Good design is rather common, but what makes a room truly great? This is the question we ask ourselves as we pore over a slew of living rooms. While décor trends tend to dictate what we see in popular interiors, the best spaces tend to stray from trends—providing a striking visual, a new point of view, or a unique mix of periods and styles. It's not that fads are banished altogether in these spaces, but if present, they are used sparingly, in contrast to another fashion, and with elements that wouldn't automatically be regarded as trendy.
Think of it as the outfit of someone with great style versus someone that's simply embracing the season's latest trends. The former may include a great vintage piece or two, a fast-fashion piece, and quality classics like a Chanel handbag or Manolo Blahnik pumps. It's the mix that makes the outfit great—not the trend. With this in mind, we handpicked our favorite living rooms that can withstand the test of time.
In Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent's L.A. home, a dining room was deftly repurposed into a library. Cozy seats and low-slung marble tables topped with mementos and coffee table books are surrounded by oak paneled-walls and built-in bookcases filled with their favorite reads and other souvenirs.
Why it's great: The contrast between the classic paneled walls and traditional architecture mixed with striking contemporary art and furniture makes this room unique and equally luminous and cozy.
Want to score this look for your own space? Balance darker walls with a light rug with a subtle sheen and hang heavy, almost wood-toned drapery against the paneled walls.
Interior designer Tali Roth let her space shine with the help of a long, low-slung sofa and black marble plinth table to anchor the room.The space is equally moody, collected, and fit for a growing family.
Why it's great: A palette of grays surround the space, from the statement gray wall to the left to the floor-to-ceiling drapery and light gray rug—creating the perfect neutral palette to introduce statement pieces like a bold orange ottoman and ASH NYC's arc stool. The composition of objects and shapes, from the spiked footed bowl on the console to the olive tree in the corner, strikes a perfect balance between trendy and timeless.
Ashe Leandro's living space looks and feels like a Mediterranean villa, thanks to an all-white palette and arched doorways. Red accents and a palm-leaf plant punctuate the bold yet laid-back décor.
Why it's great: The sofa is tucked in a nook that delineates the split-level aspect of the room, while the white floor and steps blur the lines between the two spaces, making the whole room feel more spacious. A limited color palette with red and white accents with a few hints of black is layered with lush palm leaves to further the Mediterranean feel of the area.
This space by Space Exploration and White Arrow is set in an old Williamsburg schoolhouse, but it still feels young and fresh. The Yves Klein blue table steals the show—a color that is also repeated on the daybed by the fireplace. The bold choice of colors and graphic patterns makes this a fearless modern space.
Why it's great: The combination of colors and shapes in this formerly classic space is unique and unexpected. By bringing back period-appropriate architectural detailing to the room and introducing iconic modern furnishings—Milo Baughman–inspired swivel chairs, Tobia Scarpa couches, and a Josef Frank rug—the designers were able to create a striking space that pays homage to old and new design.
In Mandy Moore's family room, designed by Sarah Sherman Samuel, a long floating terrazzo bench runs the entire length of the wall, serving both as a hearth and extra seating. The light colors and mixed materials bring this midcentury-modern space into the present while respecting the styles and proportions of the period.
Why it's great: The mix of materials: Lilac velvet, tan leather, white oak, and brass keep the palette soft and light—and picks up every color in the custom Palladiana terrazzo bench. The furniture pieces give a nod to midcentury style while being firmly anchored in the present. All in all, this room is an ideal representation of what midcentury renovations should be—a window into the past with strikingly beautiful examples of modern design.
Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent's main living room is a veritable treasure trove of found objects, important design pieces, and valuable antiques—but it's a far cry from archaic. The design duo has a knack for sourcing important pieces while still having the ability to make the room look and feel lived-in and personal.
Why it's great: The color scheme of the space is limited to white marble and upholstery, wood tones, and black accents—which helps to bring the many periods and styles present in the room together. Moreover, the large space features many different seating areas—from accent chairs to sofas and even a game table—which all contribute to making the room feel cozy and not cavernous.
In this California living room by interior designer Amber Lewis, worldly rugs from Morocco and Turkey are layered underneath an arrangement of boho tables and chairs. Two floor-to-ceiling doorways on each side of the room bring the outside garden inside.
Why it's great: A tall tree on the inside of the room helps blend the exterior garden and the interior of the living room in true California style. Midcentury chairs, like France & Son's Flag Halyard, are layered in the space with rugs, sheepskin throws, and pillows to create a comfortable, laid-back vibe and soften the stark contemporary architecture.
Next up: The bathroom paint colors interior designers swear by.