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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

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6 years ago

I love the comfy sofa trend!! Sofas are for watching tv lying down as far as I’m concerned ☺…. another trend I’ve heard that’s coming our way (not lounge room related mind you) is stylists visiting Australia. Is it true? Please say yes!! And will you be visiting Western Australia?

6 years ago
Reply to  katie

Woohoooo WA!! Please say yes, Em! 😉

6 years ago
Reply to  Bek

WA! WA! WA! Yes Yes Yes!!!!
Surely three Western Australian clients is a good enough reason to venture to Perth!!!

6 years ago

I am astounded at how many times I see ‘complement’ spelled ‘compliment’ on design blogs! Great post. I’ve been itching to try the paint the bottom two thirds of the wall and leave the top white in my son’s room. Can’t wait to see the limewashed wall.

6 years ago

I have a pretty amazing blue velvet chesterfield that will NOT be amazing if it’s covered in baby vomit and snot streaks when we have kids. do you have any good (stylish) sources for slipcovers for chesterfields?? I’m a little hesitant to ask the sofa designer for fear they may be offended, but then again, they KNOW their sofas, so maybe it could open up a new market for them?? thoughts?

Cris S.
6 years ago
Reply to  jenn

Jenn – I’m on the hunt for a sofa that is more on the traditional side and yours sounds great. A “pretty amazing blue velvet chesterfield” could be exactly what I want. Do you mind letting me know where you found yours/had yours made? Thank you!

6 years ago
Reply to  Cris S.

Hi Chris,

Take a look at this one from Anthropologie:

Cris S.
6 years ago
Reply to  Stephanie

Stephanie – I never would have thought of them for this. Thank you!

6 years ago
Reply to  Cris S.

I’m not sure about the poster above, but I looked at several velvet chesterfields from Anthropologie. They have a large selection of colors in a couple different lengths and fabrics. Here’s a link to one of the velvet ones, I think the color sapphire is absolutely gorgeous:

Cris S.
6 years ago
Reply to  Dee

Dee – much appreciated! I’m so excited to get off my broke-down Craigslist sofa and into something grownup, comfortable and beautiful!

6 years ago

I think your image sources are off. I’m trying to find the website of the designer of that ‘modern farmhouse’ image, the one with the warm wood planked walls in the kitchen, but none of your image links go to it. Can you help?!

6 years ago
Reply to  Bethany

That is Jessica Helgerson’s Tiny House. I love her work! Emily featured her in a post a few weeks ago.

6 years ago
Reply to  Bethany

it’s jessica helgerson, pretty much everything she does is amazing. here’s the link to that kitchen:

6 years ago
Reply to  Bethany

It’s number 21.

6 years ago
Reply to  Bethany

They are definitely off. 22 shows the penultimate room; 21 shows the last one. There are 24 pictures but only 22 links.

Nat in Canada
6 years ago

Excellent round-up! I’m so curious about the limewash walls! I can’t wait to see how your guest suite turned out. Thanks Emily and co.!

6 years ago

Slipcovers bring me joy. Then again, I have a toddler, am planning on more babies (and their associated grossness), have pets (shedding, dear lord), and live in the country (MUD. so much mud.) Slipcovers are, honestly, the key to basic sanitation, and I will use them until our lifestyle is no longer quite so guaranteed to make filthy sofas.

I like the country-farmhouse look, but I also live in the country, in a farmhouse (only semi-literally: we moved last summer, so our chicken coop is planned for this coming summer, with the sheep the summer after that. The sheep are currently occupying the field at my in-law’s .) I’m perpetually puzzled by the pickling crocks used as vases, and that sort of thing. Like, sure, there’s a pickling crock on my kitchen counter… because it’s fermenting up some sourkraut. I certainly wouldn’t be putting modern furnishings in my living room – slipcovered couches, multiple bookcases full of books, a piano (my husband is a musician), and (lovely, cream-enameled) wood stove is where we’re at!

6 years ago

Thank you thank you Emily. I’m decorating my first place and your site has been so helpful. Thank you for taking the time to do daily posts about a wide variety of topics. There is something for everyone here and you’ve made design attainable for me. These trend report posts are my favorite!

Modern farmhouses are the homes that dreams are made of. Now I wanna go work on that farmhouse kitchen of my dreams.. does anyone know if Joanna Gaines is looking adopt a 26 year old son who likes to bake?

Josh | The Kentucky Gent

Kate Lim
6 years ago

I’m not very sure, how about trying to sign up as their babysitter first? *chuckles* slowly work your way in…go go!!

6 years ago

I am totally against the two-tone walls. The condo we just bought had two tone walls in every room and I would describe it to friends exactly as you did- as a fun house! I think it works in the pictures you showed because they are very sparse and midcentury in feel, so it’s almost as if you are on a movie set or something. But in real life, it would lack cohesion for me!


6 years ago

Great post. It’s always interesting to learn about new trends. That said, low furniture that swallows you up is sooooo impractical and not even comfortable. I love lying on my couch to a degree that is pathological, but good sofas should take a cue from good bras – structure and support are everything. I also occasionally entertain guests, some of them elderly, and want them to be able to sit down and stand up in my living room without unnecessary pain and awkwardness and without the use of a crane.

6 years ago

You may already have this planned, but please, please, please show us your limewashed guest suite with a how-to. I’ve been wanting to limewash my bedroom wall for some time but I feel so intimidated. You always make decor/styling projects seem so doable!

6 years ago

I love the comfy sofa trend too! I think it’s a lot more practical of an option for families who use their living room for everyday purposes!


6 years ago

I wish the images were labeled so it would be easier to connect them with the links.

I love black walls but worry that I don’t get enough light to keep it from looking cave-like. I know chunky furniture is in, but it is so not my jam. I don’t need full MCM, but I do like things a bit less full. I also hate slipcovers, even though I am currently using one because it’s better than looking at the green and white checks on my inherited sofa. 🙂 Modern farmhouse is a look I appreciate for others (which is why I love Joanna Gaines), but it’s not for me.

I’m starting to feel like maybe I’m hopelessly out of it.

6 years ago
Reply to  Lori

I will say, though, that picture ledges might be just the thing above my couch. I wanted to do a gallery wall, but I love art and want to be able to rotate pieces.

Kate Lim
6 years ago
Reply to  Lori

Might try modern farmhouse with more MCM or contemporary in it if I move to a bigger space or house. 🙂

6 years ago

I’ll take a Clint Eastwood meets Bradley Cooper, please. To go, please!

6 years ago

I LOVE this post, thank you Emily! Right before I read this post, I was actually just at west elm and surprised to see that chanel look in a chair: I didn’t love it in person, but it is a softer look that I think many will like.

Another “trend” is a move towards white/cream walls. I think people are getting sick of gray and are realizing that things can really stand out against white or another non-gray color.

6 years ago

Love that comfy sofas are back. I love mid century but sometimes you just want a sofa you can sink into at the end of the day.

6 years ago

I love the picture ledges and the cluster of coffee tables. The ledges I will definitely attempt; I’m less sure I could pull off the coffee tables.

The two-toned and black are intriguing but not something I see doing in our home.

Another Emily
6 years ago

So, I don’t normally make sassy comments because obviously style is subjective buuut that bright pink “channel tufted” bench definitely looks like an intestine.
Think The Magic School Bus meets Blue Velvet.

6 years ago

I really want some dining chairs like those in the modern farmhouse picture. Any good affordable sources for them?

6 years ago
Reply to  Sarah

There are some similar chairs to one style here:, but these guys will build you a chair in any wood you want from a picture.

6 years ago

Insert me there, their, and oh yeah there.

6 years ago

I am definitely into comfy sofas, but I really can’t stand the one in that first photo! It looks like contemporary style in a very bad way to me. Same with the modular chunky sectionals. They all look like they only belong in family rooms where the kids have friends over.

I am with you on the other trends though, especially the matte brass. Thanks for the post!

6 years ago

This post was amazing! Thank you! So much info. So much pinning. So many photos sent to husband 😉

6 years ago

I’ve had an art ledge for a while, and I absolutely love it. It allows me to change out art & tchotchkes without massive holes everywhere. I have had two-toned walls for years and, while it’s okay, I’m trying to drum up the energy to pick one color and stick with it. In the meantime, I’ll tolerate it. I do not recommend it.

6 years ago

I can’t wait to see your guest room as I’m very intrigued by the limewash. Is it possible it veers into a ‘faux finished’ paint job?

6 years ago

thanks, em! i gotta say – these are fab. through them in the washing machine about every other week or so. they just get softer and better.

6 years ago

I love coming here to get ideas…the latest and greatest and today while looking for sofa inspiration, I particularly enjoyed the comment section of this post!

I want a comfy sofa!

6 years ago

I love those puffy, square-armed sofas. I’d love to get one for our living room, but don’t know where to look. How do you suggest doing a search for those? I don’t even know what to call them (?).

6 years ago

So we just took the feet off of our sofa. After reading this I was ready to be done with all the lost toys and shoes that slip under there. I think it looks really good, kinda like the sofas I’ve been lusting after ever since our trip to Europe 4 years ago. I’m psyched to know I will not need to clean under the sofa ever again. Thanks Emily!!

6 years ago

Mix and Chic: Guest post- Kitchen Remodeling Trends for 2016!

6 years ago

I also love these trend posts, because unlike most out there you give your actual opinion with some history and context… not just “this is cool now… ” Your analysis is appreciated!!

6 years ago

Not sure that anything will ever replace my love of a gallery wall, but the art ledges are pretty incredible. Definitely one of my favorite trends that I have seen this year. I thank you for introducing me to the limewash wall idea. Love that as well.


6 years ago – Watch and learn animation.

6 years ago

wow ;;;;;

6 years ago

very good

6 years ago

great content

6 years ago

good content

6 years ago

Very keen to see and hear more about the limewash, it would be perfect for our massive master bedroom wall I’ve no idea what to do with.

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