Ideas for Designing Behind the Living Room Sofa

When it comes to decorating behind your sofa, the options are endless. Browse through our favorite designer looks and find a style that speaks to you.

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September 14, 2020

Photo By: Nora Ripple

Photo By: Dustin Peck Photography

Photo By: Werner Straube

Photo By: Claire Esparros

Photo By: Spacecrafting Photography

Photo By: Emily Followill

Photo By: Ashley Gilbreath

Photo By: Ashley Gilbreath

Photo By: David Christensen for Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens

Photo By: Julie Soefer Photography

Photo By: Native House Photography

Photo By: Decor Aid

Photo By: Alyssa Rosenheck

Photo By: Christian Torres

Photo By: Marie Flanigan

Photo By: Marie Flanigan Interiors

Photo By: Lauren Rubinstein

Photo By: Suzanna Scott Photography

Photo By: Colleen Scott

Photo By: Stacy Zaring Goldberg

Wrapped in Words

Take a page out of Kathe Baker's design book and install built-in bookcases to the wall behind your living room sofa. Ebony, floor-to-ceiling bookcases make for a moody and extravagant sofa backdrop in this traditional lounge. The cognac leather upholstery shines against the inky casing, sconces provide ambience overhead and a handsome book collection infuses the space with rich color and layered textured throughout.

Millwork Magic

Molding is used to create a large geometric pattern on the walls behind the velvet sofa in this luxurious family room. Millwork is an elegant way to add subtle, visual interest to the space without overpowering your furnishings.

Saturate the Space

Accentuate your sofa’s silhouette and upholstery with a bold, contrasting backdrop. Designer Wendy Labrum draws all eyes to this crisp white sofa by coating the surrounding walls with a rich, olive lacquered paint. Labrum continues the earthy green hue in the drapery panel and cornice for a monochromatic, yet dimensional, backdrop to the design.

Unexpected Art

Skip oversized art and take notes from designer Crystal Sinclair when styling the empty wall behind your sofa. Showcase a collection of unexpected, textural items such as woven baskets, wooden shoes or, in this case, antique cutting boards. We love this technique because it’s easy on the wallet and it results in a space that feels custom and sentimental.

Triple Set

When in doubt, frame it out. A set of classic, black-and-white gallery frames brings polish to the wall above the sofa in this Tudor living room. Designer Martha O’Hara pops abstract prints within the frames for a fresh, cohesive display that feels seamless in the space.

Curated Collection

A set of three, freestanding bamboo bookshelves are pushed together and adorned with treasures to bring symmetry and texture behind this sofa. Follow interior designer James Farmer’s lead and style bookshelves brimming with books, sculptures and artwork behind your sofa. Try using large decorative accents, like the chinoiserie vases or emerald glass globes seen here, to create balance and symmetry among the separate shelving units.

From: James Farmer

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

A hand carved, gilt mirror will never disappoint in a traditional design. An ornate mirror serves as a stately crown above the skirted sofa in this southern sitting room by designer Ashely Gilbreath. Adding a mirror to the wall behind your sofa will create the illusion of a larger space, accentuate the height of your ceilings and reflect the decorative accents on the opposite side of the room for maximum beauty.

Screen It In

Create intimacy in your open floorplan living room with a fabric partition behind your sofa. Here, designer Ashley Gilbreath tucks a dreamy, denim blue upholstered screen behind a white, rolled arm linen sofa, which creates contrast with color and distinction between spaces.

Change in Scenery

Don’t let a tricky floorplan quash your dream of hanging artwork over your sofa. This striking living room came equipped with a challenging floor plan that required this ivory sofa to sit flush against a wall of iron-framed windows. Designer Melanie Turner creates a one-of-a-kind display using custom plastered poles to hang an oversized abstract painting across the center of the windows.

Shiplap + Spotlight

Designer Marie Flanigan draws focus to the sleek slope arm sofa with creamy shiplap walls, a modern photography print and a gallery light. Apply the same idea to your space by installing textural panels or millwork to the walls and adding a hardwired gallery light overhead.

Up the Ambience

Light up your living room design by flanking your sofa table with a pair of chic, shaded floor lamps. Interior designer John McClain places twin floor lamps in line with the windows to provide symmetry and function behind the cream-colored sofa in this polished transitional living room.

Sleek Storage

Create ample storage and styling opportunities in your living room with an expansive sofa table. This handsome, handcrafted wooden table features two levels and runs the length of the sofa. The top shelf serves as a ledge for glass table lamps, glossy hardcover books and a soaring arrangement, while the bottom holds an antique chest with space for folded blankets and pillows.

From: Decor Aid

Crown the Room

Don’t settle for simple shelving units. Take a creative approach and frame your sofa with a unique shape or brilliant hue. This shimmery gilded bookcase flanks each side of the velvet blue sofa with books and sculptures and continues overhead, creating a crown-like effect.

Leaning Gallery Wall

Skip the unsightly holes in your wall and opt for a nail-less gallery wall display behind your sofa. A framed piece of wallpaper serves as the base of this display by interior designer Crystal Sinclair. A sleek ledge is installed across the wallpaper to provide support for the remaining punchy art collection.

Easy Elegance

Swap pretty paintings for something a bit more muted like this wall of framed intaglios by Marie Flanigan. The brass frames paired with the smoky matting allow the pearly intaglios to shine in the space and create a soft contrast against the creamy almond walls.

Balancing Act

Keep scale in mind when selecting artwork for behind your sofa. To counteract the longer-than-typical emerald green velvet sofa, designer Marie Flanigan uses a grand, black-and-white abstract painting flanked by twin sconces. These accents are spaced strategically overhead to balance out the lengthy lounge and draw the eyes up to enhance the height of the ceiling.

Pop of Color

Use the overlooked spot behind your sofa to make a punchy statement in your otherwise neutral design. The designers at Kandrac & Kole Interior Designs pull hues from the painting above the fireplace to set the color palette for this family room. The blue console table runs the length of the oversized sofa and creates distinction between the living room and the adjacent kitchen in the open-plan design.

Bench Barrier

Create a chic barrier between your pricey upholstered sofa and foot traffic with a simple bench. A black bench anchors the lavish, emerald Chesterfield in this monochromatic formal living room and provides a touch of natural texture to the otherwise high-glamour design.

More Is More

Can’t decide which photo or frame to place behind your sofa? Try using them all. This bold, maximalist living room, by designer Vernonica Solomon, proves that more is more with a dynamic gallery display behind the patchwork sofa. A sea of jewel tone art, gilded finishes and heirloom treasures join forces to create a one-of-a-kind display steeped in sentimentality and style.

Seek Symmetry

Symmetry reigns supreme in this moody, eclectic living room. The midnight blue velvet sofa is flanked by two white shelves, twin swing arm sconces and two brass gallery lights overhead. Plush accent pillows pile across the sofa’s cushion in a symmetrical style to round out the design. Apply the same, chic technique by working from the outside wall in with decorative items in sets of two. The end result is one that feels polished and put together, even in a sea of bold hues and boho patterns.

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