31 Fresh, Modern Living Room Ideas That Are Anything but Boring

updated Oct 6, 2023
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Of all the rooms in a standard home or apartment, the living room is a space for experimentation and creativity — even if you’re a disciple of modern design, which is a stylistic movement birthed at the turn of the 20th century that’s based on the idea that form follows function. Characterized by clean lines, neutral colors, and simplistic decor, every piece in a modern space should serve a clear purpose. 

While we certainly respect the principles of traditional modernism, design today is all about breaking the rules — we now have mashup styles like modern bohemian, organic modern, modern Scandinavian, mid-century modern, modern traditional, and countless other interpretations of this classic style. To celebrate all of the iterations of modern-ness, we’ve gathered 31 of our favorite modern living room ideas to inspire you.

1. Play with patterns.

The living room in this Prague apartment, with its patterned coffee table and wood flooring, is proof that modern homes don’t have to be boring.

Credit: Puno

2. Bring nature inside.

Huge leafy plants give this light-filled modern living room in Los Angeles a lively pop of color.

3. Try a monochrome design.

White furniture, white walls, and a white fireplace don’t feel monotonous in this modern Detroit living room. The monochromatic color scheme gives the space a bright and airy feel.

4. Experiment with geometric designs.

The contrasting shapes in this Barcelona studio apartment, from the archway divider to the geometric coffee table, work together to create a dynamic living room.

5. Embrace industrial-style.

Industrial touches, such as polished concrete floors and exposed ductwork, make the living room in this modern Connecticut loft feel extremely cool.

Credit: Chase Daniel

6. Design with black and white.

The combination of black and white makes just about any space look more modern. This stunning Texas renovation showcases how effective this combination can be. Here, a dramatic black floor-to-ceiling fireplace contrasts nicely with the white ceiling and accent pieces. 

Credit: Chase Daniel

7. Go light on accessories.

For a clean, modern look, cut down on the number of accessories you display. Per Marie Kondo’s method, pare down on clutter and only display items that mean the most to you. We love how this mid-century modern living room does just that. 

Credit: Suki Kwon

8. Stick with lighter tones.

Light-colored furniture was the right choice for this stunning modern living room in Seattle. Floor-to-ceiling windows are the focal point of this space, so the combination of light wood and blush pink accents is totally on point. 

Credit: Tyler McBeth

9. Small but cohesive.

Even in the tiniest space, you can pull off the modern living room look. It’s all about keeping it cohesive throughout. This micro-apartment in NYC is only 140 square feet, but the living room has a modern, upscale feel that’s accomplished by only adding the essentials and sticking with a brown and white color palette. 

10. Marble accents.

Stone and marble have a place in a modern living room, as shown in this beautiful renovation by @nataliehagerinteriors. Here, an ultra-modern fireplace is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling marble in a black and white design.

Credit: Sylvie Li

11. Try using colorful furniture.

We admire Lauren MacLean’s bold use of ochre, light pink, and violet in her modern, Parisian-inspired Montreal apartment. The vibrant furniture works especially well against the stark white walls. It’s a slightly funky take on modern design that feels very right now.

12. Skip the window treatments.

Large, floor-to-ceiling windows are a hallmark of traditional modern homes. Designer Emily Henderson executed the look flawlessly in her “modern organic” Los Angeles project. Maybe you can’t recreate this exact look in your space without construction, but you can leave your windows undressed to let more sunlight into your space.

Credit: We Are Scout

13. Opt for low-slung furniture.

Give your living room a distinctly modern feel with simplistic, low-slung furniture. Interior designers Arent & Pyke nailed the look in this chic modern-industrial Sydney home, as featured on We Are Scout. Materials matter—look for leather, marble, iron, and other tactile touches to nail the modern, minimal aesthetic.

14. Fuse modern and contemporary.

Sometimes the best spaces are a mix of two slightly different but complementary styles. This modern-contemporary living space by designer Emily Henderson features elements of both styles. The couch and light fixtures have a more modern flair, while the accent chairs and curtains add a contemporary flourish.

Credit: We Are Scout

15. Experiment with statement lighting.

Lots of modern rooms focus on a singular striking accent, and lighting is a great place to explore. Here, a sculptural statement chandelier lends a playful touch to an otherwise simplistic modern space. Consider a starburst fixture, like the one featured in this stunning Stockholm home, which is a hallmark shape of the modern aesthetic. 

16. Mix hard and soft furniture

We love interior designer Brittany Shields’ rounded, 80s-inspired couch, especially as it contrasts with her sharp modern plinth table. This mix of textures—hard and soft, plush and linear—is very on-trend. 

17. Add personality with funky artwork.

Don’t feel beholden to just statement paintings and photographs for your wall art. Homeowner Jess Bunge got creative in her small space living room with a three-dimensional abstract line squiggle and mushroom lighting that looks like sculpture. The more you can mix up what you choose to display as “art,” the more exciting your modern living room will be.

18. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

With its “less is more” philosophy, modern design is well-suited to small space living. Take notes from Rachael and Ryan Lambert’s NYC studio and opt for a tonal, very white color palette and simplistic furniture to open the space up. 

Credit: We Are Scout

19. Embrace mid-century modern vibes.

While mid-century modern may be losing steam, we still swoon over a full-blown mid-century space. Gather inspiration from this Sydney home and opt for natural wood, shades of green, and clean-lined furniture.

20. Add boho flair with fun throw pillows.

While Arlyn Hernandez’s space effortlessly combines modern, traditional, and contemporary design elements, her throw pillows, blanket, and rug warm up the space and give it a nice bohemian touch. Modern and boho are not mutually exclusive, especially in a well-designed living room.

21. Leave your natural wood exposed.

Modern homes are ideal for natural materials and tend to feature plenty of exposed wood. Consider refinishing the wood on your fireplace mantel, ceiling, or windows instead of painting. That’s what Emily Henderson did in her modern mountain house living room, and it made all the difference.

22. Try a plinth table.

In our humble opinion, the gorgeous marble plinth table is the stand-out feature in Julie and Matt Stephenson’s monochromatic home. Go full-on modern and build your color palette around the neutral hues in a stunning marble piece like this. 

Credit: We Are Scout

23. Select a tonal color palette.

Bring your modern aesthetic into the 21st century with an of-the-moment tonal color palette. Don’t be afraid to paint the walls a deep shade of blue or green, like this Dulux home featured on We Are Scout. It’ll make furnishing so much easier, because you can shop for pieces in a tightly edited, tonal palette.

24. Play with accent chairs.

Many of today’s living rooms tend to feature a more modern style sofa with accent chairs from a different time period, as seen in Mel Burstin’s Silverlake home. The rounded chairs contrast nicely against the linear couch, coffee table, and shelving unit.

Credit: Sylvie Li

25. Breathe life into your space with greenery.

Meet modernism reimagined for the 21st-century urban dweller. This aesthetic isn’t complete without plants, plants, and, well, more plants, as seen in this Montreal home. Clichés aside, we’re totally in favor of softening your modern look with greenery, whether it’s oversized trees or smaller potted succulents.

Credit: We Are Scout

26. Go modern Scandi in your space.

With roots in Scandinavian architecture, modern design blends seamlessly with minimalist, Scandi decor. Case in point: this Swedish home featured on We Are Scout. If this look is for you, be sure to add texture with natural materials and plenty of throw pillows to warm up all of those Scandinavian whites.

Credit: Lula Poggi

27. If you like color, use color.

Traditional modern interiors tend to feature stark white walls, but we sincerely appreciate Francesca Piliego’s bold color palette in her Barcelona apartment. Her use of pinks, grays, and whites still feels appropriately modern, with a little bit of a pop art twist.

28. Go big with bold artwork.

Nothing warms up a cool modern space quite like artwork. Take notes from Rasmus Warnke Nørregaard’s Copenhagen home and pair low-slung furniture with a personality-packed painting. One striking art piece is all you need to establish a modern feel in your living area.

Credit: Selena Kirchhoff

29. Marry modern style with Southwestern accents.

If a fully modern feel is too cold for you, keep the minimalist furniture and neutral color palette and create warmth with Southwestern-inspired touches, like the terracotta throw pillows and rattan accents do in this Parisian home

Credit: Erin Conway

30. Add a statement wall.

Use color to add personality to a modern living room. Not only is Erin Conway’s deep navy statement wall perfectly on trend, the light pink chairs add another contemporary, cheery design element to the space.

31. Paint a modern shape.

Abstract murals definitely jibe with today’s modern aesthetic. Pick up a paintbrush and create a one-of-a-kind shape or mural on a living room wall. Even better if you can work it into an architectural feature in your space, as this homeowner did. It’s a relatively cheap and easy way to make a big decorative statement in a space.