Put Some Life in Your Living Room

Whether you're aiming for cozy comfort or posh elegance, your living room décor defines the room and gives personality to your space. The devil's in the details, as they say, and each piece you select helps shape the character of the room. Knowing your design goals will help you pick the finishing touches to make sure that your living room the ultimate expression of your style.

Small Size, Big Impression

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Small accessories can make a big impact on a room design. Whether it's the patterns and colors on throw pillows, wall decor and area rugs or the lively greenery of house plants, these elements provide the finishing touches to a thoughtful, well-planned design. In a room with varying aesthetic styles, they can tie all the design elements together cohesively.

Cozy Up to Throws

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Nothing makes a living room as welcoming as a comfortable seat and a cozy blanket to snuggle up under, especially when the weather is cold or damp. But not all throw blankets are created equal. Look for good quality textiles with plenty of texture for the ultimate relaxation location.

Shape Your Design

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Repeating shapes in clean, streamlined styles give a minimalist modern room a pop of design without cluttering. You can mix and match—white circles with black circles, white squares with black squares. Vary the sizes as well for additional visual impact.

Let Yourself Go Gray

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Gray has been super popular in recent years; you can make it your own by varying the intensity of different shades of gray. Soft, light grays combine well with charcoals, for example, but do keep within the same color undertone (some grays have a cooler bluish tone while others lean more toward beige). Keep the furnishings simple, then pick a few pieces like an area rug for greater impact.

Embrace Your Inner Bookworm

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A great, big, beautiful book collection can be a design element on its own. Use a large bookshelf as both an eye-catching piece of furniture as well as functional book storage. You can fill it completely with your library or use it to feature other items as well.

Box Up Your Walls

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Storage can be a challenging in small living rooms, so clever wall shelving is a great way to add style and function. For a more modern touch, try colorful cubes hung at different heights. The asymmetry gives an abstract sensibility, while the tonal variation adds pops of color to the room.

Get Eclectic

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Don't feel you need to coordinate all the materials in your living room. Mixing them up, like using leather with wood or brass with dark metal, can add complexity to a design. Choose a few coordinated elements, like a few brass pieces or black metal and brass together in one item, to tie the room together; but you don't have to match every piece.

Down to the Wire

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To find an intersection between farmhouse, modern industrial and mid-century modern styles, pick traditionally shaped items made from modern materials. For example, a wood-topped side table with a wire base has a charming woven pattern that touches on all three styles. Lighting fixtures, small furniture pieces and accessories are a great way to find a pieces that blend the different elements.

Shelve Your Design

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Bookshelves don't have to be just boxes and rectangles. Look for pieces that bring out elements of the design style you're aiming towards. Light and airy shelving with angles, cantilevers and thin metal supports are reminiscent of mid-century modern design, whereas bookshelves made from pipes and rustic natural wood evoke a modern industrial style.

Back to Nature

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For an organic take on mid-century modernism, mix furniture in design shapes evoking the style but made from natural elements. Select pieces like a low-slung rail-back lounge chair, octagonal stacked shelving or solid side table made up of jute, wood, woven fabrics or stone.

Show Off Your TV

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You won't want to hide your electronics away if you can feature them in a beautiful entertainment center! Black framing is particularly elegant, as it helps the black electronics blend in. Look for areas to add contrast, like natural wood uprights. Low cabinets help hide unnecessary clutter and wiring, while open shelving lets you feature books, art or other accessories, adding to the gallery feel.

Upgrade Black and White

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A black-and-white color scheme can sometimes feel harsh, but you can soften it with pops of gray and natural wood elements. Add depth with contrasting textures, like exposed brick, woven fabrics and thick pile carpeting.

Shake Up the Bar

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Many a homebody and self-styled mixologist want to maintain a well-stocked home bar. But all those bottles and cocktail tools can add a lot of clutter that doesn't fit in with your modern living room. To keep things simple, look for an attractive and accessible home bar that you can close up to keep all the bar accessories inside.

Tuck Away Tables

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In a clean, modern living room design where you don't want a lot of furniture, are a great option. While the primary coffee table serves the main purpose, having other tables of different heights and sizes lets you pull them out when you need them, and then tuck them away when not in use.

Big, Bold Art

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Make your wall a statement by choosing a large piece of art to hang over your couch. But give this classic living room design style a modern twist by keeping the rest of the wall empty and neutral, and choosing a large, abstract piece that will draw the eye and set the aesthetic tone for the room.

Hang It Up

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The words buffet and sideboard have vintage connotations, but you can take them into the 20th century with a mid-century modern credenza. Providing everything from storage to serving, they're a great way to add function and re-emphasize your design style.

Burn Away

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On a cold, dreary day, nothing beats the coziness of a fireplace—even if your fireplace doesn't actually burn. For an out-of-use or purely decorative hearth, consider filling it with candles or adding no-vent gel-fueled inserts. Alternately, stack your fireplace with books or place a few statues inside the alcove to warm up your look (if not your temperature).

Whether it's the perfect coffee table, throw blanket or lounge chair, the favorite things you add to your living room are what make you enjoy being there. Function and form don't have to be in conflict; you can have beauty and style and still be practical. When selecting your living room décor, if you keep both utility and aesthetic appeal in mind, you can create the perfectly welcoming room to enjoy.