Contemporary living rooms aren’t defined by a single style. Instead, a contemporary interior is one that is current, updated, and reflects the times we live in and the ways we live now. More precisely, like contemporary architecture, contemporary interiors are generally those that reflect the aesthetics of the late 20th century to the present. This can mean that they feature anything from clean lines and neutral palettes to bold color and decor.
While a house built this year according to current trends would be considered contemporary architecture, you don’t have to live in a contemporary house to decorate your living room with contemporary style. Using contemporary furniture and decor can bring a historic or midcentury home into the present and make it feel livable and tailored to present day lifestyles. Or it can make a dated cookie cutter apartment or new build home feel a bit more cutting edge.
Check out these living rooms for ideas and inspiration on how to give your space some contemporary edge.
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Keep the Walls Bare
This contemporary living room from Fantastic Frank has a streamlined palette of black and white, with contemporary furnishings, a touch of greenery, wood accents, and a focus on natural light and views. With bare walls, the room itself is a blank canvas that can be left as is for a minimalist take on contemporary style, or altered at any time by adding a large scale photograph or abstract painting above the sofa.Continue to 2 of 45 below.
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Use a Bold Color Accent
You don't have to live in a new house to create a contemporary feel. This living room from Leanne Ford Interiors got a contemporary makeover with an all-white palette from the walls to the furniture and decorative logs in the minimalist fireplace. A bright red accent chair adds a stroke of bold color and a sculptural element.
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Focus on Materials
Designed by award-winning British minimalist architectural designer John Pawson for Living Architecture, this contemporary holiday retreat in the Welsh countryside was influenced by Japanese design and the architecture of the Benedictine monks. The tranquil living room has floor-to-ceiling walls lined in light-colored handmade Danish bricks, pale polished concrete floors and Douglas fir timber ceilings, and is furnished with a monumental pale gray sectional and low slung coffee table to keep the focus on the wrap-around views of rural Wales. Heavy pale-colored drapes that match the bricks soften the room's spare design, and offer privacy at night.
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Play With Scale
This contemporary French living room from Caroline Andréoni Interior Design plays with scale using sculptural low slung seating that make the ceilings feel taller, floor-to-ceiling built-ins to display objects and books, and an off-center piece of wall art that focuses the eye while leaving plenty of negative wall space to retain a light and airy feel.Continue to 5 of 45 below.
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This contemporary living room from Tina Ramchandani Creative has a pale neutral palette with a smattering of warm color accents, plus heavy floor-to-ceiling drapes and a plush rug to add comfort.Continue to 6 of 45 below.
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Mix New and Old
Using contemporary furniture can bring a historic interior into the present. In this 19th-century Spanish island village house from Fantastic Frank, a minimalist palette and plenty of rounded edges on furniture and lighting feel current while the seamless mix of old and new feels layered and timeless.Continue to 7 of 45 below.
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Not every contemporary living room has to include cutting edge design. This suburban living room from Leclair Decor has present day proportions, like a double-height wall of windows that is softened with floor-to-ceiling curtains and furnished with simple, contemporary furnishings and decor in neutral tones that are warmed up with wood accents and textiles in soft shades of pink and terracotta.Continue to 8 of 45 below.
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Use Oversized Floor Lamps
This living room from Forbes + Masters has a contemporary feel thanks to its simple palette of black and white, clean lines, and a pair of oversized floor lamps flanking the sofa.Continue to 9 of 45 below.
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Play Up Volumes
This contemporary Florida living room from Maite Granda has a double-height ceiling that is emphasized with a floor-to-ceiling wood feature, an oversized golden framed grasscloth insert, pale neutral furniture, and a super tall potted palm that soars toward the ceiling.Continue to 10 of 45 below.
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Mix and Match
This stylized Barcelona living room from Fantastic Frank has historic bones, but bright white walls, bold color accents, and a collection of furnishings, decor, and objects from various periods and styles gives the room a contemporary art gallery feel that brings it into the present.Continue to 11 of 45 below.
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Color the Rainbow
An exuberant use of rainbow colors adds a contemporary spin to this white- and brick-walled New York City apartment from interior designer Ghislaine Viñas. The rainbow rug anchors the seating area with its saturated red sofa and pair of midcentury style blue armchairs, while a large red wall cabinet and a multicolored piece of framed art over the fireplace pulls some of the color throughout the rest of the room.Continue to 12 of 45 below.
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Contemporary furnishings in crisp shades of black and white add contrast to the rustic original features of this living room from Fantastic Frank, from the stone-lined archways to the painted-out ceiling beams to the exposed stone wall.Continue to 13 of 45 below.
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Keep It Open
This light and airy living room from Louis Duncan-He Designs has a contemporary feel with its white walls, abundance of natural light, and pale neutral palette. A midcentury style daybed and oversized industrial floor lamp nod to the past while highlighting the clean lines of the contemporary space.Continue to 14 of 45 below.
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Add Custom Features
A custom built-in wall feature and sleek neutral palette gives this long railway-style Florida living room from interior designer Maite Granda a contemporary feel.Continue to 15 of 45 below.
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Use Soft Neutrals
While the use of bold color can make a space feel contemporary, the opposite is also true. This contemporary living room from Fantastic Frank takes an all-neutral approach, pairing soft shades of white and taupe throughout the space on everything from seating to textiles to preserved flowers and wall art, creating a soothing contemporary feel.Continue to 16 of 45 below.
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Contrast With Antiques
One of the easiest ways to underline the contemporary feel of a room is by accenting with vintage or antique decor that provides contrast and creates a conversation between the past and the present. This contemporary all-white living room from Leanne Ford Interiors has curvy, chunky, sculptural furniture and is highlighted with a vintage gilded mirror on the wall that adds a decorative element over the minimalist fireplace.Continue to 17 of 45 below.
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This living room from Tina Ramchandani Creative mixes traditional and organic elements and colors with sculptural furnishings and modern wall art to create a space that doesn't feel tied to a specific period but feels current thanks to its eclectic mix of periods and styles.Continue to 18 of 45 below.
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Use a Cool Palette
When you're decorating a contemporary space with wrap-around floor-to-ceiling windows and an expansive view, keeping the interiors simple makes sense. This Florida high rise living room from interior designer Maite Granda combines a cool palette of white leather and lacquered finishes with the palest of wood tones that highlights the contemporary space without detracting from the wide open views.Continue to 19 of 45 below.
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Keep It Tonal
This San Francisco apartment from Kendall Wilkinson Design puts the focus on the view of the bay, furnished with understated, neutral-toned furnishings in shades of pale gray that ooze comfort and luxury.Continue to 22 of 45 below.
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Hang Abstract Art
This Copenhagen living room from Fantastic Frank has a simple palette of black, white, and gray, industrial lighting, glass and metal finishes, and a pair of abstract paintings above the couch that make the low key space feel contemporary.Continue to 23 of 45 below.
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Use Sculptural Pieces
This living room from Leanne Ford Interiors has a contemporary feel thanks to its white walls and floors, abstract black-and-white wall art, and sculptural seating and pendant light.Continue to 24 of 45 below.
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Go All White
This spacious and airy living room from Fantastic Frank has minimalist furnishings and decor that give the space a contemporary feel.Continue to 25 of 45 below.
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Commit to Black, White, and Gray
A vase of hot pink roses on the coffee table adds a vibrant counterpoint to this contemporary living room from interior designer Alvin Wayne done up in a strict palette of black, white, and gray.Continue to 26 of 45 below.
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Update the Holiday House
This Spanish island holiday home from Fantastic Frank has an indoor outdoor layout and a comfortable mix of natural materials with strong black and white elements and clean lines that give it a contemporary feel.Continue to 27 of 45 below.
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Showcase Contemporary Art
This Atlanta living room from Forbes + Masters has a neutral palette of white, black, and gray with streamlined furniture that allows the client's contemporary art collection to take center stage.Continue to 28 of 45 below.
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Accent With Stone
Large-scale stone tiles lining the fireplace facade and a dramatic black veined stone coffee table give this streamlined space from Gray Space Interiors a contemporary feel.Continue to 29 of 45 below.
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Keep It Comfortable
In this NYC highrise living room from interior designer Alvin Wayne, the wrap-around windows of the contemporary black-and-white space set the tone and offer sweeping views, while an overstuffed sofa in a chic black ultrasuede floats in the middle of the room to add comfort.Continue to 30 of 45 below.
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Mix With Industrial Style
Furnishing an industrial space with contemporary furniture and decor can make it feel up to date while adding contrast. In this bright, neutral industrial style SoHo loft in New York City from interior designer Ghislaine Viñas, curvy contemporary furniture helps to balance the boxy proportions of the living room area, and a pair of bright yellow armchairs injects some mood-boosting color that energizes and warms the space.Continue to 31 of 45 below.
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Mix Hard and Soft Elements
To ground the large sectional sofa in this contemporary neutral toned living room, Michelle Gerson Interiors chose a monumental coffee table with clean lines, generous proportions and enough visual weight to anchor the space, complementing the contemporary fireplace and adding contrast with the traditional casement windows and exposed beams.Continue to 32 of 45 below.
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Add Tonal Accents
This seating area from Forbes + Masters has a current feel thanks to tonal shades of white and rosy beige, and contemporary accents like the half circle mirror with fringe and sculptural free-standing bookstand.Continue to 33 of 45 below.
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Break Up Straight Lines
This contemporary urban living room from interior designer Kara Mann has sculptural furniture, mirrored accents, and a vintage-style armchair with a city skyline view.Continue to 34 of 45 below.
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Add Custom Details
This living room from Leanne Ford Interiors has a custom fireplace wall feature that adds contemporary vibes to an older home. A mix of furniture and decor styles in neutral tones, and a playful wallpapered ceiling in a graphic pattern make the room feel both current and collected over time.Continue to 35 of 45 below.
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Round the Edges
This tonal living room area of a large studio from Fantastic Frank has a soft, contemporary feel thanks to its soft neutral palette and rounded furnishings and decor that soften the edges of the cookie cutter space.Continue to 36 of 45 below.
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Send a Message
Curvy seating, matte black walls, an abundance of house plants, and a neon sign make this NYC living room from interior designer Alvin Wayne feel current and contemporary.Continue to 37 of 45 below.
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A focus on non-traditional shapes, geometric curves, and contemporary wall decor adds interest to this gray-and-white living room from Michelle Gerson Interiors.Continue to 39 of 45 below.
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A midcentury home remodel from Leanne Ford Interiors gets a contemporary spin with a bleached palette, a circular sofa, and a dramatic painted rope pendant light fixture over the seating area that looks like a gallery installation.Continue to 40 of 45 below.
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Use Bold Accents
This compact living room from If Walls Could Talk has contemporary lighting and bright blue and gold accents that add some sass to an otherwise simple room.Continue to 41 of 45 below.
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Accent with Red
A smattering of ruby red accents bring this neutral-toned contemporary living room from Gray Space Interiors to life.Continue to 42 of 45 below.
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Update the Fireplace
This highrise living room from interior designer Kara Mann has contemporary bones, with its sleek floor-to-ceiling windows and monumental black fireplace. A pair of armchairs, a contemporary coffee table, and a saturated yellow rug enhance the luxurious minimalist feel.Continue to 43 of 45 below.
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Focus on Finishes
This Lisbon villa living room from Fantastic Frank has expansive volumes, neutral colors, textural ceilings, and streamlined, comfortable seating that create a sense of calm with a contemporary edge.Continue to 44 of 45 below.
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Mix It Up
A room doesn't have to be furnished and decorated with exclusively contemporary pieces to read like a contemporary room. This black-and-white living room from Leanne Ford Interiors mixes white shiplap walls, rustic wood, abstract art, and a mix of midcentury industrial and contemporary lighting and furnishings to create a fresh and current space with a nod to decades past.
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Hang Large-Scale Art
This contemporary Florida living room from interior designer Maite Granda focuses on the scene-stealing ocean views beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows, with white walls, transparent pendant lighting, and neutral tones punctuated by some organic wood accents, navy blue armchairs, and a large-scale panel of colorful framed butterfly illustrations that keep it from feeling sterile. Hanging a series of smaller pieces is often a less expensive way to make a big impact with wall art than hanging a single large-scale piece.