106 Living Room Decorating Ideas

Mix and match patterns, embrace bold colors, layer rugs, and so much more! Try these tips to create a pretty space to enjoy conversations with friends and family.

No matter if you call it a living room, family room, den, or even a keeping room–you’ve got that one room in your home, aside from the kitchen, that’s intended for both family and company. And, we bet, you want it to look both pulled together and comfortable. We are here to tell you it’s possible to create a well-decorated living room that will impress company and will be enjoyed by your family. Here are our best easy decorating ideas ranging in all different styles for those that love a more formal living room or a cozy den or a relaxed family room. What ever your style–we’ve got the decorating tips and ideas for your beautiful living room, beautiful family room, or your beautiful den. One thing is for sure, you’ll be inspired by all of these chic decorating ideas. 

Coastal Lowcountry Living Room

Materials that connect to the location are key to character building. Sisal hints at the marsh grasses in an elegant way and is also durable, easy to clean, and ideal for layering. The alligator skull speaks to the local wildlife, while palms in antique glass and fern-patterned pillows are additional nods to the room’s Lowcountry vibe and provide a carefree polish.

Layering a vintage kilim over a natural sisal rug acts as an attractive barrier against water, sand, and other elements.

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Comforting Colors

An elk antler trophy is the focal point in this living room, and the palm tree triptych and a blue, green, and mulberry palette create a comfortable environment.

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Unite Your Living Space

Designer Sam Blount used the biggest rug possible to tie this blue and white space together. “I’m a big fan of large rugs in small spaces—too many bitsy ones visually chop up the floor.” says Blount.

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Forgo the Chairs

These oversize sectionals allow everyone to sit, without touching each other. The bench-style seat cushions look cleaner and don’t shift around like multiple seat cushions do.

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Use a Barn Door

A barn door allows the living space to be separated from the kitchen if nessessary, while taking up less space than traditional hinged doors. 

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Modernize Heirloom Pieces

The settee in this room was given a modern update with wild fabric, while neutrals were used for the curved vintage sofa and rounded swivel chairs.

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Lighten Up with White

Achieve a luxe neutral look with white upholstery and decorative accents in a variety of light hues to add extra depth and dimension. 

Similar throw pillows here.

See more of this White Living Room

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Mix Mod and Traditional

The 11-foot-long vintage sofa in this living room is a mod counterpoint to a pair of traditional antique chairs. 

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Mix Instead of Match Fabrics

The designer started with fabric selections to set the room’s happy mood and a bright color palette of pink, turquoise, and chartreuse. Fabrics don’t have to be matchy-matchy to communicate with each other. If they share a similar vibrancy and color temperature, they’ll look good together.

  • See the Vibrant Sunroom Makeover

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Invest in Antiques

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Mix Up the Seating

Seating shouldn’t be limited to club chairs and sofas. Utilize benches, ottomans, and odd side chairs to accommodate more people.

  • Tour this Sea Island Beach House

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Visually Divide a Great Room

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Mix Your Styles

You can mix old and new, formal and casual, neutral and bold to make an inviting and comfortable space. A neutral-toned sofa and armchair introduce contemporary lines while custom draperies add a touch of tradition.

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Layer Neutrals for a Relaxed Look

“To give Country French my minimalist spin, I avoid the expected ruffles and plaids and keep it about the painted antiques and white linens,” says homeowner and designer Regina Lynch. “In this house, curtains would have been too much, so instead I painted the trim a dark gray for a similar, but cleaner, look.” 

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Get the Gallery Look

Photo Robbie Caponetto / Styling Anne Turner Carroll and Fran Keenan

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Accessorize with Historic Elements

Photo by Robbie Caponetto

Use a flat-top trunk as a coffeee table to bring a sense of history to a room. This chocolate-brown piece coordinates with the neutral color scheme of the room, and the nail-head trim is mirrored in the decorative sofa hardware.

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Create Open Space

To keep the traffic flow open, pull the furniture away from the walls and into the center of the room―a type of arranging commonly referred to as a “floating furniture plan.” An octagonal ottoman in a bold fabric set on a cowhide rug anchors the arrangement in this room.

  • See this Cozy Den Redo

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Blend Elegance and Comfort

Comfortable and formal can go together. Use antiques to anchor your room and then mix in modern touches with bold fabrics, mid-century lighting, and sculptural accessories. Pair silk curtains and mirrored tables with clean-lined upholstery and lots of colorful pillows.

  • See this Classic Charleston Living Room

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Use Unexpected Materials

Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Scott Martin

A stone chimney is beautiful, but it’s also expected. The natural horizontal wood paneling around this fireplace ties it together with the built-ins flanking the hearth.

  • See this Cottage Home

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Mix and Match Patterns

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Matthew Gleason

This living room shows that you don’t need to shy away from bold patterns in a small space. A floral rug and coordinating pillows add color to the space, while an animal-print chair heightens the drama. The herringbone fireplace tile is a nice geometric touch.

  • See this Louisiana Home

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Use Modern Classics

Photography Charles Walton IV / Styling Scott Martin

If  you want a contemporary edge, you can’t go wrong with the modern classics like these white-leather Barcelona chairs and Lucite coffee table.

  • See this Modern Nashville Home

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Create a Faux Fireplace

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Give your living room a focal point by creating a faux fireplace with an antique mantel. This fireplace was set on a rectangular piece of slate as the hearth. .

See this Georgia Row House

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Let the Light In

Photography: Laurey W. Glenn

Short on windows to capture natural light? Replace solid exterior doors with glass ones for an airy feel and pretty views of your yard.

  • See this 1935 Cabin Redo

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Pick a Favorite Time Period

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

This living room was designed to resemble an early-1900s library; the living room contains a wall of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Two large double-hung windows punctuate these built-ins, along with cozy window seats below.

  • See this Georgia Row House

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Let In Lots of Natural Light

This living area has floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that fill the room with light. Horizontal mullions in the glass doors are reminiscent of Japanese shoji screens. They complement the space and guide your eye around the room.

  • See this Modern Bungalow 

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Combine Collectables

Don’t be afraid to personalize the items you buy. Almost every chair in this room was refinished: Two armchairs were whitewashed, and the blue velvet chair was gilded.

  • See this colorful North Carolina Home

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Know When To Save or Splurge

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Heather Chadduck,

This sofa with its supreme comfort, rich color and fabric, and clean lines is definitely a forever piece, so it was worth spending a little more money on. The honeycomb mirror over the fireplace was an inexpensive piece bought at a chain store.

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Embrace Bold Prints

Photography Van Chaplin, Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

Don’t be afraid to fall in love with a bold print. The designer of this living room was inspired by the floral side chair fabric and let it dictate the colors found elsewhere in the room.

  • Formal Living Rooms

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Look for Inspiration in Unexpected Places

Charles Walton IV / styling Todd Childs

This homeowner found inspiration for her walls in a bag of gourmet marshmallows: She used the soft, sophisticated colors to dictate her palette. The plate rack that once showcased antique plates in her parents’ home holds cherished photos.

  • See this renovated Alabama Cottage

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Look for Unused Spaces

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Matthew Gleason

This living room is a genius use of often-overlooked space; the upstairs landing was transformed into a small den that makes an inviting, casual family hangout. An upholstered wall softens the space above the built-in bench, while bamboo Chippendale-style chairs and vibrant turquoise Moroccan poufs add plenty of extra seating.

  • See this Louisiana Home

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Add Interest with Decorative Trim

Photography Van Chaplin, Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

The designer of this room added trim to the bottom of a basic sofa to dress it up and used a mix of custom pillows to pull colors from around the room.

  • See this Georgia Mountain Home

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Hold onto Inspiring Samples

Photography Charles Walton IV

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.

  • See this Designer’s Cottage

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Decorate with Memories

Make your living room unique and nostalgic by using heirloom pieces. This homeowner’s great-grandfather owned a bungalow, and he fondly remembers childhood visits to the family home. He filled his own bungalow home with family furniture and one-of-a-kind attic finds.

  • See this Vintage-Style Cottage Bungalow

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Accent with Red

Use bright colors and strong patterns to punctuate an otherwise neutral space. The red accessories in this living room add an energetic punch without overwhelming the area.

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Design for Real-Life Use

Photo: Laurey Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

You don’t have to give up style even in your high-traffic living room. Guests and kids need not reach for coasters before putting drinks down on the distressed coffee table. Scrapes and dings only add to the character of the piece. A patterned area rug is forgiving of spills and dusty feet.

  • See this Lakeside Cabin Makeover

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Get Patriotic

You can pull off a patriotic color scheme without being kitsch. Try hints of red with a pretty blue backdrop. Use natural linen instead of bright white.

Bonus Tip! Hide the flat screen. The painting above the fireplace can be rolled along the galvanized metal track, revealing a television.

  • See this Country Cottage

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Fake a Tall Ceiling

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn / Styling: Anne Turner Carroll

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Get Inspired by a Favorite Textile

Photography Van Chaplin, Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

Use a fabric pattern to inspire the color scheme and style of your room. The fabric on these armchairs pulls together the tones of this living room.

  • See this Georgia Mountain Home

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Create a Keeping Room

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Since guests typically gather in the kitchen, a keeping room is ideal for overflow and comfort. Keep your furniture comfortable and durable-it is sure to be the most used in your home.

  • See this Georgia Row House

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Display Your Collection to Advantage

If you have a lot of collections, always keep the base neutral so your displays won’t overwhelm the space. Here, a collection of turquoise lighting elements stands out against the cream walls and plays off of the colors in the large painting.

  • See this designer’s Virginia Home

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Create a Conversation Corner

Laurey W. Glenn, Robbie Caponetto / Styling: Matthew Gleason

If you have space, create a separate, more intimate seating area in your living room for quiet conversations.

  • See this Coastal Home

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Slipcover in Style

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Choose a Sunny Palette

Crisp whites combined with punches of bright colors immediately transport you to the coast. In this living room, aqua accents in the pillows, throw, and rug mimic the ocean’s dazzling blues, and the pops of bright orange are inspired by the magnificent hues of the setting sun. Whitewashed horizontal shiplap planking evokes the feel of old Gulf-front beach houses.

  • See this Coastal Home

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Buy the Whole Bolt

Inspiration for this design struck in the form of a 30-yard bolt of black-and-white- hound’s-tooth fabric that was on sale for an amazing $30. Even after the window treatments, upholstery, and pillows there was plenty of leftover fabric to be used down the road as seat cushions on new finds, lampshades, and even place mats or a tablecloth.

  • See this Home Decorated on a Budget

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Achieve Balance

Asymmetrical arrangements can be intimidating, but formal symmetry is easy to pull off and adds a calm balance to a room. The simple arrangement above this fireplace is clean and elegant.

  • See this Formal Nashville Home

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Layer Rugs

Photo: Erica George Dines

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Add Architectural Interest

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Create a Cozy Spot for Reading

Photo Robbie Caponetto / Styling Anne Turner Carroll and Fran Keenan

This armchair is re-covered in a botanical print fabric. The legs are painted white to lighten the visual weight of the piece. Tucked into a corner of the living room and paired with a set of nesting tables, the chair is a perfect spot for reading.

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Mix Lights and Darks

Decorating is not like doing the laundry. Lights and darks go together just fine. In fact, they’re made for each other in this living room connected by a large cased opening.

  • See this Kentucky Home

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Open Up Your Living Space

Although less than 2,500 square feet, this cottage feels larger because of the homeowners’ clever decision to open up and connect the main living spaces. The family room is also vaulted to reveal the loft space above―yet another way of providing extra volume to a relatively modest space.

  • See this Appalachian Style Cottage

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Mix, Don’t Match

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.

  • See this DC Apartment

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White Wash the Walls

These homeowners wanted to let their guests be the color to their space, so they painted all of the background surfaces, including the brick fireplace, a clean shade of white. A vintage advertisement and an Arkansas license plate hang on the wall. The casual furniture is covered in washable slipcovers for easy cleanup when inevitable spills happen.

  • See this Renovated Lake Retreat

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Play Up Your Favorite Color, but Keep the Base Neutral

If you’re a frequent redecorator, keep the base neutral in order to let accessories really shine. White or off-white walls and slipcovers stay the same even as this homeowner flirts with new obsessions. She tires quickly of things, and has gone through phases with several different colors, so she tries to change things up with pillows and throws.

  • See this Designer’s Virginia Home

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Spruce Up Your Space With Curtains

Draperies do more than block out the sun. Window treatments can transform a room, adding personality and character. These ceiling-to-floor draperies make the space seem taller and more grand.

  • See this Formal Nashville Home

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Upgrade Your Doors and Windows

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Elizabeth Demos

To enhance the home’s 9-foot ceilings, these homeowners upgraded to 8-foot-tall doors and 6-foot-tall windows to let in maximum light. They also aligned the doors and windows at the same height to draw the eye up and create the illusion of more space.

  • See this Pre-Fab Coastal Cottage

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Flip Your Color Scheme

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Elizabeth Demos

Flip tradition and paint your ceiling a bright color while leaving your walls white. Bring the color down into the space with coordinating accessories like window-coverings and pillows.

  • See this Pre-Fab Coastal Cottage

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Accessorize with Local Pieces

Tortoise and conch shells accessorize this coastal living room, while starfish adorn the mantel. Books on South Carolina’s coastal area lie stacked on the coffee table and topped with shells. Vases of palm fronds simply picked up from outside complete the tropical decor.

  • See this Coastal-Style Cottage

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Pick Furniture That Will Work in Multiple Spaces

Photo: Melanie Acevedo, Styling: Olga Naiman

Everything this home can work in most any room in their house. Everything in the living room—the sofa, two club chairs, and two armchairs—has lived and functioned in other areas of the home. The style continuity is part of this home’s peaceful, tranquil feeling.

  • See this Classic Southern Home

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Repeat Prints

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Natasha Louise King

Repeating patterned fabrics in adjoining spaces is a great way to tie them together. Here, the dining chair upholstery is repeated in accent pillows on the living room sofa.

  • See this Traditional Great Room

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Get Inspired by Art

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

Over this fireplace, a painting by the homeowner’s aunt provides playful color inspiration. Its coral hues are repeated in fabrics and accessories. Wallpaper remnants are placed inside the built-in glass cabinets to hide DVDs and toys and provide an inexpensive style fix.

  • See this 1920’s Home

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Mix Modern and Traditional

Photography: Laura Moss, Styling: Natasha Louise King

Anchor a room with a traditional rug and accessories, and then juxtapose them with modern art for a fresh feel. The hues of this heirloom rug play off of the colors of the bottle-cap portrait above the fireplace.

  • See this Elegant Charleston Single House

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Build-In Your Entertainment Area

These homeowners flanked the hearth with an additional bookshelf designed to accommodate the television.

  • See this Great Room

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Retrofit Your Lighting

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Heather Chadduck,

Don’t be trapped by a light’s intended use. This homeowner painted an outdoor lantern and wired it for indoor use.

  • Living Room Lighting Ideas

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Create the Illusion of Taller Ceilings

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Heather Chadduck,

Hang art above cased openings to draw the eye up and make the ceiling look even higher. Here black and white photographs play off of other black and white patterns in the room.

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Use Durable Upholstery Fabric

A sectional sofa covered in a khaki Sunbrella sailcloth floats in the center of this room. The outdoor-rated fabric won’t fade and will easily shed stains.

  • See this Den Redo

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Mix Patterns the Smart Way

Mixing patterns is a great way to add interest to a room. To keep the look cohesive, use patterns from the same color family and vary their scale.

  • See this Colorful Home

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Use Animal Print Rugs

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Use Flexible Furniture in a Great Room

This living area contains leather swivel chairs that can be rotated to face the kitchen or the TV and fireplace. The long upholstered ottoman does double duty as a coffee table and a bench.

  • See this Family-Friendly Great Room

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Create a Grown-Up Space

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Bring the formal parlor back to your home—this one’s for Mom and Dad, not the kids. Created with the feel of a warm and cozy den, this front room contains rich upholstery and textiles, dark-stained furniture, and a leather wing chair.

  • See this Georgia Row House

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Curate a Rotating Mantle Display

Above the mantel, this homeowner displays an ever-changing arrangement of artwork and accessories. An avid flea market and antique store shopper, as he finds new collectibles, he likes to bring them in as a quick way to change up the look.

  • See this Renovated Lake Retreat

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Choose Furniture that Fits the Scale of Your Room

In this living room, rolled-arm sofas are sized up to fill the airy space. For a coffee table, the homeowner had a Duncan Phyfe dining table cut down a few notches to a comfortable height for playing games or propping feet.

  • See this Kansas City Home

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Make Room for Family

Photo: Erica George Dines

The easy flow between family room and kitchen is welcoming to all ages and offers plenty of room for this homeowner’s extended family, friends, and groups from church to gather. This contiguous space is the heart of their house.

  • See this Farmhouse-Style Home

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Find Meaningful Local Art

Photo: Erica George Dines

Local artwork is a meaningful accessory. A locally painted scene of Florida live oaks hangs above this family room’s cast-stone fireplace.

  • See this Farmhouse-Style Home

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Use Picture Molding

Family photographs instantly add warmth and personality to your home. Take them out of the attic, off your computer, or out of the infrequently viewed albums on your bookshelves, and enjoy them every day. Pick a wall, corner, or entire room. If your chosen spot already has picture molding (found in many older homes), your job will be easy. If not, adding new molding is not that complicated.

  • Learn How to Create a Hanging Photo Display

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Plan Ahead for Artwork

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.

  • Living Room Finishing Touches

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Get Creative with Your Ceiling

Don’t forget to address the ceiling of your space. This vaulted ceiling has a rough-hewn wood treatment that warms-up the feeling of the room.

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Splash on the Color

This pool house living room sports sherbert-colored hues and feminine flourishes. Quirky cobalt table lamps from Stray Dog Designs and an eccentric teak table serve as foils for the sofa’s old-fashioned fringe.

See more of this Tropical Pool House Retreat

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Create Display Cubbies

Photography: Laurey W. Glenn

Cozy built-in cubbies provide the perfect place to display antique collectables and heirlooms in this living room space.

  • See this Stylish Space

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Salvage Original Materials

Photo: Lucas Allen, Styling: Elizabeth Demos

In this living room, the heart-pine flooring came from a South Carolina textile mill. It has the original nail holes, and if you look closely, you can still see oil stains from factory weaving machines.

  • See this New Old House

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Maximize Space with Dual-Purpose Built-Ins

Photo: Melanie Acevedo, Styling: Olga Naiman

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Incorporate Personal Touches

Can’t find the exact table or chest that you need? Just add your own touches, such as a paint finish or unique drawer pulls, to convert an available piece into a one-of-a-kind item. The designer of this living room set a piece of custom-cut stone on top of the wooden coffee table in the family room, giving it a more durable surface.

  • Take a Virtual Tour of this Georgia Home

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Add Occasional Tables

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Make Large Rooms Cozy with Multiple Seating Areas

How do you make a gigantic room look cozy and appropriate for today when it’s actually an old Virginia cow barn?

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.

  • See Steven’s Barn Decorating Ideas

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Use Bold Accessories

A geometric flat weave is more casual and youthful than a heavy Oriental or wool rug. Balance it out with a large piece of modern art framed in a simple white gallery frame. Finish with blue glass lamps or a pretty bowl to add sparkle and dimension.

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Window Treatment Texture 2

Barn builders used post-and-beam construction in rough-hewn yellow pine. Linen curtains with vintage trim add elegance to the rustic room.

  • Tour this Classic Farmhouse

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Use a Mix of Hues

The homeowners combined several shades of blue, from almost-black navy to royal, in the light-filled living room. The hand-blocked batik print on the curtains and bench is by John Robshaw Textiles.

  • Tour this High Definition Dallas Home

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Inviting Family Room Design

Reclaimed-wood beams ground the airy, white space. A large but delicate chandelier with a burnished brass finish helps anchor the room, while a vertical custom metal-framed mirror emphasizes the room’s height.

  • See more of this Functional Family-Friendly Remodel

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Give a Small Room Big Style

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Choose a Statement Sofa for a Large Room

A tufted chesterfield sofa covered in family-friendly Sunbrella fabric adds scale and traditional style. Tip: A large sofa needs large pillows—ours are 26 inches square.

Editor’s Tip: Reinvent vintage finds in a new setting. Here, an old flat file cabinet works as a coffee table.

  • See more of the 2012 Farmhouse Restoration Idea House

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Use a Range of Textiles

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Matthew Gleason

A range of textiles (including velvet, wool, linen, and cotton) adds texture and keeps the muted hues of the C. R. Laine upholstery from falling flat.

  • Take a Video Tour of the Living Room

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Balance Rustic Elements

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Pull Out a Bold Accent Color

Photo: Eric Piasecki, Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

With the multihued curtain fabric as her jumping-off point, designer Ashley Whittaker splashed an amped-up version of pink in three places in the living room—the footstool, the contrasting pillow welt, and the slipper-chair trim. “We wanted the home to feel bright and colorful like Florida but not like a vacation home,” says Ashley. She pulled off the cozy yet elegant vibe by grounding the sun-and-surf palette with serious touches, such as the antique demilune tables.

Love it? Get it! 
Wall paint: Pale Powder; farrow-ball.com. Drapery fabric: Celeste Robin’s Egg by Raoul Textiles, available through DCOTA; 954/921-7575.

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Layer Patterns and Bold Prints

Layers of classic patterns and bold prints connected by a warm palette of brown, ivory, and green give this D.C. cottage a hefty dose of handsome hospitality.

Love it? Get it! 
Designer: David Mitchell, David Mitchell Interior Design, Washington, D.C.; davidmitchellinteriordesign.com.

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Surround Your Fireplace with Built-Ins

Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Rose Nguyen

An inglenook is a space next to the fireplace that often includes seating. These built-in window seats provide extra seating and are a comfy place to read.

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Add Privacy without Losing Light

Add a little privacy to family rooms without sacrificing light by installing drapery panels that don’t have a thick lining.

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Embrace Ideas from the Past

Try a great idea from the past. The triple-hung windows on either side of the great room’s fireplace are found in many older homes in the Deep South. When the two lower sashes are raised, the openings serve as passageways to the screened porch beyond.

Editor’s Favorite Living Rooms

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Showcase Antiques

Antiques are the hallmark of Southern homes, but you don’t have to have a room full of fine antiques—one nice piece in a room can elevate everything around it. The antique desk in this room gives a sense of history.

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Decorate with Cottage Style

Layer floral and geometric patterns on casual furniture for a cozy, cottage feel. Punch up your floral patterns by pairing with them with fresh flowers in mismatched vases.

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Create a Statement with Art

With impressive artwork and sleek, sophisticated furnishings set against a perfectly pale palette, this space is a constellation of star elements.

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Decorate Naturally

Take your decorating cues from your surroundings. This home is on a lake surrounded by trees. Moss greens and mushroom browns paired with a twig-and-bark side table truly bring the outdoors in.

  • Living Room Media Solutions

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Modernize the Classics

Make a classic print—like houndstooth check—modern by playing with the scale of the pattern and using it in an unexpected color.

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Try Natural Textures

Jeremy Fleming, Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Scott Martin

Warm up a room with interesting textures. Woven accessories and ottoman keep things simple and natural.

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Bring the Outdoors In

Use naturally occurring colors and textures to give an earthy feeling to your living room. Potted plants and wicker furniture give this home a casual comfort.

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Love the Lodge Look

Get the lodge look by pairing rich leathers with rustic wood elements and classic tartans. Candles and lanterns further add to the atmosphere.

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Give Your Living Room a Sense of Place

Coastal and nautical touches abound in this family room beginning with the seashell-print pillows. Coastal artwork over the fireplace flanks shelving that is filled to the brim with shell frames and boxes.

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Play with Scale

Charles Walton IV / Styling Leigh Anne Montgomery

Use large-scale pieces in unexpected places. This distinctive coffee table is constructed using the base of two columns and a stone slab.

  • See this Comfortable Downtown Loft

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Get Hands-On with Casual Finishes

This living room has a please touch, no fuss feel. It’s comfortable for a young family or grandparents with visiting grandchildren. Hand-rubbed finishes on furnishings lend vintage appeal.

  • Casual Family Rooms

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Mix and Match Your Wood Tones

Your wood pieces don’t have to be the same color. Here, a dark wood desk is at home among blond occasional tables because the pieces have similar clean lines.

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Bright and Airy Living

A simplified, white color scheme allowed decorator Alana Woerpel to add controlled shots of blue into this bright and airy living room.

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Mix and match patterns, embrace bold colors, layer rugs, and so much more! Try these tips to create a pretty space to enjoy conversations with friends and family.

No matter if you call it a living room, family room, den, or even a keeping room–you’ve got that one room in your home, aside from the kitchen, that’s intended for both family and company. And, we bet, you want it to look both pulled together and comfortable. We are here to tell you it’s possible to create a well-decorated living room that will impress company and will be enjoyed by your family. Here are our best easy decorating ideas ranging in all different styles for those that love a more formal living room or a cozy den or a relaxed family room. What ever your style–we’ve got the decorating tips and ideas for your beautiful living room, beautiful family room, or your beautiful den. One thing is for sure, you’ll be inspired by all of these chic decorating ideas. 

Coastal Lowcountry Living Room

Materials that connect to the location are key to character building. Sisal hints at the marsh grasses in an elegant way and is also durable, easy to clean, and ideal for layering. The alligator skull speaks to the local wildlife, while palms in antique glass and fern-patterned pillows are additional nods to the room’s Lowcountry vibe and provide a carefree polish.

Layering a vintage kilim over a natural sisal rug acts as an attractive barrier against water, sand, and other elements.

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Comforting Colors

An elk antler trophy is the focal point in this living room, and the palm tree triptych and a blue, green, and mulberry palette create a comfortable environment.

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Unite Your Living Space

Designer Sam Blount used the biggest rug possible to tie this blue and white space together. “I’m a big fan of large rugs in small spaces—too many bitsy ones visually chop up the floor.” says Blount.

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Forgo the Chairs

These oversize sectionals allow everyone to sit, without touching each other. The bench-style seat cushions look cleaner and don’t shift around like multiple seat cushions do.

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Use a Barn Door

A barn door allows the living space to be separated from the kitchen if nessessary, while taking up less space than traditional hinged doors. 

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Modernize Heirloom Pieces

The settee in this room was given a modern update with wild fabric, while neutrals were used for the curved vintage sofa and rounded swivel chairs.

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Lighten Up with White

Achieve a luxe neutral look with white upholstery and decorative accents in a variety of light hues to add extra depth and dimension. 

Similar throw pillows here.

See more of this White Living Room

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Mix Mod and Traditional

The 11-foot-long vintage sofa in this living room is a mod counterpoint to a pair of traditional antique chairs. 

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Mix Instead of Match Fabrics

The designer started with fabric selections to set the room’s happy mood and a bright color palette of pink, turquoise, and chartreuse. Fabrics don’t have to be matchy-matchy to communicate with each other. If they share a similar vibrancy and color temperature, they’ll look good together.

  • See the Vibrant Sunroom Makeover

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Invest in Antiques

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Mix Up the Seating

Seating shouldn’t be limited to club chairs and sofas. Utilize benches, ottomans, and odd side chairs to accommodate more people.

  • Tour this Sea Island Beach House

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Visually Divide a Great Room

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Mix Your Styles

You can mix old and new, formal and casual, neutral and bold to make an inviting and comfortable space. A neutral-toned sofa and armchair introduce contemporary lines while custom draperies add a touch of tradition.

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Layer Neutrals for a Relaxed Look

“To give Country French my minimalist spin, I avoid the expected ruffles and plaids and keep it about the painted antiques and white linens,” says homeowner and designer Regina Lynch. “In this house, curtains would have been too much, so instead I painted the trim a dark gray for a similar, but cleaner, look.” 

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Get the Gallery Look

Photo Robbie Caponetto / Styling Anne Turner Carroll and Fran Keenan

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Accessorize with Historic Elements

Photo by Robbie Caponetto

Use a flat-top trunk as a coffeee table to bring a sense of history to a room. This chocolate-brown piece coordinates with the neutral color scheme of the room, and the nail-head trim is mirrored in the decorative sofa hardware.

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Create Open Space

To keep the traffic flow open, pull the furniture away from the walls and into the center of the room―a type of arranging commonly referred to as a “floating furniture plan.” An octagonal ottoman in a bold fabric set on a cowhide rug anchors the arrangement in this room.

  • See this Cozy Den Redo

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Blend Elegance and Comfort

Comfortable and formal can go together. Use antiques to anchor your room and then mix in modern touches with bold fabrics, mid-century lighting, and sculptural accessories. Pair silk curtains and mirrored tables with clean-lined upholstery and lots of colorful pillows.

  • See this Classic Charleston Living Room

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Use Unexpected Materials

Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Scott Martin

A stone chimney is beautiful, but it’s also expected. The natural horizontal wood paneling around this fireplace ties it together with the built-ins flanking the hearth.

  • See this Cottage Home

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Mix and Match Patterns

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Matthew Gleason

This living room shows that you don’t need to shy away from bold patterns in a small space. A floral rug and coordinating pillows add color to the space, while an animal-print chair heightens the drama. The herringbone fireplace tile is a nice geometric touch.

  • See this Louisiana Home

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Use Modern Classics

Photography Charles Walton IV / Styling Scott Martin

If  you want a contemporary edge, you can’t go wrong with the modern classics like these white-leather Barcelona chairs and Lucite coffee table.

  • See this Modern Nashville Home

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Create a Faux Fireplace

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Give your living room a focal point by creating a faux fireplace with an antique mantel. This fireplace was set on a rectangular piece of slate as the hearth. .

See this Georgia Row House

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Let the Light In

Photography: Laurey W. Glenn

Short on windows to capture natural light? Replace solid exterior doors with glass ones for an airy feel and pretty views of your yard.

  • See this 1935 Cabin Redo

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Pick a Favorite Time Period

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

This living room was designed to resemble an early-1900s library; the living room contains a wall of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Two large double-hung windows punctuate these built-ins, along with cozy window seats below.

  • See this Georgia Row House

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Let In Lots of Natural Light

This living area has floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that fill the room with light. Horizontal mullions in the glass doors are reminiscent of Japanese shoji screens. They complement the space and guide your eye around the room.

  • See this Modern Bungalow 

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Combine Collectables

Don’t be afraid to personalize the items you buy. Almost every chair in this room was refinished: Two armchairs were whitewashed, and the blue velvet chair was gilded.

  • See this colorful North Carolina Home

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Know When To Save or Splurge

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Heather Chadduck,

This sofa with its supreme comfort, rich color and fabric, and clean lines is definitely a forever piece, so it was worth spending a little more money on. The honeycomb mirror over the fireplace was an inexpensive piece bought at a chain store.

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Embrace Bold Prints

Photography Van Chaplin, Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

Don’t be afraid to fall in love with a bold print. The designer of this living room was inspired by the floral side chair fabric and let it dictate the colors found elsewhere in the room.

  • Formal Living Rooms

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Look for Inspiration in Unexpected Places

Charles Walton IV / styling Todd Childs

This homeowner found inspiration for her walls in a bag of gourmet marshmallows: She used the soft, sophisticated colors to dictate her palette. The plate rack that once showcased antique plates in her parents’ home holds cherished photos.

  • See this renovated Alabama Cottage

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Look for Unused Spaces

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Matthew Gleason

This living room is a genius use of often-overlooked space; the upstairs landing was transformed into a small den that makes an inviting, casual family hangout. An upholstered wall softens the space above the built-in bench, while bamboo Chippendale-style chairs and vibrant turquoise Moroccan poufs add plenty of extra seating.

  • See this Louisiana Home

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Add Interest with Decorative Trim

Photography Van Chaplin, Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

The designer of this room added trim to the bottom of a basic sofa to dress it up and used a mix of custom pillows to pull colors from around the room.

  • See this Georgia Mountain Home

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Hold onto Inspiring Samples

Photography Charles Walton IV

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.

  • See this Designer’s Cottage

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Decorate with Memories

Make your living room unique and nostalgic by using heirloom pieces. This homeowner’s great-grandfather owned a bungalow, and he fondly remembers childhood visits to the family home. He filled his own bungalow home with family furniture and one-of-a-kind attic finds.

  • See this Vintage-Style Cottage Bungalow

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Accent with Red

Use bright colors and strong patterns to punctuate an otherwise neutral space. The red accessories in this living room add an energetic punch without overwhelming the area.

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Design for Real-Life Use

Photo: Laurey Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

You don’t have to give up style even in your high-traffic living room. Guests and kids need not reach for coasters before putting drinks down on the distressed coffee table. Scrapes and dings only add to the character of the piece. A patterned area rug is forgiving of spills and dusty feet.

  • See this Lakeside Cabin Makeover

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Get Patriotic

You can pull off a patriotic color scheme without being kitsch. Try hints of red with a pretty blue backdrop. Use natural linen instead of bright white.

Bonus Tip! Hide the flat screen. The painting above the fireplace can be rolled along the galvanized metal track, revealing a television.

  • See this Country Cottage

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Fake a Tall Ceiling

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn / Styling: Anne Turner Carroll

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Get Inspired by a Favorite Textile

Photography Van Chaplin, Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

Use a fabric pattern to inspire the color scheme and style of your room. The fabric on these armchairs pulls together the tones of this living room.

  • See this Georgia Mountain Home

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Create a Keeping Room

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Since guests typically gather in the kitchen, a keeping room is ideal for overflow and comfort. Keep your furniture comfortable and durable-it is sure to be the most used in your home.

  • See this Georgia Row House

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Display Your Collection to Advantage

If you have a lot of collections, always keep the base neutral so your displays won’t overwhelm the space. Here, a collection of turquoise lighting elements stands out against the cream walls and plays off of the colors in the large painting.

  • See this designer’s Virginia Home

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Create a Conversation Corner

Laurey W. Glenn, Robbie Caponetto / Styling: Matthew Gleason

If you have space, create a separate, more intimate seating area in your living room for quiet conversations.

  • See this Coastal Home

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Slipcover in Style

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Choose a Sunny Palette

Crisp whites combined with punches of bright colors immediately transport you to the coast. In this living room, aqua accents in the pillows, throw, and rug mimic the ocean’s dazzling blues, and the pops of bright orange are inspired by the magnificent hues of the setting sun. Whitewashed horizontal shiplap planking evokes the feel of old Gulf-front beach houses.

  • See this Coastal Home

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Buy the Whole Bolt

Inspiration for this design struck in the form of a 30-yard bolt of black-and-white- hound’s-tooth fabric that was on sale for an amazing $30. Even after the window treatments, upholstery, and pillows there was plenty of leftover fabric to be used down the road as seat cushions on new finds, lampshades, and even place mats or a tablecloth.

  • See this Home Decorated on a Budget

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Achieve Balance

Asymmetrical arrangements can be intimidating, but formal symmetry is easy to pull off and adds a calm balance to a room. The simple arrangement above this fireplace is clean and elegant.

  • See this Formal Nashville Home

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Layer Rugs

Photo: Erica George Dines

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Add Architectural Interest

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Create a Cozy Spot for Reading

Photo Robbie Caponetto / Styling Anne Turner Carroll and Fran Keenan

This armchair is re-covered in a botanical print fabric. The legs are painted white to lighten the visual weight of the piece. Tucked into a corner of the living room and paired with a set of nesting tables, the chair is a perfect spot for reading.

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Mix Lights and Darks

Decorating is not like doing the laundry. Lights and darks go together just fine. In fact, they’re made for each other in this living room connected by a large cased opening.

  • See this Kentucky Home

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Open Up Your Living Space

Although less than 2,500 square feet, this cottage feels larger because of the homeowners’ clever decision to open up and connect the main living spaces. The family room is also vaulted to reveal the loft space above―yet another way of providing extra volume to a relatively modest space.

  • See this Appalachian Style Cottage

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Mix, Don’t Match

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.

  • See this DC Apartment

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White Wash the Walls

These homeowners wanted to let their guests be the color to their space, so they painted all of the background surfaces, including the brick fireplace, a clean shade of white. A vintage advertisement and an Arkansas license plate hang on the wall. The casual furniture is covered in washable slipcovers for easy cleanup when inevitable spills happen.

  • See this Renovated Lake Retreat

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Play Up Your Favorite Color, but Keep the Base Neutral

If you’re a frequent redecorator, keep the base neutral in order to let accessories really shine. White or off-white walls and slipcovers stay the same even as this homeowner flirts with new obsessions. She tires quickly of things, and has gone through phases with several different colors, so she tries to change things up with pillows and throws.

  • See this Designer’s Virginia Home

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Spruce Up Your Space With Curtains

Draperies do more than block out the sun. Window treatments can transform a room, adding personality and character. These ceiling-to-floor draperies make the space seem taller and more grand.

  • See this Formal Nashville Home

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Upgrade Your Doors and Windows

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Elizabeth Demos

To enhance the home’s 9-foot ceilings, these homeowners upgraded to 8-foot-tall doors and 6-foot-tall windows to let in maximum light. They also aligned the doors and windows at the same height to draw the eye up and create the illusion of more space.

  • See this Pre-Fab Coastal Cottage

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Flip Your Color Scheme

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Elizabeth Demos

Flip tradition and paint your ceiling a bright color while leaving your walls white. Bring the color down into the space with coordinating accessories like window-coverings and pillows.

  • See this Pre-Fab Coastal Cottage

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Accessorize with Local Pieces

Tortoise and conch shells accessorize this coastal living room, while starfish adorn the mantel. Books on South Carolina’s coastal area lie stacked on the coffee table and topped with shells. Vases of palm fronds simply picked up from outside complete the tropical decor.

  • See this Coastal-Style Cottage

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Pick Furniture That Will Work in Multiple Spaces

Photo: Melanie Acevedo, Styling: Olga Naiman

Everything this home can work in most any room in their house. Everything in the living room—the sofa, two club chairs, and two armchairs—has lived and functioned in other areas of the home. The style continuity is part of this home’s peaceful, tranquil feeling.

  • See this Classic Southern Home

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Repeat Prints

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Natasha Louise King

Repeating patterned fabrics in adjoining spaces is a great way to tie them together. Here, the dining chair upholstery is repeated in accent pillows on the living room sofa.

  • See this Traditional Great Room

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Get Inspired by Art

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

Over this fireplace, a painting by the homeowner’s aunt provides playful color inspiration. Its coral hues are repeated in fabrics and accessories. Wallpaper remnants are placed inside the built-in glass cabinets to hide DVDs and toys and provide an inexpensive style fix.

  • See this 1920’s Home

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Mix Modern and Traditional

Photography: Laura Moss, Styling: Natasha Louise King

Anchor a room with a traditional rug and accessories, and then juxtapose them with modern art for a fresh feel. The hues of this heirloom rug play off of the colors of the bottle-cap portrait above the fireplace.

  • See this Elegant Charleston Single House

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Build-In Your Entertainment Area

These homeowners flanked the hearth with an additional bookshelf designed to accommodate the television.

  • See this Great Room

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Retrofit Your Lighting

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Heather Chadduck,

Don’t be trapped by a light’s intended use. This homeowner painted an outdoor lantern and wired it for indoor use.

  • Living Room Lighting Ideas

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Create the Illusion of Taller Ceilings

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Heather Chadduck,

Hang art above cased openings to draw the eye up and make the ceiling look even higher. Here black and white photographs play off of other black and white patterns in the room.

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Use Durable Upholstery Fabric

A sectional sofa covered in a khaki Sunbrella sailcloth floats in the center of this room. The outdoor-rated fabric won’t fade and will easily shed stains.

  • See this Den Redo

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Mix Patterns the Smart Way

Mixing patterns is a great way to add interest to a room. To keep the look cohesive, use patterns from the same color family and vary their scale.

  • See this Colorful Home

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Use Animal Print Rugs

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Use Flexible Furniture in a Great Room

This living area contains leather swivel chairs that can be rotated to face the kitchen or the TV and fireplace. The long upholstered ottoman does double duty as a coffee table and a bench.

  • See this Family-Friendly Great Room

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Create a Grown-Up Space

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Bring the formal parlor back to your home—this one’s for Mom and Dad, not the kids. Created with the feel of a warm and cozy den, this front room contains rich upholstery and textiles, dark-stained furniture, and a leather wing chair.

  • See this Georgia Row House

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Curate a Rotating Mantle Display

Above the mantel, this homeowner displays an ever-changing arrangement of artwork and accessories. An avid flea market and antique store shopper, as he finds new collectibles, he likes to bring them in as a quick way to change up the look.

  • See this Renovated Lake Retreat

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Choose Furniture that Fits the Scale of Your Room

In this living room, rolled-arm sofas are sized up to fill the airy space. For a coffee table, the homeowner had a Duncan Phyfe dining table cut down a few notches to a comfortable height for playing games or propping feet.

  • See this Kansas City Home

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Make Room for Family

Photo: Erica George Dines

The easy flow between family room and kitchen is welcoming to all ages and offers plenty of room for this homeowner’s extended family, friends, and groups from church to gather. This contiguous space is the heart of their house.

  • See this Farmhouse-Style Home

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Find Meaningful Local Art

Photo: Erica George Dines

Local artwork is a meaningful accessory. A locally painted scene of Florida live oaks hangs above this family room’s cast-stone fireplace.

  • See this Farmhouse-Style Home

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Use Picture Molding

Family photographs instantly add warmth and personality to your home. Take them out of the attic, off your computer, or out of the infrequently viewed albums on your bookshelves, and enjoy them every day. Pick a wall, corner, or entire room. If your chosen spot already has picture molding (found in many older homes), your job will be easy. If not, adding new molding is not that complicated.

  • Learn How to Create a Hanging Photo Display

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Plan Ahead for Artwork

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.

  • Living Room Finishing Touches

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Get Creative with Your Ceiling

Don’t forget to address the ceiling of your space. This vaulted ceiling has a rough-hewn wood treatment that warms-up the feeling of the room.

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Splash on the Color

This pool house living room sports sherbert-colored hues and feminine flourishes. Quirky cobalt table lamps from Stray Dog Designs and an eccentric teak table serve as foils for the sofa’s old-fashioned fringe.

See more of this Tropical Pool House Retreat

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Create Display Cubbies

Photography: Laurey W. Glenn

Cozy built-in cubbies provide the perfect place to display antique collectables and heirlooms in this living room space.

  • See this Stylish Space

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Salvage Original Materials

Photo: Lucas Allen, Styling: Elizabeth Demos

In this living room, the heart-pine flooring came from a South Carolina textile mill. It has the original nail holes, and if you look closely, you can still see oil stains from factory weaving machines.

  • See this New Old House

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Maximize Space with Dual-Purpose Built-Ins

Photo: Melanie Acevedo, Styling: Olga Naiman

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Incorporate Personal Touches

Can’t find the exact table or chest that you need? Just add your own touches, such as a paint finish or unique drawer pulls, to convert an available piece into a one-of-a-kind item. The designer of this living room set a piece of custom-cut stone on top of the wooden coffee table in the family room, giving it a more durable surface.

  • Take a Virtual Tour of this Georgia Home

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Add Occasional Tables

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Make Large Rooms Cozy with Multiple Seating Areas

How do you make a gigantic room look cozy and appropriate for today when it’s actually an old Virginia cow barn?

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.

  • See Steven’s Barn Decorating Ideas

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Use Bold Accessories

A geometric flat weave is more casual and youthful than a heavy Oriental or wool rug. Balance it out with a large piece of modern art framed in a simple white gallery frame. Finish with blue glass lamps or a pretty bowl to add sparkle and dimension.

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Window Treatment Texture 2

Barn builders used post-and-beam construction in rough-hewn yellow pine. Linen curtains with vintage trim add elegance to the rustic room.

  • Tour this Classic Farmhouse

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Use a Mix of Hues

The homeowners combined several shades of blue, from almost-black navy to royal, in the light-filled living room. The hand-blocked batik print on the curtains and bench is by John Robshaw Textiles.

  • Tour this High Definition Dallas Home

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Inviting Family Room Design

Reclaimed-wood beams ground the airy, white space. A large but delicate chandelier with a burnished brass finish helps anchor the room, while a vertical custom metal-framed mirror emphasizes the room’s height.

  • See more of this Functional Family-Friendly Remodel

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Give a Small Room Big Style

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Choose a Statement Sofa for a Large Room

A tufted chesterfield sofa covered in family-friendly Sunbrella fabric adds scale and traditional style. Tip: A large sofa needs large pillows—ours are 26 inches square.

Editor’s Tip: Reinvent vintage finds in a new setting. Here, an old flat file cabinet works as a coffee table.

  • See more of the 2012 Farmhouse Restoration Idea House

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Use a Range of Textiles

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Matthew Gleason

A range of textiles (including velvet, wool, linen, and cotton) adds texture and keeps the muted hues of the C. R. Laine upholstery from falling flat.

  • Take a Video Tour of the Living Room

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Balance Rustic Elements

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Pull Out a Bold Accent Color

Photo: Eric Piasecki, Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

With the multihued curtain fabric as her jumping-off point, designer Ashley Whittaker splashed an amped-up version of pink in three places in the living room—the footstool, the contrasting pillow welt, and the slipper-chair trim. “We wanted the home to feel bright and colorful like Florida but not like a vacation home,” says Ashley. She pulled off the cozy yet elegant vibe by grounding the sun-and-surf palette with serious touches, such as the antique demilune tables.

Love it? Get it! 
Wall paint: Pale Powder; farrow-ball.com. Drapery fabric: Celeste Robin’s Egg by Raoul Textiles, available through DCOTA; 954/921-7575.

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Layer Patterns and Bold Prints

Layers of classic patterns and bold prints connected by a warm palette of brown, ivory, and green give this D.C. cottage a hefty dose of handsome hospitality.

Love it? Get it! 
Designer: David Mitchell, David Mitchell Interior Design, Washington, D.C.; davidmitchellinteriordesign.com.

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Surround Your Fireplace with Built-Ins

Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Rose Nguyen

An inglenook is a space next to the fireplace that often includes seating. These built-in window seats provide extra seating and are a comfy place to read.

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Add Privacy without Losing Light

Add a little privacy to family rooms without sacrificing light by installing drapery panels that don’t have a thick lining.

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Embrace Ideas from the Past

Try a great idea from the past. The triple-hung windows on either side of the great room’s fireplace are found in many older homes in the Deep South. When the two lower sashes are raised, the openings serve as passageways to the screened porch beyond.

Editor’s Favorite Living Rooms

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Showcase Antiques

Antiques are the hallmark of Southern homes, but you don’t have to have a room full of fine antiques—one nice piece in a room can elevate everything around it. The antique desk in this room gives a sense of history.

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Decorate with Cottage Style

Layer floral and geometric patterns on casual furniture for a cozy, cottage feel. Punch up your floral patterns by pairing with them with fresh flowers in mismatched vases.

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Create a Statement with Art

With impressive artwork and sleek, sophisticated furnishings set against a perfectly pale palette, this space is a constellation of star elements.

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Decorate Naturally

Take your decorating cues from your surroundings. This home is on a lake surrounded by trees. Moss greens and mushroom browns paired with a twig-and-bark side table truly bring the outdoors in.

  • Living Room Media Solutions

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Modernize the Classics

Make a classic print—like houndstooth check—modern by playing with the scale of the pattern and using it in an unexpected color.

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Try Natural Textures

Jeremy Fleming, Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Scott Martin

Warm up a room with interesting textures. Woven accessories and ottoman keep things simple and natural.

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Bring the Outdoors In

Use naturally occurring colors and textures to give an earthy feeling to your living room. Potted plants and wicker furniture give this home a casual comfort.

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Love the Lodge Look

Get the lodge look by pairing rich leathers with rustic wood elements and classic tartans. Candles and lanterns further add to the atmosphere.

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Give Your Living Room a Sense of Place

Coastal and nautical touches abound in this family room beginning with the seashell-print pillows. Coastal artwork over the fireplace flanks shelving that is filled to the brim with shell frames and boxes.

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Play with Scale

Charles Walton IV / Styling Leigh Anne Montgomery

Use large-scale pieces in unexpected places. This distinctive coffee table is constructed using the base of two columns and a stone slab.

  • See this Comfortable Downtown Loft

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Get Hands-On with Casual Finishes

This living room has a please touch, no fuss feel. It’s comfortable for a young family or grandparents with visiting grandchildren. Hand-rubbed finishes on furnishings lend vintage appeal.

  • Casual Family Rooms

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Mix and Match Your Wood Tones

Your wood pieces don’t have to be the same color. Here, a dark wood desk is at home among blond occasional tables because the pieces have similar clean lines.

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Bright and Airy Living

A simplified, white color scheme allowed decorator Alana Woerpel to add controlled shots of blue into this bright and airy living room.

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Mix and match patterns, embrace bold colors, layer rugs, and so much more! Try these tips to create a pretty space to enjoy conversations with friends and family.

No matter if you call it a living room, family room, den, or even a keeping room–you’ve got that one room in your home, aside from the kitchen, that’s intended for both family and company. And, we bet, you want it to look both pulled together and comfortable. We are here to tell you it’s possible to create a well-decorated living room that will impress company and will be enjoyed by your family. Here are our best easy decorating ideas ranging in all different styles for those that love a more formal living room or a cozy den or a relaxed family room. What ever your style–we’ve got the decorating tips and ideas for your beautiful living room, beautiful family room, or your beautiful den. One thing is for sure, you’ll be inspired by all of these chic decorating ideas. 

Coastal Lowcountry Living Room

Materials that connect to the location are key to character building. Sisal hints at the marsh grasses in an elegant way and is also durable, easy to clean, and ideal for layering. The alligator skull speaks to the local wildlife, while palms in antique glass and fern-patterned pillows are additional nods to the room’s Lowcountry vibe and provide a carefree polish.

Layering a vintage kilim over a natural sisal rug acts as an attractive barrier against water, sand, and other elements.

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Comforting Colors

An elk antler trophy is the focal point in this living room, and the palm tree triptych and a blue, green, and mulberry palette create a comfortable environment.

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Unite Your Living Space

Designer Sam Blount used the biggest rug possible to tie this blue and white space together. “I’m a big fan of large rugs in small spaces—too many bitsy ones visually chop up the floor.” says Blount.

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Forgo the Chairs

These oversize sectionals allow everyone to sit, without touching each other. The bench-style seat cushions look cleaner and don’t shift around like multiple seat cushions do.

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Use a Barn Door

A barn door allows the living space to be separated from the kitchen if nessessary, while taking up less space than traditional hinged doors. 

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Modernize Heirloom Pieces

The settee in this room was given a modern update with wild fabric, while neutrals were used for the curved vintage sofa and rounded swivel chairs.

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Lighten Up with White

Achieve a luxe neutral look with white upholstery and decorative accents in a variety of light hues to add extra depth and dimension. 

Similar throw pillows here.

See more of this White Living Room

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Mix Mod and Traditional

The 11-foot-long vintage sofa in this living room is a mod counterpoint to a pair of traditional antique chairs. 

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Mix Instead of Match Fabrics

The designer started with fabric selections to set the room’s happy mood and a bright color palette of pink, turquoise, and chartreuse. Fabrics don’t have to be matchy-matchy to communicate with each other. If they share a similar vibrancy and color temperature, they’ll look good together.

  • See the Vibrant Sunroom Makeover

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Invest in Antiques

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Mix Up the Seating

Seating shouldn’t be limited to club chairs and sofas. Utilize benches, ottomans, and odd side chairs to accommodate more people.

  • Tour this Sea Island Beach House

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Visually Divide a Great Room

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Mix Your Styles

You can mix old and new, formal and casual, neutral and bold to make an inviting and comfortable space. A neutral-toned sofa and armchair introduce contemporary lines while custom draperies add a touch of tradition.

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Layer Neutrals for a Relaxed Look

“To give Country French my minimalist spin, I avoid the expected ruffles and plaids and keep it about the painted antiques and white linens,” says homeowner and designer Regina Lynch. “In this house, curtains would have been too much, so instead I painted the trim a dark gray for a similar, but cleaner, look.” 

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Get the Gallery Look

Photo Robbie Caponetto / Styling Anne Turner Carroll and Fran Keenan

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Accessorize with Historic Elements

Photo by Robbie Caponetto

Use a flat-top trunk as a coffeee table to bring a sense of history to a room. This chocolate-brown piece coordinates with the neutral color scheme of the room, and the nail-head trim is mirrored in the decorative sofa hardware.

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Create Open Space

To keep the traffic flow open, pull the furniture away from the walls and into the center of the room―a type of arranging commonly referred to as a “floating furniture plan.” An octagonal ottoman in a bold fabric set on a cowhide rug anchors the arrangement in this room.

  • See this Cozy Den Redo

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Blend Elegance and Comfort

Comfortable and formal can go together. Use antiques to anchor your room and then mix in modern touches with bold fabrics, mid-century lighting, and sculptural accessories. Pair silk curtains and mirrored tables with clean-lined upholstery and lots of colorful pillows.

  • See this Classic Charleston Living Room

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Use Unexpected Materials

Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Scott Martin

A stone chimney is beautiful, but it’s also expected. The natural horizontal wood paneling around this fireplace ties it together with the built-ins flanking the hearth.

  • See this Cottage Home

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Mix and Match Patterns

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Matthew Gleason

This living room shows that you don’t need to shy away from bold patterns in a small space. A floral rug and coordinating pillows add color to the space, while an animal-print chair heightens the drama. The herringbone fireplace tile is a nice geometric touch.

  • See this Louisiana Home

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Use Modern Classics

Photography Charles Walton IV / Styling Scott Martin

If  you want a contemporary edge, you can’t go wrong with the modern classics like these white-leather Barcelona chairs and Lucite coffee table.

  • See this Modern Nashville Home

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Create a Faux Fireplace

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Give your living room a focal point by creating a faux fireplace with an antique mantel. This fireplace was set on a rectangular piece of slate as the hearth. .

See this Georgia Row House

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Let the Light In

Photography: Laurey W. Glenn

Short on windows to capture natural light? Replace solid exterior doors with glass ones for an airy feel and pretty views of your yard.

  • See this 1935 Cabin Redo

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Pick a Favorite Time Period

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

This living room was designed to resemble an early-1900s library; the living room contains a wall of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Two large double-hung windows punctuate these built-ins, along with cozy window seats below.

  • See this Georgia Row House

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Let In Lots of Natural Light

This living area has floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that fill the room with light. Horizontal mullions in the glass doors are reminiscent of Japanese shoji screens. They complement the space and guide your eye around the room.

  • See this Modern Bungalow 

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Combine Collectables

Don’t be afraid to personalize the items you buy. Almost every chair in this room was refinished: Two armchairs were whitewashed, and the blue velvet chair was gilded.

  • See this colorful North Carolina Home

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Know When To Save or Splurge

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Heather Chadduck,

This sofa with its supreme comfort, rich color and fabric, and clean lines is definitely a forever piece, so it was worth spending a little more money on. The honeycomb mirror over the fireplace was an inexpensive piece bought at a chain store.

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Embrace Bold Prints

Photography Van Chaplin, Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

Don’t be afraid to fall in love with a bold print. The designer of this living room was inspired by the floral side chair fabric and let it dictate the colors found elsewhere in the room.

  • Formal Living Rooms

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Look for Inspiration in Unexpected Places

Charles Walton IV / styling Todd Childs

This homeowner found inspiration for her walls in a bag of gourmet marshmallows: She used the soft, sophisticated colors to dictate her palette. The plate rack that once showcased antique plates in her parents’ home holds cherished photos.

  • See this renovated Alabama Cottage

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Look for Unused Spaces

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Matthew Gleason

This living room is a genius use of often-overlooked space; the upstairs landing was transformed into a small den that makes an inviting, casual family hangout. An upholstered wall softens the space above the built-in bench, while bamboo Chippendale-style chairs and vibrant turquoise Moroccan poufs add plenty of extra seating.

  • See this Louisiana Home

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Add Interest with Decorative Trim

Photography Van Chaplin, Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

The designer of this room added trim to the bottom of a basic sofa to dress it up and used a mix of custom pillows to pull colors from around the room.

  • See this Georgia Mountain Home

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Hold onto Inspiring Samples

Photography Charles Walton IV

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.

  • See this Designer’s Cottage

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Decorate with Memories

Make your living room unique and nostalgic by using heirloom pieces. This homeowner’s great-grandfather owned a bungalow, and he fondly remembers childhood visits to the family home. He filled his own bungalow home with family furniture and one-of-a-kind attic finds.

  • See this Vintage-Style Cottage Bungalow

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Accent with Red

Use bright colors and strong patterns to punctuate an otherwise neutral space. The red accessories in this living room add an energetic punch without overwhelming the area.

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Design for Real-Life Use

Photo: Laurey Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

You don’t have to give up style even in your high-traffic living room. Guests and kids need not reach for coasters before putting drinks down on the distressed coffee table. Scrapes and dings only add to the character of the piece. A patterned area rug is forgiving of spills and dusty feet.

  • See this Lakeside Cabin Makeover

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Get Patriotic

You can pull off a patriotic color scheme without being kitsch. Try hints of red with a pretty blue backdrop. Use natural linen instead of bright white.

Bonus Tip! Hide the flat screen. The painting above the fireplace can be rolled along the galvanized metal track, revealing a television.

  • See this Country Cottage

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Fake a Tall Ceiling

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn / Styling: Anne Turner Carroll

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Get Inspired by a Favorite Textile

Photography Van Chaplin, Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

Use a fabric pattern to inspire the color scheme and style of your room. The fabric on these armchairs pulls together the tones of this living room.

  • See this Georgia Mountain Home

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Create a Keeping Room

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Since guests typically gather in the kitchen, a keeping room is ideal for overflow and comfort. Keep your furniture comfortable and durable-it is sure to be the most used in your home.

  • See this Georgia Row House

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Display Your Collection to Advantage

If you have a lot of collections, always keep the base neutral so your displays won’t overwhelm the space. Here, a collection of turquoise lighting elements stands out against the cream walls and plays off of the colors in the large painting.

  • See this designer’s Virginia Home

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Create a Conversation Corner

Laurey W. Glenn, Robbie Caponetto / Styling: Matthew Gleason

If you have space, create a separate, more intimate seating area in your living room for quiet conversations.

  • See this Coastal Home

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Slipcover in Style

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Choose a Sunny Palette

Crisp whites combined with punches of bright colors immediately transport you to the coast. In this living room, aqua accents in the pillows, throw, and rug mimic the ocean’s dazzling blues, and the pops of bright orange are inspired by the magnificent hues of the setting sun. Whitewashed horizontal shiplap planking evokes the feel of old Gulf-front beach houses.

  • See this Coastal Home

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Buy the Whole Bolt

Inspiration for this design struck in the form of a 30-yard bolt of black-and-white- hound’s-tooth fabric that was on sale for an amazing $30. Even after the window treatments, upholstery, and pillows there was plenty of leftover fabric to be used down the road as seat cushions on new finds, lampshades, and even place mats or a tablecloth.

  • See this Home Decorated on a Budget

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Achieve Balance

Asymmetrical arrangements can be intimidating, but formal symmetry is easy to pull off and adds a calm balance to a room. The simple arrangement above this fireplace is clean and elegant.

  • See this Formal Nashville Home

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Layer Rugs

Photo: Erica George Dines

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Add Architectural Interest

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Create a Cozy Spot for Reading

Photo Robbie Caponetto / Styling Anne Turner Carroll and Fran Keenan

This armchair is re-covered in a botanical print fabric. The legs are painted white to lighten the visual weight of the piece. Tucked into a corner of the living room and paired with a set of nesting tables, the chair is a perfect spot for reading.

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Mix Lights and Darks

Decorating is not like doing the laundry. Lights and darks go together just fine. In fact, they’re made for each other in this living room connected by a large cased opening.

  • See this Kentucky Home

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Open Up Your Living Space

Although less than 2,500 square feet, this cottage feels larger because of the homeowners’ clever decision to open up and connect the main living spaces. The family room is also vaulted to reveal the loft space above―yet another way of providing extra volume to a relatively modest space.

  • See this Appalachian Style Cottage

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Mix, Don’t Match

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.

  • See this DC Apartment

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White Wash the Walls

These homeowners wanted to let their guests be the color to their space, so they painted all of the background surfaces, including the brick fireplace, a clean shade of white. A vintage advertisement and an Arkansas license plate hang on the wall. The casual furniture is covered in washable slipcovers for easy cleanup when inevitable spills happen.

  • See this Renovated Lake Retreat

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Play Up Your Favorite Color, but Keep the Base Neutral

If you’re a frequent redecorator, keep the base neutral in order to let accessories really shine. White or off-white walls and slipcovers stay the same even as this homeowner flirts with new obsessions. She tires quickly of things, and has gone through phases with several different colors, so she tries to change things up with pillows and throws.

  • See this Designer’s Virginia Home

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Spruce Up Your Space With Curtains

Draperies do more than block out the sun. Window treatments can transform a room, adding personality and character. These ceiling-to-floor draperies make the space seem taller and more grand.

  • See this Formal Nashville Home

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Upgrade Your Doors and Windows

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Elizabeth Demos

To enhance the home’s 9-foot ceilings, these homeowners upgraded to 8-foot-tall doors and 6-foot-tall windows to let in maximum light. They also aligned the doors and windows at the same height to draw the eye up and create the illusion of more space.

  • See this Pre-Fab Coastal Cottage

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Flip Your Color Scheme

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Elizabeth Demos

Flip tradition and paint your ceiling a bright color while leaving your walls white. Bring the color down into the space with coordinating accessories like window-coverings and pillows.

  • See this Pre-Fab Coastal Cottage

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Accessorize with Local Pieces

Tortoise and conch shells accessorize this coastal living room, while starfish adorn the mantel. Books on South Carolina’s coastal area lie stacked on the coffee table and topped with shells. Vases of palm fronds simply picked up from outside complete the tropical decor.

  • See this Coastal-Style Cottage

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Pick Furniture That Will Work in Multiple Spaces

Photo: Melanie Acevedo, Styling: Olga Naiman

Everything this home can work in most any room in their house. Everything in the living room—the sofa, two club chairs, and two armchairs—has lived and functioned in other areas of the home. The style continuity is part of this home’s peaceful, tranquil feeling.

  • See this Classic Southern Home

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Repeat Prints

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Natasha Louise King

Repeating patterned fabrics in adjoining spaces is a great way to tie them together. Here, the dining chair upholstery is repeated in accent pillows on the living room sofa.

  • See this Traditional Great Room

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Get Inspired by Art

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

Over this fireplace, a painting by the homeowner’s aunt provides playful color inspiration. Its coral hues are repeated in fabrics and accessories. Wallpaper remnants are placed inside the built-in glass cabinets to hide DVDs and toys and provide an inexpensive style fix.

  • See this 1920’s Home

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Mix Modern and Traditional

Photography: Laura Moss, Styling: Natasha Louise King

Anchor a room with a traditional rug and accessories, and then juxtapose them with modern art for a fresh feel. The hues of this heirloom rug play off of the colors of the bottle-cap portrait above the fireplace.

  • See this Elegant Charleston Single House

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Build-In Your Entertainment Area

These homeowners flanked the hearth with an additional bookshelf designed to accommodate the television.

  • See this Great Room

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Retrofit Your Lighting

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Heather Chadduck,

Don’t be trapped by a light’s intended use. This homeowner painted an outdoor lantern and wired it for indoor use.

  • Living Room Lighting Ideas

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Create the Illusion of Taller Ceilings

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Heather Chadduck,

Hang art above cased openings to draw the eye up and make the ceiling look even higher. Here black and white photographs play off of other black and white patterns in the room.

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Use Durable Upholstery Fabric

A sectional sofa covered in a khaki Sunbrella sailcloth floats in the center of this room. The outdoor-rated fabric won’t fade and will easily shed stains.

  • See this Den Redo

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Mix Patterns the Smart Way

Mixing patterns is a great way to add interest to a room. To keep the look cohesive, use patterns from the same color family and vary their scale.

  • See this Colorful Home

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Use Animal Print Rugs

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Use Flexible Furniture in a Great Room

This living area contains leather swivel chairs that can be rotated to face the kitchen or the TV and fireplace. The long upholstered ottoman does double duty as a coffee table and a bench.

  • See this Family-Friendly Great Room

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Create a Grown-Up Space

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Bring the formal parlor back to your home—this one’s for Mom and Dad, not the kids. Created with the feel of a warm and cozy den, this front room contains rich upholstery and textiles, dark-stained furniture, and a leather wing chair.

  • See this Georgia Row House

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Curate a Rotating Mantle Display

Above the mantel, this homeowner displays an ever-changing arrangement of artwork and accessories. An avid flea market and antique store shopper, as he finds new collectibles, he likes to bring them in as a quick way to change up the look.

  • See this Renovated Lake Retreat

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Choose Furniture that Fits the Scale of Your Room

In this living room, rolled-arm sofas are sized up to fill the airy space. For a coffee table, the homeowner had a Duncan Phyfe dining table cut down a few notches to a comfortable height for playing games or propping feet.

  • See this Kansas City Home

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Make Room for Family

Photo: Erica George Dines

The easy flow between family room and kitchen is welcoming to all ages and offers plenty of room for this homeowner’s extended family, friends, and groups from church to gather. This contiguous space is the heart of their house.

  • See this Farmhouse-Style Home

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Find Meaningful Local Art

Photo: Erica George Dines

Local artwork is a meaningful accessory. A locally painted scene of Florida live oaks hangs above this family room’s cast-stone fireplace.

  • See this Farmhouse-Style Home

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Use Picture Molding

Family photographs instantly add warmth and personality to your home. Take them out of the attic, off your computer, or out of the infrequently viewed albums on your bookshelves, and enjoy them every day. Pick a wall, corner, or entire room. If your chosen spot already has picture molding (found in many older homes), your job will be easy. If not, adding new molding is not that complicated.

  • Learn How to Create a Hanging Photo Display

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Plan Ahead for Artwork

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.

  • Living Room Finishing Touches

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Get Creative with Your Ceiling

Don’t forget to address the ceiling of your space. This vaulted ceiling has a rough-hewn wood treatment that warms-up the feeling of the room.

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Splash on the Color

This pool house living room sports sherbert-colored hues and feminine flourishes. Quirky cobalt table lamps from Stray Dog Designs and an eccentric teak table serve as foils for the sofa’s old-fashioned fringe.

See more of this Tropical Pool House Retreat

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Create Display Cubbies

Photography: Laurey W. Glenn

Cozy built-in cubbies provide the perfect place to display antique collectables and heirlooms in this living room space.

  • See this Stylish Space

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Salvage Original Materials

Photo: Lucas Allen, Styling: Elizabeth Demos

In this living room, the heart-pine flooring came from a South Carolina textile mill. It has the original nail holes, and if you look closely, you can still see oil stains from factory weaving machines.

  • See this New Old House

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Maximize Space with Dual-Purpose Built-Ins

Photo: Melanie Acevedo, Styling: Olga Naiman

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Incorporate Personal Touches

Can’t find the exact table or chest that you need? Just add your own touches, such as a paint finish or unique drawer pulls, to convert an available piece into a one-of-a-kind item. The designer of this living room set a piece of custom-cut stone on top of the wooden coffee table in the family room, giving it a more durable surface.

  • Take a Virtual Tour of this Georgia Home

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Add Occasional Tables

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Make Large Rooms Cozy with Multiple Seating Areas

How do you make a gigantic room look cozy and appropriate for today when it’s actually an old Virginia cow barn?

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.

  • See Steven’s Barn Decorating Ideas

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Use Bold Accessories

A geometric flat weave is more casual and youthful than a heavy Oriental or wool rug. Balance it out with a large piece of modern art framed in a simple white gallery frame. Finish with blue glass lamps or a pretty bowl to add sparkle and dimension.

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Window Treatment Texture 2

Barn builders used post-and-beam construction in rough-hewn yellow pine. Linen curtains with vintage trim add elegance to the rustic room.

  • Tour this Classic Farmhouse

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Use a Mix of Hues

The homeowners combined several shades of blue, from almost-black navy to royal, in the light-filled living room. The hand-blocked batik print on the curtains and bench is by John Robshaw Textiles.

  • Tour this High Definition Dallas Home

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Inviting Family Room Design

Reclaimed-wood beams ground the airy, white space. A large but delicate chandelier with a burnished brass finish helps anchor the room, while a vertical custom metal-framed mirror emphasizes the room’s height.

  • See more of this Functional Family-Friendly Remodel

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Give a Small Room Big Style

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Choose a Statement Sofa for a Large Room

A tufted chesterfield sofa covered in family-friendly Sunbrella fabric adds scale and traditional style. Tip: A large sofa needs large pillows—ours are 26 inches square.

Editor’s Tip: Reinvent vintage finds in a new setting. Here, an old flat file cabinet works as a coffee table.

  • See more of the 2012 Farmhouse Restoration Idea House

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Use a Range of Textiles

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Matthew Gleason

A range of textiles (including velvet, wool, linen, and cotton) adds texture and keeps the muted hues of the C. R. Laine upholstery from falling flat.

  • Take a Video Tour of the Living Room

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Balance Rustic Elements

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Pull Out a Bold Accent Color

Photo: Eric Piasecki, Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

With the multihued curtain fabric as her jumping-off point, designer Ashley Whittaker splashed an amped-up version of pink in three places in the living room—the footstool, the contrasting pillow welt, and the slipper-chair trim. “We wanted the home to feel bright and colorful like Florida but not like a vacation home,” says Ashley. She pulled off the cozy yet elegant vibe by grounding the sun-and-surf palette with serious touches, such as the antique demilune tables.

Love it? Get it! 
Wall paint: Pale Powder; farrow-ball.com. Drapery fabric: Celeste Robin’s Egg by Raoul Textiles, available through DCOTA; 954/921-7575.

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Layer Patterns and Bold Prints

Layers of classic patterns and bold prints connected by a warm palette of brown, ivory, and green give this D.C. cottage a hefty dose of handsome hospitality.

Love it? Get it! 
Designer: David Mitchell, David Mitchell Interior Design, Washington, D.C.; davidmitchellinteriordesign.com.

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Surround Your Fireplace with Built-Ins

Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Rose Nguyen

An inglenook is a space next to the fireplace that often includes seating. These built-in window seats provide extra seating and are a comfy place to read.

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Add Privacy without Losing Light

Add a little privacy to family rooms without sacrificing light by installing drapery panels that don’t have a thick lining.

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Embrace Ideas from the Past

Try a great idea from the past. The triple-hung windows on either side of the great room’s fireplace are found in many older homes in the Deep South. When the two lower sashes are raised, the openings serve as passageways to the screened porch beyond.

Editor’s Favorite Living Rooms

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Showcase Antiques

Antiques are the hallmark of Southern homes, but you don’t have to have a room full of fine antiques—one nice piece in a room can elevate everything around it. The antique desk in this room gives a sense of history.

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Decorate with Cottage Style

Layer floral and geometric patterns on casual furniture for a cozy, cottage feel. Punch up your floral patterns by pairing with them with fresh flowers in mismatched vases.

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Create a Statement with Art

With impressive artwork and sleek, sophisticated furnishings set against a perfectly pale palette, this space is a constellation of star elements.

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Decorate Naturally

Take your decorating cues from your surroundings. This home is on a lake surrounded by trees. Moss greens and mushroom browns paired with a twig-and-bark side table truly bring the outdoors in.

  • Living Room Media Solutions

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Modernize the Classics

Make a classic print—like houndstooth check—modern by playing with the scale of the pattern and using it in an unexpected color.

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Try Natural Textures

Jeremy Fleming, Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Scott Martin

Warm up a room with interesting textures. Woven accessories and ottoman keep things simple and natural.

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Bring the Outdoors In

Use naturally occurring colors and textures to give an earthy feeling to your living room. Potted plants and wicker furniture give this home a casual comfort.

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Love the Lodge Look

Get the lodge look by pairing rich leathers with rustic wood elements and classic tartans. Candles and lanterns further add to the atmosphere.

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Give Your Living Room a Sense of Place

Coastal and nautical touches abound in this family room beginning with the seashell-print pillows. Coastal artwork over the fireplace flanks shelving that is filled to the brim with shell frames and boxes.

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Play with Scale

Charles Walton IV / Styling Leigh Anne Montgomery

Use large-scale pieces in unexpected places. This distinctive coffee table is constructed using the base of two columns and a stone slab.

  • See this Comfortable Downtown Loft

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Get Hands-On with Casual Finishes

This living room has a please touch, no fuss feel. It’s comfortable for a young family or grandparents with visiting grandchildren. Hand-rubbed finishes on furnishings lend vintage appeal.

  • Casual Family Rooms

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Mix and Match Your Wood Tones

Your wood pieces don’t have to be the same color. Here, a dark wood desk is at home among blond occasional tables because the pieces have similar clean lines.

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Bright and Airy Living

A simplified, white color scheme allowed decorator Alana Woerpel to add controlled shots of blue into this bright and airy living room.

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Mix and match patterns, embrace bold colors, layer rugs, and so much more! Try these tips to create a pretty space to enjoy conversations with friends and family.

No matter if you call it a living room, family room, den, or even a keeping room–you’ve got that one room in your home, aside from the kitchen, that’s intended for both family and company. And, we bet, you want it to look both pulled together and comfortable. We are here to tell you it’s possible to create a well-decorated living room that will impress company and will be enjoyed by your family. Here are our best easy decorating ideas ranging in all different styles for those that love a more formal living room or a cozy den or a relaxed family room. What ever your style–we’ve got the decorating tips and ideas for your beautiful living room, beautiful family room, or your beautiful den. One thing is for sure, you’ll be inspired by all of these chic decorating ideas. 

Coastal Lowcountry Living Room

Materials that connect to the location are key to character building. Sisal hints at the marsh grasses in an elegant way and is also durable, easy to clean, and ideal for layering. The alligator skull speaks to the local wildlife, while palms in antique glass and fern-patterned pillows are additional nods to the room’s Lowcountry vibe and provide a carefree polish.

Layering a vintage kilim over a natural sisal rug acts as an attractive barrier against water, sand, and other elements.

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Comforting Colors

An elk antler trophy is the focal point in this living room, and the palm tree triptych and a blue, green, and mulberry palette create a comfortable environment.

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Unite Your Living Space

Designer Sam Blount used the biggest rug possible to tie this blue and white space together. “I’m a big fan of large rugs in small spaces—too many bitsy ones visually chop up the floor.” says Blount.

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Forgo the Chairs

These oversize sectionals allow everyone to sit, without touching each other. The bench-style seat cushions look cleaner and don’t shift around like multiple seat cushions do.

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Use a Barn Door

A barn door allows the living space to be separated from the kitchen if nessessary, while taking up less space than traditional hinged doors. 

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Modernize Heirloom Pieces

The settee in this room was given a modern update with wild fabric, while neutrals were used for the curved vintage sofa and rounded swivel chairs.

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Lighten Up with White

Achieve a luxe neutral look with white upholstery and decorative accents in a variety of light hues to add extra depth and dimension. 

Similar throw pillows here.

See more of this White Living Room

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Mix Mod and Traditional

The 11-foot-long vintage sofa in this living room is a mod counterpoint to a pair of traditional antique chairs. 

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Mix Instead of Match Fabrics

The designer started with fabric selections to set the room’s happy mood and a bright color palette of pink, turquoise, and chartreuse. Fabrics don’t have to be matchy-matchy to communicate with each other. If they share a similar vibrancy and color temperature, they’ll look good together.

  • See the Vibrant Sunroom Makeover

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Invest in Antiques

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Mix Up the Seating

Seating shouldn’t be limited to club chairs and sofas. Utilize benches, ottomans, and odd side chairs to accommodate more people.

  • Tour this Sea Island Beach House

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Visually Divide a Great Room

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Mix Your Styles

You can mix old and new, formal and casual, neutral and bold to make an inviting and comfortable space. A neutral-toned sofa and armchair introduce contemporary lines while custom draperies add a touch of tradition.

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Layer Neutrals for a Relaxed Look

“To give Country French my minimalist spin, I avoid the expected ruffles and plaids and keep it about the painted antiques and white linens,” says homeowner and designer Regina Lynch. “In this house, curtains would have been too much, so instead I painted the trim a dark gray for a similar, but cleaner, look.” 

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Get the Gallery Look

Photo Robbie Caponetto / Styling Anne Turner Carroll and Fran Keenan

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Accessorize with Historic Elements

Photo by Robbie Caponetto

Use a flat-top trunk as a coffeee table to bring a sense of history to a room. This chocolate-brown piece coordinates with the neutral color scheme of the room, and the nail-head trim is mirrored in the decorative sofa hardware.

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Create Open Space

To keep the traffic flow open, pull the furniture away from the walls and into the center of the room―a type of arranging commonly referred to as a “floating furniture plan.” An octagonal ottoman in a bold fabric set on a cowhide rug anchors the arrangement in this room.

  • See this Cozy Den Redo

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Blend Elegance and Comfort

Comfortable and formal can go together. Use antiques to anchor your room and then mix in modern touches with bold fabrics, mid-century lighting, and sculptural accessories. Pair silk curtains and mirrored tables with clean-lined upholstery and lots of colorful pillows.

  • See this Classic Charleston Living Room

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Use Unexpected Materials

Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Scott Martin

A stone chimney is beautiful, but it’s also expected. The natural horizontal wood paneling around this fireplace ties it together with the built-ins flanking the hearth.

  • See this Cottage Home

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Mix and Match Patterns

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Matthew Gleason

This living room shows that you don’t need to shy away from bold patterns in a small space. A floral rug and coordinating pillows add color to the space, while an animal-print chair heightens the drama. The herringbone fireplace tile is a nice geometric touch.

  • See this Louisiana Home

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Use Modern Classics

Photography Charles Walton IV / Styling Scott Martin

If  you want a contemporary edge, you can’t go wrong with the modern classics like these white-leather Barcelona chairs and Lucite coffee table.

  • See this Modern Nashville Home

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Create a Faux Fireplace

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Give your living room a focal point by creating a faux fireplace with an antique mantel. This fireplace was set on a rectangular piece of slate as the hearth. .

See this Georgia Row House

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Let the Light In

Photography: Laurey W. Glenn

Short on windows to capture natural light? Replace solid exterior doors with glass ones for an airy feel and pretty views of your yard.

  • See this 1935 Cabin Redo

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Pick a Favorite Time Period

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

This living room was designed to resemble an early-1900s library; the living room contains a wall of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Two large double-hung windows punctuate these built-ins, along with cozy window seats below.

  • See this Georgia Row House

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Let In Lots of Natural Light

This living area has floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that fill the room with light. Horizontal mullions in the glass doors are reminiscent of Japanese shoji screens. They complement the space and guide your eye around the room.

  • See this Modern Bungalow 

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Combine Collectables

Don’t be afraid to personalize the items you buy. Almost every chair in this room was refinished: Two armchairs were whitewashed, and the blue velvet chair was gilded.

  • See this colorful North Carolina Home

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Know When To Save or Splurge

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Heather Chadduck,

This sofa with its supreme comfort, rich color and fabric, and clean lines is definitely a forever piece, so it was worth spending a little more money on. The honeycomb mirror over the fireplace was an inexpensive piece bought at a chain store.

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Embrace Bold Prints

Photography Van Chaplin, Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

Don’t be afraid to fall in love with a bold print. The designer of this living room was inspired by the floral side chair fabric and let it dictate the colors found elsewhere in the room.

  • Formal Living Rooms

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Look for Inspiration in Unexpected Places

Charles Walton IV / styling Todd Childs

This homeowner found inspiration for her walls in a bag of gourmet marshmallows: She used the soft, sophisticated colors to dictate her palette. The plate rack that once showcased antique plates in her parents’ home holds cherished photos.

  • See this renovated Alabama Cottage

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Look for Unused Spaces

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Matthew Gleason

This living room is a genius use of often-overlooked space; the upstairs landing was transformed into a small den that makes an inviting, casual family hangout. An upholstered wall softens the space above the built-in bench, while bamboo Chippendale-style chairs and vibrant turquoise Moroccan poufs add plenty of extra seating.

  • See this Louisiana Home

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Add Interest with Decorative Trim

Photography Van Chaplin, Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

The designer of this room added trim to the bottom of a basic sofa to dress it up and used a mix of custom pillows to pull colors from around the room.

  • See this Georgia Mountain Home

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Hold onto Inspiring Samples

Photography Charles Walton IV

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.

  • See this Designer’s Cottage

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Decorate with Memories

Make your living room unique and nostalgic by using heirloom pieces. This homeowner’s great-grandfather owned a bungalow, and he fondly remembers childhood visits to the family home. He filled his own bungalow home with family furniture and one-of-a-kind attic finds.

  • See this Vintage-Style Cottage Bungalow

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Accent with Red

Use bright colors and strong patterns to punctuate an otherwise neutral space. The red accessories in this living room add an energetic punch without overwhelming the area.

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Design for Real-Life Use

Photo: Laurey Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

You don’t have to give up style even in your high-traffic living room. Guests and kids need not reach for coasters before putting drinks down on the distressed coffee table. Scrapes and dings only add to the character of the piece. A patterned area rug is forgiving of spills and dusty feet.

  • See this Lakeside Cabin Makeover

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Get Patriotic

You can pull off a patriotic color scheme without being kitsch. Try hints of red with a pretty blue backdrop. Use natural linen instead of bright white.

Bonus Tip! Hide the flat screen. The painting above the fireplace can be rolled along the galvanized metal track, revealing a television.

  • See this Country Cottage

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Fake a Tall Ceiling

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn / Styling: Anne Turner Carroll

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Get Inspired by a Favorite Textile

Photography Van Chaplin, Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

Use a fabric pattern to inspire the color scheme and style of your room. The fabric on these armchairs pulls together the tones of this living room.

  • See this Georgia Mountain Home

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Create a Keeping Room

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Since guests typically gather in the kitchen, a keeping room is ideal for overflow and comfort. Keep your furniture comfortable and durable-it is sure to be the most used in your home.

  • See this Georgia Row House

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Display Your Collection to Advantage

If you have a lot of collections, always keep the base neutral so your displays won’t overwhelm the space. Here, a collection of turquoise lighting elements stands out against the cream walls and plays off of the colors in the large painting.

  • See this designer’s Virginia Home

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Create a Conversation Corner

Laurey W. Glenn, Robbie Caponetto / Styling: Matthew Gleason

If you have space, create a separate, more intimate seating area in your living room for quiet conversations.

  • See this Coastal Home

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Slipcover in Style

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Choose a Sunny Palette

Crisp whites combined with punches of bright colors immediately transport you to the coast. In this living room, aqua accents in the pillows, throw, and rug mimic the ocean’s dazzling blues, and the pops of bright orange are inspired by the magnificent hues of the setting sun. Whitewashed horizontal shiplap planking evokes the feel of old Gulf-front beach houses.

  • See this Coastal Home

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Buy the Whole Bolt

Inspiration for this design struck in the form of a 30-yard bolt of black-and-white- hound’s-tooth fabric that was on sale for an amazing $30. Even after the window treatments, upholstery, and pillows there was plenty of leftover fabric to be used down the road as seat cushions on new finds, lampshades, and even place mats or a tablecloth.

  • See this Home Decorated on a Budget

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Achieve Balance

Asymmetrical arrangements can be intimidating, but formal symmetry is easy to pull off and adds a calm balance to a room. The simple arrangement above this fireplace is clean and elegant.

  • See this Formal Nashville Home

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Layer Rugs

Photo: Erica George Dines

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Add Architectural Interest

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Create a Cozy Spot for Reading

Photo Robbie Caponetto / Styling Anne Turner Carroll and Fran Keenan

This armchair is re-covered in a botanical print fabric. The legs are painted white to lighten the visual weight of the piece. Tucked into a corner of the living room and paired with a set of nesting tables, the chair is a perfect spot for reading.

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Mix Lights and Darks

Decorating is not like doing the laundry. Lights and darks go together just fine. In fact, they’re made for each other in this living room connected by a large cased opening.

  • See this Kentucky Home

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Open Up Your Living Space

Although less than 2,500 square feet, this cottage feels larger because of the homeowners’ clever decision to open up and connect the main living spaces. The family room is also vaulted to reveal the loft space above―yet another way of providing extra volume to a relatively modest space.

  • See this Appalachian Style Cottage

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Mix, Don’t Match

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.

  • See this DC Apartment

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White Wash the Walls

These homeowners wanted to let their guests be the color to their space, so they painted all of the background surfaces, including the brick fireplace, a clean shade of white. A vintage advertisement and an Arkansas license plate hang on the wall. The casual furniture is covered in washable slipcovers for easy cleanup when inevitable spills happen.

  • See this Renovated Lake Retreat

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Play Up Your Favorite Color, but Keep the Base Neutral

If you’re a frequent redecorator, keep the base neutral in order to let accessories really shine. White or off-white walls and slipcovers stay the same even as this homeowner flirts with new obsessions. She tires quickly of things, and has gone through phases with several different colors, so she tries to change things up with pillows and throws.

  • See this Designer’s Virginia Home

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Spruce Up Your Space With Curtains

Draperies do more than block out the sun. Window treatments can transform a room, adding personality and character. These ceiling-to-floor draperies make the space seem taller and more grand.

  • See this Formal Nashville Home

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Upgrade Your Doors and Windows

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Elizabeth Demos

To enhance the home’s 9-foot ceilings, these homeowners upgraded to 8-foot-tall doors and 6-foot-tall windows to let in maximum light. They also aligned the doors and windows at the same height to draw the eye up and create the illusion of more space.

  • See this Pre-Fab Coastal Cottage

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Flip Your Color Scheme

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Elizabeth Demos

Flip tradition and paint your ceiling a bright color while leaving your walls white. Bring the color down into the space with coordinating accessories like window-coverings and pillows.

  • See this Pre-Fab Coastal Cottage

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Accessorize with Local Pieces

Tortoise and conch shells accessorize this coastal living room, while starfish adorn the mantel. Books on South Carolina’s coastal area lie stacked on the coffee table and topped with shells. Vases of palm fronds simply picked up from outside complete the tropical decor.

  • See this Coastal-Style Cottage

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Pick Furniture That Will Work in Multiple Spaces

Photo: Melanie Acevedo, Styling: Olga Naiman

Everything this home can work in most any room in their house. Everything in the living room—the sofa, two club chairs, and two armchairs—has lived and functioned in other areas of the home. The style continuity is part of this home’s peaceful, tranquil feeling.

  • See this Classic Southern Home

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Repeat Prints

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Natasha Louise King

Repeating patterned fabrics in adjoining spaces is a great way to tie them together. Here, the dining chair upholstery is repeated in accent pillows on the living room sofa.

  • See this Traditional Great Room

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Get Inspired by Art

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

Over this fireplace, a painting by the homeowner’s aunt provides playful color inspiration. Its coral hues are repeated in fabrics and accessories. Wallpaper remnants are placed inside the built-in glass cabinets to hide DVDs and toys and provide an inexpensive style fix.

  • See this 1920’s Home

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Mix Modern and Traditional

Photography: Laura Moss, Styling: Natasha Louise King

Anchor a room with a traditional rug and accessories, and then juxtapose them with modern art for a fresh feel. The hues of this heirloom rug play off of the colors of the bottle-cap portrait above the fireplace.

  • See this Elegant Charleston Single House

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Build-In Your Entertainment Area

These homeowners flanked the hearth with an additional bookshelf designed to accommodate the television.

  • See this Great Room

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Retrofit Your Lighting

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Heather Chadduck,

Don’t be trapped by a light’s intended use. This homeowner painted an outdoor lantern and wired it for indoor use.

  • Living Room Lighting Ideas

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Create the Illusion of Taller Ceilings

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Heather Chadduck,

Hang art above cased openings to draw the eye up and make the ceiling look even higher. Here black and white photographs play off of other black and white patterns in the room.

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Use Durable Upholstery Fabric

A sectional sofa covered in a khaki Sunbrella sailcloth floats in the center of this room. The outdoor-rated fabric won’t fade and will easily shed stains.

  • See this Den Redo

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Mix Patterns the Smart Way

Mixing patterns is a great way to add interest to a room. To keep the look cohesive, use patterns from the same color family and vary their scale.

  • See this Colorful Home

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Use Animal Print Rugs

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Use Flexible Furniture in a Great Room

This living area contains leather swivel chairs that can be rotated to face the kitchen or the TV and fireplace. The long upholstered ottoman does double duty as a coffee table and a bench.

  • See this Family-Friendly Great Room

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Create a Grown-Up Space

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Bring the formal parlor back to your home—this one’s for Mom and Dad, not the kids. Created with the feel of a warm and cozy den, this front room contains rich upholstery and textiles, dark-stained furniture, and a leather wing chair.

  • See this Georgia Row House

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Curate a Rotating Mantle Display

Above the mantel, this homeowner displays an ever-changing arrangement of artwork and accessories. An avid flea market and antique store shopper, as he finds new collectibles, he likes to bring them in as a quick way to change up the look.

  • See this Renovated Lake Retreat

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Choose Furniture that Fits the Scale of Your Room

In this living room, rolled-arm sofas are sized up to fill the airy space. For a coffee table, the homeowner had a Duncan Phyfe dining table cut down a few notches to a comfortable height for playing games or propping feet.

  • See this Kansas City Home

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Make Room for Family

Photo: Erica George Dines

The easy flow between family room and kitchen is welcoming to all ages and offers plenty of room for this homeowner’s extended family, friends, and groups from church to gather. This contiguous space is the heart of their house.

  • See this Farmhouse-Style Home

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Find Meaningful Local Art

Photo: Erica George Dines

Local artwork is a meaningful accessory. A locally painted scene of Florida live oaks hangs above this family room’s cast-stone fireplace.

  • See this Farmhouse-Style Home

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Use Picture Molding

Family photographs instantly add warmth and personality to your home. Take them out of the attic, off your computer, or out of the infrequently viewed albums on your bookshelves, and enjoy them every day. Pick a wall, corner, or entire room. If your chosen spot already has picture molding (found in many older homes), your job will be easy. If not, adding new molding is not that complicated.

  • Learn How to Create a Hanging Photo Display

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Plan Ahead for Artwork

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.

  • Living Room Finishing Touches

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Get Creative with Your Ceiling

Don’t forget to address the ceiling of your space. This vaulted ceiling has a rough-hewn wood treatment that warms-up the feeling of the room.

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Splash on the Color

This pool house living room sports sherbert-colored hues and feminine flourishes. Quirky cobalt table lamps from Stray Dog Designs and an eccentric teak table serve as foils for the sofa’s old-fashioned fringe.

See more of this Tropical Pool House Retreat

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Create Display Cubbies

Photography: Laurey W. Glenn

Cozy built-in cubbies provide the perfect place to display antique collectables and heirlooms in this living room space.

  • See this Stylish Space

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Salvage Original Materials

Photo: Lucas Allen, Styling: Elizabeth Demos

In this living room, the heart-pine flooring came from a South Carolina textile mill. It has the original nail holes, and if you look closely, you can still see oil stains from factory weaving machines.

  • See this New Old House

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Maximize Space with Dual-Purpose Built-Ins

Photo: Melanie Acevedo, Styling: Olga Naiman

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Incorporate Personal Touches

Can’t find the exact table or chest that you need? Just add your own touches, such as a paint finish or unique drawer pulls, to convert an available piece into a one-of-a-kind item. The designer of this living room set a piece of custom-cut stone on top of the wooden coffee table in the family room, giving it a more durable surface.

  • Take a Virtual Tour of this Georgia Home

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Add Occasional Tables

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Make Large Rooms Cozy with Multiple Seating Areas

How do you make a gigantic room look cozy and appropriate for today when it’s actually an old Virginia cow barn?

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.

  • See Steven’s Barn Decorating Ideas

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Use Bold Accessories

A geometric flat weave is more casual and youthful than a heavy Oriental or wool rug. Balance it out with a large piece of modern art framed in a simple white gallery frame. Finish with blue glass lamps or a pretty bowl to add sparkle and dimension.

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Window Treatment Texture 2

Barn builders used post-and-beam construction in rough-hewn yellow pine. Linen curtains with vintage trim add elegance to the rustic room.

  • Tour this Classic Farmhouse

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Use a Mix of Hues

The homeowners combined several shades of blue, from almost-black navy to royal, in the light-filled living room. The hand-blocked batik print on the curtains and bench is by John Robshaw Textiles.

  • Tour this High Definition Dallas Home

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Inviting Family Room Design

Reclaimed-wood beams ground the airy, white space. A large but delicate chandelier with a burnished brass finish helps anchor the room, while a vertical custom metal-framed mirror emphasizes the room’s height.

  • See more of this Functional Family-Friendly Remodel

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Give a Small Room Big Style

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Choose a Statement Sofa for a Large Room

A tufted chesterfield sofa covered in family-friendly Sunbrella fabric adds scale and traditional style. Tip: A large sofa needs large pillows—ours are 26 inches square.

Editor’s Tip: Reinvent vintage finds in a new setting. Here, an old flat file cabinet works as a coffee table.

  • See more of the 2012 Farmhouse Restoration Idea House

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Use a Range of Textiles

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Matthew Gleason

A range of textiles (including velvet, wool, linen, and cotton) adds texture and keeps the muted hues of the C. R. Laine upholstery from falling flat.

  • Take a Video Tour of the Living Room

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Balance Rustic Elements

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Pull Out a Bold Accent Color

Photo: Eric Piasecki, Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

With the multihued curtain fabric as her jumping-off point, designer Ashley Whittaker splashed an amped-up version of pink in three places in the living room—the footstool, the contrasting pillow welt, and the slipper-chair trim. “We wanted the home to feel bright and colorful like Florida but not like a vacation home,” says Ashley. She pulled off the cozy yet elegant vibe by grounding the sun-and-surf palette with serious touches, such as the antique demilune tables.

Love it? Get it! 
Wall paint: Pale Powder; farrow-ball.com. Drapery fabric: Celeste Robin’s Egg by Raoul Textiles, available through DCOTA; 954/921-7575.

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Layer Patterns and Bold Prints

Layers of classic patterns and bold prints connected by a warm palette of brown, ivory, and green give this D.C. cottage a hefty dose of handsome hospitality.

Love it? Get it! 
Designer: David Mitchell, David Mitchell Interior Design, Washington, D.C.; davidmitchellinteriordesign.com.

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Surround Your Fireplace with Built-Ins

Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Rose Nguyen

An inglenook is a space next to the fireplace that often includes seating. These built-in window seats provide extra seating and are a comfy place to read.

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Add Privacy without Losing Light

Add a little privacy to family rooms without sacrificing light by installing drapery panels that don’t have a thick lining.

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Embrace Ideas from the Past

Try a great idea from the past. The triple-hung windows on either side of the great room’s fireplace are found in many older homes in the Deep South. When the two lower sashes are raised, the openings serve as passageways to the screened porch beyond.

Editor’s Favorite Living Rooms

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Showcase Antiques

Antiques are the hallmark of Southern homes, but you don’t have to have a room full of fine antiques—one nice piece in a room can elevate everything around it. The antique desk in this room gives a sense of history.

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Decorate with Cottage Style

Layer floral and geometric patterns on casual furniture for a cozy, cottage feel. Punch up your floral patterns by pairing with them with fresh flowers in mismatched vases.

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Create a Statement with Art

With impressive artwork and sleek, sophisticated furnishings set against a perfectly pale palette, this space is a constellation of star elements.

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Decorate Naturally

Take your decorating cues from your surroundings. This home is on a lake surrounded by trees. Moss greens and mushroom browns paired with a twig-and-bark side table truly bring the outdoors in.

  • Living Room Media Solutions

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Modernize the Classics

Make a classic print—like houndstooth check—modern by playing with the scale of the pattern and using it in an unexpected color.

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Try Natural Textures

Jeremy Fleming, Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Scott Martin

Warm up a room with interesting textures. Woven accessories and ottoman keep things simple and natural.

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Bring the Outdoors In

Use naturally occurring colors and textures to give an earthy feeling to your living room. Potted plants and wicker furniture give this home a casual comfort.

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Love the Lodge Look

Get the lodge look by pairing rich leathers with rustic wood elements and classic tartans. Candles and lanterns further add to the atmosphere.

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Give Your Living Room a Sense of Place

Coastal and nautical touches abound in this family room beginning with the seashell-print pillows. Coastal artwork over the fireplace flanks shelving that is filled to the brim with shell frames and boxes.

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Play with Scale

Charles Walton IV / Styling Leigh Anne Montgomery

Use large-scale pieces in unexpected places. This distinctive coffee table is constructed using the base of two columns and a stone slab.

  • See this Comfortable Downtown Loft

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Get Hands-On with Casual Finishes

This living room has a please touch, no fuss feel. It’s comfortable for a young family or grandparents with visiting grandchildren. Hand-rubbed finishes on furnishings lend vintage appeal.

  • Casual Family Rooms

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Mix and Match Your Wood Tones

Your wood pieces don’t have to be the same color. Here, a dark wood desk is at home among blond occasional tables because the pieces have similar clean lines.

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Bright and Airy Living

A simplified, white color scheme allowed decorator Alana Woerpel to add controlled shots of blue into this bright and airy living room.

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Mix and match patterns, embrace bold colors, layer rugs, and so much more! Try these tips to create a pretty space to enjoy conversations with friends and family.

No matter if you call it a living room, family room, den, or even a keeping room–you’ve got that one room in your home, aside from the kitchen, that’s intended for both family and company. And, we bet, you want it to look both pulled together and comfortable. We are here to tell you it’s possible to create a well-decorated living room that will impress company and will be enjoyed by your family. Here are our best easy decorating ideas ranging in all different styles for those that love a more formal living room or a cozy den or a relaxed family room. What ever your style–we’ve got the decorating tips and ideas for your beautiful living room, beautiful family room, or your beautiful den. One thing is for sure, you’ll be inspired by all of these chic decorating ideas. 

Coastal Lowcountry Living Room

Materials that connect to the location are key to character building. Sisal hints at the marsh grasses in an elegant way and is also durable, easy to clean, and ideal for layering. The alligator skull speaks to the local wildlife, while palms in antique glass and fern-patterned pillows are additional nods to the room’s Lowcountry vibe and provide a carefree polish.

Layering a vintage kilim over a natural sisal rug acts as an attractive barrier against water, sand, and other elements.

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Comforting Colors

An elk antler trophy is the focal point in this living room, and the palm tree triptych and a blue, green, and mulberry palette create a comfortable environment.

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Unite Your Living Space

Designer Sam Blount used the biggest rug possible to tie this blue and white space together. “I’m a big fan of large rugs in small spaces—too many bitsy ones visually chop up the floor.” says Blount.

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Forgo the Chairs

These oversize sectionals allow everyone to sit, without touching each other. The bench-style seat cushions look cleaner and don’t shift around like multiple seat cushions do.

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Use a Barn Door

A barn door allows the living space to be separated from the kitchen if nessessary, while taking up less space than traditional hinged doors. 

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Modernize Heirloom Pieces

The settee in this room was given a modern update with wild fabric, while neutrals were used for the curved vintage sofa and rounded swivel chairs.

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Lighten Up with White

Achieve a luxe neutral look with white upholstery and decorative accents in a variety of light hues to add extra depth and dimension. 

Similar throw pillows here.

See more of this White Living Room

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Mix Mod and Traditional

The 11-foot-long vintage sofa in this living room is a mod counterpoint to a pair of traditional antique chairs. 

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Mix Instead of Match Fabrics

The designer started with fabric selections to set the room’s happy mood and a bright color palette of pink, turquoise, and chartreuse. Fabrics don’t have to be matchy-matchy to communicate with each other. If they share a similar vibrancy and color temperature, they’ll look good together.

  • See the Vibrant Sunroom Makeover

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Invest in Antiques

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Mix Up the Seating

Seating shouldn’t be limited to club chairs and sofas. Utilize benches, ottomans, and odd side chairs to accommodate more people.

  • Tour this Sea Island Beach House

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Visually Divide a Great Room

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Mix Your Styles

You can mix old and new, formal and casual, neutral and bold to make an inviting and comfortable space. A neutral-toned sofa and armchair introduce contemporary lines while custom draperies add a touch of tradition.

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Layer Neutrals for a Relaxed Look

“To give Country French my minimalist spin, I avoid the expected ruffles and plaids and keep it about the painted antiques and white linens,” says homeowner and designer Regina Lynch. “In this house, curtains would have been too much, so instead I painted the trim a dark gray for a similar, but cleaner, look.” 

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Get the Gallery Look

Photo Robbie Caponetto / Styling Anne Turner Carroll and Fran Keenan

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Accessorize with Historic Elements

Photo by Robbie Caponetto

Use a flat-top trunk as a coffeee table to bring a sense of history to a room. This chocolate-brown piece coordinates with the neutral color scheme of the room, and the nail-head trim is mirrored in the decorative sofa hardware.

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Create Open Space

To keep the traffic flow open, pull the furniture away from the walls and into the center of the room―a type of arranging commonly referred to as a “floating furniture plan.” An octagonal ottoman in a bold fabric set on a cowhide rug anchors the arrangement in this room.

  • See this Cozy Den Redo

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Blend Elegance and Comfort

Comfortable and formal can go together. Use antiques to anchor your room and then mix in modern touches with bold fabrics, mid-century lighting, and sculptural accessories. Pair silk curtains and mirrored tables with clean-lined upholstery and lots of colorful pillows.

  • See this Classic Charleston Living Room

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Use Unexpected Materials

Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Scott Martin

A stone chimney is beautiful, but it’s also expected. The natural horizontal wood paneling around this fireplace ties it together with the built-ins flanking the hearth.

  • See this Cottage Home

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Mix and Match Patterns

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Matthew Gleason

This living room shows that you don’t need to shy away from bold patterns in a small space. A floral rug and coordinating pillows add color to the space, while an animal-print chair heightens the drama. The herringbone fireplace tile is a nice geometric touch.

  • See this Louisiana Home

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Use Modern Classics

Photography Charles Walton IV / Styling Scott Martin

If  you want a contemporary edge, you can’t go wrong with the modern classics like these white-leather Barcelona chairs and Lucite coffee table.

  • See this Modern Nashville Home

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Create a Faux Fireplace

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Give your living room a focal point by creating a faux fireplace with an antique mantel. This fireplace was set on a rectangular piece of slate as the hearth. .

See this Georgia Row House

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Let the Light In

Photography: Laurey W. Glenn

Short on windows to capture natural light? Replace solid exterior doors with glass ones for an airy feel and pretty views of your yard.

  • See this 1935 Cabin Redo

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Pick a Favorite Time Period

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

This living room was designed to resemble an early-1900s library; the living room contains a wall of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Two large double-hung windows punctuate these built-ins, along with cozy window seats below.

  • See this Georgia Row House

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Let In Lots of Natural Light

This living area has floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that fill the room with light. Horizontal mullions in the glass doors are reminiscent of Japanese shoji screens. They complement the space and guide your eye around the room.

  • See this Modern Bungalow 

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Combine Collectables

Don’t be afraid to personalize the items you buy. Almost every chair in this room was refinished: Two armchairs were whitewashed, and the blue velvet chair was gilded.

  • See this colorful North Carolina Home

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Know When To Save or Splurge

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Heather Chadduck,

This sofa with its supreme comfort, rich color and fabric, and clean lines is definitely a forever piece, so it was worth spending a little more money on. The honeycomb mirror over the fireplace was an inexpensive piece bought at a chain store.

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Embrace Bold Prints

Photography Van Chaplin, Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

Don’t be afraid to fall in love with a bold print. The designer of this living room was inspired by the floral side chair fabric and let it dictate the colors found elsewhere in the room.

  • Formal Living Rooms

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Look for Inspiration in Unexpected Places

Charles Walton IV / styling Todd Childs

This homeowner found inspiration for her walls in a bag of gourmet marshmallows: She used the soft, sophisticated colors to dictate her palette. The plate rack that once showcased antique plates in her parents’ home holds cherished photos.

  • See this renovated Alabama Cottage

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Look for Unused Spaces

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Matthew Gleason

This living room is a genius use of often-overlooked space; the upstairs landing was transformed into a small den that makes an inviting, casual family hangout. An upholstered wall softens the space above the built-in bench, while bamboo Chippendale-style chairs and vibrant turquoise Moroccan poufs add plenty of extra seating.

  • See this Louisiana Home

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Add Interest with Decorative Trim

Photography Van Chaplin, Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

The designer of this room added trim to the bottom of a basic sofa to dress it up and used a mix of custom pillows to pull colors from around the room.

  • See this Georgia Mountain Home

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Hold onto Inspiring Samples

Photography Charles Walton IV

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.

  • See this Designer’s Cottage

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Decorate with Memories

Make your living room unique and nostalgic by using heirloom pieces. This homeowner’s great-grandfather owned a bungalow, and he fondly remembers childhood visits to the family home. He filled his own bungalow home with family furniture and one-of-a-kind attic finds.

  • See this Vintage-Style Cottage Bungalow

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Accent with Red

Use bright colors and strong patterns to punctuate an otherwise neutral space. The red accessories in this living room add an energetic punch without overwhelming the area.

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Design for Real-Life Use

Photo: Laurey Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

You don’t have to give up style even in your high-traffic living room. Guests and kids need not reach for coasters before putting drinks down on the distressed coffee table. Scrapes and dings only add to the character of the piece. A patterned area rug is forgiving of spills and dusty feet.

  • See this Lakeside Cabin Makeover

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Get Patriotic

You can pull off a patriotic color scheme without being kitsch. Try hints of red with a pretty blue backdrop. Use natural linen instead of bright white.

Bonus Tip! Hide the flat screen. The painting above the fireplace can be rolled along the galvanized metal track, revealing a television.

  • See this Country Cottage

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Fake a Tall Ceiling

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn / Styling: Anne Turner Carroll

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Get Inspired by a Favorite Textile

Photography Van Chaplin, Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

Use a fabric pattern to inspire the color scheme and style of your room. The fabric on these armchairs pulls together the tones of this living room.

  • See this Georgia Mountain Home

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Create a Keeping Room

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Since guests typically gather in the kitchen, a keeping room is ideal for overflow and comfort. Keep your furniture comfortable and durable-it is sure to be the most used in your home.

  • See this Georgia Row House

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Display Your Collection to Advantage

If you have a lot of collections, always keep the base neutral so your displays won’t overwhelm the space. Here, a collection of turquoise lighting elements stands out against the cream walls and plays off of the colors in the large painting.

  • See this designer’s Virginia Home

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Create a Conversation Corner

Laurey W. Glenn, Robbie Caponetto / Styling: Matthew Gleason

If you have space, create a separate, more intimate seating area in your living room for quiet conversations.

  • See this Coastal Home

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Slipcover in Style

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Choose a Sunny Palette

Crisp whites combined with punches of bright colors immediately transport you to the coast. In this living room, aqua accents in the pillows, throw, and rug mimic the ocean’s dazzling blues, and the pops of bright orange are inspired by the magnificent hues of the setting sun. Whitewashed horizontal shiplap planking evokes the feel of old Gulf-front beach houses.

  • See this Coastal Home

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Buy the Whole Bolt

Inspiration for this design struck in the form of a 30-yard bolt of black-and-white- hound’s-tooth fabric that was on sale for an amazing $30. Even after the window treatments, upholstery, and pillows there was plenty of leftover fabric to be used down the road as seat cushions on new finds, lampshades, and even place mats or a tablecloth.

  • See this Home Decorated on a Budget

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Achieve Balance

Asymmetrical arrangements can be intimidating, but formal symmetry is easy to pull off and adds a calm balance to a room. The simple arrangement above this fireplace is clean and elegant.

  • See this Formal Nashville Home

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Layer Rugs

Photo: Erica George Dines

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Add Architectural Interest

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Create a Cozy Spot for Reading

Photo Robbie Caponetto / Styling Anne Turner Carroll and Fran Keenan

This armchair is re-covered in a botanical print fabric. The legs are painted white to lighten the visual weight of the piece. Tucked into a corner of the living room and paired with a set of nesting tables, the chair is a perfect spot for reading.

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Mix Lights and Darks

Decorating is not like doing the laundry. Lights and darks go together just fine. In fact, they’re made for each other in this living room connected by a large cased opening.

  • See this Kentucky Home

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Open Up Your Living Space

Although less than 2,500 square feet, this cottage feels larger because of the homeowners’ clever decision to open up and connect the main living spaces. The family room is also vaulted to reveal the loft space above―yet another way of providing extra volume to a relatively modest space.

  • See this Appalachian Style Cottage

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Mix, Don’t Match

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.

  • See this DC Apartment

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White Wash the Walls

These homeowners wanted to let their guests be the color to their space, so they painted all of the background surfaces, including the brick fireplace, a clean shade of white. A vintage advertisement and an Arkansas license plate hang on the wall. The casual furniture is covered in washable slipcovers for easy cleanup when inevitable spills happen.

  • See this Renovated Lake Retreat

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Play Up Your Favorite Color, but Keep the Base Neutral

If you’re a frequent redecorator, keep the base neutral in order to let accessories really shine. White or off-white walls and slipcovers stay the same even as this homeowner flirts with new obsessions. She tires quickly of things, and has gone through phases with several different colors, so she tries to change things up with pillows and throws.

  • See this Designer’s Virginia Home

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Spruce Up Your Space With Curtains

Draperies do more than block out the sun. Window treatments can transform a room, adding personality and character. These ceiling-to-floor draperies make the space seem taller and more grand.

  • See this Formal Nashville Home

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Upgrade Your Doors and Windows

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Elizabeth Demos

To enhance the home’s 9-foot ceilings, these homeowners upgraded to 8-foot-tall doors and 6-foot-tall windows to let in maximum light. They also aligned the doors and windows at the same height to draw the eye up and create the illusion of more space.

  • See this Pre-Fab Coastal Cottage

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Flip Your Color Scheme

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Elizabeth Demos

Flip tradition and paint your ceiling a bright color while leaving your walls white. Bring the color down into the space with coordinating accessories like window-coverings and pillows.

  • See this Pre-Fab Coastal Cottage

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Accessorize with Local Pieces

Tortoise and conch shells accessorize this coastal living room, while starfish adorn the mantel. Books on South Carolina’s coastal area lie stacked on the coffee table and topped with shells. Vases of palm fronds simply picked up from outside complete the tropical decor.

  • See this Coastal-Style Cottage

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Pick Furniture That Will Work in Multiple Spaces

Photo: Melanie Acevedo, Styling: Olga Naiman

Everything this home can work in most any room in their house. Everything in the living room—the sofa, two club chairs, and two armchairs—has lived and functioned in other areas of the home. The style continuity is part of this home’s peaceful, tranquil feeling.

  • See this Classic Southern Home

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Repeat Prints

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Natasha Louise King

Repeating patterned fabrics in adjoining spaces is a great way to tie them together. Here, the dining chair upholstery is repeated in accent pillows on the living room sofa.

  • See this Traditional Great Room

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Get Inspired by Art

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

Over this fireplace, a painting by the homeowner’s aunt provides playful color inspiration. Its coral hues are repeated in fabrics and accessories. Wallpaper remnants are placed inside the built-in glass cabinets to hide DVDs and toys and provide an inexpensive style fix.

  • See this 1920’s Home

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Mix Modern and Traditional

Photography: Laura Moss, Styling: Natasha Louise King

Anchor a room with a traditional rug and accessories, and then juxtapose them with modern art for a fresh feel. The hues of this heirloom rug play off of the colors of the bottle-cap portrait above the fireplace.

  • See this Elegant Charleston Single House

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Build-In Your Entertainment Area

These homeowners flanked the hearth with an additional bookshelf designed to accommodate the television.

  • See this Great Room

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Retrofit Your Lighting

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Heather Chadduck,

Don’t be trapped by a light’s intended use. This homeowner painted an outdoor lantern and wired it for indoor use.

  • Living Room Lighting Ideas

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Create the Illusion of Taller Ceilings

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Heather Chadduck,

Hang art above cased openings to draw the eye up and make the ceiling look even higher. Here black and white photographs play off of other black and white patterns in the room.

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Use Durable Upholstery Fabric

A sectional sofa covered in a khaki Sunbrella sailcloth floats in the center of this room. The outdoor-rated fabric won’t fade and will easily shed stains.

  • See this Den Redo

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Mix Patterns the Smart Way

Mixing patterns is a great way to add interest to a room. To keep the look cohesive, use patterns from the same color family and vary their scale.

  • See this Colorful Home

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Use Animal Print Rugs

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Use Flexible Furniture in a Great Room

This living area contains leather swivel chairs that can be rotated to face the kitchen or the TV and fireplace. The long upholstered ottoman does double duty as a coffee table and a bench.

  • See this Family-Friendly Great Room

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Create a Grown-Up Space

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Bring the formal parlor back to your home—this one’s for Mom and Dad, not the kids. Created with the feel of a warm and cozy den, this front room contains rich upholstery and textiles, dark-stained furniture, and a leather wing chair.

  • See this Georgia Row House

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Curate a Rotating Mantle Display

Above the mantel, this homeowner displays an ever-changing arrangement of artwork and accessories. An avid flea market and antique store shopper, as he finds new collectibles, he likes to bring them in as a quick way to change up the look.

  • See this Renovated Lake Retreat

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Choose Furniture that Fits the Scale of Your Room

In this living room, rolled-arm sofas are sized up to fill the airy space. For a coffee table, the homeowner had a Duncan Phyfe dining table cut down a few notches to a comfortable height for playing games or propping feet.

  • See this Kansas City Home

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Make Room for Family

Photo: Erica George Dines

The easy flow between family room and kitchen is welcoming to all ages and offers plenty of room for this homeowner’s extended family, friends, and groups from church to gather. This contiguous space is the heart of their house.

  • See this Farmhouse-Style Home

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Find Meaningful Local Art

Photo: Erica George Dines

Local artwork is a meaningful accessory. A locally painted scene of Florida live oaks hangs above this family room’s cast-stone fireplace.

  • See this Farmhouse-Style Home

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Use Picture Molding

Family photographs instantly add warmth and personality to your home. Take them out of the attic, off your computer, or out of the infrequently viewed albums on your bookshelves, and enjoy them every day. Pick a wall, corner, or entire room. If your chosen spot already has picture molding (found in many older homes), your job will be easy. If not, adding new molding is not that complicated.

  • Learn How to Create a Hanging Photo Display

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Plan Ahead for Artwork

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.

  • Living Room Finishing Touches

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Get Creative with Your Ceiling

Don’t forget to address the ceiling of your space. This vaulted ceiling has a rough-hewn wood treatment that warms-up the feeling of the room.

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Splash on the Color

This pool house living room sports sherbert-colored hues and feminine flourishes. Quirky cobalt table lamps from Stray Dog Designs and an eccentric teak table serve as foils for the sofa’s old-fashioned fringe.

See more of this Tropical Pool House Retreat

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Create Display Cubbies

Photography: Laurey W. Glenn

Cozy built-in cubbies provide the perfect place to display antique collectables and heirlooms in this living room space.

  • See this Stylish Space

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Salvage Original Materials

Photo: Lucas Allen, Styling: Elizabeth Demos

In this living room, the heart-pine flooring came from a South Carolina textile mill. It has the original nail holes, and if you look closely, you can still see oil stains from factory weaving machines.

  • See this New Old House

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Maximize Space with Dual-Purpose Built-Ins

Photo: Melanie Acevedo, Styling: Olga Naiman

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Incorporate Personal Touches

Can’t find the exact table or chest that you need? Just add your own touches, such as a paint finish or unique drawer pulls, to convert an available piece into a one-of-a-kind item. The designer of this living room set a piece of custom-cut stone on top of the wooden coffee table in the family room, giving it a more durable surface.

  • Take a Virtual Tour of this Georgia Home

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Add Occasional Tables

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Make Large Rooms Cozy with Multiple Seating Areas

How do you make a gigantic room look cozy and appropriate for today when it’s actually an old Virginia cow barn?

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.

  • See Steven’s Barn Decorating Ideas

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Use Bold Accessories

A geometric flat weave is more casual and youthful than a heavy Oriental or wool rug. Balance it out with a large piece of modern art framed in a simple white gallery frame. Finish with blue glass lamps or a pretty bowl to add sparkle and dimension.

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Window Treatment Texture 2

Barn builders used post-and-beam construction in rough-hewn yellow pine. Linen curtains with vintage trim add elegance to the rustic room.

  • Tour this Classic Farmhouse

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Use a Mix of Hues

The homeowners combined several shades of blue, from almost-black navy to royal, in the light-filled living room. The hand-blocked batik print on the curtains and bench is by John Robshaw Textiles.

  • Tour this High Definition Dallas Home

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Inviting Family Room Design

Reclaimed-wood beams ground the airy, white space. A large but delicate chandelier with a burnished brass finish helps anchor the room, while a vertical custom metal-framed mirror emphasizes the room’s height.

  • See more of this Functional Family-Friendly Remodel

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Give a Small Room Big Style

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Choose a Statement Sofa for a Large Room

A tufted chesterfield sofa covered in family-friendly Sunbrella fabric adds scale and traditional style. Tip: A large sofa needs large pillows—ours are 26 inches square.

Editor’s Tip: Reinvent vintage finds in a new setting. Here, an old flat file cabinet works as a coffee table.

  • See more of the 2012 Farmhouse Restoration Idea House

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Use a Range of Textiles

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Matthew Gleason

A range of textiles (including velvet, wool, linen, and cotton) adds texture and keeps the muted hues of the C. R. Laine upholstery from falling flat.

  • Take a Video Tour of the Living Room

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Balance Rustic Elements

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Pull Out a Bold Accent Color

Photo: Eric Piasecki, Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

With the multihued curtain fabric as her jumping-off point, designer Ashley Whittaker splashed an amped-up version of pink in three places in the living room—the footstool, the contrasting pillow welt, and the slipper-chair trim. “We wanted the home to feel bright and colorful like Florida but not like a vacation home,” says Ashley. She pulled off the cozy yet elegant vibe by grounding the sun-and-surf palette with serious touches, such as the antique demilune tables.

Love it? Get it! 
Wall paint: Pale Powder; farrow-ball.com. Drapery fabric: Celeste Robin’s Egg by Raoul Textiles, available through DCOTA; 954/921-7575.

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Layer Patterns and Bold Prints

Layers of classic patterns and bold prints connected by a warm palette of brown, ivory, and green give this D.C. cottage a hefty dose of handsome hospitality.

Love it? Get it! 
Designer: David Mitchell, David Mitchell Interior Design, Washington, D.C.; davidmitchellinteriordesign.com.

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Surround Your Fireplace with Built-Ins

Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Rose Nguyen

An inglenook is a space next to the fireplace that often includes seating. These built-in window seats provide extra seating and are a comfy place to read.

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Add Privacy without Losing Light

Add a little privacy to family rooms without sacrificing light by installing drapery panels that don’t have a thick lining.

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Embrace Ideas from the Past

Try a great idea from the past. The triple-hung windows on either side of the great room’s fireplace are found in many older homes in the Deep South. When the two lower sashes are raised, the openings serve as passageways to the screened porch beyond.

Editor’s Favorite Living Rooms

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Showcase Antiques

Antiques are the hallmark of Southern homes, but you don’t have to have a room full of fine antiques—one nice piece in a room can elevate everything around it. The antique desk in this room gives a sense of history.

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Decorate with Cottage Style

Layer floral and geometric patterns on casual furniture for a cozy, cottage feel. Punch up your floral patterns by pairing with them with fresh flowers in mismatched vases.

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Create a Statement with Art

With impressive artwork and sleek, sophisticated furnishings set against a perfectly pale palette, this space is a constellation of star elements.

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Decorate Naturally

Take your decorating cues from your surroundings. This home is on a lake surrounded by trees. Moss greens and mushroom browns paired with a twig-and-bark side table truly bring the outdoors in.

  • Living Room Media Solutions

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Modernize the Classics

Make a classic print—like houndstooth check—modern by playing with the scale of the pattern and using it in an unexpected color.

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Try Natural Textures

Jeremy Fleming, Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Scott Martin

Warm up a room with interesting textures. Woven accessories and ottoman keep things simple and natural.

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Bring the Outdoors In

Use naturally occurring colors and textures to give an earthy feeling to your living room. Potted plants and wicker furniture give this home a casual comfort.

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Love the Lodge Look

Get the lodge look by pairing rich leathers with rustic wood elements and classic tartans. Candles and lanterns further add to the atmosphere.

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Give Your Living Room a Sense of Place

Coastal and nautical touches abound in this family room beginning with the seashell-print pillows. Coastal artwork over the fireplace flanks shelving that is filled to the brim with shell frames and boxes.

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Play with Scale

Charles Walton IV / Styling Leigh Anne Montgomery

Use large-scale pieces in unexpected places. This distinctive coffee table is constructed using the base of two columns and a stone slab.

  • See this Comfortable Downtown Loft

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Get Hands-On with Casual Finishes

This living room has a please touch, no fuss feel. It’s comfortable for a young family or grandparents with visiting grandchildren. Hand-rubbed finishes on furnishings lend vintage appeal.

  • Casual Family Rooms

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Mix and Match Your Wood Tones

Your wood pieces don’t have to be the same color. Here, a dark wood desk is at home among blond occasional tables because the pieces have similar clean lines.

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Bright and Airy Living

A simplified, white color scheme allowed decorator Alana Woerpel to add controlled shots of blue into this bright and airy living room.

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Mix and match patterns, embrace bold colors, layer rugs, and so much more! Try these tips to create a pretty space to enjoy conversations with friends and family.

No matter if you call it a living room, family room, den, or even a keeping room–you’ve got that one room in your home, aside from the kitchen, that’s intended for both family and company. And, we bet, you want it to look both pulled together and comfortable. We are here to tell you it’s possible to create a well-decorated living room that will impress company and will be enjoyed by your family. Here are our best easy decorating ideas ranging in all different styles for those that love a more formal living room or a cozy den or a relaxed family room. What ever your style–we’ve got the decorating tips and ideas for your beautiful living room, beautiful family room, or your beautiful den. One thing is for sure, you’ll be inspired by all of these chic decorating ideas. 

Coastal Lowcountry Living Room

Materials that connect to the location are key to character building. Sisal hints at the marsh grasses in an elegant way and is also durable, easy to clean, and ideal for layering. The alligator skull speaks to the local wildlife, while palms in antique glass and fern-patterned pillows are additional nods to the room’s Lowcountry vibe and provide a carefree polish.

Layering a vintage kilim over a natural sisal rug acts as an attractive barrier against water, sand, and other elements.

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Comforting Colors

An elk antler trophy is the focal point in this living room, and the palm tree triptych and a blue, green, and mulberry palette create a comfortable environment.

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Unite Your Living Space

Designer Sam Blount used the biggest rug possible to tie this blue and white space together. “I’m a big fan of large rugs in small spaces—too many bitsy ones visually chop up the floor.” says Blount.

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Forgo the Chairs

These oversize sectionals allow everyone to sit, without touching each other. The bench-style seat cushions look cleaner and don’t shift around like multiple seat cushions do.

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Use a Barn Door

A barn door allows the living space to be separated from the kitchen if nessessary, while taking up less space than traditional hinged doors. 

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Modernize Heirloom Pieces

The settee in this room was given a modern update with wild fabric, while neutrals were used for the curved vintage sofa and rounded swivel chairs.

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Lighten Up with White

Achieve a luxe neutral look with white upholstery and decorative accents in a variety of light hues to add extra depth and dimension. 

Similar throw pillows here.

See more of this White Living Room

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Mix Mod and Traditional

The 11-foot-long vintage sofa in this living room is a mod counterpoint to a pair of traditional antique chairs. 

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Mix Instead of Match Fabrics

The designer started with fabric selections to set the room’s happy mood and a bright color palette of pink, turquoise, and chartreuse. Fabrics don’t have to be matchy-matchy to communicate with each other. If they share a similar vibrancy and color temperature, they’ll look good together.

  • See the Vibrant Sunroom Makeover

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Invest in Antiques

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Mix Up the Seating

Seating shouldn’t be limited to club chairs and sofas. Utilize benches, ottomans, and odd side chairs to accommodate more people.

  • Tour this Sea Island Beach House

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Visually Divide a Great Room

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Mix Your Styles

You can mix old and new, formal and casual, neutral and bold to make an inviting and comfortable space. A neutral-toned sofa and armchair introduce contemporary lines while custom draperies add a touch of tradition.

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Layer Neutrals for a Relaxed Look

“To give Country French my minimalist spin, I avoid the expected ruffles and plaids and keep it about the painted antiques and white linens,” says homeowner and designer Regina Lynch. “In this house, curtains would have been too much, so instead I painted the trim a dark gray for a similar, but cleaner, look.” 

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Get the Gallery Look

Photo Robbie Caponetto / Styling Anne Turner Carroll and Fran Keenan

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Accessorize with Historic Elements

Photo by Robbie Caponetto

Use a flat-top trunk as a coffeee table to bring a sense of history to a room. This chocolate-brown piece coordinates with the neutral color scheme of the room, and the nail-head trim is mirrored in the decorative sofa hardware.

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Create Open Space

To keep the traffic flow open, pull the furniture away from the walls and into the center of the room―a type of arranging commonly referred to as a “floating furniture plan.” An octagonal ottoman in a bold fabric set on a cowhide rug anchors the arrangement in this room.

  • See this Cozy Den Redo

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Blend Elegance and Comfort

Comfortable and formal can go together. Use antiques to anchor your room and then mix in modern touches with bold fabrics, mid-century lighting, and sculptural accessories. Pair silk curtains and mirrored tables with clean-lined upholstery and lots of colorful pillows.

  • See this Classic Charleston Living Room

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Use Unexpected Materials

Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Scott Martin

A stone chimney is beautiful, but it’s also expected. The natural horizontal wood paneling around this fireplace ties it together with the built-ins flanking the hearth.

  • See this Cottage Home

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Mix and Match Patterns

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Matthew Gleason

This living room shows that you don’t need to shy away from bold patterns in a small space. A floral rug and coordinating pillows add color to the space, while an animal-print chair heightens the drama. The herringbone fireplace tile is a nice geometric touch.

  • See this Louisiana Home

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Use Modern Classics

Photography Charles Walton IV / Styling Scott Martin

If  you want a contemporary edge, you can’t go wrong with the modern classics like these white-leather Barcelona chairs and Lucite coffee table.

  • See this Modern Nashville Home

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Create a Faux Fireplace

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Give your living room a focal point by creating a faux fireplace with an antique mantel. This fireplace was set on a rectangular piece of slate as the hearth. .

See this Georgia Row House

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Let the Light In

Photography: Laurey W. Glenn

Short on windows to capture natural light? Replace solid exterior doors with glass ones for an airy feel and pretty views of your yard.

  • See this 1935 Cabin Redo

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Pick a Favorite Time Period

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

This living room was designed to resemble an early-1900s library; the living room contains a wall of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Two large double-hung windows punctuate these built-ins, along with cozy window seats below.

  • See this Georgia Row House

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Let In Lots of Natural Light

This living area has floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that fill the room with light. Horizontal mullions in the glass doors are reminiscent of Japanese shoji screens. They complement the space and guide your eye around the room.

  • See this Modern Bungalow 

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Combine Collectables

Don’t be afraid to personalize the items you buy. Almost every chair in this room was refinished: Two armchairs were whitewashed, and the blue velvet chair was gilded.

  • See this colorful North Carolina Home

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Know When To Save or Splurge

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Heather Chadduck,

This sofa with its supreme comfort, rich color and fabric, and clean lines is definitely a forever piece, so it was worth spending a little more money on. The honeycomb mirror over the fireplace was an inexpensive piece bought at a chain store.

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Embrace Bold Prints

Photography Van Chaplin, Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

Don’t be afraid to fall in love with a bold print. The designer of this living room was inspired by the floral side chair fabric and let it dictate the colors found elsewhere in the room.

  • Formal Living Rooms

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Look for Inspiration in Unexpected Places

Charles Walton IV / styling Todd Childs

This homeowner found inspiration for her walls in a bag of gourmet marshmallows: She used the soft, sophisticated colors to dictate her palette. The plate rack that once showcased antique plates in her parents’ home holds cherished photos.

  • See this renovated Alabama Cottage

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Look for Unused Spaces

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Matthew Gleason

This living room is a genius use of often-overlooked space; the upstairs landing was transformed into a small den that makes an inviting, casual family hangout. An upholstered wall softens the space above the built-in bench, while bamboo Chippendale-style chairs and vibrant turquoise Moroccan poufs add plenty of extra seating.

  • See this Louisiana Home

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Add Interest with Decorative Trim

Photography Van Chaplin, Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

The designer of this room added trim to the bottom of a basic sofa to dress it up and used a mix of custom pillows to pull colors from around the room.

  • See this Georgia Mountain Home

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Hold onto Inspiring Samples

Photography Charles Walton IV

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.

  • See this Designer’s Cottage

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Decorate with Memories

Make your living room unique and nostalgic by using heirloom pieces. This homeowner’s great-grandfather owned a bungalow, and he fondly remembers childhood visits to the family home. He filled his own bungalow home with family furniture and one-of-a-kind attic finds.

  • See this Vintage-Style Cottage Bungalow

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Accent with Red

Use bright colors and strong patterns to punctuate an otherwise neutral space. The red accessories in this living room add an energetic punch without overwhelming the area.

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Design for Real-Life Use

Photo: Laurey Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

You don’t have to give up style even in your high-traffic living room. Guests and kids need not reach for coasters before putting drinks down on the distressed coffee table. Scrapes and dings only add to the character of the piece. A patterned area rug is forgiving of spills and dusty feet.

  • See this Lakeside Cabin Makeover

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Get Patriotic

You can pull off a patriotic color scheme without being kitsch. Try hints of red with a pretty blue backdrop. Use natural linen instead of bright white.

Bonus Tip! Hide the flat screen. The painting above the fireplace can be rolled along the galvanized metal track, revealing a television.

  • See this Country Cottage

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Fake a Tall Ceiling

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn / Styling: Anne Turner Carroll

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Get Inspired by a Favorite Textile

Photography Van Chaplin, Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

Use a fabric pattern to inspire the color scheme and style of your room. The fabric on these armchairs pulls together the tones of this living room.

  • See this Georgia Mountain Home

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Create a Keeping Room

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Since guests typically gather in the kitchen, a keeping room is ideal for overflow and comfort. Keep your furniture comfortable and durable-it is sure to be the most used in your home.

  • See this Georgia Row House

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Display Your Collection to Advantage

If you have a lot of collections, always keep the base neutral so your displays won’t overwhelm the space. Here, a collection of turquoise lighting elements stands out against the cream walls and plays off of the colors in the large painting.

  • See this designer’s Virginia Home

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Create a Conversation Corner

Laurey W. Glenn, Robbie Caponetto / Styling: Matthew Gleason

If you have space, create a separate, more intimate seating area in your living room for quiet conversations.

  • See this Coastal Home

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Slipcover in Style

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Choose a Sunny Palette

Crisp whites combined with punches of bright colors immediately transport you to the coast. In this living room, aqua accents in the pillows, throw, and rug mimic the ocean’s dazzling blues, and the pops of bright orange are inspired by the magnificent hues of the setting sun. Whitewashed horizontal shiplap planking evokes the feel of old Gulf-front beach houses.

  • See this Coastal Home

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Buy the Whole Bolt

Inspiration for this design struck in the form of a 30-yard bolt of black-and-white- hound’s-tooth fabric that was on sale for an amazing $30. Even after the window treatments, upholstery, and pillows there was plenty of leftover fabric to be used down the road as seat cushions on new finds, lampshades, and even place mats or a tablecloth.

  • See this Home Decorated on a Budget

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Achieve Balance

Asymmetrical arrangements can be intimidating, but formal symmetry is easy to pull off and adds a calm balance to a room. The simple arrangement above this fireplace is clean and elegant.

  • See this Formal Nashville Home

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Layer Rugs

Photo: Erica George Dines

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Add Architectural Interest

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Create a Cozy Spot for Reading

Photo Robbie Caponetto / Styling Anne Turner Carroll and Fran Keenan

This armchair is re-covered in a botanical print fabric. The legs are painted white to lighten the visual weight of the piece. Tucked into a corner of the living room and paired with a set of nesting tables, the chair is a perfect spot for reading.

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Mix Lights and Darks

Decorating is not like doing the laundry. Lights and darks go together just fine. In fact, they’re made for each other in this living room connected by a large cased opening.

  • See this Kentucky Home

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Open Up Your Living Space

Although less than 2,500 square feet, this cottage feels larger because of the homeowners’ clever decision to open up and connect the main living spaces. The family room is also vaulted to reveal the loft space above―yet another way of providing extra volume to a relatively modest space.

  • See this Appalachian Style Cottage

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Mix, Don’t Match

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.

  • See this DC Apartment

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White Wash the Walls

These homeowners wanted to let their guests be the color to their space, so they painted all of the background surfaces, including the brick fireplace, a clean shade of white. A vintage advertisement and an Arkansas license plate hang on the wall. The casual furniture is covered in washable slipcovers for easy cleanup when inevitable spills happen.

  • See this Renovated Lake Retreat

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Play Up Your Favorite Color, but Keep the Base Neutral

If you’re a frequent redecorator, keep the base neutral in order to let accessories really shine. White or off-white walls and slipcovers stay the same even as this homeowner flirts with new obsessions. She tires quickly of things, and has gone through phases with several different colors, so she tries to change things up with pillows and throws.

  • See this Designer’s Virginia Home

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Spruce Up Your Space With Curtains

Draperies do more than block out the sun. Window treatments can transform a room, adding personality and character. These ceiling-to-floor draperies make the space seem taller and more grand.

  • See this Formal Nashville Home

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Upgrade Your Doors and Windows

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Elizabeth Demos

To enhance the home’s 9-foot ceilings, these homeowners upgraded to 8-foot-tall doors and 6-foot-tall windows to let in maximum light. They also aligned the doors and windows at the same height to draw the eye up and create the illusion of more space.

  • See this Pre-Fab Coastal Cottage

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Flip Your Color Scheme

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Elizabeth Demos

Flip tradition and paint your ceiling a bright color while leaving your walls white. Bring the color down into the space with coordinating accessories like window-coverings and pillows.

  • See this Pre-Fab Coastal Cottage

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Accessorize with Local Pieces

Tortoise and conch shells accessorize this coastal living room, while starfish adorn the mantel. Books on South Carolina’s coastal area lie stacked on the coffee table and topped with shells. Vases of palm fronds simply picked up from outside complete the tropical decor.

  • See this Coastal-Style Cottage

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Pick Furniture That Will Work in Multiple Spaces

Photo: Melanie Acevedo, Styling: Olga Naiman

Everything this home can work in most any room in their house. Everything in the living room—the sofa, two club chairs, and two armchairs—has lived and functioned in other areas of the home. The style continuity is part of this home’s peaceful, tranquil feeling.

  • See this Classic Southern Home

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Repeat Prints

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Natasha Louise King

Repeating patterned fabrics in adjoining spaces is a great way to tie them together. Here, the dining chair upholstery is repeated in accent pillows on the living room sofa.

  • See this Traditional Great Room

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Get Inspired by Art

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

Over this fireplace, a painting by the homeowner’s aunt provides playful color inspiration. Its coral hues are repeated in fabrics and accessories. Wallpaper remnants are placed inside the built-in glass cabinets to hide DVDs and toys and provide an inexpensive style fix.

  • See this 1920’s Home

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Mix Modern and Traditional

Photography: Laura Moss, Styling: Natasha Louise King

Anchor a room with a traditional rug and accessories, and then juxtapose them with modern art for a fresh feel. The hues of this heirloom rug play off of the colors of the bottle-cap portrait above the fireplace.

  • See this Elegant Charleston Single House

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Build-In Your Entertainment Area

These homeowners flanked the hearth with an additional bookshelf designed to accommodate the television.

  • See this Great Room

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Retrofit Your Lighting

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Heather Chadduck,

Don’t be trapped by a light’s intended use. This homeowner painted an outdoor lantern and wired it for indoor use.

  • Living Room Lighting Ideas

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Create the Illusion of Taller Ceilings

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Heather Chadduck,

Hang art above cased openings to draw the eye up and make the ceiling look even higher. Here black and white photographs play off of other black and white patterns in the room.

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Use Durable Upholstery Fabric

A sectional sofa covered in a khaki Sunbrella sailcloth floats in the center of this room. The outdoor-rated fabric won’t fade and will easily shed stains.

  • See this Den Redo

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Mix Patterns the Smart Way

Mixing patterns is a great way to add interest to a room. To keep the look cohesive, use patterns from the same color family and vary their scale.

  • See this Colorful Home

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Use Animal Print Rugs

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Use Flexible Furniture in a Great Room

This living area contains leather swivel chairs that can be rotated to face the kitchen or the TV and fireplace. The long upholstered ottoman does double duty as a coffee table and a bench.

  • See this Family-Friendly Great Room

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Create a Grown-Up Space

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Bring the formal parlor back to your home—this one’s for Mom and Dad, not the kids. Created with the feel of a warm and cozy den, this front room contains rich upholstery and textiles, dark-stained furniture, and a leather wing chair.

  • See this Georgia Row House

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Curate a Rotating Mantle Display

Above the mantel, this homeowner displays an ever-changing arrangement of artwork and accessories. An avid flea market and antique store shopper, as he finds new collectibles, he likes to bring them in as a quick way to change up the look.

  • See this Renovated Lake Retreat

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Choose Furniture that Fits the Scale of Your Room

In this living room, rolled-arm sofas are sized up to fill the airy space. For a coffee table, the homeowner had a Duncan Phyfe dining table cut down a few notches to a comfortable height for playing games or propping feet.

  • See this Kansas City Home

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Make Room for Family

Photo: Erica George Dines

The easy flow between family room and kitchen is welcoming to all ages and offers plenty of room for this homeowner’s extended family, friends, and groups from church to gather. This contiguous space is the heart of their house.

  • See this Farmhouse-Style Home

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Find Meaningful Local Art

Photo: Erica George Dines

Local artwork is a meaningful accessory. A locally painted scene of Florida live oaks hangs above this family room’s cast-stone fireplace.

  • See this Farmhouse-Style Home

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Use Picture Molding

Family photographs instantly add warmth and personality to your home. Take them out of the attic, off your computer, or out of the infrequently viewed albums on your bookshelves, and enjoy them every day. Pick a wall, corner, or entire room. If your chosen spot already has picture molding (found in many older homes), your job will be easy. If not, adding new molding is not that complicated.

  • Learn How to Create a Hanging Photo Display

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Plan Ahead for Artwork

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.

  • Living Room Finishing Touches

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Get Creative with Your Ceiling

Don’t forget to address the ceiling of your space. This vaulted ceiling has a rough-hewn wood treatment that warms-up the feeling of the room.

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Splash on the Color

This pool house living room sports sherbert-colored hues and feminine flourishes. Quirky cobalt table lamps from Stray Dog Designs and an eccentric teak table serve as foils for the sofa’s old-fashioned fringe.

See more of this Tropical Pool House Retreat

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Create Display Cubbies

Photography: Laurey W. Glenn

Cozy built-in cubbies provide the perfect place to display antique collectables and heirlooms in this living room space.

  • See this Stylish Space

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Salvage Original Materials

Photo: Lucas Allen, Styling: Elizabeth Demos

In this living room, the heart-pine flooring came from a South Carolina textile mill. It has the original nail holes, and if you look closely, you can still see oil stains from factory weaving machines.

  • See this New Old House

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Maximize Space with Dual-Purpose Built-Ins

Photo: Melanie Acevedo, Styling: Olga Naiman

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Incorporate Personal Touches

Can’t find the exact table or chest that you need? Just add your own touches, such as a paint finish or unique drawer pulls, to convert an available piece into a one-of-a-kind item. The designer of this living room set a piece of custom-cut stone on top of the wooden coffee table in the family room, giving it a more durable surface.

  • Take a Virtual Tour of this Georgia Home

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Add Occasional Tables

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Make Large Rooms Cozy with Multiple Seating Areas

How do you make a gigantic room look cozy and appropriate for today when it’s actually an old Virginia cow barn?

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.

  • See Steven’s Barn Decorating Ideas

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Use Bold Accessories

A geometric flat weave is more casual and youthful than a heavy Oriental or wool rug. Balance it out with a large piece of modern art framed in a simple white gallery frame. Finish with blue glass lamps or a pretty bowl to add sparkle and dimension.

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Window Treatment Texture 2

Barn builders used post-and-beam construction in rough-hewn yellow pine. Linen curtains with vintage trim add elegance to the rustic room.

  • Tour this Classic Farmhouse

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Use a Mix of Hues

The homeowners combined several shades of blue, from almost-black navy to royal, in the light-filled living room. The hand-blocked batik print on the curtains and bench is by John Robshaw Textiles.

  • Tour this High Definition Dallas Home

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Inviting Family Room Design

Reclaimed-wood beams ground the airy, white space. A large but delicate chandelier with a burnished brass finish helps anchor the room, while a vertical custom metal-framed mirror emphasizes the room’s height.

  • See more of this Functional Family-Friendly Remodel

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Give a Small Room Big Style

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Choose a Statement Sofa for a Large Room

A tufted chesterfield sofa covered in family-friendly Sunbrella fabric adds scale and traditional style. Tip: A large sofa needs large pillows—ours are 26 inches square.

Editor’s Tip: Reinvent vintage finds in a new setting. Here, an old flat file cabinet works as a coffee table.

  • See more of the 2012 Farmhouse Restoration Idea House

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Use a Range of Textiles

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Matthew Gleason

A range of textiles (including velvet, wool, linen, and cotton) adds texture and keeps the muted hues of the C. R. Laine upholstery from falling flat.

  • Take a Video Tour of the Living Room

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Balance Rustic Elements

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Pull Out a Bold Accent Color

Photo: Eric Piasecki, Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

With the multihued curtain fabric as her jumping-off point, designer Ashley Whittaker splashed an amped-up version of pink in three places in the living room—the footstool, the contrasting pillow welt, and the slipper-chair trim. “We wanted the home to feel bright and colorful like Florida but not like a vacation home,” says Ashley. She pulled off the cozy yet elegant vibe by grounding the sun-and-surf palette with serious touches, such as the antique demilune tables.

Love it? Get it! 
Wall paint: Pale Powder; farrow-ball.com. Drapery fabric: Celeste Robin’s Egg by Raoul Textiles, available through DCOTA; 954/921-7575.

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Layer Patterns and Bold Prints

Layers of classic patterns and bold prints connected by a warm palette of brown, ivory, and green give this D.C. cottage a hefty dose of handsome hospitality.

Love it? Get it! 
Designer: David Mitchell, David Mitchell Interior Design, Washington, D.C.; davidmitchellinteriordesign.com.

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Surround Your Fireplace with Built-Ins

Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Rose Nguyen

An inglenook is a space next to the fireplace that often includes seating. These built-in window seats provide extra seating and are a comfy place to read.

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Add Privacy without Losing Light

Add a little privacy to family rooms without sacrificing light by installing drapery panels that don’t have a thick lining.

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Embrace Ideas from the Past

Try a great idea from the past. The triple-hung windows on either side of the great room’s fireplace are found in many older homes in the Deep South. When the two lower sashes are raised, the openings serve as passageways to the screened porch beyond.

Editor’s Favorite Living Rooms

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Showcase Antiques

Antiques are the hallmark of Southern homes, but you don’t have to have a room full of fine antiques—one nice piece in a room can elevate everything around it. The antique desk in this room gives a sense of history.

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Decorate with Cottage Style

Layer floral and geometric patterns on casual furniture for a cozy, cottage feel. Punch up your floral patterns by pairing with them with fresh flowers in mismatched vases.

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Create a Statement with Art

With impressive artwork and sleek, sophisticated furnishings set against a perfectly pale palette, this space is a constellation of star elements.

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Decorate Naturally

Take your decorating cues from your surroundings. This home is on a lake surrounded by trees. Moss greens and mushroom browns paired with a twig-and-bark side table truly bring the outdoors in.

  • Living Room Media Solutions

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Modernize the Classics

Make a classic print—like houndstooth check—modern by playing with the scale of the pattern and using it in an unexpected color.

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Try Natural Textures

Jeremy Fleming, Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Scott Martin

Warm up a room with interesting textures. Woven accessories and ottoman keep things simple and natural.

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Bring the Outdoors In

Use naturally occurring colors and textures to give an earthy feeling to your living room. Potted plants and wicker furniture give this home a casual comfort.

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Love the Lodge Look

Get the lodge look by pairing rich leathers with rustic wood elements and classic tartans. Candles and lanterns further add to the atmosphere.

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Give Your Living Room a Sense of Place

Coastal and nautical touches abound in this family room beginning with the seashell-print pillows. Coastal artwork over the fireplace flanks shelving that is filled to the brim with shell frames and boxes.

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Play with Scale

Charles Walton IV / Styling Leigh Anne Montgomery

Use large-scale pieces in unexpected places. This distinctive coffee table is constructed using the base of two columns and a stone slab.

  • See this Comfortable Downtown Loft

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Get Hands-On with Casual Finishes

This living room has a please touch, no fuss feel. It’s comfortable for a young family or grandparents with visiting grandchildren. Hand-rubbed finishes on furnishings lend vintage appeal.

  • Casual Family Rooms

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Mix and Match Your Wood Tones

Your wood pieces don’t have to be the same color. Here, a dark wood desk is at home among blond occasional tables because the pieces have similar clean lines.

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Bright and Airy Living

A simplified, white color scheme allowed decorator Alana Woerpel to add controlled shots of blue into this bright and airy living room.

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Mix and match patterns, embrace bold colors, layer rugs, and so much more! Try these tips to create a pretty space to enjoy conversations with friends and family.

No matter if you call it a living room, family room, den, or even a keeping room–you’ve got that one room in your home, aside from the kitchen, that’s intended for both family and company. And, we bet, you want it to look both pulled together and comfortable. We are here to tell you it’s possible to create a well-decorated living room that will impress company and will be enjoyed by your family. Here are our best easy decorating ideas ranging in all different styles for those that love a more formal living room or a cozy den or a relaxed family room. What ever your style–we’ve got the decorating tips and ideas for your beautiful living room, beautiful family room, or your beautiful den. One thing is for sure, you’ll be inspired by all of these chic decorating ideas. 

Coastal Lowcountry Living Room

Materials that connect to the location are key to character building. Sisal hints at the marsh grasses in an elegant way and is also durable, easy to clean, and ideal for layering. The alligator skull speaks to the local wildlife, while palms in antique glass and fern-patterned pillows are additional nods to the room’s Lowcountry vibe and provide a carefree polish.

Layering a vintage kilim over a natural sisal rug acts as an attractive barrier against water, sand, and other elements.

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Comforting Colors

An elk antler trophy is the focal point in this living room, and the palm tree triptych and a blue, green, and mulberry palette create a comfortable environment.

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Unite Your Living Space

Designer Sam Blount used the biggest rug possible to tie this blue and white space together. “I’m a big fan of large rugs in small spaces—too many bitsy ones visually chop up the floor.” says Blount.

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Forgo the Chairs

These oversize sectionals allow everyone to sit, without touching each other. The bench-style seat cushions look cleaner and don’t shift around like multiple seat cushions do.

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Use a Barn Door

A barn door allows the living space to be separated from the kitchen if nessessary, while taking up less space than traditional hinged doors. 

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Modernize Heirloom Pieces

The settee in this room was given a modern update with wild fabric, while neutrals were used for the curved vintage sofa and rounded swivel chairs.

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Lighten Up with White

Achieve a luxe neutral look with white upholstery and decorative accents in a variety of light hues to add extra depth and dimension. 

Similar throw pillows here.

See more of this White Living Room

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Mix Mod and Traditional

The 11-foot-long vintage sofa in this living room is a mod counterpoint to a pair of traditional antique chairs. 

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Mix Instead of Match Fabrics

The designer started with fabric selections to set the room’s happy mood and a bright color palette of pink, turquoise, and chartreuse. Fabrics don’t have to be matchy-matchy to communicate with each other. If they share a similar vibrancy and color temperature, they’ll look good together.

  • See the Vibrant Sunroom Makeover

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Invest in Antiques

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Mix Up the Seating

Seating shouldn’t be limited to club chairs and sofas. Utilize benches, ottomans, and odd side chairs to accommodate more people.

  • Tour this Sea Island Beach House

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Visually Divide a Great Room

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Mix Your Styles

You can mix old and new, formal and casual, neutral and bold to make an inviting and comfortable space. A neutral-toned sofa and armchair introduce contemporary lines while custom draperies add a touch of tradition.

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Layer Neutrals for a Relaxed Look

“To give Country French my minimalist spin, I avoid the expected ruffles and plaids and keep it about the painted antiques and white linens,” says homeowner and designer Regina Lynch. “In this house, curtains would have been too much, so instead I painted the trim a dark gray for a similar, but cleaner, look.” 

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Get the Gallery Look

Photo Robbie Caponetto / Styling Anne Turner Carroll and Fran Keenan

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Accessorize with Historic Elements

Photo by Robbie Caponetto

Use a flat-top trunk as a coffeee table to bring a sense of history to a room. This chocolate-brown piece coordinates with the neutral color scheme of the room, and the nail-head trim is mirrored in the decorative sofa hardware.

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Create Open Space

To keep the traffic flow open, pull the furniture away from the walls and into the center of the room―a type of arranging commonly referred to as a “floating furniture plan.” An octagonal ottoman in a bold fabric set on a cowhide rug anchors the arrangement in this room.

  • See this Cozy Den Redo

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Blend Elegance and Comfort

Comfortable and formal can go together. Use antiques to anchor your room and then mix in modern touches with bold fabrics, mid-century lighting, and sculptural accessories. Pair silk curtains and mirrored tables with clean-lined upholstery and lots of colorful pillows.

  • See this Classic Charleston Living Room

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Use Unexpected Materials

Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Scott Martin

A stone chimney is beautiful, but it’s also expected. The natural horizontal wood paneling around this fireplace ties it together with the built-ins flanking the hearth.

  • See this Cottage Home

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Mix and Match Patterns

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Matthew Gleason

This living room shows that you don’t need to shy away from bold patterns in a small space. A floral rug and coordinating pillows add color to the space, while an animal-print chair heightens the drama. The herringbone fireplace tile is a nice geometric touch.

  • See this Louisiana Home

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Use Modern Classics

Photography Charles Walton IV / Styling Scott Martin

If  you want a contemporary edge, you can’t go wrong with the modern classics like these white-leather Barcelona chairs and Lucite coffee table.

  • See this Modern Nashville Home

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Create a Faux Fireplace

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Give your living room a focal point by creating a faux fireplace with an antique mantel. This fireplace was set on a rectangular piece of slate as the hearth. .

See this Georgia Row House

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Let the Light In

Photography: Laurey W. Glenn

Short on windows to capture natural light? Replace solid exterior doors with glass ones for an airy feel and pretty views of your yard.

  • See this 1935 Cabin Redo

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Pick a Favorite Time Period

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

This living room was designed to resemble an early-1900s library; the living room contains a wall of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Two large double-hung windows punctuate these built-ins, along with cozy window seats below.

  • See this Georgia Row House

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Let In Lots of Natural Light

This living area has floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that fill the room with light. Horizontal mullions in the glass doors are reminiscent of Japanese shoji screens. They complement the space and guide your eye around the room.

  • See this Modern Bungalow 

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Combine Collectables

Don’t be afraid to personalize the items you buy. Almost every chair in this room was refinished: Two armchairs were whitewashed, and the blue velvet chair was gilded.

  • See this colorful North Carolina Home

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Know When To Save or Splurge

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Heather Chadduck,

This sofa with its supreme comfort, rich color and fabric, and clean lines is definitely a forever piece, so it was worth spending a little more money on. The honeycomb mirror over the fireplace was an inexpensive piece bought at a chain store.

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Embrace Bold Prints

Photography Van Chaplin, Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

Don’t be afraid to fall in love with a bold print. The designer of this living room was inspired by the floral side chair fabric and let it dictate the colors found elsewhere in the room.

  • Formal Living Rooms

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Look for Inspiration in Unexpected Places

Charles Walton IV / styling Todd Childs

This homeowner found inspiration for her walls in a bag of gourmet marshmallows: She used the soft, sophisticated colors to dictate her palette. The plate rack that once showcased antique plates in her parents’ home holds cherished photos.

  • See this renovated Alabama Cottage

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Look for Unused Spaces

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Matthew Gleason

This living room is a genius use of often-overlooked space; the upstairs landing was transformed into a small den that makes an inviting, casual family hangout. An upholstered wall softens the space above the built-in bench, while bamboo Chippendale-style chairs and vibrant turquoise Moroccan poufs add plenty of extra seating.

  • See this Louisiana Home

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Add Interest with Decorative Trim

Photography Van Chaplin, Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

The designer of this room added trim to the bottom of a basic sofa to dress it up and used a mix of custom pillows to pull colors from around the room.

  • See this Georgia Mountain Home

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Hold onto Inspiring Samples

Photography Charles Walton IV

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.

  • See this Designer’s Cottage

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Decorate with Memories

Make your living room unique and nostalgic by using heirloom pieces. This homeowner’s great-grandfather owned a bungalow, and he fondly remembers childhood visits to the family home. He filled his own bungalow home with family furniture and one-of-a-kind attic finds.

  • See this Vintage-Style Cottage Bungalow

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Accent with Red

Use bright colors and strong patterns to punctuate an otherwise neutral space. The red accessories in this living room add an energetic punch without overwhelming the area.

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Design for Real-Life Use

Photo: Laurey Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

You don’t have to give up style even in your high-traffic living room. Guests and kids need not reach for coasters before putting drinks down on the distressed coffee table. Scrapes and dings only add to the character of the piece. A patterned area rug is forgiving of spills and dusty feet.

  • See this Lakeside Cabin Makeover

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Get Patriotic

You can pull off a patriotic color scheme without being kitsch. Try hints of red with a pretty blue backdrop. Use natural linen instead of bright white.

Bonus Tip! Hide the flat screen. The painting above the fireplace can be rolled along the galvanized metal track, revealing a television.

  • See this Country Cottage

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Fake a Tall Ceiling

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn / Styling: Anne Turner Carroll

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Get Inspired by a Favorite Textile

Photography Van Chaplin, Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

Use a fabric pattern to inspire the color scheme and style of your room. The fabric on these armchairs pulls together the tones of this living room.

  • See this Georgia Mountain Home

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Create a Keeping Room

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Since guests typically gather in the kitchen, a keeping room is ideal for overflow and comfort. Keep your furniture comfortable and durable-it is sure to be the most used in your home.

  • See this Georgia Row House

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Display Your Collection to Advantage

If you have a lot of collections, always keep the base neutral so your displays won’t overwhelm the space. Here, a collection of turquoise lighting elements stands out against the cream walls and plays off of the colors in the large painting.

  • See this designer’s Virginia Home

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Create a Conversation Corner

Laurey W. Glenn, Robbie Caponetto / Styling: Matthew Gleason

If you have space, create a separate, more intimate seating area in your living room for quiet conversations.

  • See this Coastal Home

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Slipcover in Style

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Choose a Sunny Palette

Crisp whites combined with punches of bright colors immediately transport you to the coast. In this living room, aqua accents in the pillows, throw, and rug mimic the ocean’s dazzling blues, and the pops of bright orange are inspired by the magnificent hues of the setting sun. Whitewashed horizontal shiplap planking evokes the feel of old Gulf-front beach houses.

  • See this Coastal Home

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Buy the Whole Bolt

Inspiration for this design struck in the form of a 30-yard bolt of black-and-white- hound’s-tooth fabric that was on sale for an amazing $30. Even after the window treatments, upholstery, and pillows there was plenty of leftover fabric to be used down the road as seat cushions on new finds, lampshades, and even place mats or a tablecloth.

  • See this Home Decorated on a Budget

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Achieve Balance

Asymmetrical arrangements can be intimidating, but formal symmetry is easy to pull off and adds a calm balance to a room. The simple arrangement above this fireplace is clean and elegant.

  • See this Formal Nashville Home

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Layer Rugs

Photo: Erica George Dines

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Add Architectural Interest

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Create a Cozy Spot for Reading

Photo Robbie Caponetto / Styling Anne Turner Carroll and Fran Keenan

This armchair is re-covered in a botanical print fabric. The legs are painted white to lighten the visual weight of the piece. Tucked into a corner of the living room and paired with a set of nesting tables, the chair is a perfect spot for reading.

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Mix Lights and Darks

Decorating is not like doing the laundry. Lights and darks go together just fine. In fact, they’re made for each other in this living room connected by a large cased opening.

  • See this Kentucky Home

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Open Up Your Living Space

Although less than 2,500 square feet, this cottage feels larger because of the homeowners’ clever decision to open up and connect the main living spaces. The family room is also vaulted to reveal the loft space above―yet another way of providing extra volume to a relatively modest space.

  • See this Appalachian Style Cottage

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Mix, Don’t Match

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.

  • See this DC Apartment

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White Wash the Walls

These homeowners wanted to let their guests be the color to their space, so they painted all of the background surfaces, including the brick fireplace, a clean shade of white. A vintage advertisement and an Arkansas license plate hang on the wall. The casual furniture is covered in washable slipcovers for easy cleanup when inevitable spills happen.

  • See this Renovated Lake Retreat

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Play Up Your Favorite Color, but Keep the Base Neutral

If you’re a frequent redecorator, keep the base neutral in order to let accessories really shine. White or off-white walls and slipcovers stay the same even as this homeowner flirts with new obsessions. She tires quickly of things, and has gone through phases with several different colors, so she tries to change things up with pillows and throws.

  • See this Designer’s Virginia Home

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Spruce Up Your Space With Curtains

Draperies do more than block out the sun. Window treatments can transform a room, adding personality and character. These ceiling-to-floor draperies make the space seem taller and more grand.

  • See this Formal Nashville Home

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Upgrade Your Doors and Windows

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Elizabeth Demos

To enhance the home’s 9-foot ceilings, these homeowners upgraded to 8-foot-tall doors and 6-foot-tall windows to let in maximum light. They also aligned the doors and windows at the same height to draw the eye up and create the illusion of more space.

  • See this Pre-Fab Coastal Cottage

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Flip Your Color Scheme

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Elizabeth Demos

Flip tradition and paint your ceiling a bright color while leaving your walls white. Bring the color down into the space with coordinating accessories like window-coverings and pillows.

  • See this Pre-Fab Coastal Cottage

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Accessorize with Local Pieces

Tortoise and conch shells accessorize this coastal living room, while starfish adorn the mantel. Books on South Carolina’s coastal area lie stacked on the coffee table and topped with shells. Vases of palm fronds simply picked up from outside complete the tropical decor.

  • See this Coastal-Style Cottage

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Pick Furniture That Will Work in Multiple Spaces

Photo: Melanie Acevedo, Styling: Olga Naiman

Everything this home can work in most any room in their house. Everything in the living room—the sofa, two club chairs, and two armchairs—has lived and functioned in other areas of the home. The style continuity is part of this home’s peaceful, tranquil feeling.

  • See this Classic Southern Home

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Repeat Prints

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Natasha Louise King

Repeating patterned fabrics in adjoining spaces is a great way to tie them together. Here, the dining chair upholstery is repeated in accent pillows on the living room sofa.

  • See this Traditional Great Room

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Get Inspired by Art

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

Over this fireplace, a painting by the homeowner’s aunt provides playful color inspiration. Its coral hues are repeated in fabrics and accessories. Wallpaper remnants are placed inside the built-in glass cabinets to hide DVDs and toys and provide an inexpensive style fix.

  • See this 1920’s Home

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Mix Modern and Traditional

Photography: Laura Moss, Styling: Natasha Louise King

Anchor a room with a traditional rug and accessories, and then juxtapose them with modern art for a fresh feel. The hues of this heirloom rug play off of the colors of the bottle-cap portrait above the fireplace.

  • See this Elegant Charleston Single House

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Build-In Your Entertainment Area

These homeowners flanked the hearth with an additional bookshelf designed to accommodate the television.

  • See this Great Room

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Retrofit Your Lighting

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Heather Chadduck,

Don’t be trapped by a light’s intended use. This homeowner painted an outdoor lantern and wired it for indoor use.

  • Living Room Lighting Ideas

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Create the Illusion of Taller Ceilings

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Heather Chadduck,

Hang art above cased openings to draw the eye up and make the ceiling look even higher. Here black and white photographs play off of other black and white patterns in the room.

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Use Durable Upholstery Fabric

A sectional sofa covered in a khaki Sunbrella sailcloth floats in the center of this room. The outdoor-rated fabric won’t fade and will easily shed stains.

  • See this Den Redo

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Mix Patterns the Smart Way

Mixing patterns is a great way to add interest to a room. To keep the look cohesive, use patterns from the same color family and vary their scale.

  • See this Colorful Home

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Use Animal Print Rugs

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Use Flexible Furniture in a Great Room

This living area contains leather swivel chairs that can be rotated to face the kitchen or the TV and fireplace. The long upholstered ottoman does double duty as a coffee table and a bench.

  • See this Family-Friendly Great Room

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Create a Grown-Up Space

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Bring the formal parlor back to your home—this one’s for Mom and Dad, not the kids. Created with the feel of a warm and cozy den, this front room contains rich upholstery and textiles, dark-stained furniture, and a leather wing chair.

  • See this Georgia Row House

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Curate a Rotating Mantle Display

Above the mantel, this homeowner displays an ever-changing arrangement of artwork and accessories. An avid flea market and antique store shopper, as he finds new collectibles, he likes to bring them in as a quick way to change up the look.

  • See this Renovated Lake Retreat

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Choose Furniture that Fits the Scale of Your Room

In this living room, rolled-arm sofas are sized up to fill the airy space. For a coffee table, the homeowner had a Duncan Phyfe dining table cut down a few notches to a comfortable height for playing games or propping feet.

  • See this Kansas City Home

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Make Room for Family

Photo: Erica George Dines

The easy flow between family room and kitchen is welcoming to all ages and offers plenty of room for this homeowner’s extended family, friends, and groups from church to gather. This contiguous space is the heart of their house.

  • See this Farmhouse-Style Home

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Find Meaningful Local Art

Photo: Erica George Dines

Local artwork is a meaningful accessory. A locally painted scene of Florida live oaks hangs above this family room’s cast-stone fireplace.

  • See this Farmhouse-Style Home

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Use Picture Molding

Family photographs instantly add warmth and personality to your home. Take them out of the attic, off your computer, or out of the infrequently viewed albums on your bookshelves, and enjoy them every day. Pick a wall, corner, or entire room. If your chosen spot already has picture molding (found in many older homes), your job will be easy. If not, adding new molding is not that complicated.

  • Learn How to Create a Hanging Photo Display

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Plan Ahead for Artwork

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.

  • Living Room Finishing Touches

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Get Creative with Your Ceiling

Don’t forget to address the ceiling of your space. This vaulted ceiling has a rough-hewn wood treatment that warms-up the feeling of the room.

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Splash on the Color

This pool house living room sports sherbert-colored hues and feminine flourishes. Quirky cobalt table lamps from Stray Dog Designs and an eccentric teak table serve as foils for the sofa’s old-fashioned fringe.

See more of this Tropical Pool House Retreat

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Create Display Cubbies

Photography: Laurey W. Glenn

Cozy built-in cubbies provide the perfect place to display antique collectables and heirlooms in this living room space.

  • See this Stylish Space

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Salvage Original Materials

Photo: Lucas Allen, Styling: Elizabeth Demos

In this living room, the heart-pine flooring came from a South Carolina textile mill. It has the original nail holes, and if you look closely, you can still see oil stains from factory weaving machines.

  • See this New Old House

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Maximize Space with Dual-Purpose Built-Ins

Photo: Melanie Acevedo, Styling: Olga Naiman

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Incorporate Personal Touches

Can’t find the exact table or chest that you need? Just add your own touches, such as a paint finish or unique drawer pulls, to convert an available piece into a one-of-a-kind item. The designer of this living room set a piece of custom-cut stone on top of the wooden coffee table in the family room, giving it a more durable surface.

  • Take a Virtual Tour of this Georgia Home

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Add Occasional Tables

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Make Large Rooms Cozy with Multiple Seating Areas

How do you make a gigantic room look cozy and appropriate for today when it’s actually an old Virginia cow barn?

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.

  • See Steven’s Barn Decorating Ideas

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Use Bold Accessories

A geometric flat weave is more casual and youthful than a heavy Oriental or wool rug. Balance it out with a large piece of modern art framed in a simple white gallery frame. Finish with blue glass lamps or a pretty bowl to add sparkle and dimension.

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Window Treatment Texture 2

Barn builders used post-and-beam construction in rough-hewn yellow pine. Linen curtains with vintage trim add elegance to the rustic room.

  • Tour this Classic Farmhouse

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Use a Mix of Hues

The homeowners combined several shades of blue, from almost-black navy to royal, in the light-filled living room. The hand-blocked batik print on the curtains and bench is by John Robshaw Textiles.

  • Tour this High Definition Dallas Home

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Inviting Family Room Design

Reclaimed-wood beams ground the airy, white space. A large but delicate chandelier with a burnished brass finish helps anchor the room, while a vertical custom metal-framed mirror emphasizes the room’s height.

  • See more of this Functional Family-Friendly Remodel

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Give a Small Room Big Style

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Choose a Statement Sofa for a Large Room

A tufted chesterfield sofa covered in family-friendly Sunbrella fabric adds scale and traditional style. Tip: A large sofa needs large pillows—ours are 26 inches square.

Editor’s Tip: Reinvent vintage finds in a new setting. Here, an old flat file cabinet works as a coffee table.

  • See more of the 2012 Farmhouse Restoration Idea House

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Use a Range of Textiles

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Matthew Gleason

A range of textiles (including velvet, wool, linen, and cotton) adds texture and keeps the muted hues of the C. R. Laine upholstery from falling flat.

  • Take a Video Tour of the Living Room

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Balance Rustic Elements

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Pull Out a Bold Accent Color

Photo: Eric Piasecki, Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

With the multihued curtain fabric as her jumping-off point, designer Ashley Whittaker splashed an amped-up version of pink in three places in the living room—the footstool, the contrasting pillow welt, and the slipper-chair trim. “We wanted the home to feel bright and colorful like Florida but not like a vacation home,” says Ashley. She pulled off the cozy yet elegant vibe by grounding the sun-and-surf palette with serious touches, such as the antique demilune tables.

Love it? Get it! 
Wall paint: Pale Powder; farrow-ball.com. Drapery fabric: Celeste Robin’s Egg by Raoul Textiles, available through DCOTA; 954/921-7575.

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Layer Patterns and Bold Prints

Layers of classic patterns and bold prints connected by a warm palette of brown, ivory, and green give this D.C. cottage a hefty dose of handsome hospitality.

Love it? Get it! 
Designer: David Mitchell, David Mitchell Interior Design, Washington, D.C.; davidmitchellinteriordesign.com.

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Surround Your Fireplace with Built-Ins

Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Rose Nguyen

An inglenook is a space next to the fireplace that often includes seating. These built-in window seats provide extra seating and are a comfy place to read.

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Add Privacy without Losing Light

Add a little privacy to family rooms without sacrificing light by installing drapery panels that don’t have a thick lining.

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Embrace Ideas from the Past

Try a great idea from the past. The triple-hung windows on either side of the great room’s fireplace are found in many older homes in the Deep South. When the two lower sashes are raised, the openings serve as passageways to the screened porch beyond.

Editor’s Favorite Living Rooms

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Showcase Antiques

Antiques are the hallmark of Southern homes, but you don’t have to have a room full of fine antiques—one nice piece in a room can elevate everything around it. The antique desk in this room gives a sense of history.

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Decorate with Cottage Style

Layer floral and geometric patterns on casual furniture for a cozy, cottage feel. Punch up your floral patterns by pairing with them with fresh flowers in mismatched vases.

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Create a Statement with Art

With impressive artwork and sleek, sophisticated furnishings set against a perfectly pale palette, this space is a constellation of star elements.

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Decorate Naturally

Take your decorating cues from your surroundings. This home is on a lake surrounded by trees. Moss greens and mushroom browns paired with a twig-and-bark side table truly bring the outdoors in.

  • Living Room Media Solutions

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Modernize the Classics

Make a classic print—like houndstooth check—modern by playing with the scale of the pattern and using it in an unexpected color.

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Try Natural Textures

Jeremy Fleming, Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Scott Martin

Warm up a room with interesting textures. Woven accessories and ottoman keep things simple and natural.

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Bring the Outdoors In

Use naturally occurring colors and textures to give an earthy feeling to your living room. Potted plants and wicker furniture give this home a casual comfort.

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Love the Lodge Look

Get the lodge look by pairing rich leathers with rustic wood elements and classic tartans. Candles and lanterns further add to the atmosphere.

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Give Your Living Room a Sense of Place

Coastal and nautical touches abound in this family room beginning with the seashell-print pillows. Coastal artwork over the fireplace flanks shelving that is filled to the brim with shell frames and boxes.

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Play with Scale

Charles Walton IV / Styling Leigh Anne Montgomery

Use large-scale pieces in unexpected places. This distinctive coffee table is constructed using the base of two columns and a stone slab.

  • See this Comfortable Downtown Loft

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Get Hands-On with Casual Finishes

This living room has a please touch, no fuss feel. It’s comfortable for a young family or grandparents with visiting grandchildren. Hand-rubbed finishes on furnishings lend vintage appeal.

  • Casual Family Rooms

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Mix and Match Your Wood Tones

Your wood pieces don’t have to be the same color. Here, a dark wood desk is at home among blond occasional tables because the pieces have similar clean lines.

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Bright and Airy Living

A simplified, white color scheme allowed decorator Alana Woerpel to add controlled shots of blue into this bright and airy living room.

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Mix and match patterns, embrace bold colors, layer rugs, and so much more! Try these tips to create a pretty space to enjoy conversations with friends and family.

No matter if you call it a living room, family room, den, or even a keeping room–you’ve got that one room in your home, aside from the kitchen, that’s intended for both family and company. And, we bet, you want it to look both pulled together and comfortable. We are here to tell you it’s possible to create a well-decorated living room that will impress company and will be enjoyed by your family. Here are our best easy decorating ideas ranging in all different styles for those that love a more formal living room or a cozy den or a relaxed family room. What ever your style–we’ve got the decorating tips and ideas for your beautiful living room, beautiful family room, or your beautiful den. One thing is for sure, you’ll be inspired by all of these chic decorating ideas. 

Coastal Lowcountry Living Room

Materials that connect to the location are key to character building. Sisal hints at the marsh grasses in an elegant way and is also durable, easy to clean, and ideal for layering. The alligator skull speaks to the local wildlife, while palms in antique glass and fern-patterned pillows are additional nods to the room’s Lowcountry vibe and provide a carefree polish.

Layering a vintage kilim over a natural sisal rug acts as an attractive barrier against water, sand, and other elements.

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Comforting Colors

An elk antler trophy is the focal point in this living room, and the palm tree triptych and a blue, green, and mulberry palette create a comfortable environment.

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Unite Your Living Space

Designer Sam Blount used the biggest rug possible to tie this blue and white space together. “I’m a big fan of large rugs in small spaces—too many bitsy ones visually chop up the floor.” says Blount.

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Forgo the Chairs

These oversize sectionals allow everyone to sit, without touching each other. The bench-style seat cushions look cleaner and don’t shift around like multiple seat cushions do.

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Use a Barn Door

A barn door allows the living space to be separated from the kitchen if nessessary, while taking up less space than traditional hinged doors. 

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Modernize Heirloom Pieces

The settee in this room was given a modern update with wild fabric, while neutrals were used for the curved vintage sofa and rounded swivel chairs.

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Lighten Up with White

Achieve a luxe neutral look with white upholstery and decorative accents in a variety of light hues to add extra depth and dimension. 

Similar throw pillows here.

See more of this White Living Room

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Mix Mod and Traditional

The 11-foot-long vintage sofa in this living room is a mod counterpoint to a pair of traditional antique chairs. 

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Mix Instead of Match Fabrics

The designer started with fabric selections to set the room’s happy mood and a bright color palette of pink, turquoise, and chartreuse. Fabrics don’t have to be matchy-matchy to communicate with each other. If they share a similar vibrancy and color temperature, they’ll look good together.

  • See the Vibrant Sunroom Makeover

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Invest in Antiques

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Mix Up the Seating

Seating shouldn’t be limited to club chairs and sofas. Utilize benches, ottomans, and odd side chairs to accommodate more people.

  • Tour this Sea Island Beach House

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Visually Divide a Great Room

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Mix Your Styles

You can mix old and new, formal and casual, neutral and bold to make an inviting and comfortable space. A neutral-toned sofa and armchair introduce contemporary lines while custom draperies add a touch of tradition.

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Layer Neutrals for a Relaxed Look

“To give Country French my minimalist spin, I avoid the expected ruffles and plaids and keep it about the painted antiques and white linens,” says homeowner and designer Regina Lynch. “In this house, curtains would have been too much, so instead I painted the trim a dark gray for a similar, but cleaner, look.” 

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Get the Gallery Look

Photo Robbie Caponetto / Styling Anne Turner Carroll and Fran Keenan

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Accessorize with Historic Elements

Photo by Robbie Caponetto

Use a flat-top trunk as a coffeee table to bring a sense of history to a room. This chocolate-brown piece coordinates with the neutral color scheme of the room, and the nail-head trim is mirrored in the decorative sofa hardware.

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Create Open Space

To keep the traffic flow open, pull the furniture away from the walls and into the center of the room―a type of arranging commonly referred to as a “floating furniture plan.” An octagonal ottoman in a bold fabric set on a cowhide rug anchors the arrangement in this room.

  • See this Cozy Den Redo

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Blend Elegance and Comfort

Comfortable and formal can go together. Use antiques to anchor your room and then mix in modern touches with bold fabrics, mid-century lighting, and sculptural accessories. Pair silk curtains and mirrored tables with clean-lined upholstery and lots of colorful pillows.

  • See this Classic Charleston Living Room

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Use Unexpected Materials

Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Scott Martin

A stone chimney is beautiful, but it’s also expected. The natural horizontal wood paneling around this fireplace ties it together with the built-ins flanking the hearth.

  • See this Cottage Home

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Mix and Match Patterns

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Matthew Gleason

This living room shows that you don’t need to shy away from bold patterns in a small space. A floral rug and coordinating pillows add color to the space, while an animal-print chair heightens the drama. The herringbone fireplace tile is a nice geometric touch.

  • See this Louisiana Home

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Use Modern Classics

Photography Charles Walton IV / Styling Scott Martin

If  you want a contemporary edge, you can’t go wrong with the modern classics like these white-leather Barcelona chairs and Lucite coffee table.

  • See this Modern Nashville Home

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Create a Faux Fireplace

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Give your living room a focal point by creating a faux fireplace with an antique mantel. This fireplace was set on a rectangular piece of slate as the hearth. .

See this Georgia Row House

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Let the Light In

Photography: Laurey W. Glenn

Short on windows to capture natural light? Replace solid exterior doors with glass ones for an airy feel and pretty views of your yard.

  • See this 1935 Cabin Redo

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Pick a Favorite Time Period

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

This living room was designed to resemble an early-1900s library; the living room contains a wall of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Two large double-hung windows punctuate these built-ins, along with cozy window seats below.

  • See this Georgia Row House

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Let In Lots of Natural Light

This living area has floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that fill the room with light. Horizontal mullions in the glass doors are reminiscent of Japanese shoji screens. They complement the space and guide your eye around the room.

  • See this Modern Bungalow 

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Combine Collectables

Don’t be afraid to personalize the items you buy. Almost every chair in this room was refinished: Two armchairs were whitewashed, and the blue velvet chair was gilded.

  • See this colorful North Carolina Home

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Know When To Save or Splurge

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Heather Chadduck,

This sofa with its supreme comfort, rich color and fabric, and clean lines is definitely a forever piece, so it was worth spending a little more money on. The honeycomb mirror over the fireplace was an inexpensive piece bought at a chain store.

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Embrace Bold Prints

Photography Van Chaplin, Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

Don’t be afraid to fall in love with a bold print. The designer of this living room was inspired by the floral side chair fabric and let it dictate the colors found elsewhere in the room.

  • Formal Living Rooms

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Look for Inspiration in Unexpected Places

Charles Walton IV / styling Todd Childs

This homeowner found inspiration for her walls in a bag of gourmet marshmallows: She used the soft, sophisticated colors to dictate her palette. The plate rack that once showcased antique plates in her parents’ home holds cherished photos.

  • See this renovated Alabama Cottage

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Look for Unused Spaces

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Matthew Gleason

This living room is a genius use of often-overlooked space; the upstairs landing was transformed into a small den that makes an inviting, casual family hangout. An upholstered wall softens the space above the built-in bench, while bamboo Chippendale-style chairs and vibrant turquoise Moroccan poufs add plenty of extra seating.

  • See this Louisiana Home

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Add Interest with Decorative Trim

Photography Van Chaplin, Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

The designer of this room added trim to the bottom of a basic sofa to dress it up and used a mix of custom pillows to pull colors from around the room.

  • See this Georgia Mountain Home

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Hold onto Inspiring Samples

Photography Charles Walton IV

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.

  • See this Designer’s Cottage

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Decorate with Memories

Make your living room unique and nostalgic by using heirloom pieces. This homeowner’s great-grandfather owned a bungalow, and he fondly remembers childhood visits to the family home. He filled his own bungalow home with family furniture and one-of-a-kind attic finds.

  • See this Vintage-Style Cottage Bungalow

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Accent with Red

Use bright colors and strong patterns to punctuate an otherwise neutral space. The red accessories in this living room add an energetic punch without overwhelming the area.

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Design for Real-Life Use

Photo: Laurey Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

You don’t have to give up style even in your high-traffic living room. Guests and kids need not reach for coasters before putting drinks down on the distressed coffee table. Scrapes and dings only add to the character of the piece. A patterned area rug is forgiving of spills and dusty feet.

  • See this Lakeside Cabin Makeover

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Get Patriotic

You can pull off a patriotic color scheme without being kitsch. Try hints of red with a pretty blue backdrop. Use natural linen instead of bright white.

Bonus Tip! Hide the flat screen. The painting above the fireplace can be rolled along the galvanized metal track, revealing a television.

  • See this Country Cottage

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Fake a Tall Ceiling

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn / Styling: Anne Turner Carroll

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Get Inspired by a Favorite Textile

Photography Van Chaplin, Charles Walton IV / Styling Buffy Hargett

Use a fabric pattern to inspire the color scheme and style of your room. The fabric on these armchairs pulls together the tones of this living room.

  • See this Georgia Mountain Home

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Create a Keeping Room

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Since guests typically gather in the kitchen, a keeping room is ideal for overflow and comfort. Keep your furniture comfortable and durable-it is sure to be the most used in your home.

  • See this Georgia Row House

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Display Your Collection to Advantage

If you have a lot of collections, always keep the base neutral so your displays won’t overwhelm the space. Here, a collection of turquoise lighting elements stands out against the cream walls and plays off of the colors in the large painting.

  • See this designer’s Virginia Home

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Create a Conversation Corner

Laurey W. Glenn, Robbie Caponetto / Styling: Matthew Gleason

If you have space, create a separate, more intimate seating area in your living room for quiet conversations.

  • See this Coastal Home

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Slipcover in Style

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Choose a Sunny Palette

Crisp whites combined with punches of bright colors immediately transport you to the coast. In this living room, aqua accents in the pillows, throw, and rug mimic the ocean’s dazzling blues, and the pops of bright orange are inspired by the magnificent hues of the setting sun. Whitewashed horizontal shiplap planking evokes the feel of old Gulf-front beach houses.

  • See this Coastal Home

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Buy the Whole Bolt

Inspiration for this design struck in the form of a 30-yard bolt of black-and-white- hound’s-tooth fabric that was on sale for an amazing $30. Even after the window treatments, upholstery, and pillows there was plenty of leftover fabric to be used down the road as seat cushions on new finds, lampshades, and even place mats or a tablecloth.

  • See this Home Decorated on a Budget

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Achieve Balance

Asymmetrical arrangements can be intimidating, but formal symmetry is easy to pull off and adds a calm balance to a room. The simple arrangement above this fireplace is clean and elegant.

  • See this Formal Nashville Home

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Layer Rugs

Photo: Erica George Dines

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Add Architectural Interest

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Create a Cozy Spot for Reading

Photo Robbie Caponetto / Styling Anne Turner Carroll and Fran Keenan

This armchair is re-covered in a botanical print fabric. The legs are painted white to lighten the visual weight of the piece. Tucked into a corner of the living room and paired with a set of nesting tables, the chair is a perfect spot for reading.

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Mix Lights and Darks

Decorating is not like doing the laundry. Lights and darks go together just fine. In fact, they’re made for each other in this living room connected by a large cased opening.

  • See this Kentucky Home

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Open Up Your Living Space

Although less than 2,500 square feet, this cottage feels larger because of the homeowners’ clever decision to open up and connect the main living spaces. The family room is also vaulted to reveal the loft space above―yet another way of providing extra volume to a relatively modest space.

  • See this Appalachian Style Cottage

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Mix, Don’t Match

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.

  • See this DC Apartment

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White Wash the Walls

These homeowners wanted to let their guests be the color to their space, so they painted all of the background surfaces, including the brick fireplace, a clean shade of white. A vintage advertisement and an Arkansas license plate hang on the wall. The casual furniture is covered in washable slipcovers for easy cleanup when inevitable spills happen.

  • See this Renovated Lake Retreat

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Play Up Your Favorite Color, but Keep the Base Neutral

If you’re a frequent redecorator, keep the base neutral in order to let accessories really shine. White or off-white walls and slipcovers stay the same even as this homeowner flirts with new obsessions. She tires quickly of things, and has gone through phases with several different colors, so she tries to change things up with pillows and throws.

  • See this Designer’s Virginia Home

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Spruce Up Your Space With Curtains

Draperies do more than block out the sun. Window treatments can transform a room, adding personality and character. These ceiling-to-floor draperies make the space seem taller and more grand.

  • See this Formal Nashville Home

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Upgrade Your Doors and Windows

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Elizabeth Demos

To enhance the home’s 9-foot ceilings, these homeowners upgraded to 8-foot-tall doors and 6-foot-tall windows to let in maximum light. They also aligned the doors and windows at the same height to draw the eye up and create the illusion of more space.

  • See this Pre-Fab Coastal Cottage

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Flip Your Color Scheme

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Elizabeth Demos

Flip tradition and paint your ceiling a bright color while leaving your walls white. Bring the color down into the space with coordinating accessories like window-coverings and pillows.

  • See this Pre-Fab Coastal Cottage

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Accessorize with Local Pieces

Tortoise and conch shells accessorize this coastal living room, while starfish adorn the mantel. Books on South Carolina’s coastal area lie stacked on the coffee table and topped with shells. Vases of palm fronds simply picked up from outside complete the tropical decor.

  • See this Coastal-Style Cottage

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Pick Furniture That Will Work in Multiple Spaces

Photo: Melanie Acevedo, Styling: Olga Naiman

Everything this home can work in most any room in their house. Everything in the living room—the sofa, two club chairs, and two armchairs—has lived and functioned in other areas of the home. The style continuity is part of this home’s peaceful, tranquil feeling.

  • See this Classic Southern Home

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Repeat Prints

Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Natasha Louise King

Repeating patterned fabrics in adjoining spaces is a great way to tie them together. Here, the dining chair upholstery is repeated in accent pillows on the living room sofa.

  • See this Traditional Great Room

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Get Inspired by Art

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

Over this fireplace, a painting by the homeowner’s aunt provides playful color inspiration. Its coral hues are repeated in fabrics and accessories. Wallpaper remnants are placed inside the built-in glass cabinets to hide DVDs and toys and provide an inexpensive style fix.

  • See this 1920’s Home

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Mix Modern and Traditional

Photography: Laura Moss, Styling: Natasha Louise King

Anchor a room with a traditional rug and accessories, and then juxtapose them with modern art for a fresh feel. The hues of this heirloom rug play off of the colors of the bottle-cap portrait above the fireplace.

  • See this Elegant Charleston Single House

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Build-In Your Entertainment Area

These homeowners flanked the hearth with an additional bookshelf designed to accommodate the television.

  • See this Great Room

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Retrofit Your Lighting

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Heather Chadduck,

Don’t be trapped by a light’s intended use. This homeowner painted an outdoor lantern and wired it for indoor use.

  • Living Room Lighting Ideas

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Create the Illusion of Taller Ceilings

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Heather Chadduck,

Hang art above cased openings to draw the eye up and make the ceiling look even higher. Here black and white photographs play off of other black and white patterns in the room.

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Use Durable Upholstery Fabric

A sectional sofa covered in a khaki Sunbrella sailcloth floats in the center of this room. The outdoor-rated fabric won’t fade and will easily shed stains.

  • See this Den Redo

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Mix Patterns the Smart Way

Mixing patterns is a great way to add interest to a room. To keep the look cohesive, use patterns from the same color family and vary their scale.

  • See this Colorful Home

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Use Animal Print Rugs

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Use Flexible Furniture in a Great Room

This living area contains leather swivel chairs that can be rotated to face the kitchen or the TV and fireplace. The long upholstered ottoman does double duty as a coffee table and a bench.

  • See this Family-Friendly Great Room

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Create a Grown-Up Space

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Olga Naiman

Bring the formal parlor back to your home—this one’s for Mom and Dad, not the kids. Created with the feel of a warm and cozy den, this front room contains rich upholstery and textiles, dark-stained furniture, and a leather wing chair.

  • See this Georgia Row House

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Curate a Rotating Mantle Display

Above the mantel, this homeowner displays an ever-changing arrangement of artwork and accessories. An avid flea market and antique store shopper, as he finds new collectibles, he likes to bring them in as a quick way to change up the look.

  • See this Renovated Lake Retreat

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Choose Furniture that Fits the Scale of Your Room

In this living room, rolled-arm sofas are sized up to fill the airy space. For a coffee table, the homeowner had a Duncan Phyfe dining table cut down a few notches to a comfortable height for playing games or propping feet.

  • See this Kansas City Home

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Make Room for Family

Photo: Erica George Dines

The easy flow between family room and kitchen is welcoming to all ages and offers plenty of room for this homeowner’s extended family, friends, and groups from church to gather. This contiguous space is the heart of their house.

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Find Meaningful Local Art

Photo: Erica George Dines

Local artwork is a meaningful accessory. A locally painted scene of Florida live oaks hangs above this family room’s cast-stone fireplace.

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Use Picture Molding

Family photographs instantly add warmth and personality to your home. Take them out of the attic, off your computer, or out of the infrequently viewed albums on your bookshelves, and enjoy them every day. Pick a wall, corner, or entire room. If your chosen spot already has picture molding (found in many older homes), your job will be easy. If not, adding new molding is not that complicated.

  • Learn How to Create a Hanging Photo Display

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Plan Ahead for Artwork

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.

  • Living Room Finishing Touches

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Get Creative with Your Ceiling

Don’t forget to address the ceiling of your space. This vaulted ceiling has a rough-hewn wood treatment that warms-up the feeling of the room.

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Splash on the Color

This pool house living room sports sherbert-colored hues and feminine flourishes. Quirky cobalt table lamps from Stray Dog Designs and an eccentric teak table serve as foils for the sofa’s old-fashioned fringe.

See more of this Tropical Pool House Retreat

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Create Display Cubbies

Photography: Laurey W. Glenn

Cozy built-in cubbies provide the perfect place to display antique collectables and heirlooms in this living room space.

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Salvage Original Materials

Photo: Lucas Allen, Styling: Elizabeth Demos

In this living room, the heart-pine flooring came from a South Carolina textile mill. It has the original nail holes, and if you look closely, you can still see oil stains from factory weaving machines.

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Maximize Space with Dual-Purpose Built-Ins

Photo: Melanie Acevedo, Styling: Olga Naiman

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Incorporate Personal Touches

Can’t find the exact table or chest that you need? Just add your own touches, such as a paint finish or unique drawer pulls, to convert an available piece into a one-of-a-kind item. The designer of this living room set a piece of custom-cut stone on top of the wooden coffee table in the family room, giving it a more durable surface.

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Add Occasional Tables

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Make Large Rooms Cozy with Multiple Seating Areas

How do you make a gigantic room look cozy and appropriate for today when it’s actually an old Virginia cow barn?

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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Use Bold Accessories

A geometric flat weave is more casual and youthful than a heavy Oriental or wool rug. Balance it out with a large piece of modern art framed in a simple white gallery frame. Finish with blue glass lamps or a pretty bowl to add sparkle and dimension.

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Window Treatment Texture 2

Barn builders used post-and-beam construction in rough-hewn yellow pine. Linen curtains with vintage trim add elegance to the rustic room.

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Use a Mix of Hues

The homeowners combined several shades of blue, from almost-black navy to royal, in the light-filled living room. The hand-blocked batik print on the curtains and bench is by John Robshaw Textiles.

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Inviting Family Room Design

Reclaimed-wood beams ground the airy, white space. A large but delicate chandelier with a burnished brass finish helps anchor the room, while a vertical custom metal-framed mirror emphasizes the room’s height.

  • See more of this Functional Family-Friendly Remodel

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Give a Small Room Big Style

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Choose a Statement Sofa for a Large Room

A tufted chesterfield sofa covered in family-friendly Sunbrella fabric adds scale and traditional style. Tip: A large sofa needs large pillows—ours are 26 inches square.

Editor’s Tip: Reinvent vintage finds in a new setting. Here, an old flat file cabinet works as a coffee table.

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Use a Range of Textiles

Photo: Tria Giovan, Styling: Matthew Gleason

A range of textiles (including velvet, wool, linen, and cotton) adds texture and keeps the muted hues of the C. R. Laine upholstery from falling flat.

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Balance Rustic Elements

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Pull Out a Bold Accent Color

Photo: Eric Piasecki, Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

With the multihued curtain fabric as her jumping-off point, designer Ashley Whittaker splashed an amped-up version of pink in three places in the living room—the footstool, the contrasting pillow welt, and the slipper-chair trim. “We wanted the home to feel bright and colorful like Florida but not like a vacation home,” says Ashley. She pulled off the cozy yet elegant vibe by grounding the sun-and-surf palette with serious touches, such as the antique demilune tables.

Love it? Get it! 
Wall paint: Pale Powder; farrow-ball.com. Drapery fabric: Celeste Robin’s Egg by Raoul Textiles, available through DCOTA; 954/921-7575.

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Layer Patterns and Bold Prints

Layers of classic patterns and bold prints connected by a warm palette of brown, ivory, and green give this D.C. cottage a hefty dose of handsome hospitality.

Love it? Get it! 
Designer: David Mitchell, David Mitchell Interior Design, Washington, D.C.; davidmitchellinteriordesign.com.

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Surround Your Fireplace with Built-Ins

Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Rose Nguyen

An inglenook is a space next to the fireplace that often includes seating. These built-in window seats provide extra seating and are a comfy place to read.

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Add Privacy without Losing Light

Add a little privacy to family rooms without sacrificing light by installing drapery panels that don’t have a thick lining.

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Embrace Ideas from the Past

Try a great idea from the past. The triple-hung windows on either side of the great room’s fireplace are found in many older homes in the Deep South. When the two lower sashes are raised, the openings serve as passageways to the screened porch beyond.

Editor’s Favorite Living Rooms

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Showcase Antiques

Antiques are the hallmark of Southern homes, but you don’t have to have a room full of fine antiques—one nice piece in a room can elevate everything around it. The antique desk in this room gives a sense of history.

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Decorate with Cottage Style

Layer floral and geometric patterns on casual furniture for a cozy, cottage feel. Punch up your floral patterns by pairing with them with fresh flowers in mismatched vases.

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Create a Statement with Art

With impressive artwork and sleek, sophisticated furnishings set against a perfectly pale palette, this space is a constellation of star elements.

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Decorate Naturally

Take your decorating cues from your surroundings. This home is on a lake surrounded by trees. Moss greens and mushroom browns paired with a twig-and-bark side table truly bring the outdoors in.

  • Living Room Media Solutions

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Modernize the Classics

Make a classic print—like houndstooth check—modern by playing with the scale of the pattern and using it in an unexpected color.

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Try Natural Textures

Jeremy Fleming, Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Scott Martin

Warm up a room with interesting textures. Woven accessories and ottoman keep things simple and natural.

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Bring the Outdoors In

Use naturally occurring colors and textures to give an earthy feeling to your living room. Potted plants and wicker furniture give this home a casual comfort.

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Love the Lodge Look

Get the lodge look by pairing rich leathers with rustic wood elements and classic tartans. Candles and lanterns further add to the atmosphere.

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Give Your Living Room a Sense of Place

Coastal and nautical touches abound in this family room beginning with the seashell-print pillows. Coastal artwork over the fireplace flanks shelving that is filled to the brim with shell frames and boxes.

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Play with Scale

Charles Walton IV / Styling Leigh Anne Montgomery

Use large-scale pieces in unexpected places. This distinctive coffee table is constructed using the base of two columns and a stone slab.

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Get Hands-On with Casual Finishes

This living room has a please touch, no fuss feel. It’s comfortable for a young family or grandparents with visiting grandchildren. Hand-rubbed finishes on furnishings lend vintage appeal.

  • Casual Family Rooms

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Mix and Match Your Wood Tones

Your wood pieces don’t have to be the same color. Here, a dark wood desk is at home among blond occasional tables because the pieces have similar clean lines.

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Bright and Airy Living

A simplified, white color scheme allowed decorator Alana Woerpel to add controlled shots of blue into this bright and airy living room.

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