4 Outdated Living Room Trends Designers say you Should Move on From — and What to Replace Them With

Much loved once, it’s now time to say goodbye to these outdated living room trends and move on to more modern design aesthetics

Living room with cream walls, yellow chairs, and sheer curtains
(Image credit: Nicole Franzen. Design: Husband.wife)

The living room is like the business card equivalent of a home. It’s the room that’s open to both family and guests and has the power to send a message about who you are, and what you want to say through the design choices you make. There’s opportunity here to make a statement through a design you love, where your family is comfortable, and that also tells everyone else that you are sophisticated and in tune with the latest interior aesthetics.

No matter what style you go for, designers advise on the four outdated living room trends you’re best to avoid. They’ve been overdone and with so many more modern alternatives out there, your home can look ten times better, and more elevated too. Here are the living room trends it’s ok to move on from.

1. Accent walls

a living room color drenched in light yellow

Color drenching is a more modern approach than the accent wall.

(Image credit: Note Design Studio)

This had to be the first item on the list. Accent walls have been done so many times now, and the trends where we draw the attention to one main area of the room is not as relevant anymore. Designers are now focusing on creating a cohesive scheme in a home, where the eye travels throughout a room unrestricted supporting a calming feel, and have even gone as far as replacing the accent wall with accent reveals

‘Accent walls were a popular trend, but their appeal has waned. This trend involved painting a single wall in a bold or dark color,’ interior designer and architect Martha Franco tells me. ‘When designing a room, it is important to consider that trends come and go. Opting for a more durable style can create a timeless look that withstands changing trends. Today, the preference leans towards more timeless and cohesive color schemes throughout the room, offering a more subtle and unified look’ she advises.

If there is a particular color you love for your living room and were tempted to use it for a feature wall, think about other ways of incorporating it into your space, be that through accessories, one statement piece of furniture, or even playing with different subtle tones and creating a monochromatic look.

And it’s not just paint designers are referring to when talking about accent walls. Interior designer Sara Malek Barney thinks that gallery walls have been overdone too: ‘Unpopular opinion but it's a lazy replacement for statement art,’ she tells me. The point now is to avoid just having one wall to focus on in a room, but to keep an element of flow instead.   

2. Matching furniture sets

A blue sofa in a living room

More eclectic mixes of furniture are the way to go, say designers.

(Image credit: Doublespace Photography. Design: Barbora Vokac Taylor Architect Inc.)

Regardless of interior design trends, aesthetics have moved on from looks that are too matchy-matchy, but more eclectic instead. It’s all about expressing character through design, and matching furniture is just a bit too easy, and maybe a bit uninspiring too. ‘A living room trend that has come and gone is having matching furniture sets where everything in the living room matches in style, fabric, and color,’ Martha tells me. ‘Instead, consider a more curated approach, mixing different styles and materials to add character and visual interest to the space,’ advises the expert.

The ‘downside’ if you will, to this aesthetic is that as opposed to matching sets, curating your space with individual items will take longer. Designers agree it will be worth it in the long run as your home will be unique, and a true expression of yourself, and you can embrace softer looks like The New Pretty trend. Don’t get carried away randomly picking all different styles of furniture though. Take your time and make thoughtful decisions picking items you love and you’ll be happy with for a long time.

3. Overly formal design

colourful living room rug

Casual set-ups feel more welcoming, so better suit the needs of a modern home.

(Image credit: Studio Proba)

The way we live today is more relaxed than it used to be. Especially at home, and especially in our living rooms, in the evening, after a day at work, we want to feel comfortable and at ease. Therefore, overly formal living rooms no longer have a place in today’s modern home.

‘Having overly formal living rooms where no one feels comfortable sitting down is impractical,’ says Martha. ‘It is better to create a welcoming and casual seating layout that encourages a relaxed and inviting atmosphere’. Think pleasant materials, welcoming colors, furniture that is durable and comfortable. Sara agrees and thinks that furniture that is too large can appear too formal and take over a space: ‘Avoid furniture that completely engulfs a living room and makes it impossible to navigate around,’ she says. 

The designer encourages us to keep a balance and reminds us not to let go of decorum completely in our journey to comfort: ‘Avoid too many blankets and pillows - it should be comfortable, but not sloppy. This isn’t your bedroom!’ Sara tells me.

4. Heavy drapes and curtains

Cream living room with sheer curtains

Lightweight drapery, like voiles, are preferred in living rooms by designers.

(Image credit: Image credit: Steven J Magner. Design: frenchCALIFORNIA)

Designers are searching for ways to create interiors that feel light and not overpowering. Window treatments are one of the ways to achieve that, by allowing as much natural light in as possible, and heavy hanging drapes with thick curtains just won’t do the trick.

‘Heavy drapes have the potential to make a room feel dated and can also block natural light,’ says Martha. ‘Opting for lighter, more breathable window treatments like sheer curtains or minimalist blinds offers a timeless alternative,’ advises the designer. You can still get creative and pick beautiful materials with interesting textures that will add a level of sophistication to the space in a more subtle way, and show you have a keen eye for detail.

Raluca Racasan
News writer

Raluca is Digital News Writer for Livingetc.com and passionate about all things interior and living beautifully. Coming from a background writing and styling shoots for fashion magazines such as Marie Claire Raluca’s love for design started at a very young age when her family’s favourite weekend activity was moving the furniture around the house ‘for fun’. Always happiest in creative environments in her spare time she loves designing mindful spaces and doing colour consultations. She finds the best inspiration in art, nature, and the way we live, and thinks that a home should serve our mental and emotional wellbeing as well as our lifestyle.