Don’t let the “new year, new you” mentality fool you: Trends might come and go, but the living room continues to be one of the most monumental areas of the home that is rivaled only by the kitchen. The high-trafficked space can offer a unique look into a person’s design aesthetic, but if you want to refresh your living room for 2023, here’s your sign it’s time to give the space a modern touch. Admittedly, a living room and the modern aesthetic don’t seem like a particularly compatible duo. As Cochineal Design principal and cofounder Sarah Sargeant points out, simply hearing about a modern living room might conjure a look that’s “sterile, austere, and one-note.” But in reality? Modern living rooms can deftly bridge the gap between welcoming and well appointed.
“For us, modern means it achieves lifestyle needs while also being minimal leaning,” she adds. “We believe mixing time periods, tones, and textures can achieve a current look.” In 2023, Sargeant says, the secret to achieving a modern living room is “taking environmental, ecological, and longevity factors into account.” In other words, using locally sourced materials, working with nearby vendors, and minimizing climate impacts by reusing and buying vintage will help your living room transition nicely into the new year.
However, even when you factor in those prerequisites, how to bring a dash of modernity to your living can feel like a tall order. To help, we’ve combed through the very best ELLE DECOR archives to find the sleek spaces that are brimming with inspiration. From statement-making light fixtures to intriguing layouts, think of the list below as your 2023 design bucket list.
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Treasure-Filled Living Room
Anyone can make a sleek living room appear warm and welcoming—all it takes are some thoughtful accessories. In this Brooklyn townhouse, Ishka Designs packed on the charm with intriguing ceramics and eye-catching artwork. The result? A living room that hits that sweet spot between luxe and lived-in.
Shape-Shifting Living Room
Move over, boxy armchairs and rectangular sofas: Furniture with an atypical silhouette is a surefire way to give those living room essentials some visual intrigue. The design duo at Ashe Leandro spruced up a Park Avenue pad with a curvy lounge chair from Move Mountains as well as a bulbous custom sofa that’s upholstered in Rose Uniacke wool.
Height-Defiant Living Room
If James Williams and Jonno Burden’s living room is any indication, the only way to go really is up. The duo accented their 30-foot-tall ceiling with two clusters of custom light pendants, drawing the eye upward and creating a light, airy space in the process.
Mirror Marvel Living Room
Want to dress up bare walls but traditional artwork feels overplayed? Consider dousing your space in decorative mirrors—just as Jacques Grange did in this Portuguese pad. Not only does this woven arrangement add some character to this spacious room, but the number of reflective spaces also helps bounce the light around just right.
Repeat after us: A neutral-tinged living room can be anything but boring. If you need any convincing, have a look at this relaxed space by Cochineal Design. Here, a rich array of light wood, cream bouclé upholstery, and high-contrast art offers a more nuanced take on the pared-back palette.
Plaid-Peppered Living Room
Another way to hit the refresh button on a neutral palette? Add a few patterns into the mix. In this downtown New York City home, a sea of browns, creams, and black is energized with a set of vintage chairs in a Sandra Jordan alpaca plaid.
Hip and Hanging Living Room
Take the phrase “sitting pretty” to a whole new level—literally—by incorporating a swinging seat. Design firm Workshop/APD made the most of this family residence by juxtaposing a hanging chair from Juniper Home and a low-slung, double-sided sofa. This power playing makes the living room appear even brighter and airier than it already is.
Why settle for one cocktail table and one couch when you can enjoy a few? The multiple furniture pieces in this Manhattan apartment give the living room an upscale, gallerylike atmosphere, while keeping it conducive to your and your guests’ needs.
A Ray of Sunshine Living Room
Die-hard maximalists will find the perfect compromise in this smile-inducing Hamptons home, which offsets a neutral palette with pops of yellow and a rainbow-hued painting by Kenneth Noland. “I wanted the room to feel as though you could sit in it on your own and read the newspaper or have a family game night—or host a killer cocktail party,” designer Alec Holland explains.
Monochromatic Living Room
Want a punchy-yet-pared-back palette and neutrals just aren’t doing it? Reimagine your living room with a bolder hue as seen in director Mara Brock Akil’s Los Angeles home. With a Vladimir Kagan sofa, an Art Deco rug, and paint sourced from Portola Paints, this West coast–area room looks at life through rosé-colored glasses.
Party-Ready Living Room
Be the host with the most by adding a wet bar to your living room—and making it a sight for sore eyes too. In this 1957 Pacific Palisades abode, which was restored by Studio Shamshiri, the lineup of libations is dressed up in technicolor tiles from Emmanuel Boos.
Hard-Meets-Soft Living Room
What’s a person to do if their already-modern living room feels a smidge stony? Soften things up with a plush area rug. A wool and silk layer by Jan Kath lends a homey feel to the industrial-leaning living room from Raëd Abillama.
Haute Hearth Living Room
Oftentimes, the most practical elements of a living room can become the most visually intriguing. In this Woodstock home, design firm White Webb transformed the fireplace into a mega-moment by covering the hearth and surrounding ceiling in shou sugi ban cypress. An assortment of angular furniture—layered in tactile textiles—gives the rustic fireplace a more contemporary edge.
Community-Centric Living Room
Whether you have a chill night in with your family or invite your inner circle to your personal quarters, congregation is at the heart of every living room. That’s exactly why it’s so fitting that architect Christina Seilern peppered this Greek living room with a built-in bench, complete with upholstery and pillows by Kalyvianakis Dimitrios. And, thanks to the indoor-outdoor quality, this living room makes it possible to kick back, relax, and watch the gorgeous landscape.
Oversize-Art Living Room
Since bare white walls can veer toward “sterile” territory, liven up your room’s perimeter with some oversize art, as Ike Kligerman Barkley did in a Bridgehampton, New York, residence. The large piece over the low-slung sectional brings a lived-in, layered effect to the living room; however, the abstract shapes featured offer a hint of modernity.
Laid-Back Living Rooms
One of the best things about today’s living rooms is they don’t have to be too stuffy or precious. In fact, Augusta Hoffman specifically enlisted a pair of Blasco Clichy swivel chairs to up this Upper East Side apartment’s chill factor. “I love the chairs because they bring in an element of casualness that my client was looking for as a younger person who enjoys having people over to watch movies and hang out,” Hoffman says. “It doesn’t have to feel so sophisticated all the time.”
Depth-Defying Milan Living Room
Milanese architect and designer Hannes Peer took this Italian living area to new heights—literally—by drawing inspiration from the Alps. The low-slung furniture—which includes a brown leather couch from B&B Italia and a vintage daybed—deftly balances out the high, slatted wood accents.
Maximalist Chicago Living Room
Anyone who has a more-is-more aesthetic will find a lot to love about this zesty prewar apartment in Chicago. Designer Summer Thornton doubled down on boldness with jewel-toned seating, a pair of pendants from Urban Electric Co., and a sweet wallcovering by de Gournay.
Moody New York Living Room
This Upper West Side apartment single-handedly proves that the dark side has plenty of perks. Designer Kevin Dumais created a space that’s equal parts handsome and homey with a plethora of textures. The suede wallpaper by Holly Hunt, custom ottoman, and Daniel Wenger lounge chair give this space the tactile treatment.
Fun French Living Room
Craving some much-needed pops of color? Take a cue from lighting designer Marie-Lise Féry’s French abode. Swathed in Farrow & Ball’s Blue Gray, this room features a velvet Christophe Delcourt sectional and candy-coated Magic Circus Éditions lamp, offering a grown-up take on a rainbow palette.
A Living Room with Seating a-Plenty
As this Hollywood Hills living room—which was designed by firm Nickey Kehoe for Suzanne Goin—proves, you can never have too many seats. This Spanish-style space pairs the original Douglas fir-beamed ceiling with a cornucopia of sofas and armchairs, all of which are from the designers.
Pattern-Packed Palm Beach Living Room
Embrace your bold streak with strategically placed patterns. In this Palm Beach villa, Mark D. Sikes turned this living room into a delightfully whimsical retreat with a hypnotic array of prints. But since each repeat boasts a similar blue-and-white scheme, the room is eye-catching, not over-the-top.
If movie nights in are your top priority, you’ll love this space that Kovac Design Studio created for Hollywood agent Todd Feldman. The spacious great room boasts a custom motorized screen, creating a floating home theater. A sectional by Patricia Urquiola for B&B Italia, RH, Restoration Hardware cocktail table, and a rug from Armadillo make this the perfect place to Netflix and chill.
St. Petersburg Living Room
Looking for a red-hot living room idea? Consider making the fireplace the focal point of the room—just as Tim Veresnovsky did in this St. Petersburg apartment. The oak-paneled hearth is flanked by a Sergei Khrabrovsky sofa, vintage leather armchair, and Zara Home side table.
Make your living room feel like an otherworldly oasis, just as Fawn Galli did in this Boca Raton retreat. From a rattan cocktail table by India Mahdavi to a half-moon shape Lejeune sofa—which is swathed in Dedar velvet and Scalamandre’s Maquis Tapestry Agave repeat—this space offers vacation vibes around the clock.
Shape-Shifting Living Room
For a pared-back way to make your living room pop, play with different shapes. When decorating this Vancouver pad for a mother-daughter duo, PlaidFox’s Ben Leavitt featured an angular, 1970s-inspired chimney breast in red- and pink-toned Mutina tiles. Rounding out the room is a custom curvaceous couch and leather ottoman from Moroso.
Modern Midtown Living Room
For an easy (yet effective!) way to rack up the compliments, consider adding a punchy couch to a neutral space. Here, Dorothy Berwin added a bright red sofa from Francis Sultana to a high-contrast space.
Mix-and-Match Living Room
Why settle for one design style when you can enjoy a few? In this Palm Beach abode, designer Caroline Rafferty juxtaposed a 20-foot-long white sofa from CB2 with contemporary art and an antique cocktail table designed by Pierre Jeanneret. The crisp palette and jolts of primary colors strike a happy balance between subtle and statement.
It’s no wonder that the living room packs the “wow” factor of this apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Designer Stephen Sills paired the bright Lee Jofa wallcovering with a Louis XIV marble mantel and antique French chairs draped in a Clarence House silk.
Chic London Living Room
Decades after its last refurbishment in 1991, a well-known Kuwaiti family enlisted designer Nebihe Cihan to spruce up their charming London flat. Cihan used sculptural details and a jewel-toned sofa from Minotti to give the space a modern edge—without stripping it of its rich history.
Relaxed Upper West Side Living Room
Danielle Colding achieved her signature “cozy cool” look in this prewar apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The crisp white living room is anchored by a sofa from Jayson Home and a Papilio chair, creating an oasis of simplicity, ease, and eclecticism.
California Coastal Living Room
When Kim Alexandriuk was tasked with designing a family’s vacation home in Montecito, California, she sought to highlight many of the space’s European features. In the living room, she added a Paola Navone sofa and a slipper chair by Paul Marra Design to play off the extravagant fireplace.
Star-Studded Living Room
Designer Isabel López-Quesada refreshed this charming Madrid apartment—which the actress Ava Gardner used to call home—with soft, romantic details. Highlights include sofas reimagined in Brochier velvet, Pierre Paulin’s Mushroom chairs, and artwork by Donna Huanca.
Cozy Upstate Living Room
Three years after a fire broke out in the back of his home, designer Shawn Henderson restored his upstate New York space to be a soothing escape from the big city. This petite living room is undeniably serene, thanks to a Kaare Klint sofa, a chair by Kerstin Hörlin-Holmquist, and a versatile cocktail table courtesy of Frits Henningsen.
Hudson Valley Living Room
Sheila Bridges took her Hudson Valley, New York, living room to new heights (literally) with a mobile she co-designed with Elizabeth Parker. Rounding out the room is a Hammertown Barn sofa, a vintage side table, and a fireplace by Ortal.
Refined Upper East Side Living Room
Designer Tom Scheerer added some uptown opulence to this Manhattan apartment with a 1950s Danish desk by Jacob Kjaer and textiles from Holland & Sherry, Borderline, and Kravet. With a neutral backdrop—as well as the occasional pops of green and blue—this living room is both elegant and eclectic.
Modern California Living Room
Designer Ernest de la Torre updated this Tudor-style home in Bel Air—which was built by Hollywood architect Paul R. Williams in 1934—with modern panache. A vintage Jean Royère chair and a rug by Edward Fields soften the sleek space.
Art Nouveau Living Room
When restoring her apartment in Tbilisi, Georgia, interior designer Eka Papamichael juxtaposed the space’s rich Art Nouveau architecture with a vintage cocktail table, a Murano glass ceiling pendant, and sofas by Gervasoni.
Bold & Bright Living Room
Srila Chatterjee and Mahesh Mathai put their bold aesthetic on full display in their Mumbai living room. The vibrant purple walls are paired with flea-market finds, a tiger sculpture from Kerala, and a custom ottoman and chairs.
Muted California Living Room
Blending two distinctly different styles in one space is a tall order. When newlyweds asked Natasha Baradaran to decorate their Santa Monica, California, home, she filled the living room with various textiles in an easy, neutral color palette. The result? The perfect compromise between bohemian and Art Deco.
Sophisticated Milan Living Room
Being neck-deep in a gut renovation—in the midst of the pandemic, no less—can feel overwhelming. However, Dimorestudio’s Emiliano Salci turned his new Milan apartment into a theatrical abode. He furnished his pigmented living room with antique finds as well as pieces from his home-furnishings brand, Dimoremilano.
Classic-Meets-Cool Living Room
When designing his San Francisco home, Antonio Martins took a trip down memory lane for inspiration. From a gallery wall of 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century portraits to the sleek RH, Restoration Hardware cocktail table, his living room bridges the gap between old and new.
Hotel Lobby–Esque Living Room
As the mogul behind 1 Hotels and the Baccarat Hotel, Barry Sternlicht brings a well-appointed eye to his hospitality ventures. So it’s only fitting that his personal residence follows suit. Sternlicht gives his Miami Beach living room the first-class treatment with a Jean de Merry armchair, side tables from MS Ceramic Design, and a sofa covered in Loro Piana fabric.
Fun and Feminine Living Room
When Lucinda Loya was tapped to design fashion model Maya Henry’s London flat, she wanted to fill the cold space with plenty of personality. From the fringed Munna chairs to a candy-coated color palette, this living room feels feminine and edgy in equal measure.
Art-Filled Hamptons Living Room
Furniture doubles as art in this Hamptons home. A white sofa matching the wall and floors sets the stage for cream vintage Joe Colombo chairs that flank a custom Marmoreal coffee table. The Egan Frantz artwork spans the length of the sofa.
California Casual Living Room
Exposed beams, a plaster fireplace, and wrought iron door frames create a Mediterranean vibe in this Newport, California home. A mix of cream upholstery with wood furniture and floors looks elegant but not fussy.
High-Contrast Living Room
An accent wall made of dark charcoal tiles boldly stands out in this elegant Mill Valley living room. Deep blacks complement warm whites with gold accents to create a glamorous scheme.
Modern updates like industrial lighting and a polished cement floor create an eclectic aesthetic in this old-word living room. Cube-shaped poufs and linen-upholstered Bergère chairs add softness and texture.
Glam Chicago Living Room
A sophisticated, neutral living room in Chicago’s historic Palmolive building features a clever mix of antiques and vintage finds, which create a sense of balance.
Palm Beach Living Room
A 1920s Palm Beach home, owned by art adviser Heidi McWilliams, serves as the perfect backdrop for displaying her impressive collection. The living room is furnished with claret armchairs (right) and a hexagonal table by Rose Tarlow Melrose House, along with a neutral rug by Patterson Flynn Martin. An Anish Kapoor mirrored wall sculpture accentuates the 16th-century Italian limestone mantel, and the coffered ceiling, which is original, adds character to the room.
Minimalist Living Room
Kara Mann’s Chicago living room is a lesson in minimalist design. A pair of white chairs complement the marigold-colored rug by Miyabi Casa. The floors are large-scale limestone tiles.
Serene Ibiza Sitting Room
This Ibiza living room features local-limestone floors covered in custom Spanish esparto rugs from Antonia Molina. Walls covered in a sandy lime plaster, and a wood-beam ceiling set a rustic tone in the living room. Custom sofas are by Atelier Tapissier Seigneur and the curtains are in a quilted Braquenié fabric; the Oeil cocktail table by Pierre Chapo is vintage, the lacquered-coral sculpture is by Maurizio Epifani, and the painting over the mantel is by Alex Katz.
Amanda Seyfried’s Living Room
Jewel-Toned Living Room
Bright Greek Island Living Room
The living room in this Greek Island home features a custom cocktail table and banquette, and striped pillows upholstered in a Les Toiles du Soleil fabric. The Queen Elizabeth II print is by Andy Warhol.
An Airy Loft Living Room
New York-based designer Becky Shea crafted a stunning New York City loft for Homepolish co-founder Will Nathan. The living room, which showcases a mix of industrial elements as well as Shea’s organic-modernist aesthetic, is a lesson in open-concept living.
A Pattern-Filled Hollywood Living Room
Actress Minnie Driver’s inviting Hollywood living room features a mix of vintage fabrics and patterns. Window treatments in complementary colors add balance to the light-filled space.
Christiane Lemieux’s Living Room
Christiane Lemieux’s New York City loft includes artwork by Robert Swain, custom sofas covered in a neutral linen, and a coffee table and side table from the Brimfield Show and a Paris flea market.
Light-Filled Living Room
White walls and contemporary furniture give this living room a clean and classic feel. Natural elements, by way of driftwood and greenery, bring the outdoors in.
Clean and Bright Washington, D.C., Living Room
Architect Piet Boon and designer Jennifer Schmidt transformed a Washington, D.C. loft with a palette of grey, white, and wood in light tones. Textured accents, including grey velvet chairs, add interest to the open space.
A Brooklyn townhouse in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, features a sofa from ABC Carpet & Home upholstered in a fabric by Soraya Shah for Studio Four NYC. The space also includes a chaise by Timothy Oulton, a Danish cocktail table, the Akari pendant light by Noguchi, window treatments in a Rebecca Atwood fabric, and a vintage Moroccan rug. The walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Huntington White and the trim in Iron Mountain. A photograph by Claire Nitze and a cameo portrait by Doug Meyer complete the living room.
Statement Fireplace Living Room
Architect Luís Bernardo Brito e Abreu renovated his São Miguel home to reflect his family’s artistic, maritime history. The living room features a vintage chair by Illum Wikkelsø, and the mantel and stone benches are both of local basalt. The sculpture of a head on the bench at right is by Ernesto Canto da Maya, and the wall sculpture above the mantel is a 16th-century naval decoration.
Chicago Penthouse Living Room
Alisa Bloom recreated the environment of a French interior in her sophisticated Chicago penthouse. In the living room, she opted for a custom sofa in a Kravet fabric with pillows in a Jim Thompson silk. The 1970s chairs are from Revival, and the vintage cocktail table is from Martin La Brocante. She finished the space with a console by Crate & Barrel, a vintage chandelier by Hans-Agne Jakobsson, and curtains in an Oscar de la Renta fabric for Lee Jofa. The walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Cement Gray.
Concrete And Navy Living Room
Japanese-Style Living Room
In the living room of Vivia Horn’s Japanese-style retreat in Hunter, New York, the leather-and-plastic Italian sofas, cocktail table, and wool shag rug were purchased in the 1980s at Bloomingdale’s. The Japanese-style fire pit and tin range hood are custom, the floor lamp is from the ’70s, the sisal carpet is by Stark, the ceiling beams are Douglas fir, and a series of color lithographs from Japan are displayed along the pine wainscoting.
Eclectic Farmhouse Living Room
Central Park Aerie Living Room
Contemporary Living Room
In the living room of Kris Ghesquière and Eva Claessens’s house in southeastern Uruguay, which they built on the remains of an 1810 roadside general store, the chair was constructed by a local carpenter based on a picture in a magazine, the vintage table in front of the sofa was found at an auction in France and the rug is from Iran; the yellow lamb sculptures are by William Sweetlove, and the paintings and feather sculpture are by Claessens.
Antiques-Laden Living Room
In the living room of an antique-laden apartment in Greenwich Village, the antique Swedish sofa and Baroque chair, right, are upholstered in Robert Kime fabrics, the armchair is 18th-century French and a vintage Persian Soumak rug from Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar rests on a sea-grass rug from ABC Carpet & Home. Among the items on the wall are an antique water-buffalo skull, 19th-century French gouaches and a drawing by Jean Cocteau.
Color-Doused Living Room
John Robshaw’s vibrant Connecticut house is overflowing with character: The living room sofa and its fabric are by John Robshaw for Duralee. The armchair, custom banquettes, and bone-inlay side table are all Robshaw designs, the cocktail table is from India, the table lamps are by Christopher Spitzmiller, and the dhurrie is a custom design. An Elliott Puckette artwork sits on the mantel, which is painted in Yukon Sky by Benjamin Moore, and the large painting of a perfume bottle is by Doug Wada.
Nature-Embracing Living Room
In a remote New Zealand surf town, architects Lance and Nicola Herbst ingeniously tuck a spacious weekend retreat amid a lush grove of exotic trees. In the living area of the house, designed in its entirety by the couple, the sofa is a custom design, and the fireplace by Masport Heating is set in a custom-made steel cabinet; the pendant light is by Secto Design and the walls are sheathed in black-stained western red cedar.
Midcentury Living Room (with a Texas Twist)
When San Francisco residents Sam Hamilton and Jen Chaiken decided to buy a second home in Marfa, Texas, after holding their destination wedding nearby, they knew they wanted a layered aesthetic. In the living room, a Poul Henningsen light fixture and a Navajo rug in the family room; a cabinet by Robert “Mouseman” Thompson holds an Ansel Adams photograph, and the walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White.
Chic and Airy Living Room
In the West Village pied-à-terre of Los Angeles-based designers Waldo Fernandez and Tommy Clements, the daybed is by Rick Owens, the armchairs by Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann are upholstered in an alpaca by Perrine Rousseau and the side chairs are by Jean Prouvé.
Bright and Bold Living Room
Emmy Rossum’s Living Room
Modern Nautical Living Room
In the living room of Evan and Ku-Ling Yurman’s TriBeCa apartment, the mid-century furnishings include a pair of Nanna Ditzel chairs, a Hans Wegner armchair and a cocktail table by Hendrik van Keppel and Taylor Green, purchased at auction.
Retro Chic Living Room
In Marisa Tomei’s home, the living room sofa is upholstered in a Kuba textile, the Milo Baughman swivel chair is covered in a fabric by Christopher Hyland, the floor cushions are covered in a Dedar velvet and an Edelman leather, the cocktail table is custom made and the sconces are by O’Lampia.
Art-Filled Modern Living Room
In the living room of a Manhattan apartment, a pair of 1960s chairs from John Salibello is in a Manuel Canovas fabric, the custom sofas are covered in Holland & Sherry fabrics, and the Karl Springer cocktail table (foreground) is from Mantiques Modern; the 1960s stainless steel chairs and cube are by Maria Pergay, the table lamps are by Andrea Koeppel, and the curtains are of a Manuel Canovas silk-cotton blend; the artworks on the wall are by (from left) Richard Prince, Rudolf Stingel, George Condo, and Elizabeth Peyton.
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