Decorating your living room but stuck with a small space? Interior designers believe space constraints shouldn’t stop you from achieving the aesthetic you’ve envisioned — and rightfully so. In fact, you can work around your existing space and make the most of what you have just by paying attention to various design elements.
When looking to decorate small living room, you have to consider how colors, furniture placement, and storage strategies impact how your space feels. With a handful of ideas, you can ensure your space is big on style — even when low on space! Keep reading as I share 13 small living room ideas to maximize space and style in even the most compact rooms,
Create a Focal Point
If you don’t have a focal point in your living room, create one! This is because a well-defined focal point can help organize the “natural layout” of the room. It provides a center around which you can arrange the decorative elements of your home. Also, a focal point helps draw attention to a specific (aesthetic) area — and indirectly diverts attention from the room’s size. All of that, while adding to the visual interest of the interior.
My favorite ideas for choosing a focal point include:
- The fireplace (spruce up the mantel with stunning mantel decor ideas)
- A vibrant accent wall (paint an entire wall a different color)
- A piece of artwork (choose a large piece and flank it with wall sconces)
Beyond these, a focal point can be anything of your liking — for example, an attractive living room furniture arrangement.
Opt for Sleek Silhouettes
Cut down on chunky furniture pieces and opt for sleek silhouettes. This is because bulky pieces interrupt the line of vision. They can also interfere with the width (and sometimes depth) of the room, making it feel small. On the other hand, slim furniture takes up less (visual) space. It also allows more light to move around the living room — making it feel airy. And if you opt for small pieces, you can free up precious floor space.
Look for sofas with narrow arms and sleek legs (bonus points for pieces that don’t have skirted bases). Coffee tables should preferably have glass tops, and side tables with metal frames and marble tops will do the trick. Another unique idea is lucite furniture, such as lucite chairs. These allow you to see through them, creating the illusion of more space in your compact living room. Tip: Make sure the furniture pieces have a low profile (and sit near the ground).
Go Big on Storage
It’s likely that your small living room appears cluttered. The reason? A lack of storage space! And nothing makes your living room appear more cramped than clutter. To solve the problem, go big on storage in your living room. This makes sure you utilize the available space efficiently — all while providing excellent organization solutions. You can make sure your essentials are tucked out of sight but still easy to reach.
In small living rooms, the trick to optimal storage is choosing multifunctional furniture pieces. This can be a coffee table with storage compartments as well as a storage ottoman. Also, use vertical space by, for example, mounting shelves on the walls. Storage baskets are also a small living space essential.
Focus on the Lighting
It goes without saying that well-lit rooms appear more spacious. This is because adequate lighting visually ‘expands’ the room. Plus, it helps set the mood in the living room and accentuates the room’s decor. (And, of course, it adds to the functionality of the space.)
For optimal effect, layer lighting in your living room. This is a combination of:
- General lighting — e.g., a chandelier
- Task lighting — e.g., a floor lamp placed over a reading nook
- Accent lighting — e.g., wall sconces flanking a piece of art
Pro tip: Maximize natural light too! Simply unwind the blinds and fold the curtains during the day to achieve the purpose. Mirrors also help; see more below.
Leverage the Use of Mirrors
One of my ideas to decorate small living room is adding mirrors. These reflect light and brighten the interior — and strategic placement can also amplify the levels of natural light. Plus, they add depth. I mean, when you look into a mirror, you feel like space is extending beyond its physical boundaries, right?
Mount one or more mirrors near windows and light sources (this reflects light from these sources throughout the room). Another fun idea is adding a mirror or two as a part of your gallery wall. If you’re looking for a more subtle approach, use mirrored furniture (such as cabinet fronts with reflective surfaces).
Who says you have to skimp on style in small living rooms? In fact, adding personality is one of the best decor tips I’ve learned on my journey in interior design. For small spaces, the trick is downsizing the build (and amount) of furniture and decor items.
Start by choosing a few furniture pieces that speak to your personality — and have a size compatible with your available space. Proceed by layering in accessories that don’t disrupt the balance of the living room.
Stick to Symmetry
Symmetry helps create a sense of calm — and balance — in your small living room. Depending on how you incorporate it, it can also ease traffic flow (especially when you place items around the natural perimeter of the room). And if you’re indecisive, sticking to symmetry will ease out multiple design decisions 😉
Achieving the purpose in a small living room connects with our original concept of creating a focal point. For example, if you’ve chosen the fireplace as the focal point, you can proceed by distributing seating space equally on both sides.
Set a Soft Background
Setting a soft background, that is, with a myriad of neutrals, can create an expansive effect. This is because light paint colors make the walls feel like they are ‘receding’ — thus visually opening up the room.
For your living room palette, consider similar shades of white (or any other neutral, such as beige, taupe, cream, etc.). Pair this palette with sheer curtains, preferably using the same color as the walls. These allow as much light as possible to enter while still making room for privacy.
Embrace Pops of Color
A neutral base works well for spaciousness — but don’t forget bold punches of color. These add visual interest to your living room (we all can agree that a little color cheers up even the blandest spaces, right?). Also, some space-expanding colors, when used in the right proportions, can even make your living room look larger!
From light blues and soft greens to light yellows and lavender, you have plenty of choices when it comes to space-expanding hues (that are not neutrals). Use these for large pieces, such as the rug and draperies. You can also use smaller decorative elements, such as a statement decor piece or cushions, to add bold hues. For example, dark blues, purples, and reds.
Fake Tall Ceilings
Your small living room can certainly make use of visually taller ceilings. This ensures your space feels open and airy — even with a low ceiling.
A quick and effective way to do this is by hanging curtains just under the ceiling (instead of their typical positioning above the window frame). You can also make your windows appear a little bigger by choosing windows that extend slightly beyond the window frames. Another idea is using vertical stripes for your wallpaper (these draw the eye upwards).
Layer Plenty of Textures
Another aspect of small living room decor that makes all the different (but is easy to neglect) is the ambiance; you want to make it as inviting as possible! And when adding warmth, texture is key.
Diversify textures in your living room by layering different materials. For example, use wood for the flooring and top it with a wool rug. You can also add soft furnishings (for example, using throw pillows and tossing in a blanket). From a velvet-covered armchair to cotton draperies, the possibilities for adding texture are endless.
Opt for Curved Edges
Curved edges can offset any harsh angles in your tiny living room; this improves the flow of movement in the space. Also, when you have less space (where every inch counts), furniture items with curved edges can more easily fit into corners and narrow areas.
Choose furniture pieces with curved edges (including sofas and armchairs). Round tables and curved shelving are other ideas. If you’re looking for a cheaper way to achieve the purpose, consider a round area rug and cushions. For a more subtle approach, you may opt for round patterns for certain fabrics.
Dress Up the Walls
You can instantly add character to your small sitting room by dressing up the walls. Wall art not only adds visual interest but also helps reflect your personal style.
Consider artwork for your walls — and perhaps shelves to hold your small living room decor pieces. Tapestries and wall murals are other great ideas. If you’re looking to make a statement, consider a vertically-growing indoor plant. My favorite is a vining plant growing downwards from a potted plant (suspended to the ceiling).
I believe size has nothing to do with style. Whether you have a small living room or a large open-plan area — it all comes down to making the right design decisions. And my 13 ideas to decorate small living room give you a great place to start. Always remember, a small living room ≠ a compromise on style!