16 Best Small Living Room Ideas – How to Decorate a Small Living Room
If your living room or family room is cramped and cluttered, the last thing you'll want to do is spend time in there. That is, unless you trick your eye into thinking the space is bigger than it appears.
It's not magic; it's just smart styling. Get ready to Pin all these tips and transform your small living room or small family room into a comfortable, stylish oasis for you and your house guests to enjoy.
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1 Let The Light Pour In
If your living room has access to a ton of natural light, don't block it out with dark curtains. Let it pour in to make the space feel more airy and open. Even if you don't have large windows and tons of sunlight, choose lighter shades to maximize the light you do have. Semi-sheer shades the ones in this living room designed by Barrie Benson will help, too.
2 Play With Scale
Don't be afraid of making a big statement in a small space. There's a difference between clutter and well-curated collections and dramatic design moments. In this modest living room designed by Leanne Ford Interiors, we love how the over-the-top, formal chandelier creates contrast and intrigue.
3 Choose A Large Rug
Choosing a larger rug—even in a bold pattern—is a trick that makes a room feel bigger. Un smaller rugs, the large size doesn't visually break up the floor. This can also help anchor the space and give you a good staple piece to design the rest of the room around. Corner seating can also help you get more mileage less surface room for a longer traditional sofa.
4 Keep It Cozy
Leaning into the smallness of a space can actually be what makes it feel genuinely cozy and inviting. Keep seating close together and intimate, and choose a plush, soft rug, the one in this space designed by 2LG Studio. This is especially well advised if you're decorating a small family room, where you'll want things to super welcoming and functional.
5 Pick a Dark Paint Color
Dark, glossy walls create a sophisticated backdrop for simple, clean-lined pieces and even colorful, bold items. Use the small space to your advantage and make it feel a jewel-box. Painting your ceilings the same color can enhance the sense of intimacy even further. Then have fun with brighter furniture throughout, as done in this small living room designed by Andrew Felsher.
6 Make it Multi-Purpose
When space is lacking, the only option is to get creative and make things multi-purpose. For example, if you don't have room for a separate living room, family room, and home office, combine each concept into one space. This living room and office by Leanne Ford Interiors proves that the right layout and pieces can look great, no matter what shape or size the room.
7 Take Advantage of High Ceilings
Even if you're lacking in square footage and surface space, you can get a lot of mileage high ceilings. To take advantage of that vertical space, accentuate tall windows with high curtains and a show-stopping wallpaper. Also, curtains hung well above a window add airiness and height to a small room. Keep the curtain design basic but use extra fabric for fullness.
8 Paint Your Walls White
Keep walls and floors all white to brighten up the space. Large artwork on the wall is eye-catching, yet not the leastbit cluttered. That way you can make a colorful piece of furniture the focal point of the room, so it's not the walls are closing in on you.
9 Add Ottomans
Use ottomans in place of a traditional coffee table to make better use of your space (because a tiny house means your living room often does double or triple duty when people come over).
You can top them with a tray to hold flowers and books, or use as extra seating. Then when it's family time, they become footrests.
These red leather ottomans in a small family room designed by Redmond Aldrich strike that perfect balance between formal and casual.
10 Get Creative With Low Seating
A lower sofa or settee creates the visual effect of higher ceilings. Playing with proportion and scale will also help, the tiny side table next to this lounge chair. Just add pillows to make it more comfortable for lounging.
11 Rethink Your Coffee Table
Use two small tables to take the place of one big coffee table. They're better for traffic flow and easily moved to wherever else you may need them. We're also digging the use of a daybed over a sofa in a small family, living, or media room. And have fun with wall decor!
12 Stick to a Tight Color Story
As we've mentioned a few times already, a small space doesn't mean you can't have fun with color.
So if you love incorporating pretty pastels or vivid brights but want to make sure your living room doesn't look chaotic, the trick is to stick to a tight color palette.
Mixing patterns is also fair game, especially when done as masterfully as this cheerful room designed by Ellen Kavanaugh.
13 Float Your Furniture
Resist the urge to push all of your furniture up against the walls. If you create space behind the furniture, it makes the room look wider than it is. An antique stool vibes well the chesterfield sofa in this room designed by Leanne Ford.
14 Display Artwork Strategically
Bring your artwork up to trick the eye and expand or accentuate the height of the room. A gallery wall might seem too busy for a small space, but it can actually make it feel larger if it extends to the ceiling. In this family room designed by Kate Ridder, the mirrored effect of this glossy red paint on the ceiling makes the small space feel a fun house.
15 Install Smart Lighting
Choose lighting that can be attached to the walls or hung from above to save room on floor space. Swing Arm lamps also free up space on side tables.
16 Hang a Chair
Swing chairs are super fun and seem to be having a design moment right now. More importantly, they can be a life saver in a small living room or family room. You can add seating without taking up a ton of floor space, you would with a traditional armchair.This mod style in a Hecker Guthrie-designed space is all the convincing we need.
20 Genius Small Living Room Ideas to Make the Most Your Space
Call us crazy, but we prefer styling a small space over a large one any day. There's something incredibly thrilling about size-challenged decorating that really forces you to get creative.
Yes, you'll make mistakes along the way, but when decorated well, small rooms can look seriously stylish (these tiny bathrooms are proof). Just because there's less space to work with, doesn't mean you have to compromise on taste, either.
If you're looking for small living room ideas, follow these decorating tips.
Tessa Neustadt ; DESIGN: Katerine Carter
When it comes to small–living room ideas, designer Tom Stringer says that prior planning is key when space is so limited. “The first step is to ensure that the layout will be functional for your needs,” he says. “Then confirm the sizes of the pieces.”
If you're stumped on how to plan your layout, answer celebrated interior designer Max Humphrey's simple question: What will the room be used for most? “While you might plan on having friends over all the time for TV night, chances are it'll be you and your family using it the most, so keep that in mind when designing it,” Humphrey says. So even if you love occasional seating, a big comfy sofa will probably be the most practical. “You can always bring in a chair or two from the dining room when you have extra people over,” he suggests.
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Since you don't have the luxury of space, you can't just throw a bunch of pretty things together and hope it'll work.
Australian interior designer and The Tailored Interior author Greg Natale believes it's important to first consider all the pieces of furniture you'll need in order to create a “welcoming, livable space.
” Ask yourself questions Would stools or ottomans work better in the space than armchairs? Would a side table be a more size-friendly option than a coffee table?
Tessa Neustadt ; DESIGN: Katerine Carter
So you have a tiny living room, but does that mean you have to compromise on the big furniture you love? Humphrey doesn't think so.
“I always recommend buying the absolute biggest sofa that will fit in the space, because if you're anything me, chances are that's where you'll spend most of your time lounging around.
Plus, it's no fun trying to stretch out on a loveseat,” he says.
Natale believes small furniture is a better bet if you want “more opportunities to include all the pieces you .” Consider what's more important to you: comfort and big style, or having more variety?
Courtesy of Tali Roth
If you decide that bigger is better when it comes to furniture, Natale recommends pieces with a sleek silhouette, such as a “sofa with a low, narrow shape and slender arms; chairs with narrow or no arms; and tables with glass tops and narrow or cutaway legs.”
Sara Tramp for Emily Henderson DESIGN: Ashley Goldman
When it comes to small-space living room ideas, you really can't go wrong if you stick to neutral, natural hues. You can carry this over to your furniture, too. “Use furniture that appears light or disappears, such as a glass or acrylic piece,” Designer Trip Haenisch says.
If you're all about color, you aren't luck. Designer Jeff Andrews believes there's absolutely a place for it in a small living room. “Go dark and go big,” he says. “I love dark, glossy walls in a small room to create a sense of drama and intimacy.”
When in doubt, revert to mirrors. “My living space at home is not huge, so I decided to mirror panel one entire wall, which is 13 feet high, and it doubled the size of the space to the eye,” says Cordony. If you can't panel the whole wall, hang large mirrors on the walls, ideally opposite a window or door to reflect the light.
This trick is one you've probably never even considered before, but it's a total game-changer. Opt for a sofa with legs and no upholstery on the base. It will visually open up the room, advises Natale.
Courtesy of Amber Interior Design
In a small living room, the more uses each piece of furniture can serve, the better. “Make an ottoman work double time by placing a tray on it and [turning it into] a coffee table when you don't need it as a seat,” says Natale.
Sarah Sherman Samuel
A thoughtful mix of furniture and décor in varying styles and finishes adds depth and coziness to any space, not to mention seriously ramps up the style factor. “If you fill a room with things you love you can't go wrong,” says Humphrey.
Haenisch always prefers a minimal approach. “Restraint is everything in chic design,” he says. The key to minimalism is to find your style, stick to it, and then edit. Designer Christine Gachot says, “My home is edited with a capital E.
I live in a constant state of chaos with my schedule, so I need to be organized and to live minimally (shoe collection aside). This is about small spaces. Be thoughtful and precise.
Each person should recognize her individual lifestyle needs and commit to a simple vision that suits it.”
Tessa Neustadt ; DESIGN: Ginny Macdonald
When it comes to wall color, each of our experts recommended a neutral palette with white walls and ceilings to visually brighten a room and make it appear larger. If the bleached-out look isn't your flavor, Natale suggests adding pops of color through soft furnishings, accessories, and artwork.
Feel free to forgo paint altogether and add in wallpaper. Whether you opt to do an accent wall, or wallpaper the whole room, Cordony says wallpaper will layer the space with texture.
Tessa Neustadt ; DESIGN: Stefani Stein
Ensuring that everything in your small living room works together comes down to careful and constant editing.
Natale says you need to “step back at every stage of your design and assess its effect, particularly in terms of balance and contrast.
” Some questions to ask yourself: Is there too much of something or not enough of another? Is a particular color or shape dominating the space–or conversely, does the room look bland—without enough highlights or drama?
If you live by the motto that “more is more,” an edited space won't appeal. Stringer says “clutter is good as long as it is organized,” so group items together (think baskets for magazines). Organize your items into vignettes so the clutter feels more cohesive.
Most importantly, “make sure your furniture fits through the front door, in the elevator, and up the stairs,” says Gachot. “If it can't turn the corner in your walk-up, then it's probably not going to fit in your studio. I learned this one the hard way—twice. Purchase pieces that will grow with you one day into a larger home, or your next pied-à-terre.” Noted.
If you're feeling hesitant, Andrews wants you to ditch the fear. “Don't be afraid to try something and take a risk with styling,” he says. “Go for the unexpected, take a look, and then edit.”
Best Small Living Room Design Ideas – Small Living Room Decor Inspiration
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Scandinavian-Inspired Living Room
Luxury hotels and modern Scandinavian style informed the aesthetic of Swedish it-girl Babba C. Rivera's Brooklyn Heights living room. “I love the mid-century era—a lot of my furniture is mid-century modern—which I balance with contemporary touches so it's not too vintage looking,” Rivera says.
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Brooklyn Living Room
A living room in a Brooklyn triplex designed by architects Amale Andraos and Dan Wood of WORKac proves that you can still show off your style in a small space.
Along with bold blue sofas by Caravane, the space includes a custom cocktail table, and an ottoman from the Vernaison flea market in Paris.
Speakers by Audio Physic, a rug from ABC Carpet & Home, and a custom blackened-steel fireplace by CF + D complete the look.
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Luxe Miami Living Room
When supermodel Joan Smalls is not traveling around the world, she's unwinding in her luxe Miami aerie. The living room features a sofa and pillows, Milo Baughman armchair, cocktail table, and rug that are all from RH, Restoration Hardware. Smalls also chose a 1950s Vicke Lindstrand vase from Il Gufo Antiques & Design.
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Lake House Living Room
Wicker disks serve as a focal point in designer Sabrina Albanese's living room. In addition to a custom sofa by Robert Allen with cushions in a Schumacher fabric, the rug is Miles Redd for Patterson Flynn Martin.
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Brooklyn Brownstone Living Room
A Fedele Papagni chandelier from Donzella, which hangs above a custom Vladimir Kagan sofa, completes this living room design by decorator Elizabeth Roberts. Chartreuse-colored curtains in an Elitis’s Poeme fabric, and artworks by Olafur Eliasson and Kehinde Wiley enhance the design scheme.
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Layered Living Room
In a Marfa, Texas, home, a living room with a layered aesthetic includes a Poul Henningsen light fixture, a Navajo rug, and a cabinet by Robert “Mouseman” Thompson that holds an Ansel Adams photograph. The walls are painted in Benjamin Moore's Cloud White.
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Cozy Living Room
The love seat in the living room of a cozy Montana guesthouse is by Cisco Home. The cabinet is 19th-century Moorish and the cocktail table is a custom design. Oly footstools, an antique crystal chandelier, and a wallcovering from Sloan Miyasato complete the space. A buffalo-hide rug is layered on top of a Mark Nelson Designs carpet.
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Antique-Filled Living Room
Antique pieces from the 20s, 30s, and 50s, including Dorothy Draper chairs, are one of the main highlights of the living room in the Beverly Hills home of Too Faced Founders Jerrod Blandino and Jeremy Johnson. The Slim Aarons photo hanging in the kitchen are juxtaposed against modern touches Kate Spade sconces along the stairs and a brass-and-marble dining table designed by Jerrod himself.
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Inviting Living Room
In a Netherlands living room, off-white sofas pop against a dark background, adding to its cozy, romantic vibe.
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Neutral Living Room
In the living room of Kate and Rem Reynolds’s townhouse in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, the sofa from ABC Carpet & Home is upholstered in a fabric by Soraya Shah for Studio Four NYC, the design showroom Kate Reynolds co-owns.
The room is outfitted with a Timothy Oulton chaise, a Danish cocktail table, an Akari pendant light by Noguchi, shades of a Rebecca Atwood fabric, and a vintage Moroccan rug.
The walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Huntington White and the trim in Iron Mountain, the photograph is by Claire Nitze, and the cameo portrait is by Doug Meyer.
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Romantic Parlor Living Room
In the sitting area of a Parisian apartment, the sofa is upholstered in a cotton damask, the armchair is covered in a silk velvet and the slipper chair is a Mongiardino design; the desk is Louis XV, the chandelier is Louis XIV and the 19th-century rug is Persian.
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Whimsical Living Room
In the living room of fashion designer Erin Beatty and filmmaker Lex Sidon’s West Village duplex, which was designed by Lara Apponyi and Michael Woodcock of Work + Sea, the leather sofa is by Michael Felix, the love seat is by Pinch, and the Marcel Breuer chairs are from Knoll; the marble cocktail table is a custom design, the stool by Reinaldo Sanguino is from the Future Perfect, the floor lamp is by Noir, the rug is by Aelfie, and the paintings are by Jimmy Lee Sudduth, left, and Willie Jinks.
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Open-Air Living Room
At the top of the tower of a Florence manor, with 360-degree views of the Apennine Mountains, a living room contains a vintage sofa and custom daybeds covered in fabrics by C&C Milano. The motorized shades are bamboo, and the cocktail and side tables are Miani designs.
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Intimate Living Room
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Unconventional Living Room
In the smaller living area of a São Paulo home, the sofa was found at a local auction, the Jean Prouvé chair is by Vitra, the hexagonal table and Berber rug are Moroccan, and the walls are painted in a custom color.
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Deep Blue Living Room
In the living room of Michael Carey's home in Claverack, New York, a George Smith sofa and a corner chair purchased in London are upholstered in an Osborne & Little linen, the Georgian leather library chair and English mahogany coaching table are from Lee Stanton Antiques, the Craftsman armoire is a family heirloom, and the light fixture is by Restoration Hardware. The kilim is from West Elm, and the French faux-bois table and vintage subway signs were found in nearby Hudson.
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Playful Living Room
In a vacation home on Martha's Vineyard, the family room's sectional sofa by Restoration Hardware is upholstered in a Perennials fabric, the leather oval chair is by Garza Marfa, the Harry Bertoia chairs are by Knoll, and the cocktail table by Pinch is from the Future Perfect; the lamp is by Artemide, the rug is an antique Beni Ourain, the carved giraffe is by New Mexican folk artist Felipe Benito Archuleta, and the framed sea urchin artwork is from Natural Curiosities
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Minimalist Living Room
In the living room of Jeffrey Kalinsky's West Village townhouse, which was designed by DD Allen of Pierce Allen, the leather sofas are by Annabelle Selldorf, and the 1959 Helge Vestergaard Jensen chairs from Wyeth are upholstered in a Missoni fabric; the cabinetry is custom, the circa-1970 floor lamp is by Stilnovo, and the rug is cashmere.
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Vivid, Patterned Living Room
In an eclectic NYC home, the 1940s club chair is covered in a chintz from the same decade, the sofa is by Maison Jansen, and the wallpaper is by Doug & Gene Meyer; the circular rug is by Niba Collections, the carpet is by Holland & Sherry, the cocktail tables are by Fredrikson Stallard, and the central artwork is an Indian sign painting.
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Bright Living Room
The sofa in the den of this New York apartment is from DDC, the Hans Wegner lounge chair is from Wyeth, and the vintage cocktail table is by Milo Baughman; the painting is by Park Ito and the rug is an early-20th-century Turkish kilim.
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Maximalist Living Room
In the library of a Connecticut cottage, the sofa by Restoration Hardware is covered in a Perennials fabric, the vintage club chairs, upholstered in a Great Plains linen, are from Duane, the cocktail table is Chinese, the circa-1960 chair is by Milo Baughman, and the stool came from the former Manhattan nightclub Moomba; the 18th-century English portrait is a family heirloom, the zebra skin is antique, the blinds are by Hunter Douglas, and the walls are painted in Dragon's Breath by Benjamin Moore.
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Midcentury-Inspired Living Room
In the West Village pied-à-terre of Los Angeles–based designers Waldo Fernandez and Tommy Clements, the daybed is by Rick Owens, armchairs by Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann are upholstered in an alpaca by Perrine Rousseau, and the side chairs are by Jean Prouvé; the Venetian mirror once belonged to Helena Rubinstein, the 1950s light fixture is by Alberto Giacometti, the sculpture is Cambodian, and the dhurrie and striped kilim are from Lawrence of La Brea.
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Accent Wall Living Room
In a colorful Houston home, the walls are painted in Fine Paints of Europe's #WC-48, and the club chairs are covered in a Brunschwig & Fils print.
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Cushioned Corner Living Room
In a modern Pacific Palisades home, the custom sectional is upholstered in a Pindler fabric, the ottomans are covered in a Dualoy leather, and the shades are of a Rogers & Goffigon fabric.
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Narrow Living Room
A gouache by McIntosh and a custom-made banquette outfit the sitting area of this Moroccan riad; the cushions's cotton-canvas fabric was found in a souk, as was the painted side table; the pendant and sconces are by maisonLAB, the walls are painted in Farrow & Ball's Lamp Room Gray, and black-painted cement tiles line the floor.
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Cozy Shiplap Living Room
In a California family home, the living room's custom-made daybed by Charles H. Beckley has a cushion covered in a Twill Textiles stripe, the 19th-century armchair, in a Holland & Sherry tweed, is from Alexander von Westenholz, and the floor is painted in Farrow & Ball's Pavilion Gray.
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Shades Of Orange Living Room
The custom-made daybed and Art Deco armchair in the sitting room of this Park Avenue apartment are covered in a Pierre Frey fabric, the 1960s Italian chandelier is from John Salibello, and the carpet is by Stark; the photograph is by Tim Davis, and the print is by Damien Hirst.
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Light-Flooded Living Room
In a San Francisco townhouse, the family room's 18th-century armoire and midcentury wing chairs are Italian, the sofa is covered in a Great Plains linen, and the side table is Moroccan; the walls and ceiling are paneled in English oak, and the rug is from Stark.