Formal Living Room Ideas to Steal From 10 Gorgeous Spaces

Wooden table next to grey corner settee in living room
KatarzynaBialasiewicz / Getty Images

Considering that the dictionary defines "living room" as the "room in the house where people sit and relax," durability and comfort are top priorities. Yet, a living room is also the go-to area for entertaining guests and catching up with visitors, which means it should also be a space you'd be proud to show the world. To brainstorm ways to decorate a room where the living is easy but also fancy-looking and stylish, we rounded up a fresh batch of gorgeous interiors to inspire formal living room ideas. So read on for little tips and tricks to give your living room a fancier flair that'll dress up your space without compromising that liveable feel.

Add Luxe Texture

Living Room Design Ideas
Heidi's Bridge ; 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 furniture, introduce a velvet throw pillow.

The Formal Living Room Lesson: Velvet is your friend.

Hang Statement Art

Large Wall Art Ideas
Amy Bartlam ; DESIGN : AE Designs

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.

The Formal Living Room Lesson: Dress up empty nooks and bare corners with accent pieces and striking artwork.

Choose Beautiful Furniture

bold coffee table in a chic living room
Liljen Crantz 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.

The Formal Living Room Lesson: Make bold furniture choices.

Mix In Plush Materials

a living room with clean lines with plush materials

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.

The Formal Living Room Lesson: Pair clean lines with plush materials for a nice balance between refined and cozy.

Add Metallics

a living room decorated with metallics and blown glass
JH 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.

The Formal Living Room Lesson: When it comes to fancy materials, you can't go wrong with metallics and blown glass. And the right lighting can make all the difference.

Avoid Clutter

a simple, tasteful, and clutter-free living room
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.

The Formal Living Room Lesson: Keep things simple, tasteful, and clutter-free.

Add a Touch of Playfulness

chic, formal living room

Amy Bartlam ; Design: D. L. Rhein

Between the playful yet grown-up pendant light, mirrored coffee table, and candy-colored 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.

The Formal Living Room Lesson: Formal pieces don't have to be serious.

Be Bold With Color

a living room with bold colors
Heidi's Bridge ; DESIGN: Indigo & Ochre Design

There's something about moody hues 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.

The Formal Living Room Lesson: Make a statement and add dimension with striking paint colors.

Embrace Tradition

a chic, formal living room
Elizabeth Roberts Architecture and Design

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.

The Formal Living Room Lesson: Play up old-school architectural bones like a Victorian fireplace by incorporating a traditional element.

Experiment With Layout

a living room that experiments with unexpected arrangements
Elizabeth Roberts Architecture and Design

Everything about this living room is incredible, thanks to the 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 oversize. The ornate gilt mirror, striking Art Deco carpet, and low-profile, masculine leather couch hold their own and complement each other perfectly.

The Formal Living Room Lesson: Experiment with unexpected arrangements, and don't be afraid of the contrast between tradition and edginess.

Related Stories