Simple living room ideas – 10 minimalist spaces that are anything but dull

Simple living room ideas do not have to be bland or boring. Here's how to create the perfect minimalist scheme

Simple living room ideas
(Image credit: Future)

Simple living room ideas are easy to create – and when it comes to interior design and styling, less can often mean more.

With hectic modern lives, homeowners and renters alike are constantly aiming to find a balance between elegant minimalism and cozy luxury for their living room ideas

But what is simple living room design, you ask? A pared-back scheme is rooted in the principle of ridding your home of clutter. It is about harnessing the power of a 'clean' space that is not only easy-on-the-eye, but one that is restful, contemporary and budget-friendly.

Simple living room ideas 

Adopt these simple and inexpensive design principles to create a space that is focused, functional and fashionable.

1. Choose a sofa that will stand the test of time

Neutral living room with wood chair and leather sofa

(Image credit: Matthew Williams / Future)

The living room seating has become more multi-purpose as the routines of family life change. Nowadays, a living room sofa is not just for entertaining or watching TV; we eat on them, use our laptops and play games from them, so it is imperative that we invest in one that will stand the test of time. 

‘Less is more,’ says Clair Hornby, Head of Creative at Barker and Stonehouse. ‘Let the furniture do the talking by complementing it with a few carefully selected cushions or decorating accessories to create a high-end minimalistic look and feel.’

2. Channel a Scandinavian design aesthetic

Simple living room ideas with white shiplap wall

(Image credit: Michael Sinclair / Future)

Scandinavian living room ideas are unique for several reasons: pared-back, minimal, uncluttered spaces – and a winning combination of form and function create aesthetically pleasing, yet functional interiors. 

Rarely will you see any chaos or clutter in a Scandinavian space. Instead, expect to see clean lines, monochromatic color schemes, minimalist living room furniture and a focus on bringing nature indoors. 

3. Go for a California Casual look

Minimalist living room with white walls

(Image credit: JDP Interiors / Bess Friday)

California Casual style is effortless, or rather that’s how it needs to look. There are no bold color statements with this aesthetic, it’s all about subtleties and light.

‘California Casual style is simple yet cozy,' says Lou Graham, founder of Graham & Green. 'Its use of natural light and texture in interior design means that, despite the minimalism of this style, it never feels cold or uncomfortably modern.  

'The way you achieve this is by using neutral wall colors and light wood to bonce sunlight around the room. Incorporating natural textures, such as woven rattan and beautiful geometric rugs in taupes, tans and creams, also adds warmth.'

4. Alter the feel of a room with black and white

A whiteliving room with white sofa, black coffee table and black chandelier

Photography: Arteriors

(Image credit: Arteriors)

A simple living room looks smart and sophisticated decorated in black and white, but if you are sticking religiously to the monochrome color scheme, it's vital to ensure that you add plenty of texture into the room to ensure it feels warm and welcoming.

White shouldn’t be seen as a default color, only used if you’re too nervous to make more of a statement with color. Decorating with black and white is a style statement in its own right, so don't go overboard with pattern or furnishings. 

5. Go for a tried-and-tested color combination

A living room with navy blue panelled walls and a burnt orange velvet sofa

(Image credit: Future/Brent Darby)

Whether it’s bright and brave or soft and subtle, a well-considered living room color scheme will lend design edge to any space. 

Creative paint techniques work wonderfully in a simple living room. But tying color combinations together can be tricky, so start by building a complimentary palette of tried-and-tested combinations to create an interesting look with ease. Consulting basic color theory will ensure your scheme is soothing and that it flows effectively from room to room.

Accessories are also an important color blocking tool – a vibrant block colored couch against a contrasting block panel will set off a scheme, while bookcase and table tops are all great canvasses.

6. Play with scale in a simple living room

Simple living room ideas with white walls and oversized art

(Image credit: Rachael Smith / Future)

Utilizing scale in interior design is a trick that interior designers and stylists use to create a high impact space. Surprisingly, upscaling can be done simply – be that with a piece of artwork, a lamp or pendant light, a pattern on a cushion or an accessory within a simple living room. 

What's more, playing with proportions also has the capability to make a large room feel cozy and intimate, but upscaling can also make a small room feel a whole lot larger and more impactful than it really is, and of course a super-sized feature is instantly attention-grabbing and can be done inexpensively. 

7. Create symmetry 

Simple living room with blue sofa and yellow cushions

(Image credit: Future)

Symmetry in interior design is often used by the experts to create a space that looks incredibly tidy and smart – and it's perfect for simple living rooms as it can be done with ease. Using architectural elements such as windows is a good place to start. 

If you don't have an architectural element, you can use another visual anchor as your center point, whether that's a living room sofa or a piece of statement artwork. 

8. Put comfort first with a sectional sofa

A living room with brown sofa idea with large leather corner sofa

(Image credit: Adam Carter)

A simple, L-shaped sofa is a great way to maximize seating in a small living room. Asked to name their most indispensable piece of living room furniture, most people would opt for the sofa. Not only do they provide extra function when needed, a sectional will often work well as a room divider. 

‘A large L-shaped sofa is a great choice for an open-plan living room as it helps to delineate the sitting area from the dining area or kitchen,’ says Emma Sims-Hilditch of Sims Hilditch.

9. Go for a pure and simple scheme

Living room with wood floor, walls and beams

(Image credit: Brent Darby / Future)

Evoking purity and cleanliness alongside confidence and sophistication, white is a wonderfully versatile color choice for a simple and minimalist living room scheme.

This versatile neutral is one of the most popular paint trends for interiors, and it is easy to see why. White living rooms offer a blank canvas that illuminates dark living room spaces and can make even small rooms feel spacious and brimming with light.

One important aspect to consider when decorating with a white color palette is to bring in plenty of textural elements to create layers of interest – important factors when strong colors are out of the picture. 

10. Take it to the floor

Simple cream living room with wood furniture, leather armchairs and rug

(Image credit: Future)

One of the easiest ways to add interest to a simple living room to introduce a rug. More versatile than a carpet or other form of fixed floor-covering, they offer an inexpensive way to soften a hard stone, tiled or timber floor, and can also help to define zones in an open-plan living room.  

‘Think of your rug as a piece of art for your floor,' says Linny Moss, creative director of Knots Rugs. More people are being adventurous with their living room rug choices and seeing them as investment pieces that will match beautifully within your existing living room layout.’  

What is the easiest way to decorate a living room?

The easiest way to decorate a simple living room is with tried-and-tested living room paint ideas and color schemes. 

‘Combining color in the living room is a perfect and affordable way to create an impressive design statement, achieved by applying a modest amount of color for maximum impact. It’s an easy trend to assimilate but does require bravery,' advises interior designer, Andrea Maflin.

Jennifer Ebert

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.