For many people, especially those who want to be in the vibrant heart of a city, living in a small space is the only option. Luckily, even the smallest of living rooms can be practical, stylish and unique if it’s designed well. Carefully chosen furnishings, eye-catching colours and a well-planned layout can allow you to make the most of your space and maximise your home’s potential.
To help you create the living room you really want, and stamp your personality on your bijou space, we’ve put together 25 of our favourite ideas for decorating and furnishing small living rooms.
1. Plan your layout
Before you put your furniture in its final positions, try out a few different layouts to get an idea of what works. Play around with furniture combinations - sometimes the most obvious solution isn't the best.
A good way of doing this is to mark out large pieces of furniture on the floor using tape. This will allow you to ensure the room flows before putting furniture in place.
2. Add Colour
In general, light, bright colours help to reflect ambient light and make a room feel bigger. Dark colours tend to absorb light and so can make a space feel smaller than it is, especially if they’re used in abundance.
If you want to keep your living room light but still want to add a bit of colour, you can introduce bright, bold tones using your cushions, curtains, rug and other soft furnishings. Find more ideas for using colour in a small living room here.
3. Make use of height
As mentioned in our styling blog, using the full height of your room helps to balance the space as well as making it feel bigger.
For example, the use of floating shelves is a great way to display ornaments or home decor accessories without taking up any floor space. You can also place mirrors and artwork high up your walls to help draw the eye right to the top of the space.
4. Use mirrors
Mirrors are one of the most effective small living room ideas you’ll come across. Placing large mirrors around the space will help reflect the ambient light and give the illusion that your room is bigger than it is.
You can put mirrors pretty much anywhere. However, using focal points like chimney breasts, or placing a big mirror behind your sofa or opposite the window, will help to make your design look more deliberate
When looking for ideas on how to make a small room look bigger, you’ll see that a lot of designers recommend a thorough de-clutter. A good, deep clean and declutter is not only good for the soul, it’s a great way to create the illusion of more space.
The more you can remove from your living room, the more dramatic the result will be. Start by getting rid of old ornaments before moving onto any unnecessary furnishings cluttering up the space.
6. Choose your furniture wisely
Choosing the right furniture for your space is incredibly important. A good option is to go for furniture that’s raised off of the ground. Selecting a sofa or armchair that sits on raised legs will help to bring a sense of light and space and make even the smallest living rooms feel airy.
Choosing a raised sofa for a small living room will also give you a little extra scope for storage. The same can be said for raised bookcases and shelves.
7. Natural light
When you’re looking for tips on how to make a small living room look bigger, you’ll see that maximising natural light is one of the most important things you can do.
Unfortunately, not everyone is blessed with south facing rooms, so make clever choices when dressing your window. Sheer drapes are an incredible way to let light into a room without giving up your privacy.
Unfortunately, not everyone is blessed with south facing rooms, so make clever choices with your how you dress your window. Sheer drapes are an incredible way to let light into a room without giving up your privacy.
8. Focus on continuity
The more colours you introduce to your living room, the busier and more crowded the space will feel. To prevent this, match the main furniture items in the room to the colour of the walls. This will ensure they blend in and create a greater sense of space. Of course, a few statement pieces can be added to help inject a little character and personality.
9. Paint your ceilings
Yes, you've heard me right. Believe it or not, painted ceilings are very on trend right now. Painting or wallpapering your ceiling helps to turn what is often a blank canvas into a legitimate part of your home décor. Adding a bit of colour or pattern to your ceiling will help to draw the eye upwards and provide the perfect finishing touch for your small space.
10. Don’t overlook the lighting
Lighting is incredibly important in any design scheme. Whether you’re decorating a huge, open space or a cosy lounge, getting the lighting right will ensure it looks just as good at night as it does in the day.
Aside from the obvious ceiling light, fixtures such as wall lights, floor and table lamps, candles and spot lights can amplify the sense of the space. Especially if you have the light directed to the right spot.
11. Select the right small sofa
A small sofa is the perfect choice for a small living room. Giving you somewhere to relax and recline, while maximising your living space, a small sofa can make the ideal centrepiece for your room.
To keep things light, bright and airy, choose a small sofa that sits on raised legs and that works well with your living room décor. Alternatively opt for a modular design so you can configure your sofa in the way that suits you best. Find out more about our 2-seater sofas here.
12. Add an armchair
Although it may feel counterintuitive to add more furniture to your small space, introducing an armchair or footstool can help to make your living room more functional and more attractive.
Our beautifully made armchairs and footstools are designed to complement our small sofas. They’ll provide valuable extra seating when friends and family come to visit and help to add more colour and character to your home.
13. Use light blinds or curtains
Keeping the areas around your windows as light and as bright as possible will help to maximise the amount of daylight in the space. Avoid heavy drapes and dark colours and opt for minimalist blinds or white curtains instead.
Another good option is wooden shutters. These on-trend window fittings are designed to allow light in while maintaining your privacy.
14. Build in your shelving
The smaller your living room, the more important your built-in storage. Building storage into any available alcoves, nooks and crannies will give you plenty of places to put books, ornaments, photos and gadgets without eating into your floor space.
If you don’t have any handy indents in your living room, simply hang your shelves on the walls to keep the floor clear of clutter.
15. Make full use of the space
When working with a small living space, don’t be afraid to use the full scope of the room. Push the sofa against the wall, use wall lamps instead of standing lamps and use every square inch of floor that’s available.
Try to avoid leaving any dead spaces in the room. This will only eat into the useful area and make your living room feel smaller.
16. Use oversized furnishings
One of the most effective modern small living room ideas you’ll come across is using oversized furniture. Though it may seem surprising, using large pieces of furniture in a cosy space can actually work really well, as long as other clutter and furnishings are kept to a minimum.
Consider investing in the largest sofa that will fit in the space and match it with a generously-sized coffee table. This will give you a comfortable seating area and make your living room feel welcoming.
17. Add some artwork
Well-chosen artwork can help to brighten your walls and add character to your living space. By taking the eye right out to the walls, you’ll also help to maximise the feel of your cosy room.
Try to match the colours in your artwork to other strong tones in your decor. This will help to create a unified look and bring your design together.
18. Use white walls to maximise ambient light
Keeping walls white will help to bounce light around the room and make it feel as big as possible. If you don’t want to go for a pure white, very light grey will do the job as well.
Match your light walls with a very light carpet and your living room will feel bright and welcoming in all weathers.
19. Add hidden storage
Having places to put your belongings will help you to avoid clogging your living room up with clutter. A great way to add more storage to the space is to use a trunk or box instead of a coffee table. You could also consider putting storage boxes under your sofa, building a window seat with hidden storage or installing cupboards that double as side tables.
20. Keep it intimate
Instead of trying to make your small living room feel bigger, it’s better to work within its confines and turn it into a cosy, intimate space.
Choose a layout that makes it easy to talk with others in the space and use lighting that makes the room feel cocooned and welcoming. Using footstools or armchairs to provide extra seating is a great way to make the room feel friendly.
21. Go for a dark wall colour
White is often the default choice for walls when working with small spaces. However, dark colours can look great too. Dark blues, greys and greens can all add drama to a small space while providing a great backdrop for your furnishings.
If you’re going to go for dark walls, make sure you use plenty of mirrors and accent colours to avoid the deep shade becoming overwhelming.
22. Make furniture multipurpose
When working with a limited floor space, it’s important that everything you put in the room is as useful as possible. As we’ve seen, your coffee table can double up as extra storage and your footstool as occasional seating. If you can fit a 3-seater sofa in the space, you can also use a sofabed as an extra bed when friends and family come to stay.
23. Use an oversized rug
Place an oversized rug under your sofa and coffee table to define your seating area and make your living room feel larger than it is. Choose a rug with a pattern that naturally elongates the space like horizontal stripes. It’s a good idea to avoid using dark, bold colours in the rug as this may begin to shrink your space.
24. Open up your doorway
If your door opens into your living room, it can eat into valuable floor space and make the room feel more cluttered. Consider swapping your inward opening door for an outward opener or think about installing a sliding door in its place. Another option is to remove the door altogether and really open up your living area.
25. Add greenery
Plants add colour, height and homeliness to living rooms of all shapes and sizes. If you’re working with a small space, choose a couple of tall plants that will have a big impact on the look of the room. You could also place a plant with hanging foliage on your shelves to add even more greenery to the design.
Finding the small living room decorating ideas that work for you will help you to enhance your home and get the very best out of your interior. If you’re already looking for the perfect sofa for your small space, take a look at our sofa page for inspiration.