7 Things People With Calming Living Rooms Always Have — What are You Missing?

What are the key components that elevate your living room into a calming retreat? We ask the designers who know best

A calming color scheme in a living room
(Image credit: Samartha Leigh)

Living rooms by their very definition should be calming and tranquil spaces. But as the heart of the home, these spaces have the propensity to unravel, turning into cluttered and often messy rooms, and messiness is never conducive to calm.

So how do we keep on top of the inevitable disorder and ensure they remain relaxing and peaceful? For inspiration, we've spoken to some of our favorite interior designers who have designed some of the world's most calming living rooms around. Here are their top takeaways.

1. Mixed natural textures

A living room with calming natural textures

(Image credit: Nicole Franzen. Design: Corinne Mathern)

Incorporating a mix of organic materials in your living room is key. Look outside your window and take inspiration from your surroundings for a natural living room that mirrors the textures and color scheme in nature.

This tactic brings an organic, grounding element to your living room, enhancing the space's connection to the natural world. 'Go for hammered iron, rustic stone, rich solid wood elements, sisal and wool layered rugs,' says Lindsay Gerber, founder and principal designer of Lindsay Gerber Interiors. 'Even beautiful branches from a tree on your property meaningfully warms up any space.'

In this design by the southern California designer, Corinne Mathern, the room owes its relaxing feel to the mixture of warm and natural materials used as decor. 'The mixture of clay, wood, linen, cotton on repeat makes me feel calm in a space,' says Corinne. 'The burled wood trend brings in an element of nature and grounds the space. The large-scale clay relief by Stan Bitters brings an earthiness to the home which is always calming.'

2. A calming color palette

A calm living room with green tones

(Image credit: Samanthan Leigh)

The most calming living rooms will always have a warm color scheme that relaxes and soothes. Pick colors that call to nature and avoid tones that feel austere or stark. Embrace off-whites that have warm undertones to elevate the space, like pale and plaster-like pinks that play with light to create a dewy and uplifting atmosphere.

'When creating a calming and serene atmosphere, we like to feature lighter colors in soothing blues, greens, ivories, beiges, and other pastels,' adds Victoria Holly, founder and principal of Victoria Holly Interiors.

'Really any color can be calming as long as the color is light and bright. But realistically, different people find different colors calming, so we like to make sure that we're tailoring calming colors to our clients. Usually, the eye perceives things as calming when it doesn't need to work a lot - which is why light and bright tones are relaxing.'

This living room designed by Samantha Leigh showcases the perfect calm color scheme. 'To create a calming space, we focused on a calm and textural base, through the use of tonal materials. Using a muted base then allows us to add visual interest through unique furniture and styling elements.' A focus on using natural and warm materials is also essential in bringing the color scheme together.

3. Luxurious fabrics

A textured living room with soft fabrics

(Image credit: Nicole Franzen. Design: Lindsay Gerber)

As well as the hard materials in your living room, consider how you layer your furniture with soft materials and fabrics. This creates a room that oozes calm and actively encourages you to curl up on the sofa.

If you want to foster the calming atmosphere, a quick trick is to invest in a simple throw to elegantly drape on your sofa's arm, or take on an easy DIY project like upholstering your ottoman. More texture only creates more softness in the space, and smoothes over sharp edges or hard finishes.

'Luxurious textural fabrics are a must,' says Lindsay. 'Utilizing luxurious textural fabrics in your cozy living room decor, from plush velvets to soft wools and cashmere, adds layers of comfort and warmth, creating a cozy, enveloping atmosphere.'

4. Discrete storage for minimal clutter

An uncluttered living room with accent chair

(Image credit: Chango & Co)

One strategy to make your home feel calm is to keep the space void of any mess and organized with the best storage solutions, or just utterly minimalist and lacking 'stuff'. 'Keeping a tidy space is essential for allowing a wave of calm to wash over you,' says Joshua Smith, principal and founder of Joshua Smith Interior Design. 'Utilizing furniture with compartments or tabletop trays to corral loose items like remotes and coasters is a quick and easy trick.'

Keep technology discreetly tucked away to maintain the room's tranquillity too. 'Consider integrating televisions within sliding doors, pop-up cabinetry, or even disguising them within mirrors or art screens,' says Rylie Fitzgerald.

'I used the Samsung ‘The Frame’ TV (available from Best Buy) in an open living space recently where we could select the art that was featured on the screen. This seamless blend of technology ensured the living space remained a haven of relaxation.'

5. Elegant drapery

A living room with soothing sheer drapes

(Image credit: Nicole Franzen. Design: Husband.wife)

Maximizing natural light in a living room can dramatically transform the space, making it feel airy and spacious while highlighting the beauty of materials. Selecting the perfect living room window treatment is one way to add that perfect finishing touch that feels calming and peaceful.

In the day, the way the natural daylight enters the room is shaped by the type of material you pick. If you choose a calming sheer, the light diffuses through the curtain almost like how it works with frosted glass. Alternatively, a heavier material can bring a luxe look to a snug space.

'Elegant drapery not only frames and softens the windows but also adds a layer of texture and sophistication to a living room, contributing to its overall sense of calm and luxury,' says Lindsay. 'The way these cashmere sheers filter and magnify the summer sunlight is truly gorgeous.'

I always like a floor-length look with curtains, and always remember to add more fabric than you need on either side to make sure it bunches together beautifully at either side of the window, framing your view perfectly.

Drapery is also about the hardware. Pick something that doesn't stand out too much and cause added visual clutter. Your rail might be an opportunity to incorporate a light wood to the scheme, or the subtly warming sheen of polished nickel could look smart.

6. Soft lighting

A living room with a corner floor lamp

(Image credit: Jonathan Hokklo. Design: Jessica Gersten Interiors)

Having the right living room lighting makes all the difference in the world when it comes to the feel of a room, so as well as the natural light, think about the artificial light that you use in the space. Consider a layered scheme that relies on multiple light sources instead of one dominating overhead lighting fixture. 'Soft lighting from floor and accent table lamps will help to create an ambient glow versus a harsh living room ceiling light,' says Joshua.

Illuminate your living room with soft ambient lighting to set a tranquil mood,' agrees Rylie. 'Opt for low-level lighting sources such as table lamps on side tables sideboards, or installed as wall sconces. The gentle glow of warm light, particularly when diffused through fabric shades, creates a soothing ambiance that encourages relaxation and unwinding.’

7. Embrace nature with decorative touches

A living room with natural decorative touches

(Image credit: Northside Studio. Design: Rylie Fitzgerald)

Nothing calms quite like nature, so incorporate biophilic elements in your living room to help create a tranquil mood. 'Harness the restorative power of nature by introducing the best houseplants,' suggests Rylie.

'I have a particular love for the textural foliage of the maidenhair fern plant that I placed behind the sofa in the sitting room (above), as well as the crawling potted plant on the coffee table.' These add effortless vitality to the interior and are a sustainable option rather than using a floral arrangement in a vase.

'We also styled the coffee table with an oversized crystal and my client connected with the calming essence of this natural object,' adds Rylie. These small natural objects are layers that add visual interest and foster a connection to the earth, promoting a sense of calm and wellbeing.

3 decorative additions to foster a calming vibe in your living room

Oonagh Turner
Livingetc content editor and design expert

Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.