Minimalism might be a trend made popular by the modern day battle against consumerist clutter, but it is rooted in the long and influential history of minimalist design in architecture, interiors, art, graphics, fashion, and virtually every other facet of design. When it comes to home decor, while there is nothing wrong with conscious maximalism, a minimalist approach that focuses on a less-is-more aesthetic where everything has a purpose and rooms are focused on the essentials, is popular for reasons both big and small.
Having fewer possessions is easier on the wallet, kinder to the planet, and makes everyday life simpler and less overwhelming. Creating an unencumbered room that focuses on space, light, materials, shapes, and creating an effortless flow that makes it natural and instinctive to use is one way to quiet the noise of the outside world and build an oasis of calm and order over the things you can control.
While minimalist design can be applied to every room in the house—from the kitchen to the bathroom, or nursery—one of the easiest places to start is the living room, that collective gathering place whose purpose is to connect with friends and family, to relax and recharge, and that requires only a handful of key elements to become a functional and beautiful space that leaves room for all kinds of living.
Check out these stylish modern living rooms that approach minimalism in varying ways and degrees, from stark black-and-white interiors to pared down rooms that use color and decor in bold and concentrated ways, to inspire you to design a minimalist living room focused on what is most essential to you.
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Black and White
This contemporary living room from interior designer Laura Brophy of Laura Brophy Interiors has a minimalist color palette of crisp white and jet black. The designer clad the walls flanking the fireplace in black painted wood slats, leaving one wall blank and adding black floating shelves to the other to provide space for a few carefully curated decorative objects. Seating is varied in style, but the black-and-white color palette and touches of wood keep it feeling coherent, uncluttered, and ready for entertaining.Continue to 2 of 32 below.
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Touches of Wood
This minimalist living room from NYC-based interior designer Alvin Wayne has a comfortable overstuffed sectional lined with pillows in the same clean white fabric to reduce visual clutter. Touches of wood on tree stump occasional tables, a pair of cane-back armchairs, and a heavy pedestal coffee table add warmth, and a single piece of black-and-white framed art gives the eye a place to rest.Continue to 3 of 32 below.
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This holiday retreat in the Welsh countryside designed by award-winning British minimalist architectural designer John Pawson for Living Architecture was conceived as a place to encourage calm and reflection, its design 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.Continue to 4 of 32 below.
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Palm Beach Spanish
In this Palm Beach, FL living room from Calimia Home, a minimalist approach to furnishings showcases the architectural details of the 1920s Spanish style home. Large furniture pieces with simple lines and pale colors create a comfortable, laid back atmosphere for hanging out and entertaining. Barely there pale pink walls give the black-and-white palette a little lift.Continue to 5 of 32 below.
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Soft and Muted
This San Francisco condo living room from interior designer Cathie Hong of Cathie Hong Interiors has clean lines, a soft, muted palette, and warm wood tones from the herringbone patterned flooring to furniture. Stylish storage and display solutions such as a wall-mounted Danish midcentury bookshelf and a sculptural freestanding book tower offer display space for books and decorative objects without creating clutter.Continue to 6 of 32 below.
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The spectacular ocean view dominating the floor-to-ceiling windows of this luxury living room from interior designer Maite Granda invites a pared down approach to decor. The designer used shades of white on a monumental sofa and upholstered chairs, adding in a pair of navy velvet that is a nod to the deep blue sea. A pair of stools and a sculptural coffee table in natural wood adds a grounding element. A transparent pendant light hangs in front of the windows without blocking the view, and a collection of butterfly prints above the sofa adds a touch of color.Continue to 7 of 32 below.
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In this minimalist living room from interior designer Kara Mann, identical white linen sofas placed opposite one another flanking the fireplace structure the seating area and preserve the room's flow. Layered rugs define the seating area, twin floor lamps add symmetry and ambient lighting, and the rest of the decor is kept minimal to keep the focus on the architecture of the room. Creating a minimalist base offers plenty of flexibility for bringing in seasonal objects or flowers when you want to add some variation without renovating the whole room.Continue to 8 of 32 below.
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Minimalist decor works especially well in living rooms with interesting architecture and original features. This striking living room from real estate agent and interior designer Julian Porcino is a Los Angeles Historical Landmark built in 1922. The living room opens onto a large central courtyard that encourages indoor/outdoor living. The living room is furnished with tones of wood, leather, and natural materials like rattan that blend in seamlessly with the original wood ceiling and floor-to-ceiling brick fireplace wall.Continue to 9 of 32 below.
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Interior designer Jessica Risko Smith of JRS ID create a calming foundation in this living room using white, gray, black, and leather. Then she added a curvy green velvet sofa that takes center stage with a bold dose of color that sets the tone for the entire room, and added minimal accessories to make it feel lived in as well as chic.Continue to 10 of 32 below.
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In this living room from interior designer Emily Henderson of Emily Henderson Design, pale shades of white and gray are mixed with warm wood tones, organic shapes, and black accents to add a graphic quality. The room's simple palette and minimal decor allows the focus to settle on the bones of the room and the sculptural shapes of the furniture and decor.Continue to 11 of 32 below.
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When designing a minimalist living room, pay attention to the scale and volume of the space. A small room with low ceilings will fill up quickly and should be approached sparingly, whereas a large open plan space with high or vaulted ceilings can absorb more elements without looking cluttered and may need more decorative touches to feel warm and livable. A neutral palette of white, beige, wood tones, and touches of black and plenty of natural textures and finishes gives this spacious, light-flooded Balinese-inspired Los Angeles living room from real estate agent and interior designer Julian Porcino a warm and inviting feel. The scale of the ceilings and the volume of the room allows for a curated selection of decorative elements—largely concentrated on the fireplace wall—that doesn't detract from the overall minimalist feel of the space.Continue to 12 of 32 below.
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In this open plan living room from the interior design team at Forbes + Masters, a minimalist palette of white, black, and gray creates balance that connects the adjoining dining and kitchen areas in a cohesive way. The furniture is laid out to create distinct zones throughout the space, which retains its calm, cool, minimalist feel no matter where you look. A white area rug laid on top of medium-toned wood flooring helps to quietly define the living room area without making a statement with color of pattern.Continue to 13 of 32 below.
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Architect and interior designer Caroline Dooley of Caroline Dooley Architects retained the authentic aesthetic of this 1950's midcentury modern home, using period-appropriate colors, furnishings, and decor that have the same minimalist appeal today that that they did back then.Continue to 14 of 32 below.
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In this sophisticated living room from interior designer Kara Mann, a plush black sectional floats in the center of the room on a white rug, adding plenty of seating while keeping visual clutter to a minimum. A pendant globe light with a moonlike finish hangs over a sculptural white coffee table, defining the seating area. The rest of the room and the dining room visible through a cased opening maintains the balanced mix of black and white elements to create a cohesive effect throughout the home.Continue to 15 of 32 below.
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Interior designer Cathie Hong of Cathie Hong Interiors placed pale blush-toned family-style seating on a large off-white rug to preserve the light and airy feeling of this spacious living room with its vaulted ceilings and access to the outdoors. The warm, soft, inviting room demonstrates that you don't have to pile on the decor and pack a living room to the gills to make it comfortable and inviting for the whole family.Continue to 16 of 32 below.
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In this living room from interior designer Kate Marker of Kate Marker Interiors, the cathedral ceilings and multiple windows are minimally adorned to let the light flow in, while a central fireplace structures the room. Neutral furnishings are embellished with a few soft color accents in shades of green and blue.
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Real estate agent and interior designer Julian Porcino stripped the original ceiling beams and added beige stucco to the floor-to-ceiling fireplace of this handsome midcentury modern California home. Warm tones of beige and wood on finishes and furnishings give the light and airy space a comfortable feel while keeping the focus on the stunning midcentury bones of the indoor outdoor space.Continue to 18 of 32 below.
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The color palette of this living room from Latham Interiors takes its cues from the majestic mountains outside. A large sectional custom fit to hug the space beneath the windows creates a seamless look that contributes to the room's minimalist feel.Continue to 19 of 32 below.
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This minimalist living room from interior designer Kara Mann uses a limited palette of black and white, plenty of texture, and a shiny mirrored coffee table that adds some bling and catches light streaming in from the retro style block windows.Continue to 20 of 32 below.
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White and Silver
If you've got a supercharged view, taking a minimalist approach to furnishing and interior decor can help assure that the room doesn't feel overstimulating. Interior designer Maite Granda matched simple furnishings in shades of white and gray that meld right into the contemporary bones of this compact Florida highrise living room, keeping the focus on the light and the view.Continue to 21 of 32 below.
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Soft and Warm
Real estate agent and interior designer Julian Porcino kept this long linear living room with its asymetrical ceiling line and access to the outdoors simple and streamlined, with a soft palette of beiges and warm wood tones that makes it feel comfortable with a minimum of effort.Continue to 22 of 32 below.
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Interior designer Maite Granda played up the inherent theatricality of this double-height Florida living room by installing a towering potted palm tree. She kept the palette light, warm, and neutral, adding textural wall treatments in lieu of art to add interest while maintaining a minimalist feel.Continue to 23 of 32 below.
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Real estate agent and interior designer Julian Porcino renovated this Spanish-style ranch house in Los Angeles with what he calls a Tulum-inspired "modern Mexican" aesthetic that includes stark white walls, graphic black accents on the updated fireplace, pale flooring, and boho decorative accents, all while keeping the overall design minimalist and uncluttered.Continue to 24 of 32 below.
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This living room from interior designer Laura Brophy of Laura Brophy Interiors has a traditional feel mixed with a no fuss modern minimalist palette of black and white that demonstrates that less is more decorating can work in any style.Continue to 25 of 32 below.
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This minimalist high rise living room from NYC-based interior designer Alvin Wayne keeps the focus on the sweeping views by floating the seating area in the middle of the room and accessorizing with the one thing missing from those floor-to-ceiling city views: leafy green plants.Continue to 26 of 32 below.
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Dashes of Blue
Interior designer Maite Granda used a bold but sparing approach to color in this fairly minimalist Florida living room, starting with a neutral foundation of white and sandy beige stone walls, a beige carpet, and white furnishings laid out in a symmetrical seating arrangement. Then she woke the whole thing up with confident dashes of blue to bring it to life.Continue to 27 of 32 below.
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A minimalist living room doesn't have to eschew all art or decoration. A minimalist decor scheme allows a few well chosen pieces of art or decor to stand out, whether that means a tall tree or a gallery wall of art. In this living room from Hannah Tyler Designs, the gallery wall is laid out in symmetrical rows over the sectional sofa, and confined to black-and-white photos that work in harmony with the minimalist color palette of the room.
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One way to create a minimalist feel even in a living room with ample seating and decorative elements is to leave plenty of floor space clear—both to encourage flow and to create the impression that the room isn't chock full of stuff. This sunny California living room from interior designer Laura Brophy of Laura Brophy Interiors features a bold design in a limited palette of white, navy, and black. Large decorative objects—a leaning floor mirror, a patterned surfboard, and natural greenery—are positioned behind the sofa so that they fill the empty wall without taking up space. And the designer didn't overcrowd the room with furniture and decor, allowing her to get away with using bold color and pattern while maintaining an overall minimalist feel.Continue to 29 of 32 below.
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In this simple living room from Hannah Tyler Designs, a large sectional provides plenty of seating while limiting the amount of furniture in the room. Natural touches like woven window shades, a midcentury-style armchair and a large wood stump coffee table add warmth to the beige and white color scheme.Continue to 30 of 32 below.
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In this minimalist living room from the interior design team at Brexton Cole Interiors, contrasting shades of black, white, and dark blue and curvy armchairs create a simple, functional room with a limited palette that puts the spotlight on form.Continue to 31 of 32 below.
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This spacious living room from Emily Henderson Design contributor Mel Burstin has a subdued color palette of warm whites, beiges, and wood tones. Decorative accessories are mostly confined to a low slung shelf on the far wall that houses knicknacks without cluttering the spare open space. A large scale piece of art over the couch adds personality while maintaining the room's uncluttered, serene feel.Continue to 32 of 32 below.
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This basement living room from Hannah Tyler Designs uses a simple palette of black and shades of white, a large sectional and matching ottoman for seating, and just a hint of color on the vintage rug to create a minimalist feel that's easy to live with and maintain. In a minimalist room, focus on one big statement rather than multiple vignettes; in this case, a dramatic matte black painted fireplace wall that adds depth to the design and gives the room with its multiple entries a dramatic focal point.