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Updated: Sep 21, 2021, 10:00am
If a small living room is cramping your style and has become a place in your home that really isn’t utilized, there are some design tips and tricks to make even the smallest of rooms seem larger. From where to place your furniture to the right kind of lighting, and how to use every inch of the floor and walls so there’s no wasted space, we’ve rounded up 10 small living room ideas that will help you make the most out of your available square footage, no matter the dimensions of your room. If you need small living room design ideas that make a compact room seem spacious and ready for some living, here are ten of our favorite tips for how to decorate a small living room.
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One of the easiest ways to maximize space in a small living room, and to give the appearance that the room is much larger, is to design up. This means taking your curtains and the curtain rod close to the ceiling instead of right above the window. Make sure to add extra inches to your curtains to avoid an awkward length.
When it comes to your artwork and wall decor, go beyond eye level and build up towards the ceiling. Design your gallery wall to extend to the ceiling or add shelves that are stacked higher than the middle of the wall. When you walk into your living room, these design strategies will pull your eyes upward and give your room the appearance of being larger and more spacious.
Contrast the higher decorating details with lower stylings. From couches and chairs that sit close to the ground, to coffee tables and ottomans that are designed to be low, the contrast of high and low designs will stretch your space and give the illusion of a larger room.
Instead of crowding your small living room with multiple sofas or a large sectional, make a seating area with two smaller chairs. You can create a cozy space that is welcoming and stylish without shrinking the room. Position the chairs towards the focal point in the room-the fireplace, entertainment center or coffee table- to make the chairs feel connected to the rest of the space.
In a small living room, you’ll want to avoid large pieces of furniture that can crowd the space, but when it comes to the rug, bigger is better. A large rug that fills the space will anchor your room and give the appearance of a much larger living room. A smaller rug can look like it’s floating in the middle of the room and make your space look choppy and small. Not sure what size rug will work in your space? Grab a roll of painters tape and map out the outline of a rug on the floor. Choose different sizes so you can see what size and shape rug will best fill your space and leave your room looking larger.
A favorite trick of designers is to add mirrors to a small space to make the room appear bigger. Mirrors add light and dimensions to any room and can be an inexpensive way to create the look of a much bigger space. However, not all mirrors are created equal. Since the goal is to add space, skip mirrors with very large and ornate frames. These frames cut down on the actual mirror and can seem overpowering in a small room. Instead, opt for a small frame around your larger mirror. To boost the reflective powers of your mirrors, pair them with a light source like a table lamp or sconce that is placed close to the mirror. If you are creating a gallery wall, consider adding a mirror into the mix.
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Use the vertical space in your living room for styling and storage. If your room doesn’t have builts-ins, a floating storage unit can be added to the wall to hold your favorite pieces of decor as well as the TV and other items you’ll want in your living room. Since space is limited, decorating vertically gives you more options and gives the room the appearance of being more spacious. Be sure to decorate from bottom to top in order to pull your eyes up when in the room. A vertical storage unit or shelves are great options if you have an alcove or angled wall that you aren’t sure how to decorate.
Light is a key design feature in any room, but it is essential in a small space. Skip the heavy window treatments that will block out the natural light and choose curtains or shades that will let the light in. Add interesting lamps and light fixtures to your room that go beyond just a lamp on an end table. Brighten a wall and add a fun design detail with wall sconces. Add a light behind a couch or in a corner with floor lamps of varying heights to brighten the room. Don’t forget about the ceiling. A light fixture on the ceiling will draw your eyes up, add interest to your room and lighten your space.
From small end tables that can scoot from one end of the room to the other, to an ottoman that can be used as a coffee table, seating or storage, and chairs that can be easily moved around your space, choose furniture that doesn’t have to stay in one spot. A bar cart on wheels means when it’s not cocktail hour, the cart can pull double duty as storage or make room for more seating. By creating a flexible space with furniture that can be moved and rearranged easily, you’ll do a lot more living in your living room.
A lighter color palette will make your living room look bigger and more spacious, but that doesn’t mean you have to skip on all colors. Instead, add pops of color in a couch, pillows, rug, artwork, or a connecting room that has a bold accent wall. Keep your walls and ceilings light and neutral in a small living room to give the appearance of being larger, but get creative with color in your accent details.
If you are looking for a solution to free up floor space, avoid a big and bulky media unit, and create something that is eye-catching, consider a floating media center. Start by mounting your TV to the wall and attaching floating shelves above and below the television. Now you have a place to hide wires and cords but also a spot to add touches of decor and more storage. Slide ottomans under the bottom shelves or transform the lower shelf into an at-home workspace. This is a space you can personalize and make it totally your own.
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Amanda is a writer and content creator. When she’s not hosting national and local TV segments, creating DIY and life hacks videos, or writing articles that cover home, parenting, and everything in between, she’s at her favorite job, being a mom of three.
Lexie is an assistant editor who is responsible for writing and editing articles over a wide variety of home-related topics. She has almost four years’ experience in the home improvement space and harnessed her expertise while working for companies like HomeAdvisor and Angi (formerly Angie’s List).
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