Common wisdom used to declare the kitchen the hub of the house. These days, the living room seems to have assumed the role of domestic focal point. Unlike the Victorian parlor, stiffly furnished and reserved for guests, today’s living room is a central place for reading, conversation and, well, living, with furnishings that lend themselves to both casual lounging and elegant entertaining.
A living room that doesn’t double as a family or TV room is a luxury. But even if the electronics are elsewhere, this is a hard-working, well-used space. Cases in point: the 11 splendid interiors spotlighted here, all by designers in 1stdibs’ directory of distinctive firms. Take a look.
Grand proportions and elaborate plasterwork give a space gravitas, to be sure, but London-based architect/designer Rabih Hage didn’t let these features dictate his choice of furnishings and artwork for the historic row house in West Kensington of his forward-thinking clients. Aiming for “a general mood of relaxed, timeless luxury,” Hage added to the homeowners’ existing pieces unique works by contemporary makers, including a Haas Brothers brass Hex coffee table, Jeff Zimmerman’s Vine chandelier and large-scale light-box photographic work by Ben Faga, along with low lime-green Pascale stools of his own design. Furnishings were deployed for versatility and drama. “The room is multifunctional,” Hage says, noting that it has “many little corners for seating and entertaining without looking like a hotel lobby.” Photo by Marcus Peel
“A family gathering point” is how designer Melissa Morgan of M Interiors characterizes this inviting, soft-toned space in an early-20th-century Tudor-style San Antonio home by distinguished Texas architect Atlee B. Ayres. It’s where her clients indulge in old-fashioned pleasures like playing cards, reading books or “simply visiting” with each other. Morgan kept the vibe traditional but relaxed, highlighting the exceptional coffered ceiling with large vintage chandeliers and upholstering club chairs and a classic sofa with durable fabrics suited to daily use. She sought out small-scale bergère armchairs and faux-bamboo metal occasional tables on 1stdibs, underlining everything with an antique Oushak rug. Photo by Mark Menjivar
Fawn Galli Interiors
New York City
For the living room of a home on Manhattan’s Washington Square Park belonging to a young, high-spirited family, designer Fawn Galli took inspiration from the legendary apartments of Paris. “We embraced a mix of vintage and modern with pops of color and unexpected details to create a rich and dreamy room,” she says. Two colossal blue velvet sofas, custom designed by her firm, anchor the space, flanking a 1960s bronze and Lucite coffee table found on 1stdibs. Bold ombré curtains and a neon-tube-lined mirror by Chilean artist Iván Navarro above the mantel are wonderfully unconventional choices in keeping with her clients’ exuberant lifestyle. Photo by Costas Picadas
Designer Angie Hranowsky’s clients call this their “keeping room,” a Colonial-era term for a cozy multipurpose space. It’s actually a secondary living room in a Low Country–style home, located 10 minutes from Charleston’s historic center, with a back porch overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway. “This is where everyone comes to lounge, chat and watch TV,” says Hranowsky, who wanted the room to feel “comfortable and lived in.” The shiplap ceilings and bleached-oak floors impart a friendly, informal quality, enhanced by Hranowsky’s selection of contemporary rattan chairs, vintage armchairs covered in soft chenille, commodious sofa and jute rug. The sun-kissed palette of coral, pale turquoise and lilac echoes colors used throughout the house, while sheer gold-toned drapes filter the light entering through glorious French windows. Photo by Julia Lynn
In an East Hampton, New York, living room with expansive windows and a stunning stone fireplace wall, teenagers do their homework on furniture by modernist icons, many found on 1stdibs by Sag Harbor–based designer Timothy Godbold. His client, a great fan of 20th-century design, pointed the way to the classics. Godbold’s impeccable selections: a pair of Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona chairs, a limited-edition canvas-and-leather chaise by Louis Vuitton for Cassina, a Danish modern rosewood credenza and a Castiglioni floor lamp. “I also found some beautiful tables from Cassina in oak and bronze,” says Godbold, “and layered the center coffee table with a higher table over it to add dimension.” Photo by Rikki Snyder
David Kleinberg Design Associates
Comfortable, flexible and laid-back are all apt descriptors for this bay-windowed Sands Point, New York, room overlooking the Long Island Sound. The idea was to make the space “relaxed and modern within the traditional architectural background, with comfortable seating at the window in which to read the Sunday paper and enjoy the water view,” says David Kleinberg, of DKDA. Hence, the welcoming, generously scaled upholstered pieces by Anthony Lawrence Belfair for DKDA. The standout Blah Blah Blah painting by Mel Bochner was already part of the clients’ contemporary art collection. “It had the right irreverent, fun attitude,” Kleinberg says. Photo by William Waldron
Julie Charbonneau Design
Symmetrical and sophisticated, this Toronto living room is part of a 10,000-square-foot custom-built residence. It measures just 300 square feet, with a soaring double-height ceiling, but its proportions are harmonious. The homeowners wanted decor that was “clean and classic in design and proportion, yet also warm and inviting,” says Toronto-based designer Julie Charbonneau. Because the space was already cozy, she was careful not to over-furnish. The few large pieces include four lounge chairs and an ottoman, all custom made by her firm. An antique ceiling fixture and a striking contemporary landscape painting complete the exquisite room. Photo by Andreas Trauttmansdorff
DHD Architecture & Interior Design
New York City
Designer David Howell, along with his wife and business partner, Steffani Aarons, and their twin teenage girls, inhabits this enviable loft in a five-unit Gramercy Park condo building by Howell’s Manhattan-based firm, DHD Architecture & Interior Design. The living room opens directly onto an 800-square-foot terrace with flowering trees, “which makes the loft feel endless and extends our living space eight months a year,” Howell says. Seating classics, such as a B&B Italia sofa and vintage chairs by Milo Baughman and Jens Risom, provide ample places for lounging within the envelope formed by a high-beamed ceiling and walls of glass, stone and textured wood. The designer’s favorite local artisans supplied other pieces, including a coffee table from BDDW and a pendant light by Lindsey Adelman. The fun and functional Body Raft rocking chaise longue, crafted of ash by New Zealand designer David Trubridge, is both a nod to Howell’s home country and an obvious focus of the room. Photo by Emily Andrews
The dramatic daytime vista of the bay and glittering nighttime spectacle of the Golden Gate Bridge inspired the design of this apartment in San Francisco’s coveted Russian Hill neighborhood. Bay City–based designer Nicole Hollis chose simple furniture forms, a nuanced palette of neutrals and layered textiles for the clean, contemporary space, which is made more sublime by classical crown molding and distinctive arched doorways. An expansive Flexform sofa, a coffee table from Glas Italia and armchairs from B&B Italia are subtle enough to let the extraordinary view and her clients’ collection of contemporary art take center stage. The TV is cleverly camouflaged behind a hand-blocked panel by artist Miriam Dym. Photo by Laure Joliet
Matt Blacke, Inc.
For the weekend home of a 20th-century-design enthusiast on a bluff in Laguna Beach, California, “I was given the freedom to create something a little more conceptual,” says Cliff Fong, of Matt Blacke, Inc. “The living room is restrained in detail and far from fussy, furnished only with pieces substantial in both scale and design integrity.” Danish classics abound, with a 1930s wingback chair and ottoman by Mogens Koch, a 1960s sofa by Illum Wikkelsø and a Hans Wegner coffee table sharing space with an Antony chair by French master Jean Prouvé. Add in an attention-grabbing three-part NOW mirror by contemporary artist Doug Aitken and Pacific Ocean views through sliding glass doors, and the room needs nothing more. Photo by Shade Degges
New York City
Manhattan designer Damon Liss curated an international assemblage of chic furnishings for the living room of a 4,500-square-foot penthouse in West Chelsea, deploying them to shape spaces for both large-scale entertaining and more intimate gatherings. Pale neutrals keep the ambience calm. A contemporary custom sofa is surrounded by a polished selection of mid-20th-century European pieces, including high-backed Italian settees, a pair of Grand Repos armchairs by Guillerme et Chambron and vintage items from Belgium, Brazil and the U.S. Illuminating all: Max Ingrand’s fanciful 1950s Blue Dahlia ceiling light for Fontana Arte. Photo by Joshua McHugh