Will a neutral living room ever go out of style? Never. Despite a colour-free palette, the possibilities for neutral living rooms are endless. Layering, hero furniture pieces, textures… And the design world agrees. Explore these neutral living room ideas from the world’s best designers.
Layered neutrals, comfortable, modern furniture, historical details – French designer Stephane Coutas nails the Parisian living room look with one fell swoop. The space’s intricate ceiling mouldings, decorative mirror and marble fireplace act as the perfect backdrop for a contemporary furniture collection – complete with an enormous grey sectional and modern artwork – which schools in the less-is-more mentality.
“Texture is essential when creating a neutral space”, says Natalia Miyar, “It is very easy for a room to become beige and one-dimensional on the quest for neutral. Layered fabrics, exquisite finishes, beautifully crafted objects and wall coverings are used to create depth.
That is why layering of materials to craft unique combinations is so important – it creates a space you want to immerse yourself in.” Natalia walks the walk in her “Relaxed” project with layer upon layer of neutral tones and understated textiles from casual checks to tactile striped drapes (chicly wrinkled, of course).
Image Credit: Carlyle Designs/Photography by Sigurjon Gudjonsson
Knowing what a space needs is the sign of a great designer and sometimes that means elegant simplicity so as to not fight with its environment, which is exactly what principal Jordan Carlyle of Carlyle Designs knows. This New York pad’s luxurious grey and cream living room furniture, views and intimate furniture arrangement make us want to move to NYC right now.
“We were inspired by the scenic vista of Central Park and surrounding buildings. We didn’t want to distract from any of the views, but rather complement them and create elegant settings with soothing color palettes and spaces that felt inviting and tactile,” the designer explains of this Baccarat duplex.
“Our clients were extremely stylish and very much on the forefront of the fashion world so their residence had to be just as chic! The overall project has a modern elegance that washes over each area and highlights the Art Deco inspired furnishings, lavish sheer drapery panels and vintage lighting. The custom imported area rug drapes the living room that makes it ever so alluring to enter each time and reflect off their double height 25-foot antiqued mirrored wall.”
Image Credit: Staffan Tollgård
“When we plan neutral schemes like this we make sure that there a few hero pieces,” says designer Staffan Tollgård of this neutral living room, “In this room it’s the collection of jewel-like pendants that draw the eye upwards and outwards ending with the view beyond.” Which is classic line play on the part of the designer.
The harmonious space balances the grounding horizontal lines of the “enormous” sofa (full of varying sized cushions for interest) with a directional light installation which encourages one to look up – a subtle balancing act which results in a less-than-boring space. “Neutral doesn’t mean we don’t pay attention to each ingredient,” Staffan sagely reveals.
In true minimalist style, David Hicks makes use of the highly modern bones of this Melbourne penthouse (the mirrored column does it) by dressing it with neutral upholstery, including a grey tuxedo sofa and white Platner chairs, and a soft grey rug. The home is accented with colourful art which pops against a colour-free background.
Image Credit: A-List Interiors/Photography by Marco Ricca
Working that new timeless grey woods and tonal living room colour palette combination, A-List Interiors crafts a minimalist neutral living room which focuses on the very basic elements of the furniture chosen (including a set of capacious tub chairs) instead of colour. The team explains, “Rich textured fabrics, interesting shapes and dressmaker details are key elements when using a neutral color palette in a room. It is also essential to have some contrast to ground the space.”
David Hicks mimics the colour palette of this Port Melbourne apartment’s expansive vista with a hazy grey and cream colour design. Upholstery textiles are plain, not patterned, walls are relatively unadorned and visual pattern is brought in via a graphic rug. Through careful design choices, the room appears to blend into its surroundings.
Image Credit: Celine Estates
Combining a Marc de Berny “Kokoon” sofa and curved armchairs with a modern chandelier and barely there coffee tables, Celine Estates gives this Kensington living room a understated Parisian vibe. The design studio created the look using modern neutrals like taupe and ivory to accent the natural neutral tones of the room’s walnut cabinetry.
Stephane Coutas also opted for a neutral colour scheme in this South of France living room. (A colourless palette is a popular one for hot coastal locales because of its physical and psychological cooling connotations.) The designer furnished the blank canvas with flowing ivory drapes, a geometric rug, an elongated marble coffee table and brought some of her city style to the project with two tailored curved sofas and a gallery of framed Fornasetti plates.
Image Credit: San Francisco Decorator Showcase
2017’s San Francisco Decorator Showcase featured this tranquil living room by Catherine Kwong. The designer explains that her goal was to create an elemental and quietly romantic space, “layered and rich in meaning”. The designer chose a cocktail of pale woods to highlight the neutrality of the natural material and offering a refined organic look. A Nakashima coffee table and corner sofa upholstered in a classic seafoam green are the subtle stars of the space.
Image Credit: Bennett Leifer/Photography: Marco Ricca
Only a talent like Bennett Leifer’s could make neutrals feel both timeless and bang-on-trend. In his 50 United Nations Plaza model apartment, the designer crafts a well-composed symphony of neutral shades in a carefully thought-out living-cum-dining arrangement.
The designer approached the urban design with refreshing white walls and contemporary upholstery shapes by Poliform, accented by barely-there lighting (including Apparatus’ Highwire creation) and clean-lined tables. A kaleidoscopic digital print artwork by Natural Curiosities hangs above the sofa to emphasise, by contrast, neutrality of the space. The room’s harmonious furniture arrangement reaffirms the serenity of its palette – one of neutral’s most redeeming qualities.
“I designed this apartment with the lifestyle of the client in mind, keeping the environment a neutral and flexible palette. The concept was to create a space that is understated and chic on its own accord, while allowing important events and colourful memories to punctuate the space with new life and sensations each time. A well-done neutral room is one you can feel sophisticated in by yourself on a casual Sunday morning, but lends itself well to any variety of flowers, guests’ fashions and time of day.”
Image Credit: Birgit Klein
LA, New York and London designer Birgit Klein offers modernity to tradition with this contemporary seating situation. A U-shaped sofa, full-size rug and barely-there drapes in a unified beige-grey hue (a chic modern technique) accent the space’s fine neoclassical bones. Wooden flooring and paned doors and fan lights are modernised in black, contrasting against the room’s stone accent wall. Minimalist accessorising completes the look.
Image Credit: Gilles & Boissier
Three key points about this airy living room (above): it was designed by French duo Gilles & Boissier; it was the home of late Joseph founder Joseph Ettedgui; and, this year, it’s ten years old. Yes, you read that correctly. Ten years. Talk about anti-aging. In true Gilles & Boissier style, it’s as on-trend now as it was a decade ago thanks to sandy upholstery, a careful use of accessories and monochrome artwork. The poster child for timeless design to say the least.
Discover the rest of this chic residence in The Fundamentals of a Timeless Interior with commentary from Dorothée Boissier.
Image Credit: DBOX for CIM Group and Macklowe Properties
Usually neighbours are a bane but, when your neighbours are the clouds, you can feel confident in embracing them. Kelly Behun’s living room design – found in the highest completed penthouse in New York City in the storied 432 Park Avenue development – reflects a celestial approach.
Renowned for her no-colour-allowed interiors (although, she has been known to paint an entire room in electric blue gloss with a gold-leafed ceiling), the designer capitalises on the space’s near-luminous light with an oversized modern sofa in a chic milky white, sheer drapes and an Art Deco accent wall with stepped fireplace and elegant wall sconces. Heaven just got a zip code.
Thanks to their ability to pair perfectly with any and all colours, the power of neutrals is unlike any other. Their inherent ease make neutral walls the smartest solution for spaces which need to be liveable, whilst their versatility render them a suitable canvas for pops of colour. In her newest London project, Natalia Miyar dresses up a neutral space with gestural artwork, edgy accessories and key soft furnishings in acid yellow, blush pinks and petrol blue. The space feels daring without risking being too trendy.
Image Credit: Landmass London
COLOUR SCHEME 16: Sophisticated Neutral Living Room
A classic yet contemporary neutral space, this Landmass London living room pairs a controlled neutral palette with a minimalist mirrored coffee table, Arteriors’ brass Zanadoo pendant and Tom Dixon accessories. A pale grey tuxedo sofa with channel tufting covers the timeless and on-trend style criteria. A sharp matte black fireplace draws focus to the room’s contemporary sensibility.
A living room which speaks of sunnier climes than its Lincoln Park, Chicago locale, Wendy Labrum’s breezy design schools in matters of casual elegance. The ease of the loose covers of its matching cream sofas complements their chic silhouettes, its folky armchairs are updated with neutral seat pads and its formal positioning arranged around the fireplace is grounded by a maze sisal rug and natural accents. A smartly rethought a cream and brown living room ideas. Channel its laid-back vibe with our Rustic Chic edit.