Modern Living Room Ideas: design trends and layouts to style a modern living space

Take inspiration from the latest trends to make your living feel more contemporary
  • We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
  • The modern living room of today has many different personalities, from minimalist to maximalist it’s whatever suits your own personal tastes.

    Our modern living room ideas inspire you to create a decor that suits your needs and style choices, to provide a timeless contemporary living space to love for years to come.

    Modern living room ideas to inspire decor

    Modern doesn’t have to mean one thing to one person, it’s simply about making the vibe feel relevant and on-trend while providing a liveable and enduring interior.

    1. Get creative with paint effects

    Blue living room paint idea

    Image credit: Future PLC/James French

    Look to an on-trend living room paint idea to stamp a modern mark on any living room. In this stylish living room the walls have been thoughtfully divided by two contrasting aqua shades. The bottom half of the wall is painted in the more saturated blue to create a cocooning feel, where the sumptuous velvet sofa almost camouflages into the wall behind. The softer shade features above the picture rail and onto the ceiling to separate the two halves on the room.

    Incorporating the door into the paint effect helps to make the wall feel more seamless, a great small living room idea to create a sense of space.

    2. Be expressive with colour

     green walls and bold art work with mustard sofa in living room

    Image credit: John Lewis & Partners

    Make a personal style statement with a modern twist on the maximalist trend through the use of unapologetic splashes of the latest on-trend paint colours.

    ‘Select the colour of the largest area then choose three shades that work well with it and layer clashing prints and patterns’ advises Melanie Archer, Colour Designer at John Lewis & Partners. ‘Building from the base up will give the area a sense of cohesive colour purpose.

    3. Paint every surface in one colour

    Dark green livign room with painted skirting boards and fire surround with teddy fleece armchair

    Image credit: Paint and Paper Library

    Break from tradition of having to paint woodwork in white. To make your living room feel modern and moving with the times adopt the practise of painting all surfaces in the same tone. From walls to skirting boards, fire surrounds and window shutters – choose one colour to paint it all. Doing this creates a seamless backdrop, where the eye is not thrown by a bright white skirting board that jars with the cohesion of the room.

    Darker colours are especially effective for this method, because they contrast so heavily against lighter colours on traditional woodwork. Ensure you select the right type of paint for each surface, emulsion for walls and a proper wood paint for skirting boards etc.

    4. Curate a modern collection

    living room with gallery wall, blue sofa, colourful printed chair and shelving - john lewis and partners

    Image credit: John Lewis & Partners

    Let neutral walls be the gallery-style backdrop to a curated display of artwork, statement furniture pieces and captivating lighting designs. Invest in the designer pieces that will be timeless additions to enhance your personal space.

    Allow your accessories to add the wow factor to the room, rather than feeling like the use of colour on walls has to do all the work.

    5. Streamline for a minimalist approach

    Retro 70s white living room with fireplace, natural rug and monochrome ceramics

    Image credit: Dulux

    If you love the minimalist modern approach stick to a calming, monotone colour palette. This modern Scandi living room is all-white with touches of wood to add an accent tone, without introducing a definitive colour.

    Touches of black on the monochrome rug are the only additional hue, enhancing the stylishly stark scheme.

    6. Embrace the maximalist trend

    Art Deco green living room with Art Deco wallpaper, green velvet sofa and wood flooring

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Maximalism is one the biggest interior trends of the year, where the ethos is ‘more is more’.  British designer and founder of Zoom That Room Benji Lewis, shares his tips on how to achieve the popular Maximalist trend in your home.

    ‘The foundations of this aesthetic are based on the principle of grand old country house interior design’ Benji explains. ‘However, maximalism isn’t contained to huge proportions and gives sufficient decorative wriggle room to adapt and include all sorts of elements, regardless of the size of a room. Be bold and think traditional floral wallpaper with a supersized photograph of Jimmy Hendrix playing live at Woodstock’.

    ‘Mix colour, pattern and texture to build up layers of interest accordingly. There is no need to be shy – think floral chintz, woven geometrics, bullion fringe, a traditional table lamp alongside a contemporary floor light.’

    7. Look for alternatives to traditional designs

    modern living room with contemporary fireplace sunk into the dividing wall

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Richard Gadsby

    Want a fireplace but want it to be more ‘modern’? It doesn’t get much better than this example, with a floating chimney breast with a contemporary stone fire below. The floating design acts as a room divider to separate the living and dining areas.

    To create this design you’ll need to consult a structural engineer who can advise on removing partition walls and how to leave the chimney breast intact to allows for a cool modern fireplace.

    8. Make storage statement

    Living room with built in wall storage and TV in centre

    Image credit: Sharps

    Modern storage solutions make a feature of personal belongings, but in a way that makes them feel curated for display – not cluttering and overwhelming. This smart wall of storage units incorporates everything, from concealed drawers and boxes, open display cubby holes and shelving ledges. And most importantly it houses the TV, making it feel like  part of the scheme – rather than a big unattractive black box on the wall.

    Of course you can add doors or a screen if you’re looking for ways to hide a tv stylishly.

    9. Welcome a glass ceiling

    Modern extension with glass ceiling pane

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Robert Sanderson

    Nothing says modern quite like an extension with an element of glass, here in place of a solid ceiling. If your living space is part of a renovation project why not consider making it feel ultra modern with the addition of a glass ceiling. As you see in this fine example welcoming a window in place of a standard roof floods the contemporary space below with natural light.

    ‘Adding a rooflight to an existing roof requires a lot of structural consideration’ explains Ryan Schofield, Managing Director, Thames Valley Window Company. ‘More often than not would require the existing roof to be replaced, or at least reinforced with additional joists or steels to take the weight of the proposed glass roof. It would require a structural engineer to look at it and provide calculations or a suitable design.’ Costs start from around £1,500.

    10. Seek modern radiator designs

    monochrome living room with modern radiator

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Amanda Turner

    Heating is an essential element to any living room, whatever the decor style. Just because it’s essential doesn’t mean it has to compromise the decor. In this monochrome living room a contemporary radiator enhances the look of the room, while still being highly functional to create a cosy living room idea.

    ‘When it comes to selecting a radiator there is no right or wrong’ says Gordon Riddoch, Rutland London MD at Bisque. ‘Some people prefer radiators in muted colours which blend into the existing wall colour.’

    ‘Paint colours from the likes of Farrow & Ball are perfect for muted, calming tones. For those who love to make a statement, opting for radiators in contrasting or complimentary colours is key. We would recommend going one further and carrying the shade of the radiator through to other details in the space for a cohesive, intentional look.’

    11. Keep everything elevated

    White living room with stacked wall shelving and modern furniture

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Tim Young

    Make the living room feel like a modern, airy space by choosing furniture pieces which are visibly elevated off the floor to make the layout flow in a more contemporary manner. The eye passes under and around the furniture to make the room feel more like an open and inviting modern space.

    Floating shelves along one wall to house curios and display objects helps to style the scene, like that of an art gallery.

    12. Design around period features

    living room with window seat

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Tim Young

    In this period property the homeowners have used the architecture to perfection, but have kept the look contemporary with smart furniture designs. The bay window seat idea is a fine example of how old and new can work in perfect harmony alongside each other. The clean lines of the boxy seat structure sits in the traditional period feature of the bay window. The smart design also features an extra living room storage idea.

    The rest of the room is anchored around this modern window seat design, with a rug to zone the seating area. A contemporary marble coffee table and sleek leather armchair are added to invite a more formal seating area for entertaining.

    13. Keep flooring sleek

    modern living room with pink

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Tim Young

    Living room flooring ideas for a modern home work best when they offer a changeable appeal. A hard wood or tiles floor in a living room instantly feels more present-day than a traditional carpet.

    A hard flooring invites an ideal solid ground on which to build an eclectic look with the addition of rugs, to create contrast in texture and make the textile layers hero pieces.

    14. Welcome the outside in

    living area with window seat and plants

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Tim Young

    In terms of creating an on-trend look to make your living room feel more of the moment, house plant ideas are a winner! Filling our indoors spaces with plants is the easiest way to embrace the latest trend.

    Creating a new vibe in your existing living room and adding a pop of lush greenery to the decor. Choose plants that make a statement, placing them at different heights to fill the space from floor to ceiling. Cluster groups of plants with compatible shapes and coverage.

    15. Create an art gallery feel with a white backdrop

    WHITE LIVING ROOM with colourful artwork and red chair

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Adopt an art gallery aesthetic for an effortless modern living room decor by inviting brilliant white walls to create a clean backdrop for accent colours. Allow pops of primary colour through artwork, soft furnishings and furniture to dictate the style of your surroundings.

    16. Set up an on-trend bar

     home bar with bar stools in living room

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Today’s living room isn’t quite complete without a home bar, with the trend taking hold over the last year like never before. As we navigate a new normal of entertaining more at home the home cocktail bar has become a must-have for a modern living room idea. Commit to the trend by creating a full scale bar complete with luxe bar stools.

    This can be done on a budget with a winning IKEA hack idea to set up a bar in the corner of a living room, to zone a place for entertaining.

    17. Venture to the dark side

    black living room with statement wallpaper and matching fabric upholstery on armchairs

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Ryan Wicks

    Brooding dark colours has been prominent in interior design in recent years, only gaining more popularity. It’s a great choice for a modern living room to cocoon the room in colour to make it feel fully immersive.

    This approach to using colour and on every surface, from walls and floors to window frames and radiators is not for the faint of heart – it’s a bold look to embrace with fashionable finesse.

    How can I make my living room look modern?

    Interior designer Benji says, ‘If you have the space, an L-shape sofa is contemporary and encourages soirees. Work with textures on the upholstered goods – think wool bouclé, velvet, leather and linen in sleek tones of grey, charcoal, tan and ivory – as well as on other furnishings, side tables and table lamps with metal detail – nickel, brass or copper for example.’

    ‘Hints of a strong geometric pattern feel bold and fresh. Accent walls work well – use wallpaper or tiles to make a modern statement. Bonus points if it is bold’ he adds. ‘Play with the shape and form. For example, choose a circular rug instead of a classic rectangle.’

    How do you design a lounge?

    ‘First things first, establish what you want from your lounge’ Benji advises. ‘Do you want it to be centred around relaxing or socialising? This will shape the interior pieces you pick.’

    ‘Plan the furniture around how you want to live. For example, if you want to lounge on your sofa drinking a glass of wine, then position tables close to you so that you can effortlessly put your glass down.’

    ‘Rugs are an essential for creating a feel of comfort and relaxation underfoot but the size of them needs some thought. Choose a rug to fit around your furnishings. There is nothing less cohesive than three legs of the armchair being on the ground and one propped up on a rug.’

    ‘Lighting is key to creating a desired ambience’ Benji expertly points out. ‘You need to be able to dim the overhead lights for essential evening relaxation. Don’t buy a light without this option. Also, make sure you factor in space for soft side lighting options.’

    What does a modern day living room look like?

    A modern living room idea looks effortlessly stylish, with expressive paint and decor choices.

    ‘As a social space to both enjoy and relax in there are no steadfast rules when it comes to decorating modern living rooms’ says Punam Chada, Buyer at Carpetright. ‘Although neutrals remain flooring favourites there is an interest in aspirational prints, patterns and colours that bring joy and make a statement.’

    Homeowners are increasingly considering their impact on the environment and there have been recent advancements in sustainable flooring; such as our People and Planet collection made from planet-friendly and locally sourced materials.

    All the latest from Ideal Home