Modern Living Room Design Ideas

AAA Print

Design Concept

Modern design principles revolve around two key concepts: minimalism and functionality. The basic idea is that less stuff is more aesthetically pleasing and that your most beautiful works of art and decorative elements are your everyday items.

If you are someone who appreciates sophisticated simplicity with a touch of unique flare, then a modern living room design will complement your needs and personality. Make the most out of less with a streamlined style that illuminates the aesthetic benefits of practicality.

Following the design principles of functionality and minimalism, you can incorporate a variety of stylistic elements into your room's overall look. While you focus on elements of your room's bigger picture - your color schemes, shapes, and textures- remember that even the most subtle details can create a dramatic overall effect.

(For help on living room color schemes, see Tips On How To Choose Living Room Colors.)

With a modern design, you will not need to invest in expensive artwork, sculptures, or décor. Instead, you should follow the approach that your furniture items are each works of art. This idea will enable you to use your imagination when planning your living room's overall style. Choose basic shapes, or feel free to choose items with a unique structure, texture, or color. Just be sure to avoid items that are overly-ornate since these types of items may detract from the room's simplistic look and feel.


Some remodeling projects are more extensive than others. You may be lucky enough to have a budget that allows you to remodel your entire room, or you may be limited between the four walls and ceiling that hold your living room together.

When planning your living room's design, make sure that you have a thorough understanding of your living room's size and shape. Otherwise, the décor that you use will not pull off a modern design-it may look cluttered instead.

Remember that what's most functional is what works best for your space's unique architecture. Choose furniture in shapes that complement your home's design, and don't try to squeeze more than will fit in your space. When it comes to a modern design, less is more.

Even when creating balance through principles of minimalism, you should be as efficient as possible. Don't pack your living room with too much, but at the same time, make sure that you have enough. After all, what good is a living room that can't seat your entire family? There's no need to create pressure on yourself to get by with less than what you actually need. Remember to aim for practicality and balance-too little is just as impractical as too much.

(To get more minimalist style tips, see Minimalist Interior Design Tips: Clean & Simple Living Rooms.)


Minimalism is a trend that especially affects today's electronics. Smooth, sleek, wireless, and compact are buzzwords that describe some of the most common items on the market today. To a large extent, our family activities and lives revolve around our electronics, so the televisions, speakers, and video game consoles in our living room are just as important as the couches, coffee tables, and other décor.

If you're redesigning your living room with a modern look & feel, and if you can afford it, upgrade your electronics. Slowly, replace your wired devices with wireless ones. Considering surround sound, for example? Invest in wireless speakers and a wireless amplifier. If you enjoy video games, opt for devices with wireless controllers. For wired devices, strategize to keep loose ends hidden, subtle and under control. Use cables in a color that blends into your walls, carpets, and furniture, and use zip ties to keep your wires organized.

Whenever possible, mount your furniture to the walls and ceiling so that you can minimize the amount of shelving required for your room. If you opt for cabinets or shelving make sure you select a streamlined design so that you can keep all of your electronics organized and in one place.


If you're giving a room a modern design, you will be able to choose from a range of furniture options, whether you prefer a basic, elegant, or unusual style. As a general rule, avoid shapes that are organic or ornate - instead, select linear, geometric shapes. If you have multiple couches or chairs, make sure that they coordinate by color, style, or both. Instead of choosing furniture with patterns, select bright and bold shapes. If you do choose furniture with patterns, make sure that the shapes are big and bold.

If you choose furniture that is wooden, try to stick to very dark or very light shades. If you choose wood in a medium brown shade, be sure to overemphasize the modern style of the furniture's shape in addition to other bright and bold colors throughout the room.


Because modern designs are simplistic, paint will be your ideal option. In general, wallpaper creates a look and feel that is ornate. A bright and bold color will make your room appear more streamlined.

A number of colors work well for a modern style. Feel free to choose dark colors, light shades, neutrals, and bold tones. You can even make earthy tones work by overemphasizing your living room's modern style.

If you like the idea of painting your living room a bright color but are worried about overwhelming your space, consider painting an accent wall instead. Paint your dominant wall a dark, bright, or bold color, and leave the other walls a neutral shade. In a living room, an accent wall should be the wall that is behind your television and other electronics.

Color Schemes

For a modern room, a monochromatic color scheme is your most basic option. Choose black, white, and gray to create a simple and aesthetically appealing arrangement of contrasting colors.

Feel free to incorporate brighter shades and earthy tones as long as you are able to accentuate other modern stylistic details. As a general design rule, choose no more than three colors when decorating your space. Choose one or two bright tones, and balance them with lighter colors.


Carpets and hardwood floors are both ideal options for a modern living room. Ultimately, you should choose whichever option is most practical for your needs. Hardwood floor is relatively easy to clean and wipe down while carpet can become significantly more dusty and messy.

No matter which material you choose, select a light color and avoid dark shades. Dark carpets and floors, especially in a small living room, can make a space appear crowded.


Incorporate a balance between natural and artificial lighting. Large windows with sliding doors, skylights, and bay windows are all ideal options for creating natural light sources in a modern room. Instead of using curtains, use streamlined blinds to contribute to the living room's modern look and feel.

For artificial light, recessed lighting is your most ideal option. Try to avoid hanging fixtures that are ornate and instead, incorporate a chrome table or floor lamp for additional light. To diversify your effects, create a layered look with bright whites with subtle yellow hues. Mix and match the bulbs in your lighting fixtures for varying effects.

Last Updated: March 22, 2012
AAA Print

About Ritika Puri Based in California, Ritika Puri has worn a number of professional hats ranging from blogger to quantitative researcher, martial arts instructor, and cartographer. No matter what she does, she loves to write and specializes in topics related to home improvement, personal finance, and business. She writes regularly for's Financial Edge section, and her work has appeared on SF Gate, Yahoo! Finance, and The Chicago Sun Times Online. She holds a B.A. from Claremont McKenna College and an M.A. in Demographic and Social Analysis from the University of California at Irvine.  

Note: The information provided on this site may be provided by third parties. The owners and operators of this site do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, and compliance of the content on this site. Such content is not and shall not be deemed tax, legal, financial, or other advice, and we encourage you to confirm the accuracy of the content. Use is at your own risk, and use of this site shall be deemed acceptance of the above.