Modern living rooms are comfortable and inviting, built for today’s lifestyles. While “modern” and “contemporary” are often treated as synonyms and used interchangeably, there is a technical difference between the terms. For interior designers and architects, a modern interior has roots in modernism and 20th century midcentury modern architecture and design, while a contemporary interior refers to styles that reflect the period from the late 20th century to the present. But to everyone else, the word “modern” is simply a shorthand for interiors that feel fresh, inviting, and livable in the here and now.
Modern living rooms draw from past design styles and aesthetics, reinventing traditions to create spaces that are less a particular style than a sensibility. Built for relaxed family time and casual entertaining, today’s living rooms have evolved to include elements like ultra-comfortable seating, a focus on natural light, and flexible layouts that may be part of open plan spaces, combined with dining rooms or share space with kitchens, a far cry from the stuffy and formal living rooms of the past.
Check out these modern living rooms in a range of sizes and styles for inspiration.
Use a Single Bold Color Accent
While many modern interiors feature pale, neutral palettes, adding a soothing color found in nature such as any shade of green can energize the space without changing the whole vibe. In this modern living room from Tina Ramchandani Creative, a large green sofa introduces a bold single color accent into the otherwise neutral room. Small green accents scattered throughout the room add balance without overwhelming.
Showcase Modern Art
This new build living room in Portland, Maine from Tyler Karu Design and Interiors is a showcase for the client’s collection of contemporary art. White walls, unadorned windows, vintage modern furniture, and a retro fireplace nods to other eras while feeling fresh and current.
Choose Black and White
Black and white interiors are classic that can work in virtually any style, but the strict color palette can help a space feel particularly modern depending on the choice of furniture and decor. In this modern living room from Kara Mann, a black sectional sofa and sculptural decor choices give the space a timeless modern feel.
Revisit Wood Slat Walls
In this living room from interior designer Jessica Davis of Atelier Davis, a modern take on classic midcentury modern wood slat walls adds warmth and creates a focal point for decor and objects. Modern furniture in shades of orange and turquoise is another nod to midcentury design that feels as fresh as it did in the 20th century.
Use Natural Accents
This white and gray living room from Louis Duncan-He Designs has a comfortable modern feel with its oversized sectional, wood accents, and stylized natural accents like the round framed preserved moss wall hanging.
Choose Timeless Decor
This modern living room from Cathie Hong Interiors feels current but is timeless enough to last for years to come. With white walls, graphic black accents, simple furnishings, tall pitched ceilings, an abundance of natural light, and a classic layout centered around the fireplace, it’s a crowd-pleasing, neutral-toned space that’s built for modern families.
Keep It Natural
Today’s modern interiors are often filled with natural materials and organic elements that create a sense of comfort and provide refuge from the chaos of current affairs and the stresses of everyday life. This serene Southern California living room from by Laura Brophy Interiors has smooth surfaces, pale colors, wood accents, and treetop views that make it tranquil and relaxing.
Paint the Brick White
Painting the brick fireplace in solid white modernizes this living room from Tina Ramchandani Creative while staying clear of whitewashed faux rustic farmhouse vibes. The generous hearth provides a place to display design objects and books, or to serve as extra seating when the holidays roll around and friends and family are gathered around the fire.
Overlap the Artwork
Leanne Ford Interiors layered two large-scale pieces of simple, unframed abstract black-and-white art above a long sectional sofa that is in keeping with the neutral tones of the room and adds some modern style to the spacious interior. This informal approach to hanging art on the wall creates a casually chic vibe that’s easier to compose and hang than a gallery wall and feels relaxed and modern while making a statement and filling the empty space above the large sofa.
This small NYC apartment living room from Studio London Co. has a modern pop art feel with bold use of pattern on the zigzag wallpapered walls and geometric Beni Ourain carpet. Bright gold finishes and pops of color add energy to an otherwise straightforward railroad-style apartment living room.
Maintain Midcentury Character
This living room from Cathie Hong Interiors respectfully updates the midcentury modern character of a 1956 John Calder Mackay home in Mountain View, California that feels as fresh today as it did decades ago. A soft coat of white paint highlights the period ceiling beams, a wall of sliding glass doors creates an indoor outdoor feel, and pale neutrals mixed with earthy tones and midcentury decor touches throughout create a comfortable and livable space perfect for a modern family.
Supersize Your Floor Lamp
This living room from Leanne Ford Interiors feels effortlessly chic and accessible with white brick walls, overstuffed seating, a rustic coffee table, and an oversized sculptural floor lamp fixture that is both functional and interesting.
Ombre the Ceiling
Many modern interiors feature simple white walls, but this living room from Tina Ramchandani Creative takes a moodier, more playful approach, with an ombre ceiling that shifts from navy to pale blue gray. An overstuffed sectional, plush carpeting, natural window treatments to tamper the natural light, plus graphic black-and-white accents and photographs add to the modern relaxed lounge feel of the space.
A pink couch with a plump and enveloping profile gives this small Scandinavian living room from Fantastic Frank a big dose of modern Nordic charm, while a modern geometric pendant light, a mix of wall art, and a vintage Danish modern armchair pack in layers of style.
Incorporate a Home Workstation
A home-based workstation is a modern essential for a growing number of desk-based workers. This NYC apartment living room from Studio London Co. includes a small home office nestled at the end of the couch near the window. With a sleek white lacquered desk and office chair with the same gold accents found throughout the rest of the space, it offers a place to get down to business that fades into the background after hours.
Infuse It With Warm Tones
Today’s modern living rooms are as much about well being as they are about style. This living room from Yael Weiss Interiors has both qualities, with modern, comfortable furnishings and warm wood accents and natural textiles that create a livable home base for unwinding and recharging.
Upholster the Walls
In this living room from Forbes + Masters, an overall palette of black and soft white is contrasted with gem-toned velvet tufted wall nooks-turned-banquettes to create a sophisticated modern space fit for entertaining.
Add Organic Touches
This bright and cheerful living room from Desiree Burns Interiors mixes white walls, wood floors, and textiles in shades of dark green and blue with organic end tables and a sculptural white lacquer coffee table to create an easy modern mix that’s family-friendly and stylish.
Paint the Walls Black
In this moody living room from Louis Duncan-He Designs, matte black paint creates a dramatic calming backdrop for a colorful sofa, a whimsical white feather floor lamp, an oversized ottoman coffee table, and accents like Moroccan leather poufs, black-and-white photos, and plants.
Add Woven Accents
This bright and spacious living room from Desiree Burns Interiors has white walls, simple built-ins, and woven accents that range from practical to whimsical to add warmth and a playful modern edge.
Use Bright Color
This living room from Louis Duncan-He Designs has brick walls and ceiling beams, but those rustic touches are modernized with colorful upholstered seating in contrasting shades of turquoise and mustard and pendant lighting that adds balance and makes it feel updated and fresh.
This high rise living room from Forbes + Masters has an eclectic mix of furnishings from various periods and styles, while a textured feature wall helps distract the eye from the wall-mounted TV and adds a modern element.
Mix and Match
This midcentury modern home renovation from Leanne Ford Interiors celebrates original features like a monumental stone fireplace, while a mix of contemporary furnishings, art, and lighting keep the space feeling current.
This modern living room from Emily Henderson Design has a neutral palette, natural accents, a large oversized sofa with a streamlined profile and a low back, and sculptural black accents from the organic side table to the vase on the coffee table that give it a modern feel.
Modernize the Fireplace
A modern fireplace, a mix of furnishings, and a black-and-white palette make this living room from Laura Brophy Interiors ready for company.
This living room from Fantastic Frank combines vintage and contemporary furniture to create a textured, minimalist look that feels modern and timeless.
This modern living room from Michelle Boudreau Design has a sage green fireplace wall and green accents throughout from the seating to the graphic wallpaper that give it an of-the-moment feel.
Revisit Retro Style
This modern living room from interior designer Kara Mann has a subtle 80s vibe with its crisp black-and-white palette, mirrored accent tables, and rounded edges on the L-shaped sectional.
This Washington state living room from Seattle-based LeeAnn Baker Interiors has a laid back luxurious modern feel with its wood paneled ceilings and black metal and glass walls of windows that open to the outside and offer a million dollar view.
Bring In Some Blues
Bold blue accents on the striped rug and throw pillows add vibrancy to the white walls and clean lines of this modern living room from Leanne Ford Interiors.
Play With Proportion
This living room from Fantastic Frank has an eye-catching color palette of pinks and mustard yellow that give it a warm modern feel. An oversized sconce with a soft shade is suspended over the seating area to provide ambient light and play with proportions in a cheeky modern way that feels fresh.
Play With Paint
Leanne Ford Interiors modernized the walls of this living room by painting a taupe-y beige matte border around the room that helps ground the seating area while making the ceilings feel taller.
Add a Vignette
In this spacious modern living room from Desiree Burns Interiors, what could have been a dead space in the shadow of the staircase becomes a mini accent wall with dynamic patterned wallpaper, a curvy waterfall edge console table, and an eye-catching gold-toned lamp.
Use Muted Colors
This San Francisco living room from Cathie Hong Interiors has clean lines, muted colors, and a mix of European and Asian design influences to create a warm and minimalist space that feels modern and inviting.
Make It Monochromatic
This monochromatic space from Marie Flanigan Interiors is a modern take on a traditional family living room with double seating areas, comfortable furnishings, and a toned down palette that creates a tranquil backdrop for relaxing and entertaining.
Soften Industrial Interiors
This converted warehouse living room from Leanne Ford Interiors has a generous and comfortable seating area anchored by a large rug that warms up the industrial bones and polished concrete of the space.
Layer Natural Textures
This living room from Leanne Ford Interiors has a modern feel with its soft neutral palette and layered natural textures from the wood stump end tables to the sheepskin throw on the back of the armchair.
Use Simple Accents
You can modernize a blank pass through wall in your living room with a few simple touches like a framed color photo of a crowded beach, a simple wooden bench, and a tall vase of pampas grass.
Focus on Form
This spacious living room designed by Ajai Guyot for Emily Henderson Design has a soft neutral palette, overstuffed seating, and a variety of round shapes from the coffee table to the globe pendant light that help to break up the linear lines of the railroad-style space.
Update the Wood Paneling
While you may associate wood paneling with unrenovated midcentury interiors, many modern interiors have embraced wood paneling anew, making it feel modern by lightening up the wood and widening the boards. This Scandinavian country house living room from Fantastic Frank pairs pale oak paneling on the walls and ceiling with polished concrete floors, and an oversized, low-slung, extra-deep tufted pale gray sectional sofa to create a tranquil modern space built for unplugging and recharging.
Update Midcentury Architecture
This updated midcentury modern living room from Leanne Ford Interiors has a neutral palette, a mix of midcentury, industrial, and contemporary furnishings, and graphic black accents that keep it looking sharp and current.
Combine Black and Blue
This modern indoor outdoor Southern California living room from Laura Brophy Interiors mixes modern finishes and graphic accents in black, white, and blue.
Add a Few Splashes of Color
Victoria Bell Design modernized this airy modern farmhouse living room with its neutral furnishings and rustic ceilings and beams by injecting a few choice color accents, like hot pink velvet throw pillows and a colorful piece of art.
Retile the Fireplace
This Southern California home from Laura Brophy Interiors is filled with organic and natural decor elements and shades of green and blue that are contrasted with a gray-and-white patterned tile fireplace with a chunky wood mantel that makes it feel modern and cozy.
Add Texture, Color, and Pattern
This living room from Michelle Boudreau Design has a coastal blue-and-white palette that includes a dramatic fireplace accent wall that combines texture, color, and pattern in a bold and spirited decor move that isn’t for the faint of heart.
In this modern Scandinavian living room from Fantastic Frank, a wall of windows floods the space with light, and a cool palette of white, gray, and silver keeps it feeling airy and bright.
Choose an Anchor Piece
This living room from Alvin Wayne is anchored by a large white overstuffed sectional floating in the center of the room. A crowd-pleasing palette of white, pale gray, and black is warmed up with wood accents to create a simple recipe for a modern living room that is easy on the eyes and will outlast trends.
Hang an Oversized Pendant Light
This white-walled, plant-filled modern living room Leanne Ford Interiors makes use of the tall slanted ceilings by hanging an oversized metallic pendant light that glows like the sun and anchors the seating area.
Hang a Conversation Starter
In this bright and lively living room designed by Jess Bunge for Emily Henderson Design, white walls are covered with a gallery wall of accessible art, and a squiggly wall sculpture invites curiosity, sets a playful tone, and starts conversations.
Make Every Piece Count
This clean, minimal black-and-white living room from Fantastic Frank has a modern feel with its Beni Ourain rug, vintage lamp, contemporary sofa, and clean-lined furnishings, each chosen to hold their own in the less-is-more design scheme.
Decorate Around the TV
Many modern living rooms include a large wall-mounted television, making it a challenge to find ways to decorate around the TV. In this New York City living room, interior designer Alvin Wayne added a textural wall treatment and a long carved wood console that gives the eye something to focus on when the screen is dark.
Keep Windows Bare
This Huntington Beach, California living room from Laura Brophy Interiors has white walls and black framed windows that are kept bare to reveal a view of palm trees and allow natural light to flow into the modern interior.
Cathie Hong Interiors blended a client’s penchant for midcentury modern design with a color palette that nods to their Caribbean roots. The result is a comfortable living room that’s built for present day living but contains echoes of their personal history and the wood tones and aesthetic of the enduring aesthetic of 20th century design.
Paint It Black
Painting the floor-to-ceiling brick fireplace with matte black paint gives this living room from Laquita Tate Interior Styling and Designs a modern focal point and complements neutral tones and natural greenery.
Accent With Wood
This living room from Emily Henderson Design is dominated by a large picture window and a wide open view. The interior features a modern fireplace, a built-in firewood insert that stores logs and doubles as decor, leather seating, and an organic coffee table that adds a natural element.
Use Large Scale Furnishings
A boxy, overstuffed, large scale sectional with a matching ottoman that functions as a coffee table is the centerpiece of this comfortable, easygoing, neutral-toned modern living room designed by Ajai Guyot for Emily Henderson Design.
Update the Fireplace
This “modern farmhouse loft” from Brexton Cole Interiors mixes white, black, and navy with curvy seating and a sleek built-in gas fireplace insert to create flow in a modern open plan space.
Take a Risk
This modern living room from A Beautiful Mess has a bold turquoise floor that creates an element of surprise and acts as a base for neutral decor choices throughout the room, from worn tufted leather sofas to an organic coffee table, that keep it feeling livable and balanced.