If you’re stumped for living room wall decor ideas, we’re not totally surprised. As one of the most popular rooms in the home, a lot hangs on this decision. After all, it’s where we spend much of our time at home, entertaining guests after dinner, and where we entertain ourselves, too.
“Living rooms are increasingly important to my clients,” says Jenny Vorhoff of New Orleans’ Studio Origa. “People are prioritizing their time at home and see it as a place to do things other than making meals, watching a movie, and sleeping.”
The options are numerous, of course, and go beyond simply hanging art in your living room. From murals to maximalist wallpapers and textured walls, it’s not just what you put on the walls, it’s often the wall itself that becomes decor. Above all, the guiding principle is to keep things personal. According to Krista Little, a partner at Kate Hayes Design in Atlanta, each homeowner’s unique personality guides what decor they choose. “When designing a living room we like to consider how the family will live and use their communal living space (i.e., are they lounging, playing games, hosting, etc.) and marry those day-to-day habits with the style of the house,” says Little.
When in doubt, framed art will fill just about any wall space in your home, but if you’re thinking outside the box, these living room wall decor ideas will take it up a notch.
Living room wall decor ideas
1. Make room for a gallery wall
A tried-and-true staple of today’s modern home, gallery walls can easily elevate a space to become an elegant living room. The layouts are legion, ranging from tight grid patterns to informal arrangements, but the effect still offers a mix of informal fun. “We love a gallery wall because it definitely takes the pressure off of finding the one ‘perfect’ piece to hang over a mantle,” says Chicago’s Sarah Vaile (opens in new tab). “It is instead about collecting a mix of fun pieces and covers many different genres of art.”
That’s why, in the chic living room above, Vaile created an eclectic gallery against a bright red wall painted with gloss paint. “It’s all about the mix,” adds Vaile. “We love to mix genres from oils to photography to watercolors. Both old and modern starting with the owners’ heirloom pieces and then building on with new fresh new pieces. We love a good picture light (or several!) in the gallery too.”
Wondering how to create the perfect gallery wall of your own? “Our trick is to lay the picture wall out onto the floor to arrange it that way and then start by hanging the centerpiece and moving out in all directions,” recommends Vaile.
2. Bring living room walls to life with textural paint
The first place to start with wall decor? Consider your walls, naturally. While many white living room ideas can serve as prime backdrops for framed artworks and other hanging objects, opting for a paint effect with movement (think limewash paint and rustic hand-applied plaster effects) will liven up your living room with visual texture. “So often, with new builds, everything is quite crisp and can be devoid of detail,” says Los Angeles designer Stefani Stein. “Texture and movement bring in a much needed softness and a more organic quality, adding depth and warmth to the spaces.”
In the dark grey living room above, Stein took an otherwise blank canvas (a recently renovated house) and gave it substance with a Roman Clay wall treatment. "The hand-troweled Roman Clay treatment imparts a subtle movement that is impossible to achieve with paint alone,” says Stein. “Paired with the rattan sconce and art, this previously awkward corner evolved into a considered focal point.”
3. Think beyond the frame
Yes, we know that framed living room wall art will fill just about any empty wall space. But if you’re imagining decor that borders on eclectic, think outside the box—you can go over the top, hanging an unlimited display of objects, collectibles, and curiosities to give your space a personal touch. “For wall decor (and in general), I always try to choose pieces that are either meaningful to the clients, or reflect their personalities in some way,” says Los Angeles’ Mandy Cheng (opens in new tab).
In the interior above, the home of Hollywood A-listers Daveed Diggs and Emmy Raver-Lampman, Cheng created a wall of woven baskets that brought texture, dimensionality, color, and a unique application to the living room. “Emmy had picked up a few of these woven baskets at a local flea market and was having trouble finding a use for them on her various consoles and built-ins,” says Cheng. “I picked a few up and held them up to the wall. Her eyes lit up and she had a stack to fill the walls with by the following day.”
4. Feature an eye-catching accent wall
Accent walls add personality to a space simply by bringing contrast. And while accent walls are among the most popular living room paint ideas, you don’t just need to stop with a coat of paint. You can create dimension by adding bookshelves or millwork to one of your walls, like color-blocking your interior with the right living room color ideas.
In the charming living room above, an accent wall takes shape as a beautifully green, custom bookshelf that draws the eye upward toward the ceiling, expanding the perception of space and height.
“This house has a very framed view—the existing fireplace is the heart of living room, with two windows on either side, and the bookshelves create a 3D texture, jutting out into the living room and connecting to the couch and chairs,” says Henry Cheung, project manager at Los Angeles’ Bestor Architecture (opens in new tab). “We integrated the clients' library and incorporated their most precious travel and art pieces as conversation pieces—they pop against the green accent wall and again are brought into the space rather than just residing on the edge.”
5. Light up your walls with sconces
When it comes to living room lighting ideas, it’s fair to place much of your attention on the ceiling. But if you’re hoping to add ambient lighting, incorporating a stylish wall sconce can bring ambient light and brilliant style to your walls at the same time.
“As well as adding practical light, wall sconces can be such a pretty decorative addition to a long wall space,” says Kirsten Blazek, the founder California’s A1000xBetter (opens in new tab). In the room above, Blazek chose a plaster-white orb sconce that punctuates the wall without overpowering other wall decor.
Wondering where to place them? The first consideration is whether you’re picking a sconce as a decorative feature or for actual light. “If it is for practical reasons then think about locating them in a way that makes sense for your lighting needs,” recommends Blazek. “Make sure you also take into consideration other items that you want to put on your walls like a special piece of art. Scale your sconces to the height of your ceiling so that they are proportionate in the room and also consider the style of your home and other decor but don’t be afraid to take a risk with your lighting, they are like jewelry for your room!”
6. Disguise your television screen
The living room, where we spend much of our time, is home to the television, a piece of equipment that wastes most of our time (not that we’re complaining). While large screens tend to be more of an eyesore than an eye-catching feature, plenty of living room TV ideas (like recessed screens or televisions embedded within a bookshelf) can turn any unit into smart wall decor.
But if you’re truly going to disguise your television, there may be no other screen as stealth as The Frame TV (opens in new tab). “The Frame TV is a great trick to pull from the designer's sleeve for a [flexible room] that needs to serve multiple functions,” says Natalie Myers, founder of Los Angeles’ Veneer Designs (opens in new tab). In the living room above, Myers hung The Frame TV within a gallery wall, virtually hiding the television in plain sight. “Hanging a gallery wall of similar style art and photography prints in various sizes around The Frame TV fills a blank wall space beautifully,” says Myers. “I find that photography as the still image tricks people's eyes into thinking it's a framed print.”
7. Add a mirror to enhance a sense of space
As a go-to trick for interior designers, living room mirror ideas aren’t just easy on the eyes, they can make rooms feel brighter and bigger. Whether you’re placing a mirror just above your mantel (a most traditional spot) or tucking one near a window (which makes the most of natural light), you’ll create depth while amplifying visual interest throughout the space. “A mirror both grounds and expands a room, making spaces feel larger while also acting as an important design element,” says Washington D.C.’s Zoe Feldman (opens in new tab).
In the above interior, a clever mix of materials, colors, and decor get an extra lift from a well-placed mirror. “We made this simple yet ornate mirror the focal point of the room in order to draw the eye upward and make the space feel larger,” adds Feldman. “The adjacent wall decor plays with differences in scale, with the smaller piece to the left rounding out the vignette above the tall shelves, and a larger piece of art anchoring the chest to the right.”
8. Create depth and layers with wallpaper
Even if you don’t hammer a single nail, living room wallpaper ideas can bring striking patterns and colors to your walls. And while you can paste up a whimsical wallpaper and call it a day, you can also embrace a maximalist design approach by layering bold patterns with even bolder wall decor.
In the above interior, Kate Hayes Design (opens in new tab) used an oversized, black-and-white pattern to create contrast with smaller, colorful framed prints. "The client has a psychology degree and the wallpaper looks like an inkblot drawing so we felt like it was a cheeky nod,” explains Kate Hayes. “The intensity and scale also work so nicely with the scale of the ceilings and modernity of the space. It's an amazing talking point that is balanced by the incorporation of fun pop art."
9. Hang floating shelves
Perhaps the most functional forms of wall decor, living room shelving ideas create levels throughout the space that serve as both living room storage and space for decor itself. From shapely objects and artsy ceramics to colorfully spined books and sentimental photographs, installing a shelf is tantamount to a character-building moment for your living room.
In modern homes, the floating shelf continues to reign. In the interior above, warm wooden shelves take wall decor to new heights, creating space on either side of the fireplace—the focal point of the living room—for additional decor. “Floating shelves are ideal for modern interiors, where additional brackets or trim will distract from the simple aesthetic of the space,” says Matt Baran of Baran Studio Architecture (opens in new tab). “They also work best when the objects they carry are limited, as this allows the shelves to read as a component of the room. Too many books or objects will obscure the fact they are floating in the first place. Materials and placement should also connect with the overall composition and materiality of the space so they become integrated into the overall design.”
10. Let window treatments do the work
We know what you’re thinking: we’re talking about walls, not windows. But if you’re limited on wall space (or if you have ample vertical space) a smart living room window treatment can fill the void with bold color, pattern, and texture.
In the above interior, floor-to-ceiling drapes festoon like theater curtains, cloaking the room with unmistakable softness and warmth. “In this townhouse living room, the ceiling height was the architectural star,” says Jenny Vorhoff of Studio Riga. “We felt that the walls had to be neutral because the stairs in this space continued through the entire home. The sunny wool-blend curtains feel like jewelry in this space and work harmoniously with the warm neutral tones of our furnishings and fabrics.”
Keith Flanagan is a New York based journalist specialising in design, food and travel. He has been an editor at Time Out New York, and has written for such publications as Architectural Digest, Conde Nast Traveller, Food 52 and USA Today. He regularly contributes to Livingetc, reporting on design trends and offering insight from the biggest names in the US. His intelligent approach to interiors also sees him as an expert in explaining the different disciplines in design.
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