Modern living room ideas and contemporary architecture can make a style statement while perfectly chiming with its environment. Success depends on using the right materials and opting for a sleek design that results in an effective blend of old and new.
Less is more, so be careful not to over design. Bear in mind too that very modern designs can sometimes feel stark and clinical, so balance this by introducing warmth with plenty of texture, wood and layered lighting to add interest.
The use of texture is vital when it comes to living room ideas, and no more so than in a modern living room. Shiny, flat glass looks wonderful against rough stone, while steel, used sparingly creates a sleek, modern contrast.
Modern living room ideas
Let our carefully-curated selection of modern living room ideas inspire you to be brave with your color scheme, try a new layout or tackle the latest trends.
1. Divide with a broken-plan layout
From internal glazing, pocket doors to screens and dividers, a smart broken-plan living room is a versatile way to enhance modern living.
Broken-plan schemes are the new, post-pandemic, practical alternative to open-plan spaces. This modern living room layout can be much more practical than a traditional space, allowing different members of the family to inhabit the same 'room' without distracting or interrupting each other.
When planning how to design a living room, think: screens, partitions, and even the intelligent use of furniture to create multiple 'zones' within one space.
2. Create a contemporary open-plan living room
An open-plan living room offers versatility for the way we live today, and are great for modern family homes.
Open-plan living is a popular choice, with many contemporary schemes now eschewing the traditional sitting space for a more informal area that blends neatly with the kitchen and dining space.
‘From a design angle, open-plan spaces allow you to unify the details, textures and materials across the entire room to achieve really impressive results that will stand the test of time,’ says Jamee Kong of DesignSpace London.
3. Introduce elements of texture
Interior designers use texture in the form of tactile objects like fabrics, wood and stone to add physical comfort and visual interest to a modern living space.
'Consider texture to be as important as color and pattern,' says Camilla Clarke, Creative Director at Albion Nord. 'There is nothing worse than a flat design. Interiors are all about evoking the senses and therefore texture is a vital ingredient to every design to get our sight and touch senses going.'
Rough and coarser textures like reclaimed wood or terracotta have more 'visual weight' and create a rustic aesthetic, while smooth or shiny textures, including metals like chrome, reflect more light and create a more contemporary finish.
4. Stay on trend with curvaceous furniture
With the significance today on the home as a family space, regimented rows of furniture can look a little stark and clinical.
The answer? Curves, cylindrical and tubular furniture. Full-on voluptuous or gently rounded, curvaceous furniture will lift the layout and soften the overall look of your room, adding a subtle touch of shaping to your décor.
5. Be brave with color combinations
Inspired by the vibrant patterns and ebullient hues seen on the catwalk, color is bringing new energy to interiors in 2022.
This modern living room trend can be found in new, bright living room paint ideas and colorful accessories – providing a much needed sense of relief and escapism in these trying times.
‘Sometimes clients are hesitant about following color trends, believing that it will either make too much of a statement or date too quickly,’ says interior designer Rebecca Leivars. ‘One single block of a bold color can be the making of a scheme; it’s a great way to lift a room design.’
‘When selecting living room color schemes, my best advice would be to look around you,’ explains Leivars. ‘If you live in a city, stronger hues, such as reds, greens and yellows, can look great against our gray-blue skyline.
6. Play with pattern in a modern space
Carefully chosen pattern is a great way to introduce modernity to a living room. 'It can be used to define a space and change the tone of different areas,’ advises Bunny Turner, interior designer at Turner Pocock.
The key is to start with a fabric that has a distinct pattern featuring more than three colors. From that fabric, choose the colors to be used in the scheme, then select a combination of designs in that palette – perhaps a stripe, a geometric, a floral and a textural option such as a coarse linen or herringbone.
7. Take inspiration from Mid-century modern style
With their classic looks, straight lines and pared-back style, mid-century style goes hand-in-hand with modern living room ideas.
Simplicity in design and styling is key when it comes to recreating this aesthetic, along with a lack of ornamentation and a limited color palette. Invest in functional, fluid furniture and abstract prints based on natural shapes – rediscovered and reinterpreted for today’s modern interiors and lifestyles.
8. Spark joy with a minimalist aesthetic
When it comes to interior design, less is often more, especially in a modern living room.
When selecting a living room paint idea, it pays to keep it simple and understated. A monochrome decorating scheme is a minimal yet modern choice that requires an element of bravery, as it requires careful editing and a strong design eye. Introduce plenty of texture and tone to stop the space look stark or clinical, and bring in subtle tonal variety for character and charm.
9. Modernize with a timeless color scheme
Don't be put off by an all-white color scheme. You can avoid white looking too clinical or sterile by decorating with neutrals.
This versatile neutral is one of the most popular shades for interiors. White offers a blank canvas that illuminates dark spaces and makes even the smallest space feel light and bright. Introduce textural details to create interest and layers – and to ensure the room still feels warm and cozy.
10. Go for a dark and dramatic scheme
Daring and audacious, black living room ideas are a smart choice for a modern scheme. Plus, they can add a refined confidence to your space like no other color.
Decorating with black gives you the blank canvas you need to add in either accents of bright color or warmth with natural materials. And, don't forget to paint the ceiling for added effect. 'Whilst dark colors tend to close you in, black has the magical quality of infinity,' says Patrick O’Donnell, Farrow & Ball's Brand Ambassador.
If going for an all-over black living room is not for you, then go for a grey living room color scheme instead.
How can I make my living room modern?
Modern living rooms tend to be quite pared back in terms of furniture, furnishings and accessories. Color schemes are similarly muted, with natural shades, such as white, cream, beige or grey – and black for the bold – the most likely color choices for walls, floors and artwork in particular. Modern living rooms depend on a good supply of natural daylight, streamlined furnishings and fuss-free upholstery, too.
Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space.
Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.
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