20 Décor and Design Ideas to Steal from These Formal Living & Sitting Rooms

formal living room

Design: D. L. Rhein, Photo: Amy Bartlam

Even though durability and comfort are should be top priorities for the living room, we can't sacrifice our sense of style. Because a living room is as much a space for lounging as it is the go-to area for entertaining guests, it should be a room you'd be proud to show the world. To brainstorm ideas for decorating a living room that reflects our style preferences and our sense of comfort, we rounded up a fresh batch of gorgeous interiors to inspire you.

So read on for little tips and tricks to give your living room a fancier flair that'll dress up your space without compromising on that relaxing feel.

01 of 20

Add Luxe Texture

formal living room design

Design: Indigo & Ochre Design

Though this room features warm pastels that feel casual and cozy, the rich velvet upholstery and streamlined silhouettes of the armchair and sofa give the space a more sophisticated feel. If you aren't ready to invest in super-expensive furniture, introduce a velvet throw pillow or chenille blanket.

02 of 20

Hang Statement Art

formal living room

Design: Amy Elbaum Interior Design, Photo: Amy Bartlam

Since the main attractions of a living room—like the sofa and coffee table—should inspire comfort, focus on beautifying other areas of the room that don't need to offer as much functional value. For example, this structural bench isn't exactly what we'd want to lounge around on, but it's the perfect piece to prop up those glamorous throw pillows, and it also makes the gorgeous artwork pop even more.

Dress up empty nooks and bare corners with accent pieces and striking artwork.

03 of 20

Choose Beautiful Furniture

living room

Design: Liljencrantz Design

Though furniture needs to be practical and serve a function, there's no reason it can't also be beautiful. The coffee table in the living room above is a prime example. It's artfully designed and unique, making the entire room feel a lot dressier.

04 of 20

Mix in Plush Materials

formal sitting room

Design: Annaleena

With plenty of cozy accents, like the throw blankets, pillows, and plush ivory carpeting, this living room is a relaxing oasis. Yet thanks to the rigid, linear shapes throughout the space, like the angular light fixture, sleek sofa, and sharp coffee tables, the room is also refined and elegant.

05 of 20

Add Metallics

formal sitting room

Design: Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

We love how this living room plays with different design traditions for a unique and friendly space with just a touch of glamour. The low-key coffee table and cozy seating are inviting, while the gold side table and artful light fixture boast a more formal aesthetic.

06 of 20

Avoid Clutter

formal sitting room

Design: Catherine Kwong Design

This living room is a gorgeous representation of how to style a formal space that isn't at all pretentious. The blue daybed, textured carpet, and simple coffee table work together to create a calming environment. The hidden storage and clutter-free surfaces also maintain a sense of formality. And, of course, a gorgeous bouquet of flowers is always a nice touch.

07 of 20

Add a Touch of Playfulness

formal living room

Design: D. L. Rhein, Photo: Amy Bartlam

Between the playful yet grown-up pendant light, mirrored coffee table, and plush throw pillows, we're not sure where to begin with this perfect living room. Though silver tones can feel icy and austere, this space softens them up with a cloud-like sofa and cheerful wall art. The overall vibe is polished while also leaving room for a sense of whimsy and fun.

08 of 20

Be Bold With Color

formal living room

Design: Indigo & Ochre Design

There's something about rich jewel tones that make interiors feel much more regal. Case in point? This gorgeous shade of deep turquoise paint and the velvet green daybed. The industrial coffee table and Brutalist wall art also add a nice metallic edge.

09 of 20

Embrace Tradition

formal living room

Design: Elizabeth Roberts Architecture

We love how you can curl up in this living room with a good book and a cup of tea for a quiet, laid-back night in or host some friends for a dressier cocktail party. The traditional fireplace and large Persian rug carry an air of opulence and formality, while the furniture is inviting and lounge-ready.

Play up old-school architectural bones like a Victorian fireplace by incorporating a traditional element.

10 of 20

Experiment With Layout

formal living room

Design: Elizabeth Roberts Architecture

Everything about this living room is incredible, thanks to the layout and attention to scale and proportion. Aside from the mirror and throw pillows, there aren't any decorative pieces in this room, yet it's still bursting with personality because all of the items are uniquely oversized.

The ornate gilt mirror, striking Art Deco carpet, and low-profile, masculine leather couch hold their own and complement each other perfectly.

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Focus on the Floor

formal living room

Design: Black Lacquer Design

We love a good color contrast as much as the next design junkie, and this living room's dark patterned rug against the sky blue sectional is next-level beautiful. Why it works? There's some lightness in the rug, but not too much that the contrast gets lost. A super-easy way to add a touch of personality to your formal living room is to pick a floor covering that really speaks to you instead of going with the one that seems like the safest bet.

12 of 20

Give Vintage a Try

formal living room

Design: Black Lacquer Design

The good thing about design is that you can mix a bunch of different styles. Case in point: this über-contemporary living area that expertly mixes a neon sign and vintage Oluce lamps. As long as it feels cohesive, vintage décor can really up the wow-factor in your living room.

13 of 20

Make It Green

formal living room

Design: Bespoke Only

You'd be surprised how much of an impact plants can make. If you're blessed with high ceilings, go big (literally) and get a tree. The best part is that they go with every type of design style, so you can get whichever plant you love most.

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Opt for a Monochromatic Look

formal living room

Design: Bespoke Only

Even though this space is all gray, it doesn't feel dreary because there are so many different tones and shades of the hue. Plus, the variety of texture and light gives this space so much charisma. This Brooklyn living room is a perfect example of a monochromatic space that works in all the right ways.

15 of 20

Commit to a Theme

formal living room

Design: Sasha Bikoff, Photo: Patrick Cline

In this New York living room, designer Sasha Bikoff went for a whimsical Rococo look inspired by none other than Marie Antoinette. The luscious shades of blue, blush, and cream make us want to throw a party in this living room ASAP. Lighter elements, like the sheer window treatments, gentle patterned wallpaper and fluffy throw pillows soften the space in the best way.

16 of 20

Curate a Collection

formal living room

Design: Sasha Bikoff, Photo: Nicole Cohen

It's easy for a collection of knick knacks to appear a bit tacky, but when they're displayed in such an organized fashion, they take on a more sophisticated appearance. In this living room, Bikoff kept a bit of space between each item, letting the custom bookshelves shine without getting taken over by clutter.

17 of 20

Design a Gallery Wall

formal living room

Design: Charlie Ferrer

We can all admit that gallery walls are cool, so if you have enough art to display, go ahead and make your own in your living room. The great thing about gallery walls is that you can have frames of all different sizes, and they still look great together. We're also loving the giant rose quartz crystal on the floor.

18 of 20

Paint the Walls a Dark Shade

living room

Design: Becca Interiors

Swathing your walls in a glossy navy blue à la interior designer Becca Casey may feel a bit daring, but hear us out: It adds a cool factor like no piece of furniture or art can accomplish. Especially if your furniture is quiet, let the dark walls do the talking.

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Get the Right Light

formal sitting room

Design: Katherine Carter Design

You may not think you have to get a cool light because your guests probably won't be looking up, but a unique fixture can totally set the scene in your living room. For instance, this large-scale disco ball-inspired piece, paired with the structural black floor lamp, makes a serious statement in this light and airy space.

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Get a Colorful Sofa

living room

Design: Katie Martinez Design

One of the easiest ways to elevate your living room is to bring in a pop of color by way of the sofa. For instance, in this mostly beige living room, the aqua velvet sofa totally ups the cool factor.

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