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Buying Guide: The Essential Living Room Furniture Checklist

Living rooms are the hub of the home—now more than ever. These spaces saw some serious action in 2020 and your living room is likely the room you spent the most time in. So, it’s important to make sure it’s properly furnished! But, since living rooms are often large spaces and can have multiple functions, it can be hard to know what you need to make this space really work its hardest.

So, today we’re breaking down everything you could ever need in your living room with our living room buying guide! With our interior design buying guides, we’ll help you identify the core pieces you need for your space, how to add additional storage, and some decorative touches that will make your space shine. We’ll offer all sorts of design inspiration, as well as an actual living room furniture checklist to help you out! Whether you’re designing a brand-new living room from scratch, upgrading your existing living space, or are pulling together a design over time, this guide has all the information you’ll need!

Before you get started, consider your budget

But before we get started, it’s worth touching base about the budget. Because, how much does it actually cost to decorate a living room and buy new furniture? Well, it depends on if you’re starting from scratch or just adding smaller accents and decor. The size of the space and the subsequent amount and size of furniture will also have a big impact on your budget range. Other factors that affect budget? If your living room has a secondary function, such as housing and office or a playroom, or if it’s an open space that also includes a dining area or entryway. Ultimately, we’d recommend budgeting $4,000-$15,000 for the core pieces of a living room redesign, depending on your needs!

Ready to dive in? Read on for our living room furniture buying guide!

 

rustic living room with sofa facing the TV

Core Pieces: The Living Room Essentials

When pulling together your living room design, these are the pieces of furniture that you can’t live without. You can customize each piece however you’d like, and go for more or less depending on the size of your living room. But, ultimately, these are the core pieces that will make this space functional.

neutral colored living room

Sofa or Sectional

A sofa or sectional is a must-have in a living room. These pieces offer a place to sit, converse, relax, watch TV, and so much more. A sofa will be the biggest financial investment in your living room design—but it will also be the most-used piece, so you definitely want to take your time picking out this piece of furniture! (Learn more about how much to spend on a sofa.)

When considering your options, choose one that’s right for your lifestyle, which will help determine the shape, style, and material of the sofa you choose. Have a big family that loves to lounge? Consider the benefits of a sectional vs sofa. Have kids or pets that are prone to accidents? Opt for durable, machine-washable fabric. (And check out our guide to sofa materials.) Are you super particular about your aesthetic? Maybe you want the sofa style to drive your other decisions. But just remember—the upholstery material you choose can determine the cost and durability of your sofa. So, you may want to consider who uses the sofa, the amount of use it gets, and if you want to prioritize a washable fabric before picking color and sofa style.

Beyond that make sure your sofa will fit into your space! You’ll want to make sure the square footage and layout of your living room allows you to comfortably walk around your sofa, and that it doesn’t block any vents or doorways!

Stylist Tip: Think about your personal style. Do you stick to one style or like to change things up a lot? This can help determine if you go for a timeless sofa or something more trendy! (Our guide to sofa styles can help you here!)

Price Range: $800-$8,000

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living room furniture

Accent Seating

Accent seating is another core piece you’ll want to include in your living room design. Whether it’s a single chair or a pair—or even a second, totally separate seating area—accent seating works alongside your sofa as a supporting act. It helps round out your seating area and pull together your room—giving you space for entertaining, watching TV, reading, and so much more! You just want to make sure your accent seating compliments the style and coloring of your sofa, and that it’s in proportion with your sofa (you don’t want a seat that looks too big or too small next to your sofa!).

There are a ton of styles of accents seating—from rocking chairs and armchairs to loveseats, benches, and stools, and in a ton of different fabrics and colors. With so much variety, all you have to do is pick the one that works for your space and needs! But as you make your decision, consider who will be using the accent seating. Will it primarily be for guests, with your family mainly using the sofa? Or will someone in the house use the chair every morning and evening? This will help determine if you opt for a higher-quality option or buy something less expensive and trendy.

Price Range:  $200 – $1,500

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red and green living room

Coffee table

Coffee tables offer you a place to set drinks, corral remotes, display books, and kick up your feet. While you can live without one, we don’t recommend it! In fact, we consider coffee tables a must-have in a living room! But be careful—coffee tables can make or break a space. If they’re the wrong size or height, or in a style or material that doesn’t mesh with the rest of your space, they can turn into a major eyesore.

Check out our guide to coffee table shapes to find one that works for your space. But also consider coffee table materials and your lifestyle in the selection process. If you have a smaller living room, you may want to go for a storage coffee table. Have young kids? Maybe an ottoman is a better choice. You want to make sure the coffee table you choose meets your needs and helps make life easier!

Price Range: $150 – $3,000

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living room furniture

Lighting

Lighting is a simple element that really helps set the stage for a room. So, incorporating lighting beyond natural light sources and overhead lighting is an absolute must in a living room. Layered lighting—with a mix of floor and table lamps, sconces, and candles—helps set the tone and creates a warmer, more inviting environment. You want to make sure your space is well-lit for the way you use it. Have a reading chair you love to curl up in every evening? You’ll want to make sure you have a floor lamp nestled nearby (or a table lamp on a side table). Want to highlight a favorite piece of art? Hang a sconce above it. Make sure you have ample light sources so that you can light your space the way you want it throughout the day. And make sure your lights are placed in a way that they don’t cause uncomfortable glare or shade!

Lighting prices vary quite a bit—from relatively inexpensive to pretty pricey. So, decide if you want to invest in lighting or buy trendy pieces you’ll change out in a few years.

Price Range: $50-$1,000

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rustic living room with diagonal wall fireplace

Organization: Living Room Storage

Once you have your core furniture pieces in place, it’s important to consider storage. Everyone’s storage needs are different, but you’ll want to incorporate at least one to two of these living room storage ideas!

rustic living room with sofa facing the TV

Media Cabinet

Including a media cabinet in your living room is necessary if you have TV or sound system set-up in this space. These large cabinets are what your TV sits on or hangs above—but they can also be used in a living room, even if your space is screen-free. A media cabinet is usually front and center in your living room. Since TVs tend to be a focal point, the media cabinet naturally is too. So, you want it to be a piece that looks nice and conceals wiring. But, while these pieces can be both functional and stylish, you want to think about function first. Consider scale and proportion when choosing your media cabinet. How big is your TV, how much do you need to store inside of it, and how will the piece fit in within the rest of your living room? Check out our guide to choosing the best TV stand for your TV size for more tips! And remember: media cabinets can be pricey, but cheaper ones can be an eyesore or start sagging under the weight of a large TV. So, the materials used definitely have an impact on pricing!

Price Range: $600-$4,000

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blue living room with console in front of the window

Console table

A console table is a nice storage piece in a living room and can give a nice finishing touch to your space. Long and narrow, console tables offer a nice mix of open storage, shelving, drawers, and a surface space for decor. If you’re short on space, a console can be a nice, smaller alternative to a large credenza, offering a surface for your TV—through significantly less storage. They’re also great accent pieces for behind a floating sofa or under a window, like in the design above. To choose the right console table for your space, consider where it’s going, how much storage space you need, and what other uses it might have. That will help guide the size of the piece. From there, there are a ton of styles to choose from; just make sure the style is one that goes with the rest of the space and is most stylish and functional for you!

Price Range:  $400-$1,500

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living room furniture

Bookcase

Bookcases not only look nice in your living room—they provide a practical home for items like books (of course), personal decor, picture frames, and baskets for additional storage. These are great ways to add storage to a smaller living room, as they take advantage of vertical space. And they’re also good for living rooms where a lot of reading takes place! A bookcase should fit into the space and add to it visually (not detract). So, make sure the material and finish you choose complements the other materials in the space and stylistically fits.

Price Range: $300-$2,000

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white sectional sofa

Baskets

Baskets are the perfect multipurpose storage item for a living room. They can be used throughout your space for storing extra throw pillows, blankets, books, magazines, dog toys, kids toys, remotes—you name it, a basket can corral it! They’re also a cost-effective way to add storage. And, while most baskets are open, some styles have lids so you can hide everything that’s inside! Baskets are made in so many different sizes, styles, and materials, so they’re easy to add into any space, small or big. There are styles that can easily slide under your sofa, as well as more decorative options that add a stylish statement to your room’s decor! Decorative and functional? Now that’s a win-win.

Price Range: $20-$300

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close up of console table

Finishing Touches: Living Room Decor

Once you’ve figured out what furniture to include in your living room, you can move onto decor. These finishing touches give a lot of style and personality to your space. If you’re looking for a small living room refresh, focus on this category and make a big impact for a smaller price tag!

blue wall living room with blue woven rug

Rug

Rugs add a layer of comfort, color, pattern, and plushness to a living room. In any living room, they help define the seating area. But if you have an open living room/dining room, rugs can help create zones within open layouts. And if you live in an apartment, they can also help dampen noise and add a sound barrier to your living room!

Rugs can be expensive—so take time to carefully pick on that’s right for your style and space. A big part of this is choosing the right size for your living room. (See our living room rug size guide for our best tips on choosing the right size!) From there, choose a style that you love and that matches your living room style. You can go style-specific, like a highly patterned colorful rug, or something like a simple jute rug that can be used in multiple spaces and across styles. And don’t forget to consider maintenance and if you need a rug that’s more durable or easy to clean.

Price Range: $400-$8,000

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grey and red living room

Throw Pillows

Besides the cushions that come on a sofa, you typically want throw pillows for extra comfort and support—and a nice splash of style. They’re great for adding some extra cushion while you’re curled up reading and are an easy way to pull some pattern and texture into the room while tying in colors from the rest of the space. While you want the style to go with the overall look of the room, since throw pillows are relatively inexpensive, you can switch them out seasonally or whenever you want to give your living room a fresh look! Wondering how to arrange throw pillows on a sofa and how many to use? Small sofas require fewer throw pillows than a large sectional—but how many pillows you use also depends on your personal style preferences.

Price Range: $25-$150 per pillow

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low profile bookcase under window wall

Decorative Accessories

You know how when you see photos of homes in a magazine or on a blog, and there’s just something about them that feels so next-level? Here’s a clue: it’s all about the decorative accessories. They’re what designers use to add a finishing touch and personalized flair to a space. Decorative accessories can be anything from collected items from vintage stores and family heirlooms to coffee table books and candles. They range in style and size, but strategically placed decor—on a side table, console, coffee table, fireplace mantel, or shelf—adds a lot to a space and makes it look polished. When diving into the world of decorative accessories, start with a few items and try different arrangements. And remember: less is more. You don’t want a cluttered look! Try mixing practical items and those that are purely ornamental, like a vase with a book.

Stylist Tip: Since small decor is typically more trendy than timeless, it’s something you can change out every so often, offering another simple way to change up the look of your living room. But mixing timeless pieces with trendy pieces will add to the longevity of the design!

Price Range: There are truly pieces at any price point—from super cheap objects at thrift stores to extremely expensive heirloom antiques!

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set of abstract art prints

Artwork

Artwork is another nice finishing touch to a living room, adding color, pattern, style, and a personal touch. And the amount you incorporate into your space is totally up to you. You can hang a whole gallery wall or just a single piece of art—it just depends on the style of your space and the look you want to achieve! Whichever route you go, artwork should help pull the room together; you don’t want it to feel like an afterthought. You’ll also want to hang art in the right areas—over the sofa, above the fireplace, or on a painted accent wall. And if you don’t want artwork, you can also frame family photos or personal travel photography!

Price Range: $40-$5,000

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green mid-century modern sofa

Greenery

Greenery adds texture and color to your living room—along with a lively organic element. Since living rooms tend to be one of the larger rooms in your house, you can get away with more large-scale plants in this space. Try bringing in a tree or a shaggy palm if you want to make more of a statement. Or, you can go more subtle with succulents or even just a sprig of eucalyptus in a vase! Not a green thumb? No problem. There are a ton of great faux plants out there that look amazingly realistic. Or, if greenery isn’t your thing, you can also incorporate a vase of fresh flowers into your living room decor! Whatever you choose, plants and flowers add a lovely touch of hominess to your space and pair nicely with other small decor like vases and ornamental items. Bonus: plants are a great way to fill in awkward empty corners of your living room!

Price Range: $10-$500

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Looking for more living room design ideas? Dive into our roundup of the best living room designs of 2020 for tons of inspiration!

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Blank Space: 21 Ways to Decorate a Large Walls in Your Living Room

Can’t figure out how to decorate a large wall in the living room? You’re not alone. It’s one of the most common design dilemmas we hear from homeowners, and we can see why.

It can be intimidating to stare at a blank wall and try to decide whether to hang a piece of artwork or experiment with other wall decor ideas, like a cool mirror or a tapestry. After all, you want to make sure whatever you fill your empty wall with not only looks good but also goes with everything else in your living space and shows off your personal style.

Don’t let fear stop you in your wall decor tracks. To inspire you, we’ve rounded up 21 simple and stylish decor ideas for your living room to help you ace decorating large empty walls. See them all below! (Bonus: Most of these interior design ideas work for blank dining room walls, too!)

large contemporary living room design with two facing sofas and two matching armchairs

1. Large Piece of Art

Hanging a large-scale, statement-making wall art piece above your sofa is the easiest ways to decorate empty vertical space in your living room. It’s a great way to add a central focus to your space, and the larger the scale of your artwork, the more color, texture, and visual appeal it will bring to your room. Consider an oversize painting, photograph, or a diptych, like this space, for high-impact options.

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an eclectic living room design with blue walls, a red rug, and a large gallery wall

2. Eclectic Gallery Wall

If you can’t land on a large-scale art piece, create a curated gallery wall instead. It’s one of our favorite large wall decor ideas for living rooms because it works in any size living room. Start with an eclectic mix of drawings, paintings, or photos, then lay them out on your floor to come up with an arrangement. We like to use artwork in different sizes for some contrast in scale.

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a classic formal living room design with a large, grid gallery wall of botanical prints

3. Grid Gallery Wall

For a more tailored and organized gallery wall, try this themed grid approach. It’s a symmetrical and streamlined artwork display that looks right at home in polished and classic style living rooms. This is perfect if you have a collection or a series of art pieces you want to hang. Or take a cue from this grouping of botanical prints, which is one of our favorite gallery wall ideas.

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a chic living room with a grey sectional sofa, teal walls, and a diamond mirror above the sofa

4. Statement Mirror

When it comes to wall decor ideas that don’t involve a single piece of artwork, a unique sculptural mirror is one of our favorite ways to decorate a blank living room (or dining room!) wall. Not only is a mirror great for reflecting light, they also open up rooms by giving the illusion of a large space. Choose a mirror with a bold or fun shape, which will make it feel like a wall sculpture—that’s also super functional!

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a grandmillenial style living room with a sage green tufted sofa and floral wallpaper

5. Wallpaper

Few wall decor ideas add all-around impact like wallpaper. No matter your space, a wallpapered room sets a vibrant tone and is guaranteed to be a focal point in your home. Pick a fun pattern or a paper that mimics natural textures, like marble or wood graining, for a clean, layered look. If you’re not ready to commit, start with removable wallpaper that can be swapped out as needed.

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a formal living room design with plants and a large wall tapestry

6. Wall Mural

For something that’s just as captivating and elegant as art or wallpaper, hang a paper mural. Think of it as a large piece of wall art but more affordable because you don’t need to frame it. A garden or nature mural is a beautiful way to add richness and texture. The best part is that it doesn’t have to be permanent, so you can switch it out for other wall decor down the line.

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mid-century modern living room with a blue sofa, two grey armchairs, and an entire wall of bookcases

7. Bookcase System

Sometimes art and other hanging decor just aren’t enough to fill entire lengths of walls in the living room. If that’s the case for you, consider a full bookcase system, whether it’s a series of matching tall bookshelves or floor-to-ceiling built-ins. Store and style your favorite reads and objects into cool vignettes that become different focal points for your room. In terms of living room decor ideas, this nails style and function in all the best ways.

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a large open living dining room with large windows, a leather armchair, and a dining set-up crowned by a blue painting

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8. Sconces

Wall lighting can be a simple addition to a living room wall that adds bold visual appeal. A pair of sconces flanking a large painting, TV, console cabinet, or mirror will bring a sense of symmetry and balance to your living room. Seek out sconces with interesting shapes and finishes, giving your wall some sculptural appeal.

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a mid-century living room with a blue sofa and two blue tie-dyed tapestries hanging on the wall

9. Hanging Tapestry

Much like large artwork, wall tapestries make for a gorgeous, unique wall decor idea that brings a touch of soft natural texture to a room. Because tapestries are not big heavy pieces, they’re pretty and practical wall art in family homes with kids. Plus, they’re usually very affordable, so you can try a pair that have complimentary patterns for some visual variance.

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a mid-century living room design with a pink sofa, wood end table, and three pieces of art arranged above the sofa

10. Hanging Plants

One or two hanging plants alongside a gallery wall can be super impactful. A planter or two of trailing leafy greens, hung from your ceiling, can add a lush look and an organic touch that balances out framed artwork.

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a mid-century modern living room with a large blank accent wall painted blue gray

11. Painted Accent Wall

Sometimes all you need to liven up a blank wall is a fresh coat of paint. Before you pick up that paintbrush, do some quick research on accent wall ideas to see what color is right for your living room. A brighter paint color will turn your wall into an instant focal point while a softer color can shift the attention to your furniture pieces. You can hang some art over your accent wall or leave it blank, but either way, this is the simplest trick to punch up your walls and give it some depth and dimension.

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a mid-century living room design with a leather sofa, blue and white decor, and two wall-mounted shelves with art and decor

12. Floating Shelves

Another one of our favorite ideas for blank walls is to use floating shelves for artful displays. Instead of hanging wall art, lean a few large art prints and mix in small objects and tiny plants on the shelves to create visual interest while showing off your personal style. Just remember that less is more when it comes to styling; you want the shelves to appear curated, not cluttered.

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a boho living room with a white L-shaped sectional, carved wood coffee and side tables, a basket wall, and red and blue decor

13. Woven Baskets

For an alternative to the gallery wall that doesn’t involve art or plants or shelves, we love a display of hanging woven baskets as large wall decor ideas for living rooms. They add tons of natural texture to any blank wall, and they’re a nice contrast to boxy windows and clean-lined furniture. Hanging wall baskets also often come in gorgeous color combinations, so they’re perfect accents for enlivening neutral or white rooms.

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living room decorated in organic modern style

14. Sculptural Lighting

For those of you who love minimalist and streamlined spaces with unadorned walls, leaning into sculptural lighting designs can help keep your room from feeling spare and sparse. Here, it’s about using your empty walls as a backdrop to amplify shapes and forms of sculptural light fixtures and floor lamps. For instance, against a white wall, a cylindrical ceiling pendant will draw the eye up and visually fill out the negative space created by blank walls.

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living room with a large room divider shelf

15. Folding Screen

Think of the folding screen as a standing sculpture piece. What’s great about folding screens is that they act as wall decor without needing to be hung or installed. Line one along a blank wall or in a corner of your living room for a sophisticated focal point. They become instant statement pieces wherever they’re placed, and one with shelving gives you the added bonus of storage.

Shop This Looklarge tv wall with multiple bookcases and sconces

16. TV Wall

Sometimes filling the largest blank wall in your living room is as simple as hanging your TV there. You want to make sure it’s the best spot for your TV also, especially if you plan on using your living space for family movie nights or marathons with friends.

But why stop after the TV is up? As far as what to do with the wall behind your TV, try working in other wall decor ideas to round out the entire space, like adding a pair of sconces or a floating shelf. They’ll add function as well as balance out the boxy lines of the TV.

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Minimal living room with hanging cocktail bar

17. Hanging Bar

Don’t have room for a bar cart or cabinet? A hanging bar can fill up blank wall space while adding some practicality to your living space. This is a great option for those who love to entertain, as it keeps bottles and glassware near your conversation area. If you have an open living/dining room, it’s also a great way to bridge the two spaces! The hanging bar can be small or large depending on your needs and the size of space you’d like to fill.

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A large wall with living greenery hanging on wood palettes

18. Plant Wall

Are you a plant lover? A large blank wall can become a plant wall, adding additional greenery to your living room! The wall hangings pictured here have wood pallet backing with built-in planters. (These also conveniently come with faux ferns so you don’t have to worry about drips on watering day!) Hanging plants directly on the wall adds a ton of visual texture while filling that open space.

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Modern and minimal living room with neutral colors and a jute rug

19. Floor Mirror

A large living room wall can be decorated with a decorative floor mirror. When sitting on the floor and leaning against the wall, a large mirror reflects light to make your living room feel larger and brighter. It can also offer some practicality—letting you make quick outfit checks before leaving the house if your living room is close to your entryway.

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Leaning ladder on large living room wall
20. A Leaning Ladder

Large walls are a great place for decorative wooden ladders. They take up a lot of vertical space, so they visually fill a large blank wall—and they can be used to hang throw blankets, which adds a practical touch. You could also get some S-hooks and hanging planters and create a vertical hanging garden—a different take on a plant wall! Leaning ladders can be used in homes of many styles, but we especially love them in rustic, minimal, and Scandinavian spaces.

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Scandinavian living room design with wood furniture and blank walls

21. Leave It Blank!

Finally, there are also times when a blank wall just needs to be left as is. We love this in living rooms that are decorated with furniture pieces that all have unique shapes and forms. Here, it’s about embracing the negative wall space and leaving the focus to be with the materials, details, and other standout design elements in the room. If you’re a staunch minimalist, this is for you!

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Try on New Wall Art in Your Room

Still feeling stuck? Let our Modsy interior designers help! With a Modsy design package, you can get your room designed in 3D, so you can explore wall decor ideas before pounding in a single nail. Plus, your designer can help you discover hundreds of wall decor options from the Modsy catalog if you’re looking to buy something new!

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Crown Your Living Room: 3 Ideas for the Wall Above Your Sofa

Chic living room decor ideas

When designing your living room, as with life, there are very few things you can be sure of. Will the colors match? Will my bookcase fit through the door? The only thing you can really be sure of is that your living room will likely include a sofa and a blank wall.

What to do with this blank wall above your sofa can be a challenge. This is the focal point of the whole room, so you might be feeling like the pressure is on to get it just right. To help you feel inspired we rounded up three living room decor ideas for the wall above your sofa.

living room decor ideas

1. Hang One Bold Artwork

Give the “best seat in the house” to a big and bold artwork. This is a great way to add some drama to your space or showcase one fantastic piece of art.

We chose a dramatic, non-objective painting, Meditative Concentration 1 (Restoration Hardware). We love how the black and white pops against the gold Velvet Mina Sofa (Athropologie) and the square format draws your eye up, up, up!

living room decor ideas

2. Create a Gallery Wall

We love gallery walls. You can easily tailor them to fit your style, show off multiple pieces of art at once, and add to them as you grow your collection over time.

That said, a successful gallery wall should feel balanced. A good tip is to think about the overall composition first before you break out the hammer. Don’t feel like busting out the blue tape? Modsy can help you design your gallery wall before you pick up the hammer and nails.

Try mixing different frames and artwork sizes for a more eclectic look. Or, arrange your gallery wall as a grid or a more traditional and designed feel. Check out these 6 fresh ways to gallery wall. We opted for a variety of black and white artworks to give our gallery wall cohesion, while the different sizes and subjects keep your eye moving.

living room decor ideas

3. Make a Statement with a Mirror

Aside from your furniture, the most beautiful thing in your living room is going to be you. Ensure you (and everyone else) can catch a glimpse by hanging a large mirror above your sofa. This is especially great for small spaces, as the mirror will bounce light around and make your room feel open and airy.

Add some drama with an oversized mirror. We chose the Gleaming Primrose Mirror (Anthropologie). You can even place the mirror on the floor and lean it against the wall behind your sofa. This will add visual depth to your room and saves your walls from holes (a great option for all you renters out there).

Ready to crown your living room with something worth looking at?