20 Formal Living Room Ideas That Aren't Stuffy

Cheer on Your Team

This space features a comfortable sofa, a modern light fixture, and framed jerseys.

Pick a Fun Rug

While the white chairs and built-in bookcases may appear quite formal, this room's moody green walls and beige animal-print rug are the touches it needs to feel welcoming and not stuffy.

Go Monochromatic

For DIYer Mr. Kate's family's Hawaii living room, she went for a cozy and colorful feeling. She painted the walls, ceilings, and trim all the same color: an ocean-inspired blue. The room also features two turquoise velvet sofas and DIYed abstract art.

Accent With Natural Stone

This modern living room from Austin-based architects at Clayton Korte makes a statement with neutral hues and organic materiality.

"Stone feels rich in nature and is a timeless finish," says interior designer Christina Clark. "Using a natural stone selection that has a pop of color or large veining or movement can also make this very traditional finish feel more contemporary or edgy."

Paint the Fireplace

In designer Mary Patton's Houston home, she added a bold pop of color to an otherwise formal sitting room. A turquoise fireplace is an automatic focal point and livens up the neutral palette.

Pick Playful Patterns

Palm Beach-based designer Caitlin Kah is all about fresh, livable interiors that range from more traditional to modern. For this Jupiter Island, Florida, living room, she paired sophisticated elements like archways and a sculptural chandelier with various patterns, colors, and textures.

Elevate Original Details

For this living room from Charity Buchika of Teaselwood Design, she let the original architectural bones shine through with "a custom stone fireplace flanked by copper lanterns and original timber-frame beams that set the cozy, casual aesthetic," she says.

Use Personal Art

New York designer Alvin Wayne transformed a 4,500-square-foot '80s home into a family-friendly space for local painter Greg Griffith. Griffith's bright pink painting hangs alongside a navy sofa and upholstered ottoman. The low-to-the-ground seating is casual and great for kids, hosting, and more.

Add Linen Drapes

"Floor-to-ceiling drapes can bring height and grandeur to your space, and keeping it neutral in color and using a natural fiber (like linen) can help it feel light and airy while still contributing to the overall character of the room," Clayton Korte says.

Pack a Punch With Wallpaper

This Georgia home in the Serenbe development showcases a functional design that isn't stale.

Let the View Speak

New York designer Ahmad AbouZanat designed this high-end city escape with bold pops of color, midcentury-style furnishings, and unobstructed views of the impressive skyscrapers outside. His minimal, thoughtful design is crisp without feeling stuffy.

Juxtapose With Modern Art

Louisville interior designer Bethany Adams redecorated a historic home's small traditional seating room with airy furniture and art. A fun, cloud-like chandelier, and a modern canvas keep things light.

Go Abstract

Southern California-based designer Laura Brophy created a colorful escape in this Huntington Beach home. A navy sofa, which can lean traditional or modern based on its construction, pairs well with large-scale, abstract art and a tiered pendant.

Go Oversized

Atlanta-based designers at Stock & Trade opted for oversized artwork, relaxed seating, and natural drapery. They also included throw pillows for pops of color to match the art in this lush Serenbe home.

Look to the Past

When a retired couple moved to Austin, they hired CG&S Design-Build to marry their German heritage with a neutral color palette and open up the space for entertaining. The vaulted ceilings, custom cabinet fronts, and an airy white and gray color scheme tie the room together, and midcentury architectural elements add warmth and charm.

Modernize With a Statement Chandelier

Designer Kate Marker created a luxe design with a plush and neutral rug, upholstered furniture, and subtly striped drapery for a casual touch. The room is complete with a modern, angular ceiling fixture.

Build an Accent Wall

The star of this cozy living room is the wood accent wall, a spot to display personal items, the TV, and for storage. A cheerful blue sofa and color-blocked rug make this space even more inviting.

Get Entertaining

This Austin home features neutral furniture with accents of blush and blue, classic yet vibrant tones. A piano is situated in the corner, great for evening entertaining.

Curate a Gallery Wall

This Georgia home includes clean, contemporary neutral furniture to complement an oversized gallery wall. Pro tip: Choose pieces of all different sizes and textures.

Celebrate Exposed Beams

While this living room from Marie Flanigan has the makings of a formal seating space, it doesn't feel stuffy thanks to the greenery and the exposed beams. Plus, twin chandeliers draw the eye up

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