textures: Textures like reclaimed woods and knit throws are less common; instead, play with unexpected shapes and lines. Contemporary upholstery generally has a tight, clean look, with materials like sleek, white leather or soft, gray chenille. A shaggy area rug can help soften the room.
Components of contemporary design
- Furniture: Be daring with your furniture selection, opting for unique curves and sleek surfaces.
- Decor: Contemporary design is clean and uncluttered, so Shaw encourages a precise and thoughtful approach to decor. “Contemporary spaces allow for more breathing room.” A few well-placed vases and art pieces can complete the look.
Minimal designs certainly have their appeal, but today Americans are craving something bold and eclectic.
Bohemian style has entered the design space with a bang, claiming the number two spot in Joybird’s study of interior design trends. In addition, the bohemian aesthetic recently gained national attention when HGTV’s Design Star: Next Gen named bohemian interior designer Cameron Hamilton its winner.
Inspired by countries like Persia and Morocco, this style combines rich ruby reds and mustard yellows with natural materials like jute and macrame. Colors, prints, and patterns pile on top of another for a playful aesthetic that invites guests to let loose and chill.
Characteristics of bohemian design
- Materials: Boho design includes mostly organic materials, such as light woods, wicker, and an abundance of plants.
- Colors: Color is key: the richer, the better. Pull vibrant shades like tangerine, violet, and emerald.
- Textures: Textures are prevalent through macrame wall hangings, woven baskets, velvet armchairs, and more.
Components of bohemian design
- Furniture: Bohemian furniture is bright and inviting. Textures like velvet and leather, and low-level seating, such as poufs and bean bags, create a relaxed aesthetic.
- Decor: Decor is eclectic, colorful, and carefree. Layer Persian rugs and Turkish Kilim pillows. Adorn floating shelves with plants, candles, and abstract art. Let your creative expression run wild.
If you’re drawn to European designs or elaborate “old money” homes, a traditional interior may be the ideal approach for your living room style.
“Traditional is a more stately look,” says Sommer, who describes her own home’s style as a traditional base with “a sprinkling in of modern and farmhouse.” Modern influences like sleek brass sconces and white cotton textiles pair perfectly with vintage architecture and accents, such as crown molding, built-in bookshelves, and antique floral artwork.
While traditional style uses colors and forms that hint at Old World trends, this classic style has certainly stood the test of time. Traditional living rooms combining warm woods with intricate designs. Textiles are often bright and patterned, and accessories are elegant and abundant.
Characteristics of traditional design
- Materials: Traditional design relies heavily on textiles and woods, typically in a darker stain. You may also use some intricate glass and metal accents.
- Colors: Dark and cherry wood stains are popular for traditional design. Navy, burgundy, and forest green are safe bets for your color scheme.
- Textures: Apply a variety of textures in the fabrics and furnishings, including ornate details in architectural features like crown molding and columns.
Components of traditional design
- Furniture: Your furniture choice should remind guests of an 18th or 19th century home. Choose elaborate woodwork for the frame with rich colors in your fabric. Sommer suggests a couch paired with two wingback armchairs in a textured material.
- Decor: Choose decor with ornate details and a vintage vibe, such as candlesticks and floral paintings. Sommer recommends mixing in a few modern pieces to keep the look fresh.
- Lighting: To maintain the warm aesthetic, incorporate several table and floor lamps with curved lampshades and intricate bases.
Other notable interior design styles
Here’s a preview of some other popular interior design that didn’t make our list above:
Opulent, elegant, and grand, art deco features rich colors, bold shapes, and elaborate details.
A transitional design blends traditional and modern styles for a feeling of class and leisure.
This style pulls from modern and bohemian influences and pairs them with colors and textures of desert landscapes.
This style balances rustic and modern styles for a luxury mountain lodge look.
Refined and charming, today’s French country look pairs intricate details and neutral shades with a pinch of modern.
Header Image Source: (Chris Barrett Design)