The living room is one of the most-used spaces in a home, yet it’s often considered the design equivalent of no man’s land—neutral territory that lacks the personality of say, the bedroom or kitchen. But what if, for once, we didn’t settle for playing it safe?
Secretly experimenting away in their cozy laboratories—er, living rooms—interior designers have come to use this space as a testing ground for new ideas. It’s here where their wildest visions come to fruition: dressed up ceilings, sculptural coffee tables, and camouflage gallery walls, to name a few.
With a new year on the horizon, we asked the pros to share the trends they want to see take living rooms by storm. Louder colors, cooler shapes, and sleeker surfaces were just a few underlying themes that graced their wish-list. Here are 10 design trends to try now, before everyone else does.
“I’d say the living room trend I would love to see more of in 2019 is definitely the non-neutral sofa—specifically, the colored velvet sofa,” says Shavonda Gardner, blogger and designer behind SG Style. “I’m eager to see more people let go of the idea that they can’t make a bold choice like that [and have it] be super liveable for [the] everyday.”
If there’s one item of furniture you should never skimp on, it’s the living room sofa. That said, because couches are often a pricey investment, we tend to play the seating game safe with warm neutrals. But have you ever felt wowed by a beige couch? By embracing classic colors (we love the navy sofa in this two-story, NYC apartment) and ageless shapes, your bold choice won’t feel like a passing power move, but rather a timeless statement.
“Often people are overwhelmed by a large space like a living room, and they don’t know how to best fill it with furniture. Many will just plop an oversized sectional in the room and call it a day. But the truth is, people usually don’t like sitting that close to others,” shares designer Corey Damen Jenkins. “I prefer to design living spaces with multiple groupings of furniture so there is more flexibility and to encourage multiple conversations in one space. I think this trend will grow next year as people put more faith in interior designers to help them plan their living rooms professionally.”
A layout is an essential living room puzzle piece that’s all too often overlooked. While your furniture set up largely depends on the size, shape, and footprint of your space, one general rule of thumb to adopt when arranging the room is to create more than one lounge zone. In this breezy Laguna Beach home, designer Jen Samson set up two separate sitting areas—one of which boasting a built-in bench sofa paired across two cane chairs. A thoughtful grouping such as this can double (or triple) the flexibility of a room.
Ceilings with Spark
Jenkins’ second wish? Ceilings that surprise. A punchy splash of wallpaper or an unexpected dose of paint is a surefire way to demand attention. The graphic pattern in this bold, rebellious Georgia home puts an especially fresh twist on the standard white ceiling.
“There are six walls in a room when you include the floor and ceiling. In living rooms, people often put a lot of thought into carpeting, wood floors and rugs. However, the ceiling—which is the most visually unobstructed surface in the room—usually gets little to no love at all,” says the designer. “People generally always look up first when they enter living rooms, and boring white ceilings are so passé.
In 2019, I’d like to see people give more attention to this surface, whether it’s by implementing creative mill-work, utilizing a funky wallpaper, lacquering it with glossy paint finishes, or installing powerful light fixtures. Living room ceilings have so much potential to become real wow factors.”
“I’d love to see living spaces focusing more on sustainability in 2019,” Whitney Leigh Morris of the Tiny Canal Cottage tells Domino. “Let’s consider every detail—from the materials used, to the methods of manufacturing, to the adaptability and versatility of each piece we include within our homes.”
Working toward a sustainable home doesn’t mean you have to lead a zero-waste life. It can mean swapping out items for pieces you know have been ethically-sourced or embracing materials with a lower carbon footprint. Slash Objects founder Arielle Assouline-Lichten’s Greenpoint apartment is an ever-changing homage to her own creations, most of which (like the stunning round side tables pictured above) incorporate recycled rubber into their design.
“I would love to see more sustainability brought into interior design and decor choices in 2019,” adds design blogger Joanna Hawley of Jojotastic. “This can be anything from supporting local, small businesses, shopping from retailers who’ve made a conscious effort to reduce their impact, or researching the ethical practices of the companies we buy from and support with our dollars.”
“I would like to see more hidden televisions or TVs that are thoughtfully designed into the living space,” suggests Salt Lake City-based designer and blogger, Sarah Gibson. “I’m loving Samsung’s Frame TV that looks like art when not in use, or built-ins that better disguise or enhance media.”
Just because we’ve all become accustomed to monstrous televisions in the living room doesn’t mean they’re not an eyesore. Give your TV a home alongside art by disguising it within a gallery wall (Timothy Goodman’s NYC studio above nails this tricky look) or hide it from view with secret sliding doors—either way, you won’t miss staring at your black box.
Matte Black as a New Neutral
“I think matte black in the living room will continue to hold steady in 2019,” says SoCal-based blogger and designer, Anita Yokota. “This classic color exudes modern pops of contrast and I’m obsessed! Whether it’s lighting, furniture, textiles, or artwork, matte black can literally be mixed in with any other neutral such as browns, beiges, and gold. It’s a warm, layered minimalistic look that’s new and fresh on the design horizon.”
Make a lasting statement by playing up black with your bigger pieces, like lighting, the fireplace, or a built-in bookshelf, or sneak in snippets with smaller decorative objects. Maria Santana’s exclusively black and white New York apartment is a welcomed reminder that this neutral approach looks best when bold art and varying textures collide.
NYC-based designer Keita Turner of Keita Turner Design has a few trends she’s looking forward to seeing in the New Year. Up first? Art with authority.
“I want to see more beautiful large-scaled artworks (original paintings, prints, lithographs, etchings, etc.) hanging on walls to provide color punch. I would also love to see more commanding large-scaled photography art adorning the walls in the living room. Stand-alone large-scale art is what’s hot! A large piece visually fills the space, while keeping things simple.”
Consort co-founders Mat Sanders and Brandon Quattrone’s LA home is a haven for powerful pieces. In the living room, a large, abstract painting punctuates the wall, while acting as a grounding force for the room’s pink-meets-black palette.
Coffee Tables with Intrigue
Consider your coffee table as a bonus chance to play with fun forms and inspired materials. Whether you sub in a collection of smaller tables to create one cohesive surface or opt for a shapely glass accent (we’re big fans of Thea Hughes’ decidedly minimalist choice), it’s time to let the table do the talking.
“I’d love to see more large-scale, rectangular, square, asymmetrical, or geometrical cubist coffee tables grouped together for an oversized table in a living room. Due to their central place in a living room, coffee tables are definite attention-grabbers with a purpose! So, why shouldn’t they play a major starring role?” adds Turner.
Her final request? Dreamy, saturated hues that grace the spectrum. Balanced out by warmer tones, like beige, orange, or blush, rich jewel tones in this Brooklyn Heights home lend a high-impact hand to a living room in need of color-forward character.
“I’m really appreciating the trend towards bold color and saturated textural solids used on upholstery seating, draperies, throws, pillows, etc.,” shares Turner. “I would love to see more primary or jewel-toned color blocking throughout the living room. I think this look is refreshingly modern against cool gray and neutral walls, with accents of geometric pattern used on the floor or accent pillows.”
“More white paint, lower sofas, and simple clean lighting,” is an absolute must for HGTV star and queen all-things-whitewashed, Leanne Ford. Matched by an array of cool blues, white provides a clean and refreshing slate in this dreamy modern living room, while also feeding off an abundance of natural light. For the living space lacking in Vitamin D, whitewashed walls will act as a healing force (and defining base) for a carefully curated aesthetic.
See more ideas for the living room: