Not surprisingly, coming up with sofa ideas for small living rooms requires a little more thought than if you have a standard space to deal with. Finding a sofa (or two) that will fit within set dimensions, while leaving clearance to get in and out and offering enough space for the family to sit in comfort can be hugely challenging. What’s more, you don’t want to have to compromise on style or scheme.
But, as with our small living room ideas, there are plenty of feasible options. Some will involve the model of sofa you choose – going for a smaller ‘loveseat ‘ or snuggler sofa as opposed to a three seater, for example. Or picking something with slimline or even no arms.
Others may be more practical or decorative – such as allowing your sofa to blend with the colour of the walls, or maybe even creating your own built-in solution.
Smart sofa ideas for small living rooms and tight spaces
In case you hadn’t noticed, the British living room is shrinking. Research shows that living rooms in new build homes are nearly a third smaller than equivalent homes built in the 1970s. And with rising house prices, 20 per cent of the the UK population now lives in privately rented accommodation, according to recent analysis.
So, whether it’s families, couples or roommates, there is demand on living rooms to be more than just a place to relax in; these multi-use rooms double up as office or study space, dining area or play room. These facts are inspiring sofa manufacturers from Sofa.com to DFS to think up designs that will fit into small living rooms, and which can be easily manoeuvred in and out of rental properties. Suddenly, little sofas are big news.
1. Avoid chunky sofa arms
These Scandi-style sofas from Nordic House are refined, stylish… and perfect for a small living room. This north European aesthetic represents the ideal approach for a small living room. Shades of grey and white keep things fresh and open, and the lack of chunky sofa arms will buy you precious space.
2. Make a corner sofa the star
We’ll call this the ‘go big or go home’ approach to sofa ideas for small living rooms. Get everyone seated with one piece of furniture, courtesy of a corner sofa. It will create an intimate seating area, which can be further cosied up with an armchair or two to complete the ‘circle’. This should be centred around a feature – a strong fireplace idea, or the TV, if you must…
3. Build a sofa under the window
When you can’t find the right sofa fit for an awkwardly shaped space, going bespoke is your best option. And it needn’t be expensive. A local carpenter should be able to build the bones of a built-in sofa seat, and made-to-fit seat pads are another affordable commission.
Adding drawers beneath will provide precious living room storage for your small space.
4. Switch sofas for armchairs
Why struggle to squeeze in one sofa, when you could provide more comfortable seating for a trio with three armchairs? Arranging them around a chest or coffee table will encourage conversation. You can have some real fun here, picking the best armchairs in different styles and colours.
Do try and and have a design thread common to them all, however, or you’ll risk your living room looking like a furniture showroom. This could either be a colour palette – say, differentiations shades of blue. Or it could be the style of your chairs – curvy and classic, upholstered mid century, or square and modern.
5. Place a classic loveseat in a bay window
‘Love seats are the ideal bay window idea. They’ll also work in an alcove, or any space that won’t take a standard two-seater sofa,’ says Aissa Gonzalez, product development and buying manager at Sofa.com. ‘Most of ours are between 110cm and 135cm wide, though we do go up to 162cm wide.’
Giving you move space than an armchair, this sofa tricks the eye into making this spot by the window look bigger than it really is, and frees up room for a side table and a floor lamp. All you need now are tea, biscuits and a good book.
6. Go for a sofa or love seat that’s deeper not wider
You might not have the space in your room to go wide, but you can still create a luxurious seating experience by going deep. ‘A love seat is the ultimate spot for chilling out,’ says Charlie Marshall, founder of Loaf. ‘We make ours extra deep so there’s plenty of room to sink back and relax. Add to the mix a comfy feather-filled seat cushion and plump scatter cushions and you’ve got something that is cosy and incredibly inviting.’
‘The looser weave of the vintage linen cover adds to the laid-back look; the fabric is popped through a press several times to give a light and beautifully uneven colour that works brilliantly with this relaxed feel.’
7. Perfect your proportions
It isn’t just the sofa size that matters – the shape plays a part, too, and you may find you can seat more people than expected. ‘A large piece of furniture such as a sofa has the potential to overwhelm a small space, so it’s important to take this into account when browsing for one,’ Kate Tansley, creative director at Multiyork.
‘Opting for a more compact size with a fixed back instead of cushions and small arms will create a neat, clean outline, giving the illusion of space and order.’
8. Pick a slim profile small sofa
Meet Tom from the DFS So Simple collection – a line of sofas especially designed for space-challenged homes. We love his clean lines and industrial good looks. Not only are they perfect for lovers of retro or Scandi style, they don’t have the bulk of other designs.
The limited range offers just enough choice but not too much – ideal if you’re a tad indecisive or in need of an edited guide. The bijou proportions also makes the sofas perfect solutions for additional seating in open plan spaces or extensions. Add a matching footstool to create a flexible chaise, too.
9. Make the most of details
Paying attention to the smaller details such as hand-tied buttons turns a sofa into something extra special. ‘This design gives a nod to tradition but in a fresh and elegant way,’ says Ideal Home’s Amy Cutmore.
‘The buttoned detailing brings a sense of heritage which, combined with the petit curvy shape and the fabric’s neutral hue, makes it a welcoming addition to a modern country living room that’s short on space.’
10. Remember, small can still be statement
‘I love the impact a bold floral print can make in a room,’ says Megan Holloway of Sofa Workshop. ‘The right print can add pops of colour to a neutral colour scheme or create drama against a dark wall.’
‘Large-scale prints can really make a statement, but they’re not for everyone. If you prefer a more subtle approach, use them on a smaller piece of furniture such as this compact sofa or go for a small-scale pattern in tonal shades as an alternative to a plain fabric.’
11. Stay light and bright in white
We all know a white living room idea is the go-to colour scheme for small spaces. So if you’re after a sofa idea for a small space, logic would dictate that a white sofa is ideal. And it can be – though we’d recommend to maximise the effect that you combine with white walls so everything blends together, bright and light.
With this set up, you can then layer in the colour. This yellow and grey combo is soft and uplifting. Pick terracottas and greens for something more warming and earthy. Or teals and blues for a refreshing feel. Reds and blues will take you into classic nautical territory. Or you could bring in blacks for a stronger monochrome scheme.
What style of sofa is best for a small living room?
There are three types of sofa that are particularly suited to small living rooms:
1. The love seat
As the name suggests, the loveseat is made for sharing for two. But it’s also the ultimate relaxing destination for one. Due to its compact style – a love seat is typically 30-40cm shorter than a two-seater sofa – love seats offer a good opportunity to experiment with pattern or bold colour.
2. The modular sofa
Modular sofas are a great option for renters, since they can be broken up into different configurations depending on the space available. So if you relocate to a home where the sitting room is smaller or a quirky shape, you’re more likely to be able to arrange its modules to suit the space.
3. Click-clack sofa
Often doubling as a sofa bed, a click-clack sofa generally has no arms. This doesn’t just safe on space to the side of the sofa, it also lets you sit on the sofa with legs to the side as well as the front.
This might allow you to squeeze more people onto it. Or at the very least, make it easier to manoeuvre off the sofa when you need to.