5 Ways to Create a Calm, Cool, Contemporary Living Room

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Gillian Grefe

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Published on December 22, 2019

Contemporary design is often confused, misused, and misunderstood. Make no mistake, while contemporary design features clean, sleek lines, it’s not the same as modern design. While the two styles have lots in common, contemporary is a more forward-looking and softer aesthetic than modern design. Bringing a contemporary vision into your living space can breathe new life into a tired or dated design.

Hoping to bring contemporary design to your living room? Follow these five pointers to get started. 


Contemporary furnishings are free of adornments and complex designs. It’d be rare to find a victorian couch or chesterfield in the middle of a contemporary living room. Select tables, chairs, and couches that feature gentle curves, low profile, and smooth lines. No single chair or couch should be too large, each one balancing the other out.

Your contemporary living room should draw from the popular, neutral color palettes of today. Design the room with a few complementary colors in mind, or simply select one color and decorate the room in different shades. Whites, grays, and taupes are back in a big way, and they’ll create a soothing but refreshing atmosphere to entertain.

Most elements in your modern living room should stick to the simple color palette, but you can create depth and interest in the room with a few pops of color. Pick out a brightly printed pillow, rug, or throw to make the room look more dynamic.

Contemporary design is simple and sleek, but you have an opportunity to create one wow moment in the space if you wish. Select a boldly designed chandelier or sculpturally engaging coffee table. Just remember, less is more. For maximum impact, you’ll get just one “wow” moment in your contemporary living room.

One of the benefits of contemporary design is how well it integrates with other styles. Your living room doesn’t have to be just a contemporary style. You can integrate bohemian vibes with a few brightly colored pillows, or farmhouse chic with classically printed curtains

Contemporary design is simple and soothing while creating opportunities for a stunning moment or two. The key is mostly adhering to a neutral palette and simple furniture while selecting one or two bold designs to make guests say wow when they walk in the room. Explore more contemporary living rooms here.

Is contemporary design not bold enough for you? Take our style quiz to discover what designs suit you.

Words by Emma Diehl