Don’t let the “new year, new you” mentality fool you: Trends might come and go, but the living room continues to be one of the most monumental areas of the home that is rivaled only by the kitchen. The high-trafficked space can offer a unique look into a person’s design aesthetic, but if you want to refresh your living room for 2023, here’s your sign it’s time to give the space a modern touch. Admittedly, a living room and the modern aesthetic don’t seem like a particularly compatible duo. As Cochineal Design principal and cofounder Sarah Sargeant points out, simply hearing about a modern living room might conjure a look that’s “sterile, austere, and one-note.” But in reality? Modern living rooms can deftly bridge the gap between welcoming and well appointed.

“For us, modern means it achieves lifestyle needs while also being minimal leaning,” she adds. “We believe mixing time periods, tones, and textures can achieve a current look.” In 2023, Sargeant says, the secret to achieving a modern living room is “taking environmental, ecological, and longevity factors into account.” In other words, using locally sourced materials, working with nearby vendors, and minimizing climate impacts by reusing and buying vintage will help your living room transition nicely into the new year.

However, even when you factor in those prerequisites, how to bring a dash of modernity to your living can feel like a tall order. To help, we’ve combed through the very best ELLE DECOR archives to find the sleek spaces that are brimming with inspiration. From statement-making light fixtures to intriguing layouts, think of the list below as your 2023 design bucket list.

1

TREASURE-FILLED LIVING ROOM

ishka design

Frank Frances Studio

Anyone can make a sleek living room appear warm and welcoming—all it takes are some thoughtful accessories. In this Brooklyn townhouse, Ishka Designs packed on the charm with intriguing ceramics and eye-catching artwork. The result? A living room that hits that sweet spot between luxe and lived-in.

2

SHAPE-SHIFTING LIVING ROOM

a living room has three windows, white walls, a fireplace with carved mantel and large mirror above, two armchairs, a lounge chair, two cocktail tables, a long green curved sofa, wall sconces, and artworks

Stephen Kent Johnson

Move over, boxy armchairs and rectangular sofas: Furniture with an atypical silhouette is a surefire way to give those living room essentials some visual intrigue. The design duo at Ashe Leandro spruced up a Park Avenue pad with a curvy lounge chair from Move Mountains as well as a bulbous custom sofa that’s upholstered in Rose Uniacke wool.

3

HEIGHT-DEFIANT LIVING ROOM

atraform studios beachwood canyon house

Yoshihiro Makino

If James Williams and Jonno Burden’s living room is any indication, the only way to go really is up. The duo accented their 30-foot-tall ceiling with two clusters of custom light pendants, drawing the eye upward and creating a light, airy space in the process.

4

MIRROR MARVEL LIVING ROOM

living room with birdcages hanging from a slanted beamed ceiling, fireplace on far wall with several straw mirrors, rattan chairs, rustic wooden cocktail table, striped aqua fabric sofa, navy rug with small red squares

Stephan Julliard

Want to dress up bare walls but traditional artwork feels overplayed? Consider dousing your space in decorative mirrors—just as Jacques Grange did in this Portuguese pad. Not only does this woven arrangement add some character to this spacious room, but the number of reflective spaces also helps bounce the light around just right.

5

TEXTURAL LIVING ROOM

cochineal jane street apartment

Joshua McHugh

Repeat after us: A neutral-tinged living room can be anything but boring. If you need any convincing, have a look at this relaxed space by Cochineal Design. Here, a rich array of light wood, cream bouclé upholstery, and high-contrast art offers a more nuanced take on the pared-back palette.

6

PLAID-PEPPERED LIVING ROOM

living room long shot with a white square design rug spanning the length of it and a rounded sofa against the right wall which is dark wood paneling and some cabinetry at the far end some behind glass and on the right a series of tall doors that open to the view

Stephen Kent Johnson

Another way to hit the refresh button on a neutral palette? Add a few patterns into the mix. In this downtown New York City home, a sea of browns, creams, and black is energized with a set of vintage chairs in a Sandra Jordan alpaca plaid.

7

HIP AND HANGING LIVING ROOM

seating area with a hanging chair with cushions, blue settee, glass coffee table with open book on it all in front of a modern fireplace with poufs in front of it and a large modern painting over it with blue swashes

Read Mckendree, from Workshop/APD Homes: Architecture, Interiors, and the Spaces Between, Rizzoli New York, 2022.

Take the phrase “sitting pretty” to a whole new level—literally—by incorporating a swinging seat. Design firm Workshop/APD made the most of this family residence by juxtaposing a hanging chair from Juniper Home and a low-slung, double-sided sofa. This power playing makes the living room appear even brighter and airier than it already is.

8

REPETITIVE LIVING ROOM

husband wife san remo apartment

Chris Mottalini

Why settle for one cocktail table and one couch when you can enjoy a few? The multiple furniture pieces in this Manhattan apartment give the living room an upscale, gallerylike atmosphere, while keeping it conducive to your and your guests’ needs.