Small living room ideas – how to decorate a compact sitting room, snug or lounge

Supersize your space with our top tips and clever design tricks to make the smallest of rooms feel perfectly proportioned
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  • If you’re looking for small living room ideas, take inspiration from our gallery of beautiful small space designs to unlock the potential of your compact living room.

    When you are redecorating, one of the easiest ways to make a small living room feel more spacious is to inject soft, pastel shades into your design scheme to keep the room warm and inviting. Check out our ideas for living room colour schemes for more inspiration.

    Want more inspirational ideas and inspiration? Visit our living rooms channel to see all 

    But along with thoughtful furniture placement and savvy curtain tricks there’s a whole host of smart ideas to make your small living room feel bigger than it actually is.

    Take a look at these small living room ideas to get you started.

    Small living room ideas

    1. Paint the skirting boards

    Blue living room with grey sofa blue rug

    Image credit: Rachael Smith

    Breaking with convention, the trick to make a space feel bigger is to paint the skirting boards in the same colour as the wall. No more bold white borders. Interior designer Kelly Hoppen enlightens with her advice, ‘One little tip, paint the skirting boards in your room in the same grey (the wall colour). Because it will make the whole wall look a lot taller. Because when you paint them white it’s a bit like wearing a sock and your trouser leg being too high. It kind of looks a bit odd!’

    A brilliant analogy for the look of bold white skirting boards standing out from the wall colour, for all the wrong reasons. this trick will prevent the wall from being divided – helping to elongate them, so the room feels taller and therefore bigger.

    Read all here: Kelly Hoppen’s unconventional advice for painting skirting boards is a game changer

    2. Add a feature wall in a warm colour

    Small living room with burgundy feature wall camel sofa and grey rug

    Image credit: Dulux

    We all want our living rooms to feel cosy and restful. However, in a small space, you may feel apprehensive about introducing too many dark colours for fear of making the room feel cramped.

    In that instance, pick a rich warm colour like this plum shade as a backdrop to a part of the room that’s all about relaxation. Behind the sofa is ideal. That deep shot of colour is a visual ‘hug’ that relaxes and draws us in, without making the room feel smaller.

    3. Create space using mirrors

    small living room ideas using mirrors

    Image credit: Mark Luscombe-Whyte

    It’s the oldest trick in the book, but it really does work. You can instantly create the illusion of space by simply adding more mirrors. All the better still, like above, opt for an over-sized mirror to cover an entire wall. The mirror will create the illusion of space by reflecting light and of course the interior decor – doubling up your interior space. Try keeping the colour palette light and airy to aid the overall effect.

    4. Replace curtains with blinds

    neutral living room with blinds

    Image credit: Alexander James

    Kelly Hoppen’s design advice for small spaces is to ditch the curtains and go for blinds instead. ‘Often people focus on something which really doesn’t need to be changed,’ explains Kelly, appearing on This Morning. She suggests it can be as simple as changing a few little tiny things to make all the difference. Such as the curtains. When working with a challenging small bay window with dark curtains hanging either side Kelly offers this advice, ’I would put blinds up rather than curtains, which would actually make the room seem taller’.

    What a great insider design tip to help make any small space feel instantly larger. The free space either side of the windows would create the illusion of airy space. So simple, yet so brilliant.

    5. Up the storage potential

    living room with vertical storage shelves

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    The key in a small space is to make the most of every inch available. When it comes to storage think outside the box and create bespoke storage solutions that use the free vertical space on walls  and unused corners and nooks as an advantage. An affordable way to use a recess space for storage is to fit stacked floating shelves.

    Staggering them allows you to use both sides of the wall. the openness helps to keep the look light and airy, rather than boxed in. Just be sure not to overwhelm the room with clutter – use the shelves for displaying your favourite books and trinkets.

    6. Swap your sofa for a snuggler

    Image credit:

    A bulky sofa can eat up living room space quickly, so if you have an especially tiny room, ask yourself if you could manage with an equally comfy but far less invasive ‘snuggler’ or ‘loveseat’. Otherwise known as a 1.5 seater, it can easily accommodate a parent and child – or a cuddly couple.

    This room also employs another neat trick that’s genius for small rooms that back onto gardens – a botanical decorating scheme. ‘Pretty florals are perfect for blurring the lines between indoors and outdoors,’ says our Senior Features Editor Stephanie Durrant. Creating this visual link will draw the eye outside and again make the rom feel bigger.

    7. Wall-mount and conceal a TV

    hidden TV

    Image credit: Simon Whitmore

    A wall-mounted TV is always going to be the better option for small living rooms. Firstly we don’t want it taking up valuable space! Secure your modern flatscreen to the wall to create a streamlined look, freeing up the space beneath where you would otherwise have to accommodate a TV stand. Above a disused fireplace helps to use up otherwise redundant wall space too.

    Secondly we don’t want the TV to stand out for appearance purposes. Cleverly concealing the large black oblong that looks like a black hole will help to stop it encroaching on a small space. Read: 10 Ways to disguise your TV

    8. Make your own media centre

    Small living room ideas wall-mounted TV

    Image credit: Jo Henderson

    Free up floor space, from storage units, by creating your own media centre that takes up minimal space. Fix an MDF panel to the wall and mount your TV screen and floating shelves on it, one above and one below if needed. The space saving shelves will allow for storage without taking up too much needed space. The area underneath the bottom shelf allows for extra storage for items such as slim drawer units or drum storage stools.

    9. Utilise awkward architectural spaces

    Small living room ideas

    Image credit: David Cleveland

    Does your living room lack space due to awkward room proportions? Often with period properties the features which we love the most, such as bay windows, present a logistical nightmare for arranging furniture. Use the space to your advantage. If you have a compact sofa it should fit neatly into the position, without taking up valuable floor space.

    Alternatively use the awkward area to house larger, bulkier furniture pieces such as sideboards and TV units. This prevents the pieces overpowering the rest of the petite room, because the space would be otherwise unused anyway.

    10. Hang baskets to provide extra wall storage

    small living room ideas

    Image credit: Joanna Henderson

    If you are faced with small space living the only way really is up! Make the most of any floor space by keeping it as clutter-free as possible. That includes any small bits and bobs you might otherwise have laying around. We have used attractive willow baskets to solve the storage problem. Ideal because one they look great and two they are sturdy enough to hold all manner of clutter – savvy living room storage idea.

    Hanging from decorative hooks that can take a lot of weight, these baskets are great for quick end-of-day tidy-ups for toys, books, magazine, iPads and all the other stuff that tends to lay around.

    11. Add storage near the ceiling


    Image credit: Georgia Burns

    You might not even have spotted it at first glance, but this owner has mounted some carefully camouflaged white storage units at the top of the living room walls, where any clutter can be stashed away. Off-the-shelf kitchen wall cabinets are ideal for this, if you plan to do the same, be very to careful the maximum load that each unit can take when wall mounted – you don’t want everything crashing down on your head, after all.

    She’s also stuck to furniture in simple shapes for a clutter-free look. Go for occasional tables with cut-away sides that reveal more floor space and trick the eye into believing the room is larger than it really is.

    12. Avoid a corridor effect with a corner sofa

    Image credit: David Giles

    This reception room is quite long and thin, and previously the owners had a long dark sofa, which only added to the corridor effect. By swapping it for a pale L-shaped design, they’ve created a cosy corner and opened up the space. There’s now also room for more seating by way of large floor cushions.

    13. Choose light colours for the walls


    Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

    Our current favourites are blush pinks (as shown), pale blue/greys and dusky lilacs. Those shades will make any small living room feel fresh and inviting – cosy, and yet not closed in. Steer clear of brilliant whites and instead pick those with a subtle green, grey or taupe tone

    This might help: The best grey paint for walls – as chosen by Ideal Home’s editors and interior design experts

    14. Use stools as seats

    small living room ideas

    Image credit: Robert Sanderson

    The thing you should never do if you have a small living room is cram in too much furniture. Instead, choose a sofa that’s proportional to the size of the space, and if you’re still in need of more seating, use stools. They’ll take up far less room than bulky armchairs, and can be easily manoeuvred. Look for stowaway furniture, such as these cube stools that can be tucked under a coffee table when you don’t need them.

    If you like your living room cute and cosy, try clustering colour-co-ordinated objects together – from pictures to cushions – to create a coherent look.

    15. Embrace the light

    Teal living room ideas

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    Make the most of natural light in the room by keeping window dressings simple. Shutters are a brilliant alternative to curtains, providing privacy and light control without taking up space. If you do choose curtains, keep them light and make sure they can be swept away from the window for light or alternatively go for Roman or roller blinds.

    16. Invest in multi-functional furniture

    small living room ideas

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    When it comes to small living rooms, hard-working, multi-functional pieces of furniture are your friends. Take this coffee table, which doubles as a storage bin, allowing you to clear away any clutter at a moment’s notice.

    You could also invest in lidded stools, or even a sofa with storage under the seat. Add wall mirrors and furniture with reflective surfaces into your design scheme to maximise the amount of natural light in your living room to make it feel bigger and brighter.

    17. Draw attention away from the door

    small living room ideas

    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    Whether it’s a bijou country cottage or a studio flat, it can be tricky to create a relaxing bolt hole when your front door opens straight into your living room. Take the emphasis away from the entrance by creating a focal point with thoughtfully arranged seating. Here, a neat two-seater and comfy armchair have been placed at a 90-degree angle to a slim side table and lamp.

    A cool neutral palette works beautifully with the rustic plasterwork and the roller blind makes the most of a recessed window to add extra square inches to the room.

    18. Decorate vertically

    small living room ideas

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    Think about living room wallpaper designs to complement your lounge. Take that décor up high when floor space is limited. Here, a small section of a brilliant white room has been transformed with a feature wall of blue that pulls the eye upwards to make the most of a high ceiling.

    Geometric pattern at the window helps to echo the blue tones, and ties in a statement pattern.

    19. Pare it back with wood

    small living room ideas

    Image credit: David Brittain

    Think about alternatives to traditional living room furniture, such as the three-piece suite. It’s still possible to have a cosy area for relaxing and reading with less space-greedy furnishings. Swap an upholstered armchair for a wooden rocker with cushions; and bookcases for slimline ladder-style shelving. Wash walls and accessorise with subtle colour.

    20. Pop an L-shaped sofa into a tight space

    small living room ideas

    Image credit: Brent Darby

    Before decorating or furnishing an awkwardly shaped living room consider how best to optimise the space available. Think about an L-shaped sofa in a tight eaves space teamed with trunks that can function as coffee tables as well as handy storage. Keep a dark room white to make the most of what little light there is.

    21. Distract with statement pieces

    Stamp your personality on your room

    Image credit: Paul Raeside

    Pick one or two statement items, such as an over-sized table lamp, an attention-grabbing piece of art or an armchair upholstered in a fabulous fabric, and keep the rest of the room relatively clutter free. These will make the room feel up to date and draw attention away from its size.

    22. Factor in textural pieces

    small living room ideas

    Image credit: Brent Darby

    Decorating with white on walls, ceiling and floor can leave a space feeling clinical and stark. Take the chill off a compact nook with a homely leather armchair, red floor lamp and woollen rug – all circled around a log-filled fireplace. A tactile cushion and soft throw in viridian green add a final designer touch.

    23. Use lighting to your advantage

    Cleaning jobs to do in the living room wash door frames

    Image credit: David Parmiter

    Mark out a living space with an overhanging pendant light and carefully positioned round coffee table. The two pieces work together to create a focal point around which you can sit a couple of chairs and add floor cushions or stools when guests visit.

    24. Display objects of interest

    small living room ideas

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    Just because your living room is verging on the small side, it doesn’t mean that you should hide away all your favourite belongings in storage. If you have objects that are worthy of showing off then display them along an open shelf, above the sofa. This idea is great for when floor space is at a premium. Hanging a neon sign also helps to distract the eye.

    25. Place your pattern to create a theme

    small living room ideas

    Image credit: David Brittain

    Pattern can work as well in small living rooms as it does in large, but it pays to think carefully about where you put it. Wool fabrics are made for cosy country-style firesides, but keep tartans, checks, paisleys and florals confined to throws and cushions on sofas and armchairs, leaving walls for plain paint finishes. Add a natural flooring rug to bring the two sides of a room together.

    26. Distract the eye with characterful furnishings


    Image credit: David Giles

    While banishing clutter might help a smaller living room feel more open, if you’re a fan of the cosy, lived-in look such a pared back scheme will do little for you. But small doesn’t have to mean bare and characterless. Try the classic combination of dark leather furniture and traditional fireplace – there’s nothing like it for creating a warm, cosy environment. Add much-loved items and accessories – in an interesting, character-filled scheme, no one will be thinking about how small the room is.

    27. Make the most of the space under the stairs

    small living room ideas

    Image credit: Jamie Mason

    Make the most of the unused space under the stairs by incorporating everything from storage to quirky accessories. If you have space issues in your small abode and need to make the most of every nook and cranny then turn to that nimble spot under the stairs into a warm and cosy living space. Here, a built-in bookcase and sofa tucks in neatly in that often unloved and underused area.

    28. Make storage fit comfortably

    small living room ideas

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    Use architectural features to incorporate smart storage. Build storage seamlessly into alcoves either side of a fireplace. Give the surrounding original features a  modern update with a fresh coat of paint and light retouching. Here original features have been painted to give this living room a modern edge. The black fireplace remains the focal point, and adds a sense of cosiness along with the chunky sofa and rustic wooden coffee table. A wool rug brings texture to the scheme and enhances the inviting feel of the room.

    29. Maximise storage potential

    small living room ideas

    Image credit: David Giles

    Small living rooms need to be kept fresh and uncluttered with well-chosen storage. A great way to make a small living room feel larger is to keep it meticulously tidy and in order to do that, everything in the room needs to have its proper place. Floating shelves are perfect for small rooms because they can hold a lot of things on a wall or in alcoves, or choose bespoke fitted, floor-to-ceiling shelves and cupboards that make use of every inch of spare space.

    Does your storage need an overhaul? READ: Living room storage ideas to bring order to your space

    Will you be incorporating any of these small living room ideas into your scheme? Make the most of a compact home with these clever room brightening and space-saving decorating tips for small rooms.

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