The kitchen’s reign as the heart of the home has gone on long enough. This year, it’s time to reclaim your family room—or living room, den, or whatever you call the space where your sofa and coziest armchair reside—as the ultimate hangout. Whether you’re looking for a quick refresh or a total overhaul, we’ve got the inspo you need. These family room decorating ideas run the gamut, with options for every skill level and style.
1. INVEST IN DURABLE MATERIALS
You should feel totally comfortable living in your living room, which is why Maydan Architects did some strategic splurging when designing this San Francisco home. “We selected a fabric for the sofa that can be cleaned easily. The floors are porcelain ceramic, which is almost indestructible and looks particularly elegant,” says founder and principal Mary Maydan. “By using high-end materials that are easy to clean and have excellent durability, we created a home with an elevated style that both children and parents can enjoy worry-free.”
2. GIVE YOUR CHAIRS A KID-FRIENDLY FACELIFT
Bold floral chairs aren’t just playful; they serve a subtle secret purpose: “I find that intricate, colorful patterns tend to hide spills and stains better than solid textiles,” says designer Emily Spanos of Emily June Designs.
3. TRY THE COLOR OF THE YEAR ON FOR SIZE
If you’ve been staring at white shiplap walls for far too long and are desperate for a change, consider a total 180. Sherwin-Williams declared Urbane Bronze, a shade one designer referred to as “melted dark chocolate,” the 2021 Color of the Year for the way it instantly makes a space feel cozy and enveloping.
4. TAKE A CUE FROM KRISTEN BELL’S DESIGNER
A sand-colored sofa may seem impossible when you have toddlers roaming the house, but it’s totally doable when it’s slipcovered. And slipcovered doesn’t have to equate grandma—or grand millennial. For proof, just check out the Keane style Amber Lewis (aka Kristen Bell’s go-to designer) created for Anthropologie. You can’t deny that this couch looks chic.
5. PUT YOUR FAMILY FRONT AND CENTER
A cluster of family photos feels art gallery-worthy when printed in black and white and spaced evenly apart in matching frames, à la this gallery wall from A Beautiful Mess. If your kids can’t sit still for a photo, try this trick from designer Emily Henderson: Shoot video of your fam hanging out, then pull screenshots from the footage. You’re practically guaranteed to find a good angle, no matter how much they squirm.
6. INCORPORATE OVERSIZED THROW PILLOWS
“Large throw pillows can be tossed to the floor to create a comfortable space for reading or playing a game around the large rod iron coffee table,” Spanos says of the family room above. Look for 20-inch square throw pillows (like this $40 Wayfair find), rather than the typical 16- or 20-inch ones.
7. GO PATTERN ON PATTERN
Peel-and-stick wallpaper—like this delicate ginkgo design from Flower Home—is an easy way to liven up your family room. But don’t stop there. As long as the colors are echoed throughout the room, you can have a few different patterns play in the same space via the rug, a detailed lamp, or your choice of artwork.
8. TRY THIS PAINT TRICK TO CREATE A COZIER SPACE
High ceilings are a gift. But sometimes, they can make a room feel cavernous and lonely. A strategic swipe of color can change all of that. “By painting the lower portion of the walls a deeper color, it helps to draw the eye downward and ‘ground’ space,” explains Decorist Elite designer Rita Schulz. “The patterned rug and vibrant upholstered pieces also help to draw the eye inward, towards the seating area, for a cozier vibe.”
9. PIVOT YOUR ENTERTAINMENT CENTER
Media centers can be pricey—but who says your TV even needs one? Amanda Heck of Midcounty Journal decided to repurpose a $200 cupboard she found on Facebook Marketplace to conceal hers. It adds to the country-chic look she was going for…without costing the whole farm.
10. EXPAND YOUR (SEARCH) HORIZONS TO SNAG A DEAL
Older items can add character to a room—and if you’re willing to do some digging online, you can snag a serious deal. Dana Dubiny-Dore of Adored House knows this firsthand: She’s also big on scouring Facebook Marketplace for used furniture she can upcycle, like the rustic coffee table above. Her best deal? A solid-wood cupboard for $50. Her secret? “Marketplace allows you to search within a certain mile radius from a set location. I have my radius set at about 15 miles normally, just to see what the newly listed items in my area are, but when I’m searching for a specific type of piece, I will expand the search radius as far as it goes (100 miles),” she explains.
11. CHECK YOUR TONE
If neutrals are more your style, but you’re not sure which shade to go with, look down. “We used the tone of the floor to inspire the overall color palette and kept the design simple to make furnishings stand out,” says Eilyn Jimenez, Sire Design founder, and creative director, of the room shown above.
12. COLOR WASH YOUR FLOORS
OK, but what if your floors aren’t exactly stunning, to begin with? That’s the problem Elsie Larson of A Beautiful Mess faced when she hired a pro to tear off the wall-to-wall carpeting and refinish the hardwood underneath. The living room’s floors were so stained that she needed a dark shade to hide their flaws. Rather than going with a dated, dark brown, she chose a saturated turquoise. Keeping the rest of the room neutral allows the floors to be the statement-maker. And you’d never notice that the hardwood’s stained.
13. USE HANGING PLANTS TO DRAW YOUR EYE UP
An A-frame home can make hanging wall art tricky. Instead of fighting the architecture, play up those tall ceilings by arranging hanging plants along the beams. Choose a style that only needs to be watered once every couple of weeks, like pothos or string of pearls, so you’re not constantly bringing out that stepladder.
14. BALANCE OUT THE TV
When your TV’s not on, it can look like a giant black void, sucking up the attention in the room without really adding anything to it. It’s struggling designers know all too well, which is why Lauren Wills of Lauren Wills Associates recommends choosing bold art that balances it out. “I love the lack of exposure,” Wills notes about the black and white photograph above. “It really helps pull the eye away from the TV screen!”
15. OFFSET AWKWARD SPACES WITH AN ACCENT WALL
If you have a long, narrow living room, an accent wall can be a great way to fill in one of those never-ending walls—and make the room feel a little less closed-in. “Focus on a large-scale pattern for your wallpaper,” suggests Decorist celebrity designer Jessica McCarthy. “This will add interest to your walls without feeling busy.”
16. BREAK UP AN OPEN FLOOR PLAN
Open floor plans make a home feel light and airy but they can be tricky to decorate, especially when you’re trying to house multiple rooms in one space. A large rug will anchor a defined area, like the family room Decorist Elite designer Erika Dale created, visually separating it from the dining room table and chairs that are mere inches away.
17. LAYER YOUR STATEMENT-MAKER
How incredible is this nearly floor-to-ceiling mirror?! It’s the kind of thing you want to show off. However, a massive piece like this could threaten to overwhelm a room, too. Steal an idea from Lauren Wills Associates and try placing it behind the sofa. It gives the room more dimension and aids in balancing out the TV on the opposite wall.
18. RETHINK YOUR FOUR WALLS
On the scale of remodels, this is a huge overhaul: Adding floor-to-ceiling windows or adding accordion doors to create an indoor-outdoor space. It’s the epitome of bright and airy but it will require calling in a pro (or even a team of pros). Especially if you have a fireplace along said wall-you’d-like-to-knock-down, a challenge Maydan Architects faced here. Their fix? Reface your mantle to match the modern look of the rest of the room, complete with niches for firewood and a hidden spot to stow surround-sound speakers.
19. MEASURE (AND MOCKUP) BEFORE YOU BUY
If you’re moving into a small space, every piece of furniture you bring in matters—big time. Decorist Elite designer Kara Thomas laid out the floor plan of this space in CAD, making sure everything fit to scale. For anyone without CAD access (or a designer’s help), you can also try marking out each piece of furniture’s dimensions with painter’s tape, so you have a better sense of exactly how much room it will take up before you buy it.
20. DIY YOUR COFFEE TABLE
When you can’t find your dream coffee table, you make your dreams come true and DIY that baby. At least, that’s what Katie Shelton did when she created this showstopping daisy table. Check out her full tutorial on A Beautiful Mess to try it for yourself.
21. MARK WHERE YOU’VE BEEN
A large vintage map doesn’t just make for great art—you can stick pushpins in it to mark every destination you’ve visited, creating a conversation piece that’s truly personal.