Do you find yourself drawn to contemporary living room décor but concerned about how to warm it up for real life? You’re not alone. The lines and design of contemporary style are fluid over time (today’s contemporary will not be the contemporary design of 2025), but currently they involve a bit of minimalist modernism, which has the potential for aesthetic sterility. Here are some options to consider for easily warming up your contemporary living room so that you have the best of both worlds – a great, clean-lined design with plenty of welcome and staying power.
Deep Wall Color.
Because contemporary living room furniture is often clean-lined and hard-angled, the aesthetic can appear more rigid and cold than is probably intended. Soften the feel of the entire living room by laying a foundation of muted, deep, and/or warm coloring on the walls.
There is something inherently softening and friendly about two-tone furniture, and contrast piping on contemporary living room furniture is as welcoming as it is classy. Particularly when the colors themselves are neutral and soothing, such as are on this eggshell-and-steel-blue sofa.
From faux taxidermy to wall art, statues to rugs, animal prints, patterns, and references adeptly combine the contemporary zest for chic wildlife with the animals’ intrinsic natural-ness. Even in a space where high gloss, reflective surfaces, and glamour are the thing, reference to animals brings the entire space down to an absorbable and truly inviting level.
As shiny metallic, abstract, or modern as your living room’s light fixture might be, the inclusion of light bulbs with warm lumens will create an immediate softening of the space. This is a particularly effective balance to strike in the contemporary living room, as lighting extends throughout the entire room, not just affecting one visual experience.
Layers of Layers.
Whether your first love is layering prints in front of the mirror on the mantel, or mixing eight throw pillows on the sofa, or stacking area rugs, layering is an excellent design choice for softening a space. Edges and lines don’t disappear (which is important in contemporary design), but they do blur a bit when layered. These nesting-type oval coffee tables have an excellent layering appeal and add depth (which usually = warmth) to this neutral monochromatic living room arrangement.
While the days of matching printed upholstery to curtains (and even wallpaper and flooring) are history for many, remnants of those delightful prints still remain to create a sense of comfort in the contemporary living room. Tropical foliage and other related prints are always welcome in a modern living room. A throw pillow with frond print, for example, provides a sophisticated dose.
The grain and multi-colored characteristics of raw, exposed, and natural wood is a beautiful addition to the contemporary living room space. Not only does the neutral color of wood bring in warmth, but the inherent variation in the wood grain and shape itself brings in organic and nature-loving elements to the contemporary décor.
Natural fabrics and wovens tend to have an innately inviting texture to them. Think of tweed, wool, and linen, for examples. Their appearance mimics the subtle unevenness that’s exhibited in nature itself, in tree bark, rock faces, and the cloudy sky itself. While the silhouette of a piece can be decidedly modern or contemporary, the upholstery can soften it right up.
Green plant life, in small and large doses alike, offer an inherent freshness and softness to the contemporary living room, regardless of many other factors. Place a larger potted plant in the corner of the living room, or a smaller potted green on the coffee table or bookshelf.
Let’s be real for a minute: few items of décor are as cozying as plaid. Plaid upholstery, walls, throw pillows, rugs, etc. On whatever and wherever plaid finds itself, the immediate surroundings feel friendlier, more familiar, and inviting. Plaid works in the contemporary space, though, because of its solid classic grid pattern, so the two pieces make an excellent pairing.
You can have furniture with great lines that is still comfortable, as is evident by this plush contemporary sectional, which is key to a warm, inviting living room. Few people want to linger in a space where the furniture is stuffy or uncomfortable, but the opposite is true in a contemporary living room with beautiful seating that you can sink into and stay awhile.