Steven Gambrel, one of America's top-tier interior designers, recently had a chance to consider the question. Although he lives and often works in the most urbane precincts of Manhattan, Steven grew up in Virginia and still has ties there. When the owners of a Middleburg horse farm asked him to convert one of their barns into a place for large, casual parties and just hanging out and watching TV, he took it on with relish—his first barn, and on home turf.
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The secret to this inviting rustic living room? Top-to-bottom texture: starting from the scuffed ceiling beams (salvaged from an old warehouse) to the velvet-covered armchair to the dhurrie-topped sisal rug. Add a wood-planked coffee table, some foraged pine cones, a stack of birch logs, and a vintage tobacco basket above the mantel, and you have a rustic look that can’t be beat.

A stacked fieldstone fireplace takes center stage in this family room. Rather than just a sheer wall of stone, the exposed chimney is designed with a central recess for artwork, along with tapered edges on either side, to keep it from appearing too overpowering. Sconces mounted directly to the stone are an attractive way to shed plenty of light on the antique timber mantel.


Front and back doors open directly into a two-story-high living room, where spruce-planked walls and wood beams salvaged from an 1890 Tennessee barn reflect the home’s rural setting and give the space a refined, barnlike feel. Interior decorator Phoebe Howard balanced the rustic elements with color. “I added an air of elegance with a soft color palette that reflects the surrounding sky and hills,” she says.


The best place to start is with the seating – one corner sofa will usually seat three to four people, and if that’s all you think you’ll need, then you can leave it at that. Placing your sofa along the longest wall helps to make the most of the space, but think about where you want the focus of the room to be, too. If you need more seating, look at armchairs that offer comfort but don’t take up too much space – cramming a room with too many large armchairs is something to avoid. But armchairs and sofas don’t have to be your only options – go for bean bags and floor cushions for an eclectic feel, pouffes and ottomans if you’re more traditional, and smart design chairs for contemporary living room ideas.
Wallpaper is one of those trends that just keeps on giving and giving. If you go with a classic chinoiserie wallpaper, you can do just about anything with it as your style changes over the year. This modern self portrait by Chuck Close is a bold contrast to the chinoiserie wallpaper (Iksel's Eastern Eden) behind it in this Miles Redd-designed home. The contrast doesn't stop there: Redd continued to venture beyond design convention by incorporating contrasting jewel tones and mixing modern furniture styles with antique pieces. Oh—and believe it or not, the lime green chair is from Ikea! Proof even the best designers love a good deal.
Buy blank canvases that you can paint and place prominently above a mantel or sofa. Using paints in your favorite hues, brush on a variety of cool geometric shapes or simply splatter colors at random to compose contemporary compositions. Like something less abstract? Use the canvases as bases for painted images, stenciled motifs, or collages created from all sorts of crafting remnants.
Bringing plants and flowers into a room always adds a designer flair to your decor, and the living room is one of my favorite places to add flowers, since we are often entertaining. These mini flower arrangements will look great on your bookshelf, coffee table or mantle. DIY your way into awesome decor with this easy to follow step by step tutorial.

Dark, glossy walls create a sophisticated backdrop for simple, clean-lined pieces and even colorful, bold items. Use the small space to your advantage and make it feel like a jewel-box. Painting your ceilings the same color can enhance the sense of intimacy even further. Then have fun with brighter furniture throughout, as done in this small living room designed by Andrew Felsher.


Aside from the adorable dogs (Jacob and Wylo) cuddled up on the armchair-meets-dog-bed, that gallery wall is the clear statement-maker in this living room designed by Philip Mitchell. Mix and match frames for a subtle nod of personality. And speaking of personal touches, consider hanging art that means something to you, whether it's your children's artwork, your own, or a portrait of your pets.


Use ottomans in place of a traditional coffee table to make better use of your space (because a tiny house means your living room often does double or triple duty when people come over). You can top them with a tray to hold flowers and books, or use as extra seating. Then when it's family time, they become footrests. These red leather ottomans in a small family room designed by Redmond Aldrich strike that perfect balance between formal and casual.
This homeowner bucked the “matchy, matchy” rule by placing different end tables and lamps on either side of the sofa in her living room. The mismatch works because, even though one table is a white Asian-inspired look and the other is a black step-like design, both tables are the same height. A sleek brass reading lamp pairs nicely with the simple white table, while a large silver-leaf table lamp fits with the more substantial black table.
If your living room has access to a ton of natural light, don't block it out with dark curtains. Let it pour in to make the space feel more airy and open. Even if you don't have large windows and tons of sunlight, choose lighter shades to maximize the light you do have. Semi-sheer shades like the ones in this living room designed by Barrie Benson will help, too.
When it comes to decorating inspiration, a photo is definitely worth a thousand words. Visit this living room photo galleries below to find ideas that you can imitate or use these living room photos to inspire your own creative ideas. When you are looking for living room ideas on a budget, find one or two items or layouts that you like and then emulate that. Some of the cheapest routes for big design impacts can be paint and wallpaper.

A black marble fireplace strikes the perfect balance between edgy and timeless. It anchors this living room designed by Arent & Pyke, which get a contemporary lift from the jute rug, modern and bright artwork, and shapely table lamp. And because the armchairs are a classic silhouette, they'll last forever—you can reupholster them with different colors and prints throughout the years as your taste and style changes.
Creating living room décor in a modernist vain is a practice in less being more. Utilizing neutral color schemes to accentuate contour lines, strong geometric shapes and asymmetrical designs are the hallmarks of modern furniture. Achieving the modern look relies heavily upon furniture selection as well as placement. Search Living Spaces’ selection of modern furniture to piece together your vision.
Aside from the adorable dogs (Jacob and Wylo) cuddled up on the armchair-meets-dog-bed, that gallery wall is the clear statement-maker in this living room designed by Philip Mitchell. Mix and match frames for a subtle nod of personality. And speaking of personal touches, consider hanging art that means something to you, whether it's your children's artwork, your own, or a portrait of your pets.
Keep a file of your favorite samples and inspirational images even if you can’t afford a makeover yet, or haven’t found the home of your dreams. This homeowner/designer kept all the fabric samples that she loved in a bag until she found the right home to settle in. She'd also been acquiring updated yet traditional pieces for just the kind of collected look she liked.
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