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5 Modern Living Rooms Designed for Ultimate Comfort and Style

Modern living rooms are a tricky balancing act where busy foot traffic meets the pursuit of style

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By House & Garden South Africa | March 6, 2024 | Living Room

Throughout the decades, House & Garden SA has published both traditional and modern living room ideas designed to stand the test of time. As a result, they’re proving you don't need to have a home built in the last century or be slavish to a palette of pale colours.

To create a modern living room you don't need to have a home built in the last century or be slavish to a palette of pale colours - the best modern living room ideas have a simplicity which is balanced by a dash of coziness, wit and character; meaning that old furniture, strong colours, layers of pattern and antiques are all very welcome to the party. Long gone are the days of stripping old houses of their original features - celebrate what your architecture has to offer and let it breathe. Restore and reinterpret is the mood we're championing right now. Here are some of our favourite modern living room ideas that are designed not to date.

Tap a Specific Mood and Stick to It

The homeowners wanted to build a home with enough space for their family, while also feeling like an old cottage, with intersecting roof lines and intentional quirks to the house. Styling by Brittany Albert. Photography by Nicole Franzen.

Within this lake house, the primary focus is to relax and entertain so there is a gorgeous bar right off the entry that overlooks the living room. The bar can easily seat 8 people so it has a dual function as an additional dining surface.

Optimize for Indoor-Outdoor Entertainment

The open-plan living area melds into a cohesive space that becomes enmeshed with the outdoor area. Photography Nikhil Tricam.

For designers Julia Rutherford and Nikhil Tricam, behind this Durban home, the idea was for a courtyard to be experienced as part of the common living area.

The clients are entertainers at heart and very social, so compartmentalised living was not ideal for them. We chose to open up the space completely, to have as permeable a façade on all the public areas which allows the canopy of the tree to form another spatial element. When all the glass doors are open, the kitchen, dining and living areas meld into this cohesive space with the tree as the central element. The wooden patio decks penetrate the space and you move across and under the tree as opposed to moving through the house from one space to another.'

Maximise Space With Multiple Seating Options

In the living room, sofa by Pierre Augustin Rose, custom made tables, Jorge Zalszupin chairs through Espasso, Crosby Street Studios carpet, Lawson-Fenning lamps and Mokum fabric for curtains through Holly Hunt. Photography by Nicole Franzen.

Offering views of nature through large windows, this Long Island home’s living room provides different seating options; ideal for a family. Among some of the interior designer’s favourite pieces in this space are the Brazilian lounge chairs by Jorge Zalszupin — “such a refined moment that helped guide the rest of the selections,” Fried describes.

Embrace Boldness and Colour

Embracing boldness in the colour and material palette of this Black Sea brutalist-bohemian home brings forth both harmony and contrast, as seen in the living room, where concrete-based terrazzo was used as a reference to ancient thermal spas. A mix and match of materials were used throughout the home, from green marble in the main bathroom to grids made out of metal on the staircase.

A contrast of styles in the living room with a striking B&B Italia armchair and pouffe alongside the more restrained Edra sofa on a Tapis Rouge rug. Photography by Sergey Krasyuk.

Balance Simplicity with Character

A home that is able to complement 19th-century collectables with trinkets and treasures while still reflecting a clean and minimalist style sounds confusing but also works in so many ways. Interior designer Juliette Spencer of Atelier RO had the difficult task of creating a harmonious space to suit two opposing design styles in order to create a comfortable home for a family of four.

Using what the family already owned, Juliette seamlessly merged these ideas into the living room while keeping its character intact.

This custom fireplace in interior designer, Juliette Spencer’s New York City apartment. Photograph: Tim Lenz