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Formal Living Room Decor Ideas

When you think of formal living rooms, do you think of the Victorian rooms of old, with the extravagant curtains, gigantic furniture, and ostentatious wall colors? While that is a valid design style that is still practiced today, formal living rooms can go so far beyond that vision. From modern to traditional, from classic to eclectic, there are so many fun ways to create a formal living room that fits your design style and needs. Keep reading for our design tips and tricks for creating your perfect formal living room!

Traditional Elevation - Formal Living Room Decor Ideas

Traditional Elevation

Since leather is naturally a more expensive material, using it in a bold sofa is an easy way to elevate the room. However, if you want your living room to look both elevated AND traditional, look for furniture that has tufting in it as well. Not only can your room look elevated with a formal living room sofa like this one, but incorporating a rug with a traditional pattern can also add to the traditional feel of your room.

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Golden Idea

One way to make your living room feel classy without making it feel gaudy is to be very strategic with gold. This formal living room utilizes gold sparingly with the mirror and table legs, as well as the gold-colored flowers and the rug that has gold sprinkled throughout it. To make your room feel elevated, try using gold sparingly and intentionally as accents to an overall neutral color scheme.

Golden Idea - Formal Living Room Decor Ideas
Surprisingly Neutral - Formal Living Room Decor Ideas

Surprisingly Neutral

This room feels very formal because of both its minimalism and its intentionality with accent pieces. To accomplish a similarly formal feel in your room, take advantage of a neutral color pallet in the furniture, curtains, and rug. Then, add in some subtle surprising additions with the accessories. Whether you use items like the books on the coffee table or the glass vase on the side table, there are many ways to add in subtle accents in a neutral room to elevate the scene.

Start With One

Choosing one piece to design a room around can make the design process infinitely easier. You can start off with the rug, as this room did. This rug with its red, orange, and tan colors inspires the entire color scheme and design of the room. Just as the flowers sine through in the rug, you can see them present in the artwork behind the sofa. In your room, try to find a piece that you love (rug, sofa, curtains, etc) and design your room around that piece's tone and color scheme to create a cohesive, formal room.

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Start With One - Formal Living Room Decor Ideas
Unique Walls - Formal Living Room Decor Ideas


Daring to have a room with so much white in it gives off a clear vibe that this room is more formal. This is not a room where you would want your children running around with their crayons and orange juice, that's for sure! To establish a formal room like this, it is quite simply: you can incorporate a lot of white in the walls, furniture, and accessories to create a formal feel.

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Having a unique wall texture is an immediate way to set the tone for a room. In this case, having a moody, textured blue wall paired with the blue rug and blue accents on the sofa bring about a serene, formal setting. In your home, consider incorporating a unique wall texture or wallpaper, and then build off of that by incorporating different shades of that same color in the decor and accents. Use miscellaneous decorations sparingly to ensure that your room feels sleek and sophisticated.

For more decor tips, check out our Blue Living Room Decor Ideas

Wonderous Whites - Formal Living Room Decor Ideas

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Advocate for Architecture - Formal Living Room Decor Ideas

Advocate for Architecture

If you have neat architecture in your living room, let it shine! This room's clear architectural focal point is the large set of doors and traditional window above it. Then, this room utilizes a color scheme to fit with that door by incorporating tans and light, natural materials in the room. However, not everyone has a set of doors just like this. Focus on the architectural details you DO have-- perhaps its French doors, or panels, or high ceilings. Allow those architectural details to guide and influence how you adorn your room.

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Dark and Moody

Creating a dark and moody color scheme is yet another way to make a room feel classy. As mentioned early, a tufted leather sofa is a great way to add that formal feel, but this room goes beyond that by incorporating the gray/blue walls, pillows, and rug. Not only can you use the same color scheme, but another tip is to add in natural elements, like the sofa table and that gorgeous side table. Adding those elements will definitely add to the moody feel of your room, as well as compliment the natural leather sofa.

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Dark and Moody - Formal Living Room Design Tips
Repeat Yourself - Large Living Room Design Ideas

Traditionally Modern

Formal doesn't have to mean "stuffy." This room is a perfect blend of modern and traditional. To combine those styles in your living room, lean into elements of traditional style--the curved swirls in the mirror, side table and chair legs. Then, consider adding modern formal living room furniture pieces like the sofa with its straight, clean cut lines, and the side table with its bold, contemporary shape. However, like this picture, make sure that you do have unifying factors, like the sofa & chair fabric, and the use of metal in the side table and the mirror.

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Nature Theme - Formal Living Room Design Tips


This formal, modern room is all cohesive for many reasons, but the big one that you can take away from this living room is the use of shapes. Allow your eye to travel from the dark, grounding rug upward, and you'll see the strategic use of lines and shapes in everything. From rugs, to pillows, to that stunning mirror, and then even to the lamps and their stands, this room is an intentional geometric blend. To establish this soft of formal, classy blend of patterns and shapes, be sure to establish a set color scheme, such as the black, gold, gray, and white shown in this living room.

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As stated previously, using neutral tones is a good way to establish the tone of a room. One lesson you can take from this room is that neutral tones and themes can easily go hand in hand. This room has a rug filled with earth tones and creates a nature theme with the tree limbs on the table, logs in the fireplace, and the ostrich above it. In your formal living room, try to base your design off a neutral color palette and then incorporate a few accent pieces that add to a theme you like.

Shapes & Color - Formal Living Room Design Tips
Collective Curves - Stunning Formal Living Room Ideas


Another way to create a lavish, formal tone in the living room is by placing all your furniture and accents strategically. There's a lot of symmetry in this room: the curtains, the pillows, and the two chairs side by side act as nice parallels to one another. However, don't let symmetry dominate your room! Add in a sense of whimsy with a few items that don't line up with something else, like the blanket on the sofa, blue pillow on the ground, and the single side table at the end of the sofa.


Incorporating lavish, curved furniture is one easy way to instantly elevate a room. However, the sofa isn't the only piece that makes this room successful. When working with curves in your living room, incorporate that softness in other areas of the room too. This living room incorporated it in the large, blue ottoman, the mirror, the lampshade, and other small pieces around the room. You can do the same with those exact pieces of furniture, or you can stray into more creative territory by using curves in other fun ways. Rugs, artwork, coffee tables, and so many more accents can easily highlight the regal feeling created by the sofa and cement that formal feel.

Symmetry - Stunning Formal Living Room Ideas
Bronze Accents - Stunning Formal Living Room Ideas

Bronze Accents

This living room, aside from the bright rug and surprising pop of color in the side chair, does something else to effectively establish a formal tone: using bronzed metal throughout the room. Using metals is a great way to create a formal mood in the room, but when you do, make sure that you use it subtly and intentionally. If you have bronze accents, don't place them side by side. Follow this room's example by using it in elements like the coffee table, chandelier, picture frames, and curtain rods. Spreading these details out is an excellent way to subtly establish the room's tone.

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Marvelous Marble

The natural textures in this room immediately establish a formal feel by being consistent and intentional. The marble fireplace is stunning in and of itself, but the living room maintains that tone by incorporating similar shapes and lines throughout the room. The fireplace has a triangular pattern, as do the pillows, rug, and even the wood floor beneath. If you have a fireplace that has clear design patterns like this one, try to incorporate that element into the rest of the decor to support the formal tone set by the fireplace pattern.

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Marvelous Marble - Formal Living Room Decorating Ideas
Puddling Curtains - Formal Living Room Decorating Tips


One obvious way to establish a formal feel is by being selective with the lighting fixtures you choose. The room doesn't clutter itself with much task lighting, because the task of this room is to be a formal discussion area by the fire. If you have a large room like this and don't want lamps lying around everywhere, consider accessorizing the way that this room does by including a large chandelier up top and candles by the fireplace. Another smart idea is to incorporate white walls, which reflects light and will make the room appear brighter. Aside from the wall colors, you can also include a mirror or two to brighten up the room and reflect more light back into it.

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Another simple way that you can create a formal living room is by decorating with curtains that puddle on the floor. Don't let them puddle too much, or it'll look crumpled and unintentional on the floor. One other effective window treatment you can do is to have two sets of curtains: one colored set of curtains on the sides, and a transparent, translucent veil to cover the window. Doing this will give your room an air of privacy, but at the same time, it'll help your room feel less confined and stuffy.

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Lights, Camera...Gorgeous - Formal Living Room Decorating Tips

Calm, Cool, And Collections  - Formal Living Room Decorating Tips

Calm, Cool, And Collections

This traditional formal living room once again works with a natural color pallette, but it's true class is brought in through the build ins. The shelves to the left hand side are clearly unified in their collection and even though they're full, they don't feel cluttered. If you have built in shelves in your living room, fill them with a collection of items that is uniform in size, color, and arrangement so that it feels neat and tidy. Keeping a neat set like that allows not only the collection to shine, but it will also bring out any neat architectural details of your shelf and any nearby features in the room.

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California Modern Formal  - Formal Living Room Decor Ideas

Boho Formal

This boho living room strikes a formal feel with its use of material and textures. To accomplish this feel in your living room, work with simple furniture, and then add in texture in other areas, like a rug, pillows, and bamboo/wood baskets. Boho can be known for being eclectic, but when it comes to a formal living room that has more of an understated tone like this one, focus in on the natural textures and colors instead of eclectic decor to keep the room feeling simple and classic.

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California Modern Formal

Formal living rooms can fit into specific design styles as well. Use a California modern design in your living room by incorporating a sleek wood wall like this one, and then accentuate that style by incorporating wood in other areas like side tables and chairs. Don't feel like you need all the furniture to be identical; utilize the techniques seen here with three different side tables that all have the same wood and metal but different heights and leg styles. California style thrives on having a dramatic element or two as well as using earth tones, so combine those two aspects to create a natural focal point with a wood wall.

Boho Formal - Formal Living Room Ideas

Eclectic Formal - Formal Living Room Decorating Tips

Eclectic Formal

You can create a very elevated room even with an eclectic style, as long as you choose items that work well with one another. In this case, the room is filled with items that appeared to have been collected over time, since nothing is part of a matching set. However, when you assemble your collection, make sure they do have some common elements. The side table, coffee table, and fireplace heare all have a white, marbled look to them, and the furniture and decor has natural browns and golds that make them feel unified. And like this living room, you can have your art on display in a unique way by setting them on the floor. This is simple, unique way to display classy portraits and art is a way to stand out in a world where art is typically hung on the walls.

Harmonious Hues - Large Living Room Decorating Tips

Harmonious Hues

For a cozy feeling in a large space, be sure to use details to create an oasis that's inviting and soothing. Here, soft shades of blue move from rug to pillow and throw to artwork, framing an overstuffed loveseat that entices you to sink into the softness. Use a linear pattern such as the fish print in the rug to create a literal path to comfort. Placing it slightly off-center keeps things casual.

Earthy and Organic

Organic decor focuses on natural fibers, colors, and textures. Create an organic seating area by choosing a natural sisal or jute rug with a woven pattern, then build on it with pale neutrals such as a wicker couch and seagrass candle lanterns. Add colors drawn from nature as accents, such as these throw pillows in the pastes tints of a sunset. Add lots of plants in natural pots of terra cotta and stone to complete the organic feel and liven the space with varying shades of green.

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Vintage Inspired Living Room Decor Ideas

Boho and Bold - Large Living Room Decorating Tips

Boho and Bold

Boho decor is ideal for larger spaces. To get the look, don't hesitate to pile on the colors and patterns. This room pulls from rich autumnal shades of gold, green, pumpkin, and chocolate. In Boho decor, more is more. They key to success in a large living room is using large-scale furniture like this oversized sofa and bold prints such as the alternating stripes in the rug and throw pillows. Add natural features like the rattan peacock chair and kiln-fired pottery massed with lots of tropical plants. Any door can become a design element when you paint it in bright colors against white walls.

Fabulous Focal Points

Focal points are visual points of interest that stand out as something special. In formal sitting rooms, your fireplace can easily act as that focal point and define the tone of the entire room. Along with that, your focal point can guide you through designing the rest of the room with similarly styled accents and furniture. It can even help you choose what colors to incorporate in your room's furniture, rugs, and wall art.

Decorative Details

When adding decorations and accents to your formal living room, you may be wondering how to pair different accents together and create a focused design. This formal living room creates a classy scheme by limiting the accent Colors. Dark black hues are prominent in the mirrors, fireplace, and piano, but rich wood tones also make appearances in the furniture. Finally, blue adds levity through the sofa and nearby accents. Let this room serve as inspiration of how to decorate a very focused and classic formal living room.

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Mid Century Class

Mid century modern style highlights different shades of wood and artistic details as the key points of interest in their designs. This room's architecture has a huge part in defining that aesthetic, but the room would be nothing without the complementary decor in the build-in shelf, the luxurious brown seats, and the other intentional accents. Architecture is a great guide for designing a formal living room, but never underestimate the power of other decorations and furniture.

DTR (Defining The Room)

Medium and large area rugs are commonly used to establish your living room's main seating area and create a comfortable conversation space. Centering the rug within that main area and having it line up intentionally with a sectional or seats can create a very balanced space. Plus, since living room area rugs are so diverse in their shapes, sizes, and designs, you can choose a highly modern abstract rug like this or a more classic oriental rug. The possibilities are truly endless.


Vibrant reds can define your formal living room as feeling more contemporary or romantic. The velvet red loveseats shown in this small formal living room create a dramatic impression against the black and white backdrop of the room. You may be intimidated by bright colors, but they create such a big impact on the design and tone of large and small living rooms alike.

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Marvelously Modern

Modern and contemporary formal living rooms shine because of what's in the room as much as what's not there. By keeping your design simple and limiting the number of accents, patterns, and colors, you can create a very sleek and streamlined modern space.

Subtle Details

The subtle details of your room's furniture, decor, and accents go a long way in creating a cohesive space. In this transitional living room, similar textures appear in various areas of the room. The soothing strips of the grey chairs carries over to the textured wood in the build-ins. Similarly, the pillows have a design that connects to the rug's dimensional pattern. No matter what size or style your formal living room falls into, look for subtle details and similarities that can recur throughout the room.

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Mantle Decor

Since fireplaces are often the focal point of formal living rooms, you can further emphasize that area with bold mantle decor. This transitional modern living room highlights larger pieces of decor on the mantle, which is a great idea to balance the room's arched ceiling. Artwork, sculptures, books, and bowls are just a few of the decorations shown here. You can use similar decor to decorate your mantle, a side table, or a coffee table.

Bold Choices

Many of today's homes use lighter colors to create more airy and ethereal living rooms. However, as you can see by this room, dark paint colors can work wonders in creating a moody elegant room. In history, purple has been a color to represent royalty and those of high standing. It makes perfect sense that this color would still carry an elegant tone in today's world.

The Case For Curtains

Many people are unsure of whether to use curtains in their formal living rooms or not. After all, curtains may block natural lighting and negatively impact the tone of the room. However, if you are looking to create a more moody formal living room, consider how long draping curtains with elegant patterns can actually further define your room's ideal tone. Sheer curtains are also available to add that texture and dimension without blocking much natural light. With these two examples, you can see the potential of living room curtains in fitting your room's aesthetic and tone.

Modern Formal

Modern and contemporary homes often use low profile seats that are closer to the floor. When you do that in a formal living room, you are better able to highlight tall elements in the room. While this room takes advantage of the window wall and tall built ins, you could complement this low profile furniture with tall plants, large fireplaces, and gorgeous low-hanging lights.


Stripes are commonly seen and used in a variety of interior design styles.. Using stripes in your formal living room is a great way to include a timeless pattern that still fits your particular scheme. Striped rugs range from contemporary tapestries like this to country farmhouse and fit into many styles that fall between these two extremes.

Large Rugs

Large area rugs are well suited to fill the majority of a living room and create a very comfortable space. When choosing a layout for your large living room rug, consider if it should be centered with the main seating area, the room itself, or something entirely different. That decision with layout will help you choose the proper rug size for your elegant living space.

As you can see, there are so many different ways to design your formal space. Changing up your walls, your furniture, and your accents are all great starting points to creating the formal living room of your dreams. At the end of the day though, remember that this room is for YOU. Use colors, furniture, and accents that you enjoy, and your joy will transfer to anyone who comes to visit. Fit it into a design style that suits you and your personality without compromising the tone of the room. The sky's the limit with design, so enjoy the process and the results, and your guests will as well.


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