Creating a cohesive, modern living room may seem like an easy task. After all, you’ve been scouring pictures and idea books online for years now. How hard could it be?
When it comes time to act on all your ideas, you may find yourself feeling more than slightly overwhelmed. Determined as you are, there is always that little second-guessing voice in your head that wonders if you’ll be able to pull it all off. There are dozens of details (colors, dimensions, etc.) that all need to come together to create a cohesive living room.
This step-by-step guide will walk you through the steps of creating the perfect modern living room. When you’re finished decorating, you’ll be able to take a step back and pat yourself on the back for achieving your decor dreams.
Step #1: Choose an Up-and-Coming Color Scheme
Nothing makes a room look more dated than an old-fashioned color scheme. Browns and beiges have been out for almost a decade now. More recently, gray, white, and silver have been on the forefront. While these colors are still used a lot, think about looking forward instead.
1) Resourceful: Complementary blue and orange colors combine warm and cool tones to make up this interesting palette.
2) Verdure: Vegetable-like colors (celery) combine with berry purples and eggshell blue for a symbol of health and vitality.
3) Playful: Bright yellows and greens, along with other fun and crazy colors, bring a smile to anyone’s face.
4) Discretion: Subtle Elderberry and Hawthorne Rose give a sense of quiet strength.
5) Far-Fetched: Warm, earthy hues and rosy tones strive to reach out and embrace many different cultures.
6) Intricacy: Neutral metallics are accented with dramatic reds and yellows to create a festive vibe.
7) Intensity: This includes any eclectic mix of colors that are balanced with black and gold, evoking power and sophistication.
8) TECH-nique: Bright white anchors turquoise, pink, and purple as a nod to modern technology.
The main takeaway from these modern color schemes is a noticeable step away from strict color rules. Instead, colors all along the spectrum are mixed and matched seamlessly for a surprisingly fresh outcome.
Step #2: Redo Your Floor Plan
The way you arrange your furniture and design your floor plan often has as big an impact as the furniture itself. Ideally, your floor plan should emphasize architectural details while still offering enough breathing room for comfort.
Pay attention to your furniture’s scale and proportion by following these tips:
• Select your big items first and decorate around them.
• Avoid furnishings that are all the same height, color, and style.
• Don’t hang items in a way that make the walls look top-heavy.
• Use fewer colors and smaller prints in a small room and more colors and larger prints in a large room.
When it comes to arranging modern furniture pieces, simple lines and plenty of open space keep the focus on inherent beauty rather than over-the-top motifs.
Step #3: Implement Eco-Friendly and Fair-Trade Pieces
Many people want their homes to reflect their passion for community and respect for all cultures. With this attitude comes a greater focus on where and how their stuff is made.
Here are a few questions to help determine how eco-friendly your furniture is:
• What is its life cycle? Is the design enduring? Are the materials and construction durable so it will last a very long time?
• Was it made locally or with a small carbon footprint? Does the processing create toxic pollution?
• Are the materials made with low or non-toxic ingredients? Does it offer minimal or no off-gassing? Is it recyclable or biodegradable? (To find this out, look for the flammability and law label located underneath the piece of furniture.)
Fair Trade furniture is made with net neutral or positive social impact. Standards include income sustainability, empowerment, individual and community well-being, and environmental stewardship. These high standards must be maintained from the sourcing the products, through the manufacturing process, and includes distribution.
Choosing eco-friendly, fair-trade furniture and decor pieces demonstrate a modern commitment to sustainability.
Step #4: Create a “Point of Emphasis”
To keep a room from becoming bland or chaotic, create a focal point. This gives your living room a special “Point of Emphasis” that will delight your guests and be a good conversation-starter. Having a focal point also gives you a good base on which to build all your other modern furnishings around.
Step #5: Layer Lighting
It can be quite the task to balance your living room’s lighting—you don’t want the room to be too bright or over-exposed, but you don’t want it to be too dim, either. The solution is to layer your lighting.
Your living room lighting checklist should include:
• A “Wow Factor” overhead pendant or chandelier
• Side lighting (tabletop lamps, floor lamps, and/or wall sconces)
• Built-in canned task lighting
For a trendy effect, opt for “modern retro” or “upgraded industrial” styles of lighting fixtures, such as those with varied tones coupled with sleek designs.
Furthermore, lighting doesn’t have to refer only to the plug-in variety. Reflecting and iridescent surfaces can play a big role. In addition to mirrors, add unique items with shiny sheens. Metallics of all shades (even mixing and matching), mother-of-pearl, and velvet will create depth and send light singing around the room.
Finally, don’t forget to open (or even take down) the shutters, blinds, and drapes. Let the natural sunlight in, and your room will feel a lot more open and bright.
Step #6: Enliven with Accent Pieces
Accent pieces help enliven blank spots and show off your personality.
Trends for 2018 to try out include the following:
• Nature: Maybe it’s the tech-obsessed lives we lead, but natural and organic accents that abound and surround make us feel good. Plants and flowers bring a sense of contentment. Wood furniture with dancing grain is as beautiful as it is sturdy. You may even consider concrete flooring and accent pieces, for a crisp, ultra-modern look.
• Artisan: Absolutely anything artisan or handmade is game. This is especially true if you collected these special items yourself from far off places. In addition, the look of hand-millwork accent walls and details give texture and complexity to an otherwise ho-hum room.
• Geometric: Still on trend are shapes, both linear and curved. Look for lively, interesting, and fun patterns—it is impossible not to find one to love. Geometric shapes can be highlighted in fabric, tile, wood, and even carpet.
Step #7: Adopt a Wabi-Sabi Mentality
Finally, it’s time to bring all these elements together for a cohesive, modern living room design. That may seem straightforward, but when faced with a hundred decisions and conflicting opinions, it can be tempting to give up and return to the status quo.
Fortunately, the current aesthetic is less about coordination perfection and more about resourceful personalization for real life. The modern design world is seeing an emergence of Wabi-sabi in the West, and this traditional Japanese aesthetic is centered on the acceptance of incompleteness and imperfection. It embraces mismatched aged wood, cracks and crevices, faded colors, frayed edges, and even the settled dust. It’s an acceptance and appreciation for nature’s continual cycle of growth and decay. As it turns out, it seems even modern design is dependent on the past.
This year, enjoy the freedom of designing the modern living room of your dreams, whatever that may mean for you!