9 moody living room ideas for a cozy, cocooning space that you will never want to leave

Comfort-forward and full of character, moody living spaces are all the rage at the moment. Transform your own living room with these nine expert-backed tips for nailing the moody look

Three moody living room designs
(Image credit: Albion Nord; Kristin Karch / r.a.d. Interiors; Future)

Moody probably isn't the first word that comes to mind when you think about interior design, but the dramatic yet comforting aesthetic is back on trend. Combining collected character with bold design accents, moody design schemes create inviting retreats from everyday life within any home.

The living room is meant to be one of the most comfortable rooms of the house, a destination for hosting family, friends and guests. This welcoming quality lends itself well to the moody aesthetic, which creates a sophisticated, cocooning atmosphere.

Luckily, there are so many ways to get the look right in your own home, from dramatic wallpaper and ambient lighting, to a moody color palette. These are the top nine interior design tweaks that the experts recommend if you're going for a moody look in the living room.

9 ways to make your living room feel moody

Quite a few design elements contribute to a moody living room, so it's important to pay close attention to the details. According to interior designers, these are the nine most important points to emulate.

1. Decorate with dark neutrals

A black and white living room with a fireplace

(Image credit: Future)

Over the past year or two, decorating with neutrals has slowly been phased out, making way for bolder, more characterful colors. And while moody color schemes are known for being bold and daring, looking to darker neutrals is an easy way to achieve a cohesive look. In fact, Dani Crawford, lead interior designer and senior associate of Kimmel Studio Architects, says the moody design trend is largely in response to 'the gray-and-white design era' that's on its way out.

'The minimalist lack of warmth and color left consumers with few options for creative expression and character so now designers are seeing more requests for "moody" design palettes as a means to breathe life and personality back into their spaces ... Neutrals still play a pivotal role in the palette – they have just shifted to softer and warmer whites and grays in place of stark white and stone gray, and deep charcoals instead of black,' she says.

In this living room, a dark blue patterned area rug and black painted accents throughout the space take a neutral room to the next level. The dark neutrals deliver on contrast and visual interest, so the room achieves a slightly subtle take on the moody living room look.

2. Opt for a tonal color scheme

A monochrome living room

(Image credit: Janis Nicolay / Knight Varga Interiors)

If you're looking for something a bit more playful than dark neutrals, designers recommend curating a tonal scheme, or going all-out monochrome. Kailee Blalock, co-founder of San Diego-based House of Hive, says that 'the essence of a moody living room in interior design lies in the careful selection and application of color,' so suggests paying special attention to how each shade in your space interacts.

'Moody atmospheres are often characterized by the use of darker jewel tones or a subdued color palette. Consistency is crucial and lies in ensuring that paint colors, furniture, lighting, and all materials in the room align with the tonal color palette (making sure all the undertones match). This is why monochromatic color schemes in particular are so effective at portraying the moody vibe,' she says.

To mix up a monochromatic look, Shaunn Lipsey – principal designer and creative director of Shaunn Lipsey + Co. – suggests a textured or intricate wallpaper in the same color scheme. She adds that painting the room's trim and crown molding to match the wallpaper makes for a curated, moody look. Plus, furniture and design accessories are easy walls to pull the color scheme throughout every area of the living room.

Andrea West, interior designer and owner of Andrea West Design, says that paint colors are the first design elements she selects when designing a moody living room, as they 'set the tone for the rest of the design.' Once she's decided on a color, she often takes care to consider the ceiling as another wall within the space.

'To add extra drama, you can also color block the entire room by painting the ceiling the same color as the walls. The other key feature we recommend is to do all the other elements in the room design such as the furniture and area rug in a lighter tone to add in contrast,' Andrea says.

3. Channel low, ambient lighting

Green wallpaper, striped L shape sofa, glass coffee table

(Image credit: Albion Nord)

Lighting adds an extra bit of charm to any space, and moody living rooms are no exception. When curating a moody, cozy atmosphere, it's important to rely on low, ambient lighting rather than bright sunlight or harsh overheads. Elizabeth Drake, principal designer of her eponymous design firm based in Chicago, says that paying close attention to the placement of lights throughout the space is also vital.

'Low level lighting that is even throughout the room, not just in one spot, rich and dark upholstery fabrics, and low contrast wall and trim colors. Moody rooms can feel like a pause button for busy lives, which seems to be a lot of their trending appeal,' she says.

Artem Kropovinsky, interior designer and founder of New York City-based Arsight, says that color isn't enough to evoke the moody aesthetic. He stresses that a considered combination of texture, color and lighting is the only way to achieve an 'enveloping' living space. He suggests allowing dim lights and shadows to take on a life of their own in your living room.

'Living room lighting is everything – go for dimmable options and a combination of many different sources like floor lamps, table lamps and candles among others to create a cozy look,' says Artem.

Matthew O'Grady, director of Thomas Matthew Kitchen & Furniture, says lighting 'plays a pivotal role' within a larger design scheme. 'Downlights can create shadow and depth, whereas purposefully placed accent lights can highlight a room's unique features and provide layers to the overall aesthetic. The right amalgamation of color, light and texture goes a long way in creating a moody living room that's sure to leave an impression,' he says.

4. Let natural wood tones shine

A moody living room with a fire place and tv

(Image credit: Janis Nicolay / Knight Varga Interiors)

Natural wood finishes are having a moment thanks to their warm, organic color and texture, and a moody living room provides the perfect environment for these design details to thrive. In a recent moody living room design, Dani says she opted for 'warm, stained natural woods to appreciate grain and texture, and rich jewel tones to bring in emerald greens, sapphire blues and plum.'

Similarly, Matthew says that when combined with upholstered furniture and 'fabric-rich curtains or drapes,' dark wood tones work beautifully in a moody living room. He shared details about a recent luxury apartment project that channeled the moody aesthetic.

'It was a dark-themed living room with an oversized Chesterfield sofa, stylish floor lamps, and a mix of traditional and modern decor. We contrasted deep blues with soft grays and added metallic touches and rich-texture rugs for an extra layer of sophistication. Every element in the living room was aligned to seamlessly create an environment that was as welcoming as it was bold,' he says.

5. Use shades of dark blue

A blue room with an antique dresser, two chairs and artwork

(Image credit: Future)

Sometimes it helps to have a reference color to base the rest of the design on, and many designers turn to dark, dramatic blue shades when curating a moody living room. Amber Shay, National VP of Design Studios at Meritage Homes, says these 'darker, moody blues are the perfect colors for a sophisticated and dramatic space.' Plus, blue has proved to be on trend for 2024 already.

'Darker blues can be used as accents with items like pillows, artwork and decorative accessories. For a bolder look, use dark blue as an interior wall or ceiling color or for painted cabinets and furniture,' she says.

Matthew also opts for cool, dark paint colors when designing moody spaces, adding that the color palette is the 'primary defining factor' of a moody living room. From marine blue and eggplant purple to 'enigmatic gray,' he says these rich tones serve as a foundation for the rest of the space.

'Introducing these colors might seem intimidating, but when balanced with softer and complementary hues or accent pieces, they can exude a captivating and embracing environment.' he says.

6. Add in luxurious textures

A moody living room with a lush rug and velvet armchairs

(Image credit: Dustin Halleck / Donna Mondi Interior Design)

Using texture in interior design plays an important role in any space, but moody living rooms call for extra attention to this tactile design element. Though the actual textures you choose for your personalized space can vary, layering different textures and ensuring they're of high quality makes quite a big difference within a living room. 

Dani says that 'metallic finishes in warm brass tones and luxurious textiles like leather and velvet assist in wrapping up your new moody design.' Artem agrees, saying that velvet upholstery is an easy way to up the comfortability of your space. And textures don't just come into play when it comes to furniture and accessories – every surface of the room contributes.

'Consider applying high contrast finishes such as a rough-hewn black stone fireplace as a focal point against light wood and white walls, or a full wall of dark stained or painted millwork in a room that is otherwise soft and neutral in its finishes and textures ...  Introduce a variety of textures and materials for visual and tactile interest such as a rough cut stone, plush oversized sofa, thick textured rugs, cozy cushions and throws, and glass and metal tables, says Trish Knight, co-founder of Knight Varga Interiors.

Jessica Cinnamon, interior designer and founder of Jessica Cinnamon Design, says when going for a moody atmosphere, she focuses on layering materials and introducing furniture with eye-catching shapes for an overall soft, sleek look.

In this moody living room, designed by Donna Mondi of Chicago- and Denver-based Donna Mondi Interior Design, a lush area rug and velvet armchairs pull the entire space together. Donna says the style might be on trend, but it never really went out of style for her firm – they've 'always had a love for moody interiors,' she adds.

'Designing a moody living room requires creating a space that exudes depth, richness, and a bit of edginess. We do this by curating a palette full of deep saturated colors and rich textures. Dark and edgy artwork is one of our favorite design elements to tie together the depth of finishes in the space and provide a focal point for the room,' says Donna.

7. Bring in a moody wallpaper

A moody living room with a large blue and green mural, a sofa and a floor lamp

(Image credit: Future)

As mentioned previously, installing wallpaper in dark colors and eye-catching designs is a surefire way to achieve a moody living room without redoing the whole space. In this space, a blue and green landscape-inspired wallpaper pairs with a lovely velvet couch and a sculptural, arched light fixture. Sarah Merenda, founder of Merenda Wallpaper, says 'Rich, deep wallpaper designs can bring about a strong, moody aesthetic in any setting.'

'Patterned wallpaper offers versatility, whether it's used as a furniture backdrop, an accent wall or to cover an entire room for a striking effect. To maintain a sense of spaciousness and balance, consider incorporating organic shapes, brass, and gold accents or additional greenery. This ensures that the room feels harmonious, allowing the design details to enhance rather than overpower the space, says Sarah.

8. Layer artwork

A moody living room with a green couch, a chandelier and artwork in gold frames

(Image credit: Kristin Karch / r.a.d. Interiors)

'Moody living rooms feel enveloping, inviting and welcoming. Ample natural light really drives how dark you can go but if you can do it, a moody living room provides a warm hug if you like cozy vibes. The dark color provides a backdrop for artwork and plants in a very dramatic way,' says Ryan Austin Hagood, principal designer with r.a.d. Interiors.

Bring artwork into a moody space for added character and charm, with antique frames and statement placements. Ryan says that 'layers of art and beautiful real plants' elevate a moody living room, adding life without too much brightness.

'I am currently working on a new project where the entire vibe is dark and moody. I could not be more excited to design this space with floor-to-ceiling windows and there are endless layers of dark, moody vibes that I can’t wait to share,' he says.

9. Cater to the senses

A dark blue living room with a blue and white couch, bookshelves and artwork

(Image credit: Peter Christiansen Valli / KMNelson Design LLC)

Moody homes, and especially moody living rooms, are all about the felt environment, so it's important to cater to all five senses with your design decisions. Kristi Nelson, owner and principal designer of KMNelson Design, says that to her, moody is synonymous with 'atmospheric,' a quality she 'strives to achieve in her interiors.' She says this applies specifically to living rooms, 'so they intentionally draw people in to spend time there.'

'Moody doesn’t have to mean dark, edgy, or somber. Moody is truly that – a mood, a vibe, an atmosphere. The intention to design a moody space is to invoke a certain emotion which could be cozy, contemplative, relaxing or exuberant, depending on what the owner wants to experience,' she says.

'I think they are trending for that particular reason because as humans we inherently connect our senses and emotions, and color has tremendous psychological and emotional impact. We are consciously and unconsciously drawn to moody or evocative spaces depending on our personal references,' Kristi continues.

With these nine tips, your living room will be moody, atmospheric and oh-so-cozy in no time. Focus on the ambient lighting, cohesive color palette, and textural details for an on-trend yet timeless look.

Abby Wilson
News Writer

I am a News Writer at Homes & Gardens, with a focus on interior design. Most recently, I worked with Better Homes & Gardens, where I wrote and edited content about home decor, gardening tips, food news, and more. Before that, I studied Journalism and English Literature at New York University. I’ve moved around quite a bit in the last several years, most recently making the trip to London, and love transforming each new space into a comfortable retreat that feels like home. When it comes to decor, I’m most drawn to unique vintage finds and calming colors.