The 7 Sins Of Urban Modern Interior Design In A Living Room Everyone Makes!

Are you looking for urban modern interior design ideas for your living room? But, between so many ideas you are not sure about what are the most important points to creating a cozy gorgeous living room? You may even wonder: What is modern style decorating? What is urban modern decor?

If that’s so, what you need to focus on is on learning the most common living room decorating mistakes, no matter your living room size, these mistakes will throw off any balance and harmony and make your space quite uncomfortable to be in.

However, fret not! As here you will learn how to avoid those decoration mistakes, plus extra tips to make living room design-wise decisions! We will be discussing modern style decorating, as well as urban modern decor, so by the end of this article, you will walk away understanding the characteristics of modern style!

  1. Incorrect Layout For The Space
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Photo by Davide Colonna on Unsplash

It is important to create an interesting conversation between the furniture pieces as well as accents. 

For this conversation setup, you need to put functionality over aesthetics


Because the living room or any room has to serve your design purposes. With a clear intention about how you want to use the space, you will not have a hard time.

And, the best way to do so is by thinking about space planning and even wandering, if you can have different areas, such as – a reading area, social area, etc.

Pro Tip: To differentiate living room areas you can use diverse flooring options, such as rugs, that will help you create “room vignettes”, and have a clear division between a reading area and a social area for example. 

Other tactics to create areas within your living room are to use accessories, accent walls, or a group of furniture to create the mood you’re looking for.   

Also, be aware of the 2 most common living room layout mistakes people make when not planning their living room space, take note and avoid them at all costs! Urban Modern interior design is all about making the space work for you! If you want to take your modern style of decorating to the next level, then don’t stop now!

  1. All The Furniture Lined Up Against The Wall

A typical example of this is pushing the sofa towards the wall. This is not a good idea, because it leaves too many empty spaces, and is difficult to create defined areas, such as conversation ones.

Furthermore, this technique will decrease the overall size of the room, therefore you need to make sure that you leave breathing space between furniture pieces. When working on a modern space, trying to design it with urban contemporary furniture, it is crucial to understand placement and sizing. Stick to me to learn, how you can perfect your urban modern decor!

  1. Unfunctional Spaces

A sinful decorating mistake in modern interior design apartments! You need to create spaces that fulfill their function.

In the living room, it is crucial to create social zones where people can easily talk to each other, ensuring the furniture doesn’t block the windows, or that it is easy to walk through the living room.

Tips: Arrange your sitting furniture (sofas and chairs) directly facing each other or at a 90° degree angle to one another, this way people will have a comfortable angle to see the other person and have fun chatting. 

As for walkability, visualize how to get from one point to another. 

Make sure it is easy to do so, without complicated routes, or worrying about tripping something!

Note- If you want pro tips from a pro interior designer to plan your living room layout, check out my free interior designer checklist!

2. Missing Accents – Side Tables, the perfect urban contemporary furniture

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Photo by Collov Home Design on Unsplash

Side tables are crucial to have when creating a modern urban interior design style for your living room, even if it is a small living room. 

It is a multipurpose piece as it will allow you to use table lamps, have space where you can rest your legs, put a coffee mug, book, or something else.

Besides, side tables can help you create the look and feel of a certain area, e.g. a reading area.

However, before purchasing any side table you have to remember to honor your space planning! And, consider some crucial aspects:

  • Dimensions: It will vary based on your needs, however, it should be within 5 cm of your sofa’s arm height if you want to easily reach your book or coffee mug. Or approx. 13-15cm higher than the seat height of the sofa for your comfort.
  • Purpose: What are you going to use your side table for? Take into consideration if you want to store things or just use it to put a coffee mug or to place a table lamp and read something.
  • Style: Some people think they have to match everything in their living room to have a coherent design, nonetheless it is wise to create points of interest by creating contrast using different colors and fabrics.

And, click here to look out for budget-friendly ideas to elegantly accessorize your coffee table or side table!

Oh, and of course here are some cool unique side tables to inspire your living room design style! (including an amazing flexible wooden sofa-arm rest tray perfect for small living rooms!) Isn’t it easy to create a modern urban style home, when you have options to choose from?

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Sofa Natural Wood Tray Table ($79)

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Mushroom Side Table Mini ($87.44)

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Round Metal Stand Table 2-tier ($44)

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The Line End Table (Solid walnut) ($149)

Pssst… bonus tip: lighting your room is an essential element to maximize your living room design, no one feels comfortable socializing or reading a book in an obscure room after all! 

This is why besides the primary lighting and natural light, remember to invest in feature lighting (e.g. floor lamps) that help you direct the light to a certain point, this is very helpful if you want to create reading areas.

On the other hand, table lamps can brighten the corners of your room or give more light to the wall art you have featured in the space.

Important: Remember that the bottom of the lampshade of your table lamps or floor lamps has to be just below eye level when you or your guest’s seat, as this will help avoid harm to their eyes by directly looking into the lightbulb, ouch. It’s not only necessary in modern urban-style homes, but in every home, you may design and decorate for yourself. It may be a characteristic of modern style, but also a part of comfort!

  1. Lack Of Colours In Your Urban Interior Design Style Apt

Photo by Collov Home Design on Unsplash

Ok, so we already fixed the situation with the wrong layout and selected a suitable side table that will give you more comfort, excellent! 

Now comes what will be one of the deadly sins of interior design that you must avoid at all costs:  Not using colors or providing contrast. When designing modern urban-style homes, you must think of color theory, as one of your design pillars!

Think of it this way, your house is an extension of your personality, a place where you feel comfortable, happy, and calm, so how could you feel good being in a place where no matter where you look, all the colors are identical?

If the whole room is the same shade and there isn’t a playful game between dark and light, the room will mostly feel plain and dull. 

It is a common fear to mix colors because the result can seem chaotic. 

Nonetheless, if you want to create a delightful modern interior design style living room, a good trick is to mix colors within the same color family (monochromatic), and as a contrast add one accent color that pops up and adds depth to your living room.

Photo by Jane Duursma on Unsplash

For example, don’t be afraid to paint the largest wall in your living room in a strong color that contrasts with the rest of the walls and ceiling, just like the green wall in the picture above!

Externalize your colorful personality.  Mixing different colors can create depth and interest in the area.

You can even add an asymmetrical mirror surrounded by a dazzling multi-colored mosaic! Or, why not? If you are an artist you can paint a beautiful drawing that will give an intimate soul element to your place of rest and entertainment: your living room.

Also, if you have a small space and want ideas to make it look chic and fun in my article: How to decorate a small space, I show you how to create an aesthetic space that represents you considering the colors, textures, and finishes that add depth to your space!

Finally, here you can find light color organic covers for your sofa and make that amazing contrast between your sofa and your accent wall or accent decor elements. Because if anything: comfort is one of the most important parts of decorating a modern urban-style home!

Organic Cotton Sofa Cover ($30)

Natural Light Linen Couch Cover ($159.37+)

  1. Not Using Accents / Patterns

Photo by Anwar Hakim on Unsplash

Urban Modern interior design top tips:

Again, even though the space is small, you need to create interest. 

Some accent cushions with a fun pattern or a stool with funky upholstery can lighten up the mood and make a small living room look more interesting!

Just like in the above picture, these kinds of accent cushions can be combined perfectly with solid color upholstery, you just need to think again about providing contrast to help certain patterns pop up and draw attention to them. 

Pro tip: Do you think I will let you go before giving you some pro tips to mix and match your accent cushions? Of course not!

Ok, first of all, break this myth that pattern+ pattern does not work or is too much, in reality, you can combine accent cushions of different patterns, especially if you want to create an urban modern interior design style for your living room!

A good strategy to make a nice cushion set is to arrange 1 solid, 1 weave, and 1 pattern, either all of them square cushions or 2 squares and lumbar (just as in the picture above).

Also,  you can add contrast piping or make A/B sides to the cushions to create interest.

Whatever you choose, just be sure to create harmony with colors, patterns, and placements.

Just as in the picture above where you can see solids are in the background helping the weaves and pattern cushion to stand out, and where the lumbar-shaped cushion is in the center, serving as a focal point. 

As for inspiration ideas here is a variety of patterns and weaves cushions made of different fabrics to suit different style preferences!

Embroidered silk pillows ($79)

Decorative multicolour handwoven sofa cushion ($36.43)

Decorative Knitted Cushion Cover ($21.86)

Bluestone Moroccan Lumbar Sabra Cushion Cover ($80.31)

African Wax Print Cushion Cover ($18.93)

Turkish Kilim Pillow ($17.95)

  1. Over Using Furniture

Photo by Collov Home Design on Unsplash 

Suppose you found an amazing furniture store online and saw a spectacular limited discount offer! 1 coffee table, 2 table lamps, and 2 side tables that would look beautiful in your living room! 

The discount ends in 10 hours, and the site has 5 stars…but no, it is too impulsive. You need to think about it more…but! Before you go a window pops up and tells you that if you buy NOW they’ll also give you a 50% discount for an elegant wood credenza that would look gorgeous under that beautiful contemporary painting your partner gifted you!

But… when the new furniture arrives, you realize…: Too much furniture!

Due to the excitement of decorating a new space, you accidentally ordered too much furniture, which has resulted in a cluttered space, and then you understand:

Sometimes less is more.

Using too much furniture can make the room feel stuffy. 

Lesson: If your space is extremely little, just create a smaller arrangement, maybe a sofa – coffee table – armchair – floor lamp combination. 

That small arrangement will still give you the living room look and feel without being too stuffy.

This is actually a very common problem when furnishing your living room, so you must remember that your furniture has to be in harmony with the overall layout of the place. Modern urban style is all about balance in the making.

Otherwise, you could run into some problems such as:

  • Lack of negative space: By placing too much furniture, accessories, or art, you could lack “negative space” or “white space”, that is, the free space you need to create for your eyes to assimilate the beauty of a piece, in this case, the elements of your living room, as well as having open pathways for you to move freely and comfortably through your space.
  • Feeling overwhelmed: This point is quite easy to perceive for most people since the excess of furniture ends up generating an overwhelming feeling of an overloaded and saturated environment that will make you feel uncomfortable and less calm.

Ok, but how can you avoid this? Well, that’s what I’m here for, these questions below will help you dodge those mistakes like a design master!

  1. The must-haves: Which furniture and elements do I actually need in my living room?
  2. Practical-wise: Which elements are multifunctional? (serve a visual design purpose and also a practical purpose)
  3. Lead roles: Which are going to be the accent elements and statement pieces in my room?
  4. Supportive roles: Which furnishing, accessories, and other elements will serve to enhance these accent feature pieces?

Redo the questions and visualize your day-to-day activities to come up with clear answers. 

A good trick to have a harmonious design is to think your living room is a great friend, and you just want to have a pleasant conversation with them, but if there are too many people talking, you can’t concentrate, right? Urban modern decor should feel warm and welcoming, regardless of its color palette or characteristics of modern design.

Also,  keep in mind that the best way to avoid these mistakes is with an adequate layout for the space, as this way you can better visualize the distribution of your furniture in your living room.

As we already mentioned in the first point “Think about space planning”.

  1. Not Using Artwork For Your Urban Interior Design Style Apt.

Photo by Dieny Portinanni on Unsplash

A room can look empty if you are not adding a few artwork pieces to the walls. 

Something that creates interest and catches the viewer’s eye. This way you can draw attention to certain features and areas. 

If you want to set up a striking urban modern interior design style for your living room, using artwork can be your not-so-secret but winning card to enhance its overall look of it!

This is why here I leave you some tips to successfully choose your artwork and avoid common mistakes when using it.

Tips For Choosing Art 

  • The right size: Don’t choose an artwork that is either too big or too small! Choose the right scale for a correct balance. For the right fit, pick a piece that fills 2⁄3 to 3⁄4 of your available wall space and that is 2⁄3  to 3⁄4  smaller than your furniture. 
  • The right orientation: Check your wall space orientation to pick the kind of artwork to hang, portraits work best in vertical spaces whilst landscapes fit best in horizontal wide wall spaces.
  • About colors: Choose pieces that have similar or complementary colors to your living room color palette as this will create a cohesive designed look.   

Bonus Tip: Light it up! If you don’t light up your artwork won’t pop up and go unnoticed, please don’t make this mistake! Make sure to invest in table lamps or gallery lights that will enhance the beauty of your loved art!

Now, as this is an article about decorating mistakes when using artwork a typical problem people have is how to hang them correctly, but don’t worry below I gave you some insightful pro designer tips to solve this!

Urban Modern interior design Top Tips For Hanging Art Correctly

Have you ever looked at your artwork on the wall and thought: “something just doesn’t click?”

Well, don’t feel bad about it, the best way to fix it, according to the renowned Studio McGee, is by:

  1. Hanging a single artwork piece, print, or photo at eye level (56″ to 60″ from the floor);
  2. Treat artwork pieces as groups (works for groups of 2, 3, and 4);
  3. Create grid gallery walls with cohesive spacing between them ( large/medium with 2-3″ apart, and smaller artwork with 1.5-2.5″ apart)

Bonus tip: Did you know? Another common hanging design mistake also occurs when hanging curtain rods! If you place them just above the window this will reduce the feeling of openness in the room, instead hang the rods about a half-foot above the top of the window frame, which will make your living room look bold; open, brighter and bigger!

Also, if you are interested in learning more about the incredible history of Studio McGee founders and other influential female interior designers don’t miss out on my article The 5 Most Influential Female Interior Designers Of All Time You Need To Watch!

And, of course, below you will see 3 exquisite art prints at affordable prices for the walls of your urban modern interior design living room!

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Matisse print set of 2 ($79.80+)

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Mid Century Print ($17.41+)

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Line Art Face Print ($4.37+)

7. Not Measuring Furniture And Space

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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Ok, this may be the last point, but I assure you that it is closely related to and just as important as the first one. I know, I know…I can’t stop talking about urban modern decor and urban modern style, but…

I have previously mentioned the importance of making a space planning to visualize the urban modern interior design of your living room before purchasing any furniture, right?

Well, an essential part of designing a room layout is measurement.

For example, imagine that when you arrive at your favorite furniture store you fall in love with a beautiful and large sofa and you buy it on impulse, without thinking too much about its measures. 

When you get home you can find yourself in one of three situations:

  1. Door measurements: Well, it turns out that you are there, with a beautiful olive sofa but it has a small detail: it is very large and does not go through the door! Nobody wants this!! And, you could have two possible solutions: return the sofa to the store and change it for a smaller one, or throw your door frame. (too much work because you didn’t take measures, right?)
  1. Miscalculation: This feeling is horrible, you realize the sofa is too big for the living room, it overtakes the white space in your living space and you lose 50% of free space!
  1. Incorrect measurements: The opposite of the previous point, the furniture is too small and you feel like in a bad minimalist dream.

Anticipate The Situation – Urban modern interior design top tip

As we mentioned earlier, your best weapon against these types of incidents is your measuring tape.

You can create a small table (just like the one below) where you add the dimensions of your furniture and your living room so that later on you can use this alongside your living room layout to decide the size and arrangement of your new furniture!

This way you’ll avoid the previously mentioned living room decoration mistakes that lead to the creation of an unpleasant space, difficult to walk and visually uncomfortable.

Here we leave you a small example of a table to help you with your measurement task.

 Width Depth Height
Living Room   

Coffee Table   

 The Correct Coffee Table Size  

Another common mistake to avoid when creating the modern style interior design of your living room is to choose coffee tables that don’t have the correct scale, to avoid this remember to:

  • Measure height: As a rule of thumb, coffee tables should be 1″-2″ lower or at the same height as your sofa seat.  
  • Measure length: Make sure your coffee table or set of coffee tables is no longer 2⁄3 the length of your sofa
  • Surrounding space: your coffee table should have at least 12-18″ of space surrounding it, so you can comfortably walk around it. 

Tip: And, don’t forget your furniture needs to fit your lifestyle, so if you need extra storage to opt for double-duty coffee tables, meaning storage coffee tables.

The Correct Rug Size – Urban contemporary furniture pieces to your modern home 

Rugs are a decor favorite! It is one of the best ways to style your living room, helps divide your room into different areas, and also provides comfort for your feet!

However, a common decorating mistake is to choose the wrong size, more often than not choosing a small-sized rug.

Just imagine, it is like having a big succulent carbonara dish in a tiny unfitting plate, it’s offsetting, right?  You can still eat it, but it won’t be as enjoyable, presentation matters; even for your belly!

How can you avoid this? 

  • Width: Your rug needs to be at least 6-8″ wider than your sofa on both sides.
  • General rug size: Usually 8’x10′ and 9’x12 rug is the best size for living rooms.
  • Visualize: To better visualize your rug desired size use painter’s tape to help you out!
  • White space: Procure to give between 10″-24″ from rug to wall and 18″-36″ of a walkway between large furniture pieces. 

Also, if you want to know how to decorate with natural fiber rugs, check out here! Where I give you pro tips to learn about rug placement, how to style loose natural fiber rugs, and rug types ideas for decor inspiration!


So, in the end, the 2 most important things to avoid urban modern interior design mistakes in living rooms are:

  • Plan your design layout;
  • And, measure, measure, measure. 

You have to measure everything! Measure your walls, the height of your ceiling, your doors, and of course, measure your furniture. The glue that measuring tape to you, because you will need it!

Know how much space you’ve got and what fits! Pay attention to always having enough space to walk around, leave breathing space between furniture,s and of course – fit furniture in!

Also, if you are looking for small bedroom decorating ideas don’t forget to read and bookmark this helpful article 7 Mistakes To Avoid In A Small Bedroom, as it will help you maximize space and learn how to create the best small bedroom layout design!

Oh and let me know any questions or opinions you want to share in the comments or follow me on @karmenrozsa_ and let me know any questions you may have!

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