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53 Formal and Casual Living Rooms

Do you love a formal or casual living room? We can't decide either, but we hope our gallery of living room ideas will help you make up your mind.

Living room in luxury home with two columns

How do you use your living room space?  Depending on the size of the home and the number of rooms, a living room can have two different purposes.  In larger homes where there are two “living” room spaces, one is often considered the family room and the other, the living room.  In homes such as this, the living room is the more formal of the two.  It is often located toward the front of the home and is used to host family and friends in a more formal setting.  In smaller homes the living room is akin to the family room.  It is an informal space where TV is watched, homework is completed and games are played.

Due to the varying functions of a living room space, there are many things to consider when choosing furniture and decor.  In an informal living room it isn’t necessary to maintain the level of balance and symmetry found in more formal spaces.  You can have more fun with furniture, color and texture depending on your style preference.  Consider incorporating options for storage – storage ottoman, bookcases or built-ins – to contain the clutter than often accompanies a multi-purpose living space.  A living room that is the main gathering place for the home tends to collect the “stuff” of life and thus requires space for it to be hidden.  Whereas a formal living room is typically dedicated as a space for “grown-up” get-togethers.

In a formal living, adherence to symmetry is more important.  It is also a place where you can indulge in luxurious fabrics and upscale furnishings because they are less likely to be adversely affected by sticky fingers.  A formal living room is typically decorated with a focus on design rather than function.  Therefore, it often contains limited family pictures and sentimental decor.

The ideal approach when decorating both formal and informal living rooms is to choose furnishings and accessories that fit your personal style.  By incorporating your personal design aesthetic the space is more likely to be enjoyed and cherished as a valuable space for both friends and family. An experienced interior designer or contractor will be able to guide the process of remodeling if you are undertaking a large project. The following pictures provide lots of design inspiration to revamp your casual or formal living room.

shutterstock_328481156The simple artwork in this semi-formal living room ensures that homeowners and guests are not distracted by the beautiful view.

shutterstock_328393730A large sectional is ideal for large, open concept spaces such as this.

interior designA neural color palette can be interesting when time is taken to introduce a variation in textures and patterns, i.e. pillows, rug, and detailing on the furniture.

shutterstock_316056353In this mid-century modern space, the ceiling and rug mirror each other and create a designated seating area.

shutterstock_304798856The faux cowhide rug softens provides a soft place to place your feet in this casual living room.

shutterstock_304255139A large fireplace flanked by built-in bookcases provides an inviting backdrop to this casual living space.

shutterstock_301524692The key to making an eclectic space feel cohesive is to decorate with furniture and accents that contain similar details.

shutterstock_294183146This small, apartment living room contains loads of personality with its vibrant colors and interesting accents.

shutterstock_293351636Elements such as beautiful, wood-paneled ceilings can provide a decorative aesthetic that does not require additional ornamentation.

shutterstock_291149168White walls and a neutral color scheme make this living room feel much larger than it is.

shutterstock_286556099The beautiful, inset ceiling and coordinating chandeliers coordinate beautifully with the rich, jewel-toned accents in this formal living room.

shutterstock_281714666The offset position of the fireplace in this living room provides additional, built-in, storage space.

shutterstock_276731666The low, upholstered bench provides additional seating without blocking the view.

shutterstock_275112491The fur rug in this space contrasts well against the dark wood floors.

shutterstock_273784433This living room would be considered formal due to its use of symmetry in the furniture arrangement.

shutterstock_271634810The hard lines in this space are softened by soft, white drapery and richly, colored furniture.

shutterstock_268435445The starburst mirror in this space adds a mid-century touch to an otherwise traditional space.

shutterstock_266529137The vibrantly-colored accent pillows provide a pop of color and jumping off point for the color of the feature wall.

shutterstock_254541796The two, low profile chairs in this space separate the living room from the dining space without visually impeding the flow from room to room.

shutterstock_253848643A large, decorative mirror can help to reflect light throughout a space, making it feel larger and brighter.

shutterstock_251446864This exquisite, marble fireplace surround creates a striking focal point, without requiring additional ornamentation.

shutterstock_247337881A large sectional provides plenty of space for entertaining in an small living room.

interior designA comfortable couch requires lots of fluffy, accent pillows.  Accent pillows are also an excellent way to add color to a neutral space.

shutterstock_218349922When choosing an area rug, ensure that it is large enough to allow the front legs of the furniture to rest on it.

shutterstock_218168740The dark woodwork in this living room creates a cozy, welcoming atmosphere.

shutterstock_217685272Furniture should be purchased with thought to the size of the existing space.  The smaller the room, the smaller furniture scale should be.

shutterstock_208078285This living room effectively uses built-ins to provide more storage and seating space.

shutterstock_190083485The wall treatment in this space adds subtle texture and an interesting focal point without requiring the use of color.

shutterstock_187756247With the high ceilings of this living room, the graphic rug anchors the space and creates an effective seating area.

shutterstock_183560225The small scale and curved lines of the furniture are perfect for this tiny living room.

shutterstock_172159076The large, arc-shaped floor lamp provides adds a mid-century touch to this contemporary living room.

shutterstock_167897645White-on-white furniture and accents pair beautifully with the herringbone-patterned wood flooring.

shutterstock_166855799It is possible to combined varying patterns in one space when they contain similar color schemes.

shutterstock_164255705The concrete floors and ceiling in this large living room are softened by warm woods and textiles.

shutterstock_162312623Cohesive colors schemes in open-concept spaces aid in pulling the entire room together.

shutterstock_162029378A transparent, lucite coffee is like a beautiful piece of jewellery in a living room.

shutterstock_161253563To create the illusion of a large, picture window, hang the curtain rod close to the ceiling and allow enough space on either side of the window for the curtains to hang when open.

shutterstock_160071083As seen above, in certain furniture layouts it is important for the backside of a chair to be beautiful as well.

shutterstock_146144378To accommodate lots of seating in a small living room, select furniture with sleek, simple lines rather than large, overstuffed furniture.

shutterstock_138547391The soft, grey curtains in this living room soften the hard lines of the windows and provide some privacy from the outside.

shutterstock_118133251The wooden blocks in this  unique coffee table provide functional seating for guests.

shutterstock_160760765A round coffee table is ideal for small living because it is easier to walk around.

shutterstock_87739675While it may be considered a little more risky, blue couches and orange pillow pair perfectly together because they are complementary colors.

shutterstock_82403878A large sectional should have a coffee table of complimentary size to avoid creating a look that is unbalanced.

shutterstock_71664019This traditional living room is characterized by balance and symmetry in the furniture layout and accessories.

shutterstock_53883166Sometimes two rugs are better than one.  Consider layering area rugs to create a cozy, comfortable place to rest your feet.

shutterstock_41905762This unique rug provides an eclectic touch with a nod to the traditional.

shutterstock_40718815The black and white color scheme in this tiny living room keeps things simple and doesn’t overwhelm the space.

shutterstock_33768094While it can be pricey, a large area rug that follows the perimeter of a living room creates a canvas to layer furniture and accessories on.

shutterstock_27584023The eclectic mix of furniture and accessories in this space creates an interesting room meant for conversation.

shutterstock_16701628The sectional and decorative accents in this small living room introduce lots of personality into the space.

shutterstock_3448281Simple decor and neutral furnishings are ideal for small living rooms and for those who want clean up to be a breeze.

mountain house, interiorWhen the view outside is this spectacular, position the furniture accordingly to allow for an unobstructed view of the outdoors.