Updated: Nov 1, 2021
When you’re faced with the task of decorating your living room but you’re working with limited square footage, the first thing that comes to mind is, “where will everything go?” Even if you don’t have a ton of furniture, placing and positioning your sofa or coffee table can become confusing and frustrating when things just don’t come together.
So, if you have a small living room and you don’t know which types of furniture to choose or how to maximize the little space that you have, we’re here to help you out with some small living room design tips based on the size and the layout of your space.
How to Make Your Living Room Look Bigger
Transforming a small living room into a seemingly larger space is not about expensive renovations. It’s about smart ways of using furniture, paint, and accessories that create an illusion of spaciousness. You’ll be surprised at the difference in the look and feel of the room with the right use of color and positioning of furniture.
But why do you need more space in your living room?
Because the living room is a place to relax, socialize, and have guests over, it becomes a problem when it feels cramped and disorganized. If you enjoy having friends and family over but can’t fit more than a two-seater sofa in the lounge, this could be an issue!
Another reason more homes and apartments are using furniture, paint, and accessories to make rooms feel bigger and brighter is that it lifts your mood. When you walk into a room and it feels spacious and everything has a place, it helps you to unwind and enjoy your home.
So, no more bumping into furniture, wasting money on pieces that don’t work, or not enjoying your place because it lacks space. We look at the most popular living room design strategies to make it look and feel like a brand new space.
It’s one thing having a small living room, but it’s a whole other problem when your room is narrow.
The best way to decorate a narrow room is to use furniture with legs. So instead of using a sofa that has a base that covers the floor, you can choose one with legs that will allow you to see the floor underneath it. The purpose of leggy pieces is to make you feel that the area is larger than what it really is. It creates flow and prevents certain areas from being cut off, which can leave the space feeling cramped. Using furniture to improve spaciousness is another smart way of decorating without damaging your home or apartment.
You can also use artwork such as a painting or a canvas print to place on the furthest side of the room so when you walk into the living room, your eye is drawn towards the art instantly creating an illusion of length and space.
Narrow areas are also improved with the right paint color. Lighter is always better; however, you can also paint horizontal lines across the walls to make the room appear wider in contrast to its narrow layout.
Design Tip – For small rooms with low ceilings, vertical lines that are painted on the walls make the space appear taller while horizontal stripes are used to create width.
Use the Correct Lighting
Lighting plays an important role when decorating smaller spaces and the right use of lamps and shades can instantly transform the way living areas look and feel.
For small apartments, lampstands are a great addition because the elongated stand adds height and doesn’t take up too much space. For homes, installing a sconce light on the wall is the perfect way to free more of your floor space while adding light.
Choosing the Right Sofa
A staple for the living room and a source of comfort, but when it comes to choosing the right sofa for a small space, the options are confusing!
Shopping for new sofas is best done in-store. This way you can see and touch the piece helping to visualize how it will work for the room. If you decide to purchase a sofa online, always look at the dimensions and the fabric. Check the measurements of the furniture to determine if it will fit in your living room, then consider the fabric especially if you have children and pets in the apartment.
You'll want a durable sofa fabric that is easy to keep clean.
Materials such as cotton and linen are hard-wearing and can be steam cleaned to remove odors. Leather is durable and easy to clean but it is pricey. If you want the look and feel of a leather sofa but without the high price tag, consider seating with genuine leather uppers. A leather upper sofa is more affordable because only certain parts of the body such as the arms and seat are genuine leather while the rest of the chair is imitation leather.
A popular choice that can certainly work in a small room is a sectional sofa. It offers plenty of seating for guests and because it is positioned flush against the wall, it won’t take up too much floor space. If you can’t find a sectional to fit into a small living room, you can opt for a loveseat or you can ditch the sofa idea completely and include two armchairs with legs.
Mirrors have been a simple way to trick the eye and make even the tiniest of rooms feel airier and brighter. Hang a large square, round, or rectangular mirror on the wall to make the living room feel bigger. Remember that a larger mirror is better than small décor pieces because the smaller mirror will simply make the room feel tiny.
If you can’t hang a mirror on the wall, think of a mirror stand in the corner of the room or ladder shelves with mirrors as a backing. It is optional but a great decorative feature to make a room look more spacious.
If you’re tempted to add a coffee table to the living room, I suggest leggy, glass tops, or light wood finishes. Dark and bulky coffee tables add heaviness to the space, and it takes away from trying to create spaciousness.
Bigger is Better
When you live in a small space don’t think small, think big! Large rugs, large mirrors, and large accessories help the area feel wider. If you were to use a tiny rug for the living room it would make the walls feel like it’s closing in.
The reason for using a bigger carpet in a small room is because it helps to anchor the floor space. It doesn’t break it up into smaller sections but creates one large area that prevents your eyes from focusing on one small rug or carpet in the middle of the room.
Make the Most of Nooks and Crannies
If you have a space like a little nook, use it for practical purposes. Any extra space that you have should never go to waste... What you can do to provide functionality is add shelves to it. Floating shelves are a simple way to add appeal and improve storage. If you can’t drill into the walls, then opt for a small ladder shelf that can fit into the space. You can also use stackable storage bins and place them into a nook then cover the area with a small screen to keep it looking neat.
Painting is a staple of decorating your home and in small spaces, don’t be afraid to be different. While the general rule is to stick to very light paint colors such as white and cream, it can often leave the room feeling stark. An interior design trend is the inclusion of dark walls in a gray or blue hue with white ceilings and trim. Then to decorate, you can incorporate bright accessories from scatter pillows to the artwork that will really pop against the backdrop. It is your preference, and you should always choose colors that you want to surround yourself with, but don’t go canary yellow or shocking pink! Radical colors are hard to cover when you get tired of it!
Let's Move Onto the Practical Side of Design and Decor
Will You Need Storage in the Living Room?
We don’t think about storage when we decorate a living room. Most of us focus on where the TV will go, how to decorate the mantle, or where to place the sofa, but the practical side of design falls by the wayside.
In a small room you don’t want to add a lot of furniture because the area quickly becomes cramped. So, you need to be creative and think about what you need to store in the room before you decide to purchase furniture.
If the television isn’t going to be wall-mounted, then a slim entertainment unit elevated with feet including shelves, can work. You can also increase storage by using ottomans that could double up as seating. A long rectangular ottoman placed under a window is a great way to add storage with attractive seating.
Think About Upcycled Décor
Today’s living trend is about reusing and repurposing décor, so why not fill your home with some unique items that you’ve made with your very own hands?
Indoor plants are inexpensive and make the most impact in living rooms. The good news is that you don’t have to stick to a regular fern or cactus, you can add a peace lily, orchid, delicious monster, or a variety of succulents for some green living.
For more repurposing ideas to fill your home, you can check out our guide: The 3 R’s of DIY Decorating: Renovate, Refurbish, and Revitalize.
Enjoy Your Space, No Matter How Small
Not only can you incorporate our decorative and space-saving strategies for your living room but for your bedroom too! Multi-functional pieces and furniture with tapered legs are simple solutions for keeping the room airy and free-flowing.
Your home is many things! It is your sanctuary, a place of entertainment, and it is security. By planning its design and décor you can easily make your small living room feel like a well-organized and cozy area that you can be proud of.