Shop a similar look: rug ($1,000, madelineweinrib.com), table (price upon request, katchid.com), settee ($1,799 and more, ballarddesigns.com), stool ($159, westelm.com)
Choose lighting that can be attached to the walls or hung from above to save room on floor space. In this 295-square-foot New York studio designed by Nick Olsen, swingarm lamps from Lamps Plus free up space on the side tables.
This living room feels big and spacious due in large part to tall ceilings and big windows, but also of note is the layered lighting. Keeping light at multiple levels (via floor lamps, chandeliers, and task lights) creates a moody yet well-lit room.
Shop a similar look: blue curtain panels ($56, jossandmain.com)
Shop a similar look: loveseat ($10,875 and more, ralphlaurenhome.com), black tables ($464 and more, stfurniture.com)
We’re so conditioned by the living room formula sofa + coffee table, but what if you focused on doing what works for you and how you live instead? In this space from IKEA via Domino, a quarter of slipper chairs sit where a sofa might be (how modular!) while a coffee table is absent in place of a rolling cart off to the side and cushy floor rugs.
(Image credit: Josh Gruetzmacher for Style Me Pretty Living )
Acrylic or glass furniture has long been a designer trick for small spaces. They serve a purpose (i.e., holding drinks, etc.) while basically disappearing into the space. The result is a room with all the function you need, but without all the visual clutter.
It’s no secret that plants add so much value to any room in the home, but you can really get creative with them in your living area. In a tour of her home via House Beautiful, Justina Blakeney shows off just that in her compact living room, and is smart about hanging greenery as to not take up any precious floor space.
In a tiny space, you might be afraid of overwhelming things with too-large furniture, but oftentimes, if you go full throttle with a large sectional that hugs the walls, you’ll get a room that #1 seats a ton of people and #2 feels super welcoming and cozy. Take notes from this home we toured in the UK that fits a family of four.
Grouping items into threes like in this space on SFGirlbyBay is a great way to make a living room feel a bit bigger by adding more pieces to a space without taking up more real estate. (Not to mention you can move smaller furnishings like these around as needed.)
It’s interesting to try new things. Sometimes traditional ideas about living room decor aren’t the best solution for a small space. Instead of using blinds for window treatments, use long, flowing drapes because they draw attention to vertical space, thus expanding the area of the room.
Glossy walls painted in Benjamin Moore Aura in Bittersweet Chocolate create a sophisticated backdrop for simple, clean-lined pieces in a New York City apartment. “It’s a small room that doesn’t get a lot of light, so we tried to turn a negative into a positive and make it feel like a dark, dramatic jewel box — but not too dark,” designer Lilly Bunn says.
When you shop for furniture, consider its visual weight. This concept refers to the perceived heaviness of an object based on size, color and design. Pick out pieces that have a lightweight appearance, as heavier ones will seem to constrict a space.
Those pesky small living rooms always have us stumbling and second guessing what we should do to make the most of the floor plan. If you’ve ever struggled with how to arrange your furniture, how to fit in more seating, how to get in more light and beyond, here are 30 rooms—from genius teeny spaces full of inspiration to larger living rooms with plenty of ideas to borrow—showcasing the best ways to expand your square footage without any demolition.
A feature wall is a great way to properly weigh and focus a room with awkward angles, like in this room from Alvhem, that uses a bold floral wallpaper to pull the attention to the seating area.
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This is the space where you’re supposed to unwind in after a long day, but if it’s cramped and cluttered you’re never going to find that zen. That is, unless you trick your eye into thinking your room is bigger than it appears. These design ideas will help you do just that.
In this small guesthouse in Salt Lake City, Utah, designers Marshall Watson and Jeffrey Kilmer kept furniture central — not pushed against the walls. “If you create space beyond the furniture, it adds volume to a room,” says Kilmer.
In her New York City apartment, designer Kelly Giesen was strategic about her furniture picks. “All the seating is low,” she says. “Chairs are off the floor on exposed legs, and the coffee table is made of there-but-not-there Lucite. These pieces keep the space from feeling crowded.”
Beige curtains and shades coordinate with the walls in the living room of Lisa McFadden’s Hamptons cottage, a trick that helps maximize light.
Packing your teeny space with lots of purpose is another way to trick yourself into thinking things are bigger than they appear. In this apartment on Homepolish, the living room seamlessly connects to an office area, feeling cohesive and interesting.
When entertaining, this desk becomes a dining table in a Manhattan apartment designed by Ashley Whittaker.
Bring your artwork up to trick the eye and expand or accentuate the height of the room, like in Bill Brockschmidt and Richard Dragisic’s 640-square-foot New York apartment.
Many small living room ideas revolve around tricking the eye into making the area appear more spacious. Such strategies can transform an area that feels cramped and claustrophobic into one that feels cozy and aesthetically pleasing. Decorate in a way that maximizes light and space, and pay attention to how you use color, scale and weight. It can make quite a difference.
If space is tight, you could do without a couch completely, either choosing a loveseat or opting to position four chairs around a coffee table. When picking out chairs, consider armless ones because they will take up less space than a model with arms.
Similar to the above trick, choosing accent furniture with delicate frames is another way to keep down the visual noise. This tiny seating living room (the home of content strategist Cole Wilson via One Kings Lane) feels full sized thanks to the delicate gold base and glass top coffee table, thin framed accent chairs and floor lamp.
When floor space is at a premium but you’ve got tons of books and whatsits to store, you’ll want to consider floating shelves. Keep them the same color as your wall for an even sleeker look (and don’t be afraid to get creative with sizes, like these scattered smaller shelves in a room from VT Wonen).
Opt for pale colors over darker ones, and select pieces that have legs while avoiding those that are boxy. Glass coffee or end tables will take up less visual space than wooden ones because you can see through them. Any furnishings that don’t obstruct views will make an area seem more open.
Featured in Domino, the home of denim darling Nicole Najafi (founder of Industry Standard) showcases many talents, but the biggest takeaway here was her tip on a trick every small space needs to follow: “My apartment is full of eye tricks to make it look larger than it actually is. The shades, for example, are mounted a few feet above the windows to make them look taller. There’s actually just wall behind them.”
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To open up floor space in his New York City living room, designer David Kaihoi built a corner banquette, with hidden storage beneath the seats (shown on the right). “Everything has to have more than one purpose,” he says.
In Justina Blakeney’s boho-chic “Jungalow” home, bolder is always better. This is especially true in the living room, right down to the brilliant blue rug (part of Blakeney’s collection for Loloi). Choosing a larger rug — even in an eye-catching pattern — is a decision that makes a room feel bigger. Unlike smaller rugs, the large size doesn’t visually break up the floor.
Shop a similar look: red leather storage ottoman ($118, amazon.com)
Spotted on Marie Claire Maison, this non-traditional “sofa” is perched atop vintage storage bins—chic and smart!
In this charming living room via Domino, your attention is occupied and delighted by all the personal accents and accessories that draw you into each area of the little space.
This space from Cup of Jo is by no means a small living room, but let’s pretend for a second that it is to learn a thing or two from it. See those two poufs on the other side of the coffee table? Those could easily swap in for the actual coffee table itself in a tighter space, which gives the room’s user flexibility in surfaces. Opting for ottomans or poufs over larger furnishings is a smart way to still have a spot to place a drink or remote, but be able to move things easily around as you please (and even maybe create more seating).
To turn a small, sort of sad living space into your favorite room, consider taking an empty wall and turning it into a top-to-bottom mini library. It’ll provide plenty of storage opportunities, but also makes such a statement and gives a luxe built-in effect. For an even more stylish push, pick a rich color, like the hunter green of this room, and add molding to polish off the custom look.
A list of small living room ideas would not be complete without the recommendation to select furniture that won’t overpower the room or appear to dominate the space. A sofa with thin arms and a tightly upholstered back is preferable to one with substantial arms and a multi-cushion back.
Blankets are a must for a cozy living room experience but when you’re short on space to store said blankets, you don’t have many options. Sure, you can stash them in a basket, but that takes but valuable floor space. A better option? The leading ladder (as seen here in the home of shelter bloggers New Darlings).
Shop a similar look: white coffee table (price upon request, bungalow5.com)
While some might tell you that all-white rooms are the key to stretching a small space, we’re here to tell you that no matter what paint you go with, the effect of color is a lot more nuanced than that. A trick that always works, though, no matter what’s on your wall? Matching your drapes (bonus points if they’re a sheer material) to your wall. Here, from Better Homes & Gardens, off-white walls seem to go on forever as the visual line is not interrupted by different colored curtains. If you flip this and decide to go dark and moody, stick to draperies in equally dramatic tones for a super cohesive, polished look perfect for a small living room.
In a Texas guesthouse, an extra-large club chair is slipcovered in designer Ginger Barber’s favorite check, Marvic’s Damier in Beige. “I think comfort is about big scale,” she says. “Lots of little things in small spaces tighten things up visually. Squeeze as much comfort into a room as possible — that’s my motto!”
With a rug that is. A large rug like this one in the West Village apartment of Lee Lenox makes a tiny space feel much bigger than it actually is.
In this space by The Apartment St Kilda via Instagram, the crisp white walls serve as the perfect canvas for the oversize jet black lighting fixture and delightfully worn-in furnishings and accents—you hardly notice the room’s tiny footprint amidst the cohesive palette.
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In designer Ken Fulk’s Napa Valley cottage, two African drum tables take the place of one big coffee table in front of the Ralph Lauren sofa. “They’re better for traffic flow than one of those huge knee-knockers, and easily moved to wherever we need them,” says Fulk.
Try implementing varying geometric and linear prints, as seen on Design*Sponge. This gives a small space a sense of structure while also providing the illusion of additional length and width.
Your living room, regardless of size, should be able to function as a space for relaxation and entertaining. Here are some of our favorite ways to make it feel more spacious.
Sometimes the best way to visually increase the square footage in a space is to keep the eye constantly in motion (so you don’t notice how small it is). Take a cue from entertaining expert Lulu Powers in her LA bungalow seen on One Kings Lane: pattern on pattern, bold color next to bold color—cozy perfection!
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Shop a similar look: yellow checkered fabric ($52 per meter, marvictextiles.co.uk)
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Mirrors are one of the best ways to make your tiny space feel open and airy. This space from West Elm shows off the dramatic impact multiple mirrors can play, plus they reflect any and all light available in the room.
One of the most popular small living room ideas is the use of neutral colors on walls, floor, ceiling and furniture upholstery. A palette of off-whites or beiges will expand the space by appearing to push back the walls. Soft hues also tend to illuminate a room by reflecting light. In addition to enlarging an area, a neutral palette imparts instant sophistication and creates a calming environment.
If you’re looking to add storage/display surfaces to your living room, consider going leg-free and attaching units directly to the wall (like this Besta unit from IKEA in a room via Livet Hemma). Floating large pieces like this tricks the eye into thinking less space has been taken up because the floor area is still free (plus, you can use that newly found space for even more storage should you feel the need).
If you have some windows in your tiny living room, put those window sills to work holding books, plants and other decorative objects.
Draperies are the quickest way to add instant height to any space. The trick is to hang them from right around where your wall meets your ceiling and let them slightly puddle on the ground, as seen in this Notting Hill townhouse via Suzy Hoodless.
In a reading nook by Chloe Warner, ottomans were used in place of a traditional coffee table for maximum versatility. You can top them with a tray to hold flowers and books, or call them into use as extra seating.
Curtains hung well above the window impart airiness and height in a New York City studio apartment. Homeowner and designer Andrew Stewart kept the curtain design basic but used extra fabric for fullness. He also mounted the Samsung TV on a swing-arm device, eliminating the need for a bulky media center.
Shop a similar look: rug ($157 and more, target.com), silver pouf ($119, wayfair.com)
The main goal of any small living space is always to use every area as efficiently as possible. So that area under the coffee table (considering yours doesn’t have shelving) can often feel a bit wasted, unless you mimic this clever space from Style Me Pretty Living that tucks additional poufs under for more usage.
Designers Cloth & Kind opted for an impressive statement wall when it came to this petite space featured on Architectural Digest, and the mix of patterns is fresh and lively, while a subtle, neutral palette keeps things from feeling overdone. This is a genius way to inject serious personality into a small space.
Okay, so this one is reserved for homeowners who can invest in custom solutions, but how enviable is this media center designed by London-based firm Sigmar?
Keep it simple, sweetie! When you don’t have a ton of room to play with but you want to inject some color, it’s best to keep it simple if you’re a newbie. Start with a foundation of neutrals and add in one feature color and one metallic and run with it, like this space via House Beautiful which invites varying textures and finishes to add depth while remaining light and airy on the eyes.
What are your favorite ideas for making your small living room look larger?
Shop a similar look: swingarm lamps ($130, lampsplus.com), pillow ($140, artemisiainc.com)
Another idea is to fill the vertical space with a menagerie of small to midsize artwork. This technique will make the room feel larger than it actually is, because it invites the eye to roam beyond the eye-level horizontal space that may feel confined.
Shop a similar look: rug ($1,195, jonathanadler.com), tablecloth (price upon request, jacarandahome.com)
A room has a vertical dimension as well as a horizontal one. If your living room has a high ceiling, make the most of the extra space by decorating it in a manner that draws the eye upward. Floor-to-ceiling drapes are a stylish way to accomplish this goal.
Designers often place mirrors strategically in small places in order to make them feel larger. One of the most common small living room ideas is to hang a large mirror in a central location to create a focal point. To reflect light and add a nice ambiance, put it behind a light source such as a candle or pendant lamp. If possible, position a mirror across from your window so it will reflect the view and give the illusion of another window.
“I don’t think you should ever restrain yourself!” designer Krista Ewart says. “And big, bright and bold actually makes small spaces seem larger. The more statement pieces, the better.” Vibrant colors, a mix of patterns and flowers everywhere make the living room cheerful, bright and playful.
The best way to shake up a space is to give it a fresh furniture layout. If you’re bored of your little living room, consider angling a few key pieces to keep things interesting like this room on Domino (via Airbnb).