How to make a small living room look bigger with mirrors - clever design tips to open up your space

Mirrors have the power to transform smaller living rooms into spacious sanctuaries - here's how

White living room with large floor to ceiling mirror
(Image credit: Future PLC / David Giles)

Small living rooms can have as big an impact as larger spaces when they are styled right. The key is to make them feel light, open and airy; enter mirrors, the underrated design pieces that help smaller rooms feel more spacious. 

If you know how to make a small living room look bigger with mirrors, you'll be able to transform the way your space feels. Using mirrors strategically to reflect light can make a world of difference to small living room ideas, so you won't stop yourself from inviting guests over whenever you want.

'Mirrors are a fantastic addition to a small living room, as they offer benefits from both a functional and a style standpoint,' says Emma Deterding, Founder and Creative Director, Kelling Designs. 'For living rooms where space is at a premium, mirrors are particularly ideal as they help to reflect light back into the room whilst creating the illusion of space.'

We wanted to know exactly how to make a small living room look bigger with mirrors, so we spoke to design experts to find out all the best tips and tricks.

White living room with large floor to ceiling mirror

(Image credit: Future PLC / Mark Luscombe-Whyte)

How to make a small living room look bigger with mirrors

If you haven't tried using living room mirror ideas to make your space look bigger before, you're going to be surprised at the difference it makes. But knowing how to make a small living room look bigger with mirrors does involve a bit of strategic thinking. Here's what the design experts had to say.

Where to place the mirror

a living room with green velvet armchair, round overmantel mirror and alcove bookshelves

(Image credit: Future/Katie Lee)

The idea of using mirrors to make a small living room look bigger is based around them being able to reflect and bounce light around the room. The lighter a space is, the bigger it feels.

Where you place the mirror is key, as it needs to be in a position where it is going to maximise the light in the room. One of the best positions for a mirror in smaller living spaces is opposite a window, so that it reflects the natural light entering here. 

'If you cleverly position a mirror opposite a window with a view, it'll reflect the view back in making it feel even more open,' says Emma from Kelling Designs. 

'Try to ensure that it will catch and reflect as much natural light from any windows as possible,' adds Danielle Le Vaillant, Head of Photography and Film, Cox & Cox. 'Reflected greenery, from either a garden or indoor plants will also deepen the field of vision and increase the sense of space.'

home office with desk and computer in alcove next to fireplace underneath mirror

(Image credit: Future PLC / Brent Darby)

If you're lacking wall space opposite your living room window, there are other ways you can strategically place a mirror to make the space feel bigger. Try incorporating a mirror into living room fireplace ideas, which are already a natural focal point in the room.

'Positioning mirrors above a sofa or mantlepiece will draw the eye upwards, creating a sense of height,' Emma Deterding explains. 'You can also try placing mirrors behind lamps on a console or side table to help further reflect the light from the lamp back into the space, making it feel bigger and brighter.'

A huge part of knowing how to make a small living room look bigger with mirrors is about where you position it. Maximise your living room lighting ideas by placing your mirror near to or opposite them, and you'll be surprised at how much more open the space feels. 

blue sofa in small living room with grid mirror on wall

(Image credit: Kelling Designs)

Try incorporating multiple mirrors into the living room if you can. You could have a small mirror placed near a console or side table, then a bigger one on the wall opposite the window. They will both help to reflect light around the room, contributing to a more open, spacious feel. 

What type of mirror is best?

round mirror with black frame on wall above console table

(Image credit: Cox & Cox)

It's a good idea to also be strategic with the shape and style of the mirror you're using, if you want it to make a difference to how big your living room feels. Firstly, you'll want to pick a design that complements your existing living room decor - if it looks out of place, it will feel like it takes away from the space rather than adding to it.

'Large, frameless mirrors or those with minimal frames will fit in seamlessly whilst maximising the reflective surface,' Emma says. 'Whereas circular mirrors can help to soften the lines in a room, creating a stylish focal point without overwhelming the space.' 

'Play with scale – a huge circular mirror on the wall or an ornately framed mirror leaning against a wall will transform a compact space,' Danielle Le Valliant adds. 

If you have the room for it, a large floor mirror propped on the floor will maximise light in the room because of its bigger reflective surface. It's important to make the mirror work with your space though - go for a style and design that goes seamlessly with the rest of your decor, rather than one that feels out of place.


How can I make my small living room look more spacious?

To make a small living room look more spacious, you'll want to try and make the space feel as open as possible. You can mimic open plan living room ideas by choosing a seamless colour scheme for your furniture, furnishings and storage solutions. This will help to create a sense of flow and help the space feel bigger.

Try and keep your decor streamlined as you'll want to avoid anything that makes the space feel cluttered. But don't feel like you need to size down when it comes to key pieces of furniture

'Think big, even in the smallest spaces – a large corner sofa can be a much better way of making a small living room feel luxuriously expansive than several smaller pieces,' says Danielle from Cox & Cox. 'Large rugs that flow under furniture will blur boundaries to give the illusion of a larger floor area.'

Where should mirrors be placed in a small room?

Ideally, mirrors should be placed opposite a window in smaller rooms, so they can reflect the natural light and help it bounce around the room. Or, you can place a mirror on the wall adjacent to where the light comes in. In small hallway ideas for example, try placing a mirror on the wall next to the door.

If you can't position a mirror near or opposite a window, you can utilise your interior lighting instead.

'If the focal point for your mirror is a sideboard or console table, style the top with lamps and decorative accessories with a metallic sheen to bring in additional light,' Danielle suggests.

'If you have built-in joinery that includes open shelving, fitting mirrors to the backs of the shelves is a great way to trick the eye into thinking the space is bigger,' Emma from Kelling Designs says. 'Wherever you choose to put it, a mirror is an absolute must in any compact space to help it feel bigger, open and more inviting!'

Now you know how to make a small living room look bigger with mirrors, how will you be making the most of the space in your living room? You'll be pleasantly surprised at the difference a simple mirror can make. 

Katie Sims

Katie Sims has been writing for Ideal Homes since spring 2022. She qualified from her Master’s in Media and Journalism in 2021 and has been writing freelance since. She has worked on Ideal Home’s ecommerce team where she researched the best home products on the market, and on the news team, researching the latest trends for feature pieces.