Enhancing Space: Decorating Tips for Small Living Rooms
Discover the secrets to transforming your small living room into a stylish and spacious oasis with our expert tips on how to decorate a small living room. From creating the illusion of space with mirrors to utilizing clever furniture solutions, we will show you how to maximize every inch of your space and achieve a stunning and functional design. Get ready to be inspired and make the most of your cozy living room with our foolproof guide.
Create a sense of infinity
(Image credit: Future)
Paint is an excellent tool for maximizing space in a small room. In this compact living room, using clean white paint on both the walls and ceiling helps blend the different surfaces together. This creates a more spacious and lofty feel in the room.
To add depth and interest to the room, incorporate dark, richly colored furniture, flooring, and statement artwork.
Draw the eye to a focal point
(Image credit: Future / Jody Stewart)
Even in a busy space like this small living room, the fireplace wall serves as a strong focal point. By directing attention towards the fireplace, the room appears larger than it actually is.
The lines created by the area rug, trunk coffee table, and bookshelves all guide the eye towards the fireplace wall. The large main picture and surrounding pictures accentuate the width of the wall, making the room feel well-planned and spacious.
Define the Space with a Larger Rug
When decorating a small living room, many people opt for a small rug. However, choosing a larger rug can create the illusion of an extended space. Rolling out a larger rug tricks the eye into perceiving the edge of the rug as the edge of the living room.
A rectangular rug works best, as opposed to a circular one, which can make the room feel less inviting. A larger rug also helps anchor the furniture pieces like the sofa, side tables, and pouffes.
If you need further assistance in choosing the right rug for your home, refer to our tips on buying the right rug.
Use Round Ottomans as Extra Seating
Round ottomans are versatile and functional pieces of furniture that work well in small living rooms. Instead of low, soft ottomans, opt for taller, upholstered round ottomans that complement the overall look and feel of the space.
Round ottomans can serve as footrests while watching TV or as additional seating when entertaining guests. Furthermore, by adding a round tray on top, they can function as side tables when needed.
There are numerous stylish round ottomans available on the market, such as the ones featured in the photo above from IKEA.
Fix your TV and Entertainment Unit to the Wall
To create a sense of more space, it's beneficial to mount your TV on the wall. This can be easily achieved by purchasing a TV mount from retailers like JB Hifi. Mounting the TV prevents it from taking up valuable floor space and helps create a more streamlined look.
Before mounting, ensure that the TV is not overly dominant in the room. Opt for a size that complements the space and avoids overwhelming it. Additionally, consider mounting an entertainment unit on the wall below the TV or selecting a TV unit with thin legs that allow airflow underneath. The TV unit should be slightly wider than the TV for a balanced aesthetic.
Introduce a Mirror on Another Wall in the Room
Mirrors are a classic way to create the illusion of space in a small living room. Placing a mirror on a wall helps bounce light around the room, making it appear brighter and more expansive. Mirrors positioned near windows can reflect the outdoor scenery, drawing the eye away from the limited square footage.
Furthermore, mirrors can connect the interior and exterior, blurring the boundaries between the small room and the outside world. Round mirrors are currently on-trend and can add a stylish touch to the space. Check out our roundup of the best places to buy round mirrors for more options.
Decorate with stripes to make small living rooms feel bigger
(Image credit: Future / Emma Lee / Sally Denning)
Using stripes in your decor is an effective way to make small living rooms appear larger. The direction of the stripes can create different effects. Vertical stripes, as seen on the armchairs above, can make a room with a low ceiling feel taller. On the other hand, horizontal stripes can give the illusion of a longer or wider space, depending on your perspective.
Choose dark colors but balance them with light
(Image credit: Stefani Stein)
Contrary to popular belief, dark colors can be used effectively in small living rooms, especially if they have ample natural light and large windows. Dark-colored walls can create a beautiful and inviting ambiance in a well-lit room. However, if the living room lacks warm natural light, it's advisable to balance the dark colors with lighter shades on both the walls and furnishings.
Pick Slimline, Multi-Functional Furniture
When working with limited space, it's important to choose furniture pieces that have a small profile and aren't overwhelming. Opt for slimline options with low or skinny arms and raised legs. These types of furniture create a sense of space and airiness in the room.
Slimline furniture also opens up the floor space, making the room appear more cohesive. Additionally, consider multi-functional pieces such as ottomans with trays, fold-out wall-mounted desks, and bookshelves with a flat-screen TV mount.
Mirrors Create the Illusion of Space
Mirrors are not only useful in bathrooms and bedrooms but can also play a significant role in making small living rooms appear larger. Placing mirrors strategically in the room helps bounce light around, creating a brighter and more expansive feel. A full-length mirror positioned on the floor can further enhance this effect.
Mirrors reflecting an outside view can also give the impression of a seamless connection between the interior and exterior, blurring the boundaries of the small room.
Use Neutral Colors
Choosing light shades for your living room creates an airy and spacious illusion. Opt for whites, light woods, and natural fabrics, as they trick the eye into perceiving the space as being connected to nature and the outdoors.
To avoid a bland aesthetic, keep the majority of the space neutral and introduce pops of color through upholstery or an accent wall.
Paint the fifth wall in a small living room
(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti)
The fifth wall, often neglected in the decorating process, can significantly impact a small room. By painting the ceiling in a paler color than the walls, regardless of the chosen color, the ceilings appear higher, creating a more spacious feel.
Create a Focal Point
If your small living room lacks a natural focal point like a fireplace, you can create one using a large, colorful piece of art. Pair the artwork with matching bookshelves and wall sconces to achieve a balanced and symmetrical look.
Layer Your Lighting
A mix of different lighting sources in a small living room helps draw attention to various areas and creates visual interest. Consider incorporating a combination of floor lamps, table lamps, and recessed accent lights to achieve a balanced and functional lighting scheme. Dimmers can be used to set the desired ambiance.
Tall floor lamps and statement pendant light fixtures draw the eye upward, creating a sense of height. Opt for exposed bulbs or small, simple lamp shades to maintain a slimline and space-saving effect.
Use a Side Table as your Coffee Table
In small living rooms where space is a premium, instead of opting for a traditional coffee table, consider using a side table or a nest of two side tables. The smaller one can tuck under the larger one, allowing for versatility and saving on space.
Side tables are more affordable compared to coffee tables and offer a similar functionality. When selecting a side table, ensure that its height is not significantly taller than the height of the sofa seat. This helps maintain a visually light and low-profile look.
Stick to a simple palette
(Image credit: Future)
To achieve a contemporary yet classic look, focus on bold and vibrant patterns that dominate the room. Combining various prints in shades of green and white creates a calming and uncluttered atmosphere.
Go Bold and Cozy With Dark Shades
Contrary to popular belief, bold and dark colors can create a welcoming and intimate ambiance in a small living room. Adding layers of soft textiles like throws and cushions further enhance the cozy and inviting feel. Using dark shades strategically throughout the room can give it a more extensive and dramatic appearance.
By diverting attention from the room's proportions, such as where walls end or ceilings start, dark colors can create a sense of character and fun. Consider painting the trim the same dark shade as the walls to blur the room edges and prevent the eye from being drawn downward. Additionally, painting the ceiling a darker color than the walls can add a unique touch and create the illusion of greater height.
Sneak in Storage
Hide clutter in a small living room by using furniture that doubles as a storage unit. For a coffee table alternative that provides hidden storage, try a trunk. Books, children's toys, extra blankets, and other items can be stashed inside for easy access, and it looks great in almost any room.
Accentuate the vertical
(Image credit: Future / Paul Raeside)
Another useful visual trick has been created in this living room, with floor-to-ceiling curtains creating a panel of color that emphasizes the height of the room. The height of the picture and of the pots sat at ceiling height further exaggerate the room's proportions.
Utilize Small Living Room Furniture
Every inch counts with small living rooms, especially when it comes to furniture. Use armless sofas or those with a narrow design to avoid taking up too much space in a small living room. Their slim footprint can make the difference between having enough seating and being overcrowded.
Opt for compact furniture - upholstered in patterned fabric
(Image credit: Future / Jon Day)
A sense of scale is a key principle for successful interior design – try mixing it up to have fun with your small living room. Be guided by the room’s proportions and architecture when setting the scale for furniture. The key to good living room seating ideas in small spaces is to avoid a couch that is too large. Instead, invest in a compact design, then have it upholstered in a gorgeous fabric for instant appeal.
Keep a small living room organized
(Image credit: Future / Paul Raeside)
The key to compact living is to be exceptionally well organized. In my experience, small spaces can actually transform personal habits for the better, as they require careful editing and storage. 'Open up the space as much as possible to allow for comfortable circulation. Every centimeter of a small studio has to be cleverly utilized, so that it doesn’t look cluttered, yet provides a functional layout with optimized living room storage,' says Irina Townsend, interior designer at Keir Townsend.
Instil coziness with a taupe color scheme
(Image credit: Future)
Go for a more understated style with a timeless taupe color scheme. Not quite a brown, not a grey, either, taupe falls somewhere between the two. Go for warmer taupes in rooms where you want to create coziness, and cooler taupes where you need a calm feel. To avoid colors merging into one and looking bland, layer on the texture with lots of tactile finishes and weaves with plush damasks and chenilles on curtains and upholstery. Invest in good-quality lighting to highlight different textures, sheens and finishes.
Play with scale in a narrow scheme
(Image credit: Future / Jody Stewart)
Choose one large-scale piece – a huge cabinet, an oversized lampshade or a wall to ceiling mirror for a small living room. By choosing carefully these large accessories will draw attention away from the lack of space and focus the eye onto other things.
Unite two rooms
(Image credit: Future / Jonathan Gooch)
If you’ve got a long narrow room that’s divided in two – like a living room one end and a dining room the other – it might be worth picking a favorite color and using it as a key tone to coordinate the one space. This also works to make a small dining room feel bigger, too. For example, linking navy blue walls in the dining room end with the same wall color in the living room for a space that feels united and cozy.
Get the lighting just right
(Image credit: Milo Brown)
‘Some people feel the need to flood small spaces with ceiling lights to make them feel brighter and therefore larger,' says Claire Sa, director, De Rosee Sa. 'However, I think atmosphere and dimension can be added to small spaces with different levels of controlled lighting. The lowest level might be lamps on side tables; the next would be lamps on a desk, console or chest. Finally, add fewer rather than more directional ceiling lights, positioned closer to the walls and angled away from the centre of the room to create a feature glow on, for example, a piece of wall art.’
Hang art in a small space
(Image credit: Future / Jan Baldwin)
When it comes to planning a living room feature wall, quite often, bigger is better. Walls that are covered with pictures and other wall hangings tend to make a room feel closed in, narrow and busy, so simply hang one or two large pieces of artwork on your walls to make the room feel wider and more spacious. Avoid hanging pictures high on the longer wall as they will just highlight the imbalance in the proportions, instead choose art that can sit wide but low over the couch for example, to bring the eye level down and help make the room seem wider.
Establish a Soft Background
By Brie Williams
Visually fade the perimeter of your small living room for an expansive effect. To make the walls appear to recede into the background, paint the walls, trim, and ceiling the same or very similar shades of white. For the windows, choose sheer curtains that match the walls and let in as much light as possible.
Choose Double-Duty Furniture
By John Bessler
Outfit a small living room with furniture that can do double duty, such as an ottoman or pair of poufs in place of a coffee table. A tray can quickly take these upholstered pieces from a casual place to put your feet up to a surface fit for entertaining. In this tight living room, the plush poufs also ease the pain of inevitable knee bumps.
Add Character to Walls
By James Nathan Schroder
Dressing up the walls can add a lot of character to a tiny living room. For small rooms without much space for accessorizing, bring architectural detail to walls by installing molding or paneling. A deep charcoal hue and picture frame molding add depth and personality to one wall of this living room without taking up too much physical or visual space.
Arrange Furniture Efficiently
By Josh Grubbs
The right furniture arrangement can make all the difference in a small living room. Although pushing all the furniture against the walls might seem like it would maximize space, this layout can actually make the room feel closed in. Instead, pull the furniture in toward the center of the room to create a cozy conversation area.
Minimize Visual Weight
By Melanie Acevedo
Choose clear furniture and accessories that take up minimal visual space. An acrylic coffee table provides a stylish and almost invisible solution in this small living room. The table provides a sturdy yet lightweight solution for displaying books, flowers, and other accessories.
Select Low-Profile Furniture
By David Tsay
The success of many small living rooms relies on smart furniture choices. Complement the size of the room with low-profile furniture that minimizes visual disruptions. A pair of low-slung chairs allows an uninterrupted view into this living room, while matching sofas provide a chat-friendly seating arrangement.
Choose Space-Expanding Colors
By David Tsay
The right color scheme will instantly make a small living room look larger. Since pale and cool colors reflect light, paint colors such as bright white and light blue can create the illusion of a bigger space. Painting woodwork, trim, and doors the same color as walls also helps them "disappear."
Keep Floors Bare in a Small Living Room
By Nathan Kirkman
Maintain an open feel in your small living room with a bare floor. An unbroken sweep of wood flooring will make a room look larger than a busy-patterned area rug would. If you prefer covered floors, be sure to choose the right size for the room, as a too-small rug will call even more attention to the room's diminuitive size.
Fake Taller Ceilings
By Nick Johnson
Make a short ceiling appear taller with this small-space living room idea. Simply hang curtains just under the ceiling instead of directly above the window frames. To make windows appear larger, choose curtain rods that extend slightly beyond the frames.
Zone a narrow but long living room
(Image credit: Future / Mark Bolton)
Long living room ideas rarely feel homely, but there are tricks you can use to zone the space to make it feel far cozier. A rug can visually draw together the furniture in a space, giving a room focus and adding comfort. While a focal point that contrasts with the rest of the scheme can be visually interesting, disguising the awkward layout, something like quirky piece of art, coffee table or striking lampshade.
Repeat a pattern to enhance space
(Image credit: Colefax)
Matching your blind or curtain fabric to your sofa is becoming a trend we love, especially when pattern and print is really to the fore in the design world currently. It works in a smaller living room when the background color to the print is pale, and in this instance with Colefax & Fowler’s Callista fabric it also brings the outside in so that helps to create an airy feel in tandem with the white painted walls that act like a blank canvas.
Mimic the symmetry of the room's architecture
(Image credit: Yellow London)
Smaller living rooms benefit from order and a more de-cluttered feel. This is where symmetry can be your best friend. Keeping furniture in line eases the mind as Liv Wallers from British design studio, Yellow London explains:‘Symmetry provides balance within a room and it often starts from a focal point like a fireplace or windows in the sitting room. It brings a sense of comfort and rhythm to a space which is an integral part of our design approach. It can be used right down to the smaller details of the room, cushions on the sofa to lamps on a dresser.’
Use mirrors to expand a compact space
(Image credit: Future)
Not surprisingly, mirrors can make a room look a lot larger. When decorating small spaces, hang a mirror on a wall opposite a window or very near one to reflect the outdoors, broadening the feel of your room. You can also try using a focal point and angle your mirrors towards it, which will give the illusion of depth.Mirrors reflect both natural and artificial light to make a room brighter during the day and night and they bounce light deep into the room, making it appear larger. Mirrors on the walls and glass tabletops will make it seem like there’s a more open flow. You can also use mirrored cabinet doors to make spaces feel large and uncluttered.
Balance the ying and yang in your small living room decor
(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)
We love the design contradiction between this beautiful feminine shade called Nancy’s Blushes and the visually heaviness of the mahogany sofa and eye-catching Old Master’s style portraits in the bohemian living room pictured above. Keeping the floor the same color as the furniture also helps to blend the room together – if nothing stands out, then your eye will flow around a space and in a small living room this can be key to making it feel larger.
Cut the clutter
(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti)
If there’s one thing that’s going to create the illusion of more space, it’s decluttering – it can actually make a room feel wider in seconds. Make sure you keep your room tidy and organized by removing toys, plants, knickknacks and other unnecessary items, and your space will instantly feel bigger and more pleasant to be in. And, of course, brilliant small living room storage ideas are key to maintaining this clutter-free, space-enhanced feel.With accessories and essentials neatly arranged and out of sight, the space will soon feel orderly and open. A room that's crammed full of 'belongings' takes up space, making it feel disorderly, busy and small. Try and keep the floor as clear as possible, too, as it’s one of the easiest ways to maintain a sense of spaciousness, so remove any oversized rugs.This small, yet perfectly formed living room in a stucco fronted townhouse in London’s Chelsea was created by interior designer Henry Prideaux for an American client. He wanted Henry to bring a flavour of ‘the English country in the city’ to his London residence. Henry says, ‘Don’t be afraid to go for bold color and pattern in a small space. It’s all about balance. A scheme featuring cleverly selected furniture pieces layered together with textured rugs and tactile fabrics can create a really inviting and comfortable space even if square footage is compromised. 'Sophisticated artwork and eye catching accessories can be displayed to provide lots of interesting little vignettes throughout.'Henry also explains that clever small living room lighting ideas can not only make a room lighter, but feel larger too: 'A lighting scheme that includes light sources at varying levels enhances the room and helps to create mood at different times of the day.’
Expand a small living room by introducing nature
(Image credit: VSP Interiors)
We mention below how utilizing mirrors can really open up a small living room, and you can see how well it works here. However, other key elements combined with this design trick will also help. Choosing light and airy living room color schemes – including a pale wooden floor – with an accent shade will lift a small room. ‘As well as the mirrors making the room feel bigger, they also reflect the greenery outside and bring it in,' explains Henriette Von Stockhausen, founder and creative director at UK-based VSP Interiors.'So I have used botanical fabrics with green and a bright white background for a fresh spring feel. The emerald velvet green cushions create a contrast against a soft white backdrop, while the ottoman makes for a subtler distinction, then we used accents of green, inspired by the artwork, to help unite this elegant scheme.’
Use the same color on walls, woodwork and furniture
(Image credit: Studio Indigo / Andrew Beasley)
When you use the same color for both the walls and woodwork in your living room, it can create the illusion of a larger space. The lack of contrast allows your eyes to flow seamlessly from the interior to the exterior, blending the garden and room together. This tip comes from Joa Studholme, color curator at Farrow & Ball.
Get creative with paint
(Image credit: Future / Emma Lewis)
You can make a rectangular-shaped room appear wider by using clever living room paint ideas. One technique is to paint the two end walls a darker color than the other two walls. This gradient of shade and color can create the illusion of lengthening or shortening the distance in a room. Light colors like creamy white or light grey can also make a room feel brighter, larger, and wider. Additionally, using satin paint finishes can help reflect more light. For a wider feel, you can even paint horizontal stripes on a wall using two alternating colors, with each stripe about 12 inches wide.
Layer In Texture
To add visual interest to a small living room without taking up too much space, incorporate a variety of textures. By using a mix of linen fabrics, woven materials, fringe details, and warm wood tones, you can create depth and detail in the room.
Maximize Seating with a Sectional
When dealing with a small living room, a sectional sofa can be the best choice for maximizing seating. These corner-hugging pieces offer multiple seats in one, providing plenty of lounging space without overwhelming the room. Positioning the sectional in front of built-in bookcases can also make efficient use of the available space.
Opt for Floating Shelves or One Tall Corner Shelf
Last but not least, taming clutter! I know, we have a lot of things we love. We want them on display. I am a vignette obsessive and love styling up shelves. But you have to be careful not to jam too many knick knacks into a small living room.
Instead, consider using floating shelves above your TV or stacking a few floating shelves on one of your smaller walls. Keeping it simple and allowing enough space for each piece to breathe can create a visually appealing display. If you prefer not to install floating shelves, you can try a tall thin shelf, which can draw the eye up from the floor and make the room feel taller. The Maya corner shelf from Mocka is a personal favorite of mine.
Did figuring out how to decorate a small living room just get easier? I knew you had it in you, it was just a matter of getting someone to confirm all of your styling suspicions. Drop a comment below and let me know what you’re doing in your small living room. I’d love to hear from you!
Be fussy with furniture
(Image credit: Future / Jan Baldwin)
Furniture can be challenging in narrow rooms, so it's important to arrange and choose items carefully. To make the most of a smaller space, consider using multi-function furniture like a chest that can double as a coffee table, nest of tables, or folding chairs that can be easily tucked away when not in use. Placing larger pieces of furniture against walls helps to keep the open space in the middle uninterrupted.
Go Big Where It Counts
Surprisingly, incorporating a few oversized furnishings can make a small space appear larger. Trying to fit in too many small pieces can create a cluttered feeling. Adding a sofa with a chaise longue can provide both form and function, making the room feel more spacious.
Where do you put a TV in a small living room?
If your living room is more of a snug, primarily used for cozying up and watching movies, the placement of the TV is all about comfort. According to Céline Erlam of Indie & Co, the TV should be positioned at the correct height in relation to the sofa, without the need to look up to view it. Ideally, the TV should be placed centrally relative to the sofa. It is also important to consider the audio systems and concealed cabling when planning your snug or small living room.
What color furniture goes in a small living room?
According to Paula Taylor, Head Stylist at Graham & Brown, any color of furniture can work in a small living room as long as it creates visual harmony with the rest of the space. A contrasting piece can create boundaries and visually divide the space, so it's important to choose colors that blend well and create a visual color block.
How can I decorate my living room when it is small?
When decorating a small living room, it's important to make smart choices when selecting furniture. Linear furniture designs with a minimal profile are ideal for smaller rooms. Wire metal coffee tables with open lines can create the illusion of more space by allowing the surrounding scene to be visible through them. Look for furniture designs that incorporate shelving to maximize storage capabilities. Don't be afraid to use bold shades you love, as dark colors can cleverly absorb light and create the illusion of blurred edges, adding depth and dimension to a room and making it appear larger.
Incorporating these creative tips and design techniques can transform your small living room into a space that feels spacious, stylish, and functional. From creating a sense of infinity with mirrors to choosing compact, multi-functional furniture, every element is carefully selected to maximize space and create an inviting atmosphere. So whether you want to create a focal point, play with scale, or introduce nature, these ideas will help you make the most of your small living room and turn it into a cozy haven of style and comfort.
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