If your formal living room is also your family room, you want to make sure it strikes a balance between super comfortable and presentable. A cozy family room that cleans up nicely, if you will. A super soft sectional with plenty of space to spread out on movie night is a must, but choose one that also looks elegant. Then add fun, eye-catching lighting for an extra punch of fun, like the one in this Studio DB-designed room.

In the living room of Steven Gambrel's Chicago apartment, the custom sofa, in a JAB Anstoetz fabric, is by Dune, the 1950s chair (left) is in a Dedar fabric, and the custom armchair is covered in Arabel fabrics; the 1930s orange lacquer–and-shagreen sideboard is French, the 1950s Murano glass table lamp is by Seguso, the 1955 chandelier is by FontanaArte, the custom rug is by Beauvais, and the Venetian plaster walls are in Benjamin Moore’s Stonington Gray.
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.
Alisa Bloom recreated the environment of a French interior in her sophisticated Chicago penthouse. In the living room, she opted for a custom sofa in a Kravet fabric with pillows in a Jim Thompson silk. The 1970s chairs are from Revival, and the vintage cocktail table is from Martin La Brocante. She finished the space with a console by Crate & Barrel, a vintage chandelier by Hans-Agne Jakobsson, and curtains in an Oscar de la Renta fabric for Lee Jofa. The walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Cement Gray.
All products and services featured are selected by our editors. Real Simple may receive compensation for some links to products and services in this email on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice. Real Simple is part of the Meredith Home Group. © Copyright 2019 Meredith Corporationthis link opens in a new tab. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Privacy Policythis link opens in a new tab Data Policythis link opens in a new tab Terms of Servicethis link opens in a new tab Ad Choicesthis link opens in a new tab Your California Privacy Rightsthis link opens in a new tab EU Data Subject Requeststhis link opens in a new tab Cookie Preferencesthis link opens a modal window Web Accessibilitythis link opens in a new tab

1) Mix Up the Furniture – Stir things up. Pull your sofa, chairs, and tables out of their current positions to the middle of the room. Then switch them up by placing them all back in new places. Try putting things at angles you hadn’t thought of before. If you don’t like how things end up, switch it all again. I like to turn it into a great little party game.


Employing expensive materials in restrained but meaningful ways lets you enjoy the finer things while staying on budget. Display a fancy wallpaper on a focal wall or as a patterned backdrop for built-in shelves. Buy one really good leather chair, but pair it with a less expensive garden-seat table. Create pillows that showcase pricey silks, brocades, and velvets on their face, but that boast inexpensive fabric backs.
Paint is affordable, transformative, and easily applied by novice decorators. Use it to color walls, update flea market furnishings, refresh tired floors, and showcase a room's architectural features. Choose wall colors that further a mood (the deeper the tone, the cozier the feel) and that complement your finest furnishings and personal style preferences. 
A black marble fireplace strikes the perfect balance between edgy and timeless. It anchors this living room designed by Arent & Pyke, which get a contemporary lift from the jute rug, modern and bright artwork, and shapely table lamp. And because the armchairs are a classic silhouette, they'll last forever—you can reupholster them with different colors and prints throughout the years as your taste and style changes.

In the living room of an antique-laden apartment in Greenwich Village, the antique Swedish sofa and Baroque chair, right, are upholstered in Robert Kime fabrics, the armchair is 18th-century French and a vintage Persian Soumak rug from Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar rests on a sea-grass rug from ABC Carpet & Home. Among the items on the wall are an antique water-buffalo skull, 19th-century French gouaches and a drawing by Jean Cocteau.
Designed by Studio Razavi, this eclectic Parisian apartment is a breath of fresh air. Not only does it prove that you can use a wallpaper mural in a minimalist environment (the grayscale color palette helps), but it's also the perfect example of how to design a living room that's both fun and relaxed, sophisticated and formal. The key? Seating needs to be comfortable, and materials need to be casual but clean.
A black marble fireplace strikes the perfect balance between edgy and timeless. It anchors this living room designed by Arent & Pyke, which get a contemporary lift from the jute rug, modern and bright artwork, and shapely table lamp. And because the armchairs are a classic silhouette, they'll last forever—you can reupholster them with different colors and prints throughout the years as your taste and style changes.
×