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It sounds like quite an exclusive word doesn't it – elegance. It conjures images of period properties with high ceilings, sizable chandeliers, and exquisite (albeit expensive) furniture. But elegant, when it comes to interior design anyway, can come in many forms and as these elegant living room wall decor ideas prove, there's a way to bring elegance to any style.
We've asked some of our favorite designers, what they consider to be elegant style and how you can bring those timeless vibes onto your living room walls. From statement wallcoverings and DIY murals, to minimalist gallery walls and choosing the perfectly elegant wall shade, there are plenty of living room wall decor ideas to get you inspired.
10 elegant living room wall decor ideas for all styles
1. Create a feature with mixed materials
Accent walls don't always need to be all about color and bold prints, for colorphobes, consider creating an elegant focal point using a mix of textures and materials instead. This luxurious living room designed by NAINOA is the perfect example. The wood-clad wall would be a feature in itself but the contrasting marble alcove adds that elegance and extra interest.
'With living rooms, as with most rooms I think, you have to choose your focal points. Pick the statements you want to make and let the other elements function and a backdrop.' explains Noa Santos, founder of NAINOA. 'In this case, the millwork serves to highlight the statement stone which reappears in the coffee table – taking the eye on a bit of a journey to connect the dots.'
2. Wash the same color over all surfaces
Simplicity and elegance go hand in hand. Therefore, a really easy way to ensure an elegant living room is to keep the color palette minimal. Now, this needn't mean bland or boring, the select colors you choose can still make a statement, in fact, we think often sticking with just one shade and talking it over every surface in the room can be just as bold as a rainbow of colors.
Take this blue living room designed by Elizabeth Hay. 'In this room we wrapped the whole room in bookcases with a niche for the sofa to give it a really cozy library feel and also an all-enveloping feeling when relaxing in there watching a film.' says Elizabeth. 'To create more of a contemporary fresh feel we spray painted the carpentry in a pale eau de nils color which still feels light and airy and not too heavy like a wood finish might.'
3. Try something different with plaster
We get that living rooms are usually very soft, tactile rooms but this glamorous space by Maddux Creative is making a real case for harder more abstract approaches to wall coverings. You can always balance it out with plenty of soft texture elsewhere in the room – opt for a living room carpet or throw down a large rug and choose furniture in a mix of fabrics.
This elegant wall finish was created using plaster relief finish and as Scott Maddux of Maddux Creative says 'To give a sense of the scale it covers the whole wall which is flanked either end with windows which pour light into the room.'
'It is a library too therefore we wanted to ensure the space allowed for reflection and felt peaceful. The large expanse of plain wall necessitated something. We weren’t going to fill it with art as it faces the bookcase which houses the most incredible collection of books – art in itself.'
4. Choose an elegant space expanding wall covering
Elegance is so much about light, bright, airy spaces. A totally empty room with high ceilings and large windows can still feel elegant. But since not all of us are blessed with copious amounts of space and lofty ceilings, you often have to create the allusion of loftiness instead. A clever wallcovering could be all it takes.
You would never have caught us recommending shimmer wallpaper and high-gloss paint a few years back. But the trend for shiny walls is on the up and this elegant living room by designer Natalie Kraiem shows how it's done right.
'Given that the ceilings were low, I customized an off-white hand plaster finish with a light shimmer to make the space feel larger and drag attention to the walls, instead of the height. We also used a high gloss paint finish in Benjamin Moore, super white to reflect some additional light to the ceiling.' explains designer Natalie. 'All these elements can dress up any space by immediately creating a sense of luxury and glamour.'
5. Choose a dramatic wallcovering
Living room wallpaper comes in many forms, but if you are after elegance our advice would be to go bold and opt for something dark and dramatic. And choose a print that's not too... busy, you still want the space to feel chic and sophisticated and usually, that means opting for larger, simpler patterns that make a statement but don't look fussy.
In this dark living room designed by, MKCA a hand painted “Kintsugi” wallcovering by Porter Teleo clads the walls. It's so subtle it almost looks like the room has been painted in a solid color, but then you get those lovely flashes of bronze. Wallpaper at its most elegant. And see how the furniture, being such a similar deep grey, almost merges into the walls, allowing the walls to really be the focus of the room.
6. Use living room walls to blend styles
Walls can be a great canvas for trying something different and blending styles within your living room. You might have an undying love for modern furniture but pair it with a traditional wallpaper – even something as simple as this polka dot print – and you can easily add a touch of classic elegance.
And now you can find so many traditional elegant wallcoverings that have a slightly modern, quirky twist which can lend themselves to more minimalist spaces. Take note from this space designed by Divine Savages which expertly merges contemporary with traditional.
'We've reimagined the traditional technique of flocking and this dreamlike print is our cheeky twist on a classic polka-dot pattern.' says Jamie Watkins, co-Founder Divine Savages. 'Our velvety poodle motifs dance playfully across a sumptuously textured base to create a dramatic backdrop whose dark color palette adds a touch of glamour, elegantly propelling the contemporary sculptural furniture into the limelight.'
7. Turn the TV into an elegant design
Televisions hardly scream elegance. And although we would love to keep our living rooms purely about aesthetics and forgo a massive black rectangle sitting in the middle of it, admittedly TVs are essential in most living rooms. But there are ways to make ugly tech easier on the eyes, as this living room TV idea designed by Howark Design demonstrates.
'The brief for this room was to create a stylish but comfy place for the whole family to watch television together.' says Saskia Howard, Creative Director at Howark Design.
'We wanted to ensure that the TV wasn’t the only focus when not being used so designed the full-height media unit. We went for a traditional style with fluted detail to reference the Victorian house and chose 'Farrow & Ball Light Blue’ to freshen the overall effect and give a nod to its Cornish seaside location. Bronze grills provided a contrast in texture and color whilst on a practical level concealed the electronic devices/cables whilst allowing remote control functionality.'
8. DIY an elegant stripe
It doesn't get more elegant than stripes. They add an instant loftiness to a room, drawing the eye upwards and making ceilings feel higher. Plus, it's a print that can work with so many different styles from uber-modern to country rustic living rooms. You can choose bold colorways for a maximalist vibe or keep it simple with neutrals.
As Russell Loughlan designer and founder of The House on Dolphin Street says, 'Striped wallpaper is a great choice for both contemporary and modern homes with a nod to the traditional, bringing in added color, texture and drama to a space - perfect for feature walls.'
'The bold line makes the room look bigger by drawing the eye upwards. Here my hand-painted stripes are strong and bold but if I’m more free with the brush stroke then they can feel softer and mimic fabric for a more textured feel. To recreate this look you’ll need masking tape, a ruler, a spirit level, and a lot of patience! Don’t get too hung up on the density/evenness of color or when it bleeds a little as it’s all about hand-painting so the imperfections are part of the charm.'
9. Add instant elegance with mirrors
Living room mirrors are such a simple way to add elegance. We'd recommend taking notes from this yellow living room designed by Studio Peake and keep them simple in design and big in size. This will of course help any sized room feel larger and reflect plenty of lighting around the room.
'Mirrors work wonders to create an elegant feeling in a room.' explains Sarah Peake, founder of Studio Peake. 'In this small proportioned Georgian drawing room large, slimline mirrors almost fill both alcoves on either side of the fireplace creating the allusion of more space too. Matching lamps in front of the mirrors helps to create a warm and layered ambiance too as well as adding to the overall symmetry of the design.'
Yes, we need to mention the symmetry here. Symmetry always gives a room an elegant vibe, and if your got alcoves then great, you already have a base for a symmetrical design. If you don't you can still create a similar effect using two larger mirrors and matching console tables beneath. Add a pair of statement lights for that extra luxurious hotel vibe.
10. Curate shelves for an elegant display
Living room shelving is a great way to add both elegance and storage to your space. You can curate displays that add color, pattern, and texture as well as bring in some personality. For a more elegant approach, choose shelving that provides more than just a surface to add decor, pick something that's a piece in itself and will add just as much to the room as the decor it displays. Think mirrored shelving, metallic finishes, unusual shapes, and interesting scales.
In this elegant living room designed by Fiona Barratt the slimline gold shelving creates a pattern on the wall, almost as wallpaper would, as well as creating the perfect base for various types of decor.
'In terms of wall storage, I love a floating shelf as it gives you the flexibility to change the aesthetic of the room and you can play with size and scale here, too. It's a chance to create a real gallery moment, leaning your art, family photos, books, vases, and objet across the shelves.' says Fiona.
What makes a living room look elegant?
Elegance can mean so many different things and look different with different tastes and styles, but for us, elegance goes hand in hand with chic, sophisticated spaces that are confident in their decor. To create a more elegant aesthetic in a living room we would recommend not to over clutter the room, keep the amount of furniture pared-back, and don't go too overboard with the number of colors in the scheme.
Use walls to their full effect, that's where you can bring in all the color, pattern, and texture. Think elegantly curated shelving, oversized statement artwork, and unique wallcoverings.
What colors work on elegant living room walls?
Again this is personal, it depends what you consider to be an elegant color. But as a general rule of thumb, colors that tend to lend themselves best to elegant living rooms are soft muted neutrals. Nothing too overwhelming or in your face.
'When thinking about colors for an elegant living room, you can go down a dusky more earthy vibe like muted pinks, soft greens, warm beiges. These work best with a more Scandi, minimalist style. And greens work lovely in living rooms too as you get that very calming feel, but you can get a more traditional look that lends itself to an elegant space.' explains Tash Bradley, color expert at Lick.
Grey living rooms are of course incredibly elegant. You can't really go wrong with grey. And in fact, an elegant living room is one of the few places we'd recommend a cooler grey, with blue undertones as we think with elegance you can get away with a room feeling slightly cool. Bring in some fresh bright white too and plenty of texture throughout the rest of the room so the space still feels inviting.
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Hebe is the Digital Editor of Livingetc; she has a background in lifestyle and interior journalism and a passion for renovating small spaces. You'll usually find her attempting DIY, whether it's spray painting her whole kitchen, don't try that at home, or ever changing the wallpaper in her hallway. Livingetc has been such a huge inspiration and has influenced Hebe's style since she moved into her first rental and finally had a small amount of control over the decor and now loves being able to help others make decisions when decorating their own homes. Last year she moved from renting to owning her first teeny tiny Edwardian flat in London with her whippet Willow (who yes she chose to match her interiors...) and is already on the lookout for her next project.
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