13 Living Room Design Trends for 2016 and How We Feel About Them



This year, 2016, is already setting itself up to be a year of good and awkward trends. Much like what is “in” in the fashion world, 1/2 of it’s hideous, 1/2 of it’s beautiful, and 1/2 of it only some people can pull off. Here’s what is trending now in the design world, and how I feel about it.


Chunky Low Furniture – A modern 1970’s interpretation. Here’s what happened: The 1950’s and 60’s were full of straight, streamlined and less loung-ey furniture, so the 70’s and 80’s had something to say about it, and thus entered in the boxy, round-y, low-ass sofas. The cycle repeated itself in the 90’s, 00’s, and now we are back to that. That’s not to say that mid-century is out, it never will be, but these chunky big sofas are in, too. And we’re into it. They are just begging for someone to sink in and crawl into a netflix-hole.


If a low boxy sofa on the ground isn’t really your vibe, and you’re needing a bit more height, then opt for something similar to the sofa in the below picture, which has some legs and adds a bit of height to the piece.


Longevity: As long as the piece is simple, in a good high-quality fabric, and is actually comfortable we can see this one sticking around for a long time. While there are some good rounded arm versions out there, if you are daring to take the risk I’d go for a boxier arm.


minimal design_living room_design trends_LOW CHUNKY FURNITURE


I will say that these sofa play best in large rooms. I could see how one of these in a smaller apartment, that feels cramped, could look dumb and generic. They also need to be elevated with beautiful things around it to make sure that they don’t look dumpy. So go for it, but be careful.




Modern Farmhouse: The Modern Farmhouse style has made this trend much more accessible to those of you that aren’t quite ready to throw an elk mount above your fireplace. This trend is all about mingling your more classic rustic pieces with your some of the more modern items you may already have. Think of it as a Clint Eastwood meets Bradley Cooper. Don’t go all “Little House On The Prairie” (be skeptical of too many ruffles and lace), as you might find yourself stuck in a time warp, but bringing in some aged leather club chairs, a nice plaid throw, old linens, and some great rustic accessories can really warm up your space . . . and heart.




Longevity: LONG. If you live in an urban setting (New York, SF and yes, even here in LA) make sure to mix it with urban style, too. This trend is certainly not new, but it is still very hot. I knew that this was one style that needed to be curated properly when I saw rustic wood clad walls in the food court of the Sacramento Airport. In other words, unless you really live in the country, make sure it’s not just Edison bulbs and deer horns.




Black: Like in the kitchen, black is back and popping up all over the living room scene. We get that a big black living room may not be for everyone, or for every room, but these darker hues instantly add drama to your space. If you aren’t ready to darken your room then bring in some black through accessories, furniture, and maybe an accent wall. If you can handle the drama.


black living room_design trend_moody_masculine_BLACK


black living room_design trend_moody_masculine_BLACK 1


Art Ledges: AKA the new gallery wall. Don’t run with that statement, as it might put us out of a job seeing as a handful of the images and links that pop up when one googles “gallery wall” are my photos of my old portfolio projects. But, for those of you that are intimidated by the work that goes into a gallery wall, these art ledges can be easier. You put them up once, then go to town.




Serious styling addicts can rearrange every week. Or day, like myself.


Longevity: As long as you don’t get sick of art, or styling, then these will stay looking fresh as long as you can keep them styled.


art ledge_loft_art_eclectic_boho_living room_ART LEDGE 1


Matte Brass: We love all metallics right now, but gold is having a more refined moment. Look for brushed, satin, or matte finishes.


Longevity: Long. Aged brass/silver/copper are always in style. The more fun, less expensive stuff you have less longevity with. While I love shiny brass, and am still installing some in houses as we speak, a good matte gold can take it down to another (good) level.


brass coffee table_minimal_modern_pink_living room design trends_matt brass_MATT METAL


Limewash Walls: We love this trend, and I have already adopted this into my own home. I did it in my new guest suite (that you haven’t seen yet) and it looks beautiful. It’s not trying to look old, but it is a texture that has movement, and brings a lot of depth into a space.


limewash_living room_paint treatment_LIMEWASH 1


We got ours at Portola Paints, but there are many different brands that make it. It’s all in the application, which can be a splurge, but once on the walls it is so pretty and warm.


Longevity: Long. Except that it’s so fragile (scuffs easily and hard to retouch), so I will have to keep you posted on how long it could actually last in a real life setting. Don’t get greedy and try to have a lot of texture on your walls – you want some, obviously but keep it subtle, so this is a great option.


limewash_living room_paint treatment_LIMEWASH


Two Toned Walls: We are still on the fence with this trend. In the right situation, and with the perfect set of complimenting colors (as seen below) it can totally work in a space. BUT – if not done right it could quickly look like you either live in a fun house, or were so indecisive, or trying so hard that you couldn’t quite figure out which color to choose so you just went with two. For this to really work, the space either needs to be filled with complementary colored furniture (as seen in the second pic), or a very neutral space that can really let the walls be the stars of the show.


minimal design_living room_design trends_orange_red_pink_MINIMAL


Longevity: Not sure. I don’t feel too confident about it, but it’s just paint so if you are up for it – GO FOR IT (and send us pics, please).


minimal design_living room_design trends_orange_red_pink_ACCENT WALL


Minimal Living Rooms: Minimal living has always been on trend with a certain sector of society, but when I, Emily Henderson, am found clearing my surfaces for a more minimal look then we know that it’s one that has pervaded the public. Yes, a well accessorized living room can be inviting, feel like home, and look amazing in photographs, but these sparse and open living rooms are making us want to toss it all and start fresh. Of course the trick to this working (not just functionally, but really gorgeous) is to make sure that everything you do have is absolutely perfect, unique and beautiful. No pressure.




Wood Platformed Furniture: A cross between zen and Scandinavian, the wood platformed furniture trend is big this year, and we are very into it. At least we love to look at it. This trend may not be for everyone, as some people do appreciate a big cushy sofa to really flop yourself down on at the end of the day (see #1), and tune into the Bachelor (which is happening right now). But for those of you who appreciate clean lines, simple forms, and a streamlined look this trend is for you and your living rooms.




Longevity: So long. It’s so simple that I can’t imagine it ever being OUT. Keep the wood higher quality so it looks high end, and not like plywood. Because as we explained in this post, we aren’t sure how long the plywood wall trend will last.


living room_modern_platform plywood_design trends_PLYWOOD 1


Also for you DIY-ers, this is a great one to make yourself. It’s just simple platforms and boxed cushions. Plus, it’s easy to make it look built-in and custom to the space. Look fancy, when you aren’t.




Channel Tufting: We were seeing this first in dining rooms, and it was hard to find a good living room shot, but you should be warned that vertical and horizontal channel tufting are coming soon to a store near you. At the Las Vegas Market we saw a few, and were shocked how much we liked them, which is a good indicator that it’s about to emerge publicly. Be on the right side of history (unless you hate it, then stick with normal tufts).




These people are cool.


Modular Sectionals: Yes. Five years ago I can’t say that I was into this, at all. But look at me now. Similar to the low chunky furniture trend, these guys are a bit more convertible than their sibling, as these pieces can be shaped into any configuration to really provide the best setup for you and your guests. You need a huge living room to do this right, but then you can hang the hell out of your living room, all night with your friends.




I fear that only in a photo does the below sectional look good (it looks so schlubby), but it’s still inviting.


Longevity: In the right space it has legs (yes, intended), but don’t buy a cheap one that will look like garbage in 6 months. Make sure the fabric feels/looks high end, so that it counteracts the casualness of the sofa.


low chunky furniture_grey sofa_modern_minimal_CHUNKY SOFA


Clustered Coffee Tables: For those of you with a bit more eclectic heart, the clustered coffee table trend might be right up your ally. We are both for, and against this. It works in a small space, when a large coffee table that takes up a lot of real estate may not be the best option, BUT, these clustered coffee tables when not curated well can very quickly start to look like a garage sale in your home.


Our rule is keep it simple, vary the heights, and they should have something in common (see the cluster in the modular trend photo above).


Coffee Table_Living Room Trends_Emily_Henderson_CLUSTERED COFFEE TABLE


Slipcovered Furniture (yes, a few elements of shabby chic are on the return): Can you see the over-arching trend going on? Casual and comfort are in. Slipcovers have come a long way since the 90’s, and we are very into the more modern adaptation of them.


A few tips for making slipcovers work: Keep the fabric in a washed linen or canvas, and try to steer clear of slipcovering a piece that has too many curves, as even a beautiful linen can’t overcome the original bones of a bad piece. Keep it modern, opting for boxed arms over curved arms.


Even Victoria of SFGIRLBYBAY is into slipcovered furniture, and she is, like, RUHL cool.


minimal design_living room_design trends_SLIPCOVERED SOFA


For a more refined look (this pic also combines so many of the trends above – modern country, minimalist, and maybe a lime-wash??).


Longevity: The right piece, with the right Belgian linen – FOREVER. Restoration Hardware does the best job in this category, and while they don’t make it cheap, they sure can be pretty.




What are your favorites? Any big surprises or any that you think I’m dead wrong about??? Do dish . . .


If you are craving some more of my color and trend predictions for this year head on over to check out these 90’s colors that have made a comeback in the design world, these kitchen trend predictions, and some of our color trend roundups.

*** Image Sources: Featured Image | Chunky Low: 1, 2 | Modern Farmhouse: 1, 2 | Black: 1, 2 | Art Ledges: 1, 2 | Matte Brass: 1 | Limewash Walls: 1, 2 | Two Toned Walls: 1, 2 | Minimal: 1 | Wood Platformed: 1, 2, 3 | Channel Tufting: 1 | Modular Sectionals: 1, 2 | Clustered Coffee Tables: 1 | Slipcovered: 1, 2

The post 13 Living Room Design Trends for 2016 and How We Feel About Them appeared first on Emily Henderson.


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