Clever small living room ideas can change a space from feeling crammed and cluttered to feeling cosy and calming, plus ensure there is no wasted space in a compact living space. From clever tricks, to smart storage solutions and savvy design buys, our ideas will inspire decor for even the smallest of snugs, turning it into the loveliest of lounges.
Before you start looking for any kind of living room ideas, start by drawing up a list of wants for your space and work out exactly how you’ll be using it. Will it be a space to entertain? A place to chill with the dog and a movie? A place the kids will mainly use, or will it be an adults-only retreat. Once you know how you want it to feel, you can start the fun bit of coming up with ideas for decoration.
Small living room ideas
From thoughtful furniture placement and genius ways with paint to savvy curtain tricks there’s a whole host of smart ideas to make your small living room feel bigger than it actually is.
Choose seating with legs so more of the floor can be seen, making the room appear bigger. This trick lends itself well to any living room, as many classic-style sofas and armchairs are finished with beautiful turned wooden legs.
Fill alcoves or bay windows with built-in storage. If there is little room for a side table next to your sofa, position a narrow console behind a sofa to serve as a display shelf.
When you are redecorating, one of the easiest ways to make a small snug area feel more spacious is to inject soft, neutral shades into your to keep the room warm and inviting. Check out our ideas for for more inspiration.
Take inspiration from our gallery of beautiful small space designs to unlock the potential of your small living room.
1. Open up a wall
While this might seem a dramatic move, the owners of this space living space decided to increase the sense of space, by opening up the wall behind the sofa, revealing the light-filled hallway behind it. This is a clever idea if your front room feels dark and crammed, and won’t impact too much on the structure of your rooms, as you’ll only be opening up part of the wall. Always seek professional advice before grabbing a sledge hammer but keep in mind a ‘hole in the wall’ could be the answer to your small space issue.
2. Make the right sofa choice
‘A neutral sofa can help lighten the space, however it’s worth remembering that neutral doesn’t have to mean selecting a plain design. Opting for styles with beautiful details, such as curves, buttons or fluting, will add character to a small space without overpowering your scheme. Additionally, cushions and throws in bolder shades and patterns can keep the look from feeling too pared back. Alternatively, an accent chair is a great way to add a pop of colour and will effortlessly lift a darker space,’ says Suzy McMahon, Buying Director at Sofology
3. Keep it cohesive
In a smaller space, try and keep your colours cohesive, when it comes to furniture, accessories and wall colour too. This way everything will seamlessly sit together and nothing will jump out too much, making it dominate the room. Use paint to zone spaces within the room and add plenty of plants to bring a feeling of life to the room.
4. Choose storage furniture with a small footprint
Whilst storage is still very much needed, regardless of the size of your space, try to make the most of ceiling height and avoid using too much floor space. Kate Gibson, Home Buying Manager at Habitat says, ‘More and more customers have embraced ladder-style shelving to store and display, from paperwork and keys to houseplants and prized possessions. A versatile storage solution, this style provides valuable shelf space with a minimal footprint.’
5. Opt for built in everything
If you need a lot of storage space in your living room, why not opt for built in everything! Built in shelving and cupboards are much better space savers than freestanding , but a built in seating area too, will mean no space is wasted at all, especially if you add under-bench storage too. Choosing a coffee table with an open, wire base will also make the space feel roomier.
6. Choose wall lights to save space
In small spaces, it’s all about saving precious floor space so the room doesn’t seem too cluttered. Anna Cross, Home Living Buying Manager at Habitat says,“Opt for wall mounted lighting with a sleek profile to regain valuable floor space that would be lost to floor lamps or lamp topped side tables. We’ve seen high demand for plugin designs, as customers seek to create a cosy glow without the hassle of rewiring.”
7. Use alternative furniture choices
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 – or used as footrests.
For extra space-savvy points look for stowaway furniture, such as these cube stools that can be tucked under a coffee table when you don’t need them, or ottomans that hide hidden storage inside.
And if you’re short on space but still want to be able to entertain, then consider multifunctional furniture like one of the best sofa beds so you can put up occasional overnight guests. Thinking about furniture which offers two uses in one is a great way to make each piece in your home work harder.
8. Choose light colours for the walls
Dark colours are definitely having a moment right now, but they can be tricky to work with in small spaces. Light colours tend to work best so stick to pale tones such as white, cream, and grey to keep your room scheme light, airy and open – especially effective in small spaces with minimal natural light sources.
Light 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. With so many different shades available choosing the best white paint can feel like a minefield – be sure to try tester samples in the space before you paint.
9. Embrace natural light
Make the most of natural light in the room by keeping window treatment ideas 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.
10. Paint the skirting boards
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. 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 – especially prominent when using a dark living room colour scheme. This trick will prevent the wall from being divided – helping to elongate them, so the room feels taller and therefore bigger.
11. Add a feature wall in a warm colour
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.
12. Seamlessly transition to an outdoor space
If you small living room is lucky enough to an adjoining outdoor area, no matter how large or small, embrace the feeling of extra space. Seek to have doors that open out fully, to open up the space and create a sense of freedom from indoors to outdoors.
Choose coordinating furniture and furnishings to decorate the two areas to unite them and make the journey from one to the other feel seamless. this will help to make any small living area feel more generous by simply knowing the outdoor area is just beyond the threshold.
13. Create space using mirrors
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.
14. Use lighting to your advantage
In order to make the most out of your space ensure you have at least three working lights in the room. Light should be located a different heights, be indirect and allow your eye to move about the room. More light and more varied light is always good for a compact room.
15. Replace curtains with blinds
Kelly Hoppen’s design advice for small spaces is to ditch the curtains and go for a window blind idea 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.
If you are wondering how to dress a bay window, particularly one that is small and challenging 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.
16. Build in a window seat to save space
If you have a bay window use the awkward space to build a smart seating solution. A smart window seat idea provides an for extra space for guests to perch without the need for bulky furniture taking up valuable floor space.
17. Up the storage potential
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.
18. Take storage to new heights
Don’t let vertical space go to waste. Hang pictures, choose tall furniture and think about practical shelving solutions. A striking picture or wall hanging will draw the eye up, making a space feel more expansive than it actually is.
19. Swap your sofa for a small snuggler
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. Creating this visual link will draw the eye outside and again make the room feel bigger.
20. Wall-mount and conceal a TV
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.
Look for smart ways to disguise your TV to prevent it standing out as point of focus. Cleverly concealing the large black oblong, that looks like a black hole, will help to stop it encroaching on a small space.
21. Make your own media centre
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.
22. Utilise awkward architectural spaces
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.
23. Hang baskets to provide extra wall storage
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 – a 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, magazines, iPads and all the other stuff that tends to lay around.
24. Add storage near the ceiling
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.
25. Avoid a corridor effect with a corner sofa
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. Choosing the best corner sofa set up means there’s now room for more seating by way of large floor cushions or a footstool.
26. Draw attention to the windows
To let as much light in as possible make sure there is nothing obscuring your windows. Avoid hanging heavy curtains and opt for minimal blinds instead. Also, remember to keep windows clean, this will lighten and brighten up the room beyond. Painting the window surround can help to draw attention to the source of natural light, which aids the feeling of space.
27. Invest in multi-functional furniture
When it comes to small living room ideas, hard-working, multi-functional pieces of furniture are key. 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.
28. Draw attention away from the door
Whether a 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.
This space takes inspiration from shabby chic decorating ideas, with a neat two-seater and comfy armchair 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.
29. Decorate vertically
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 in this smart small living room idea.
30. Pare it back with multifunctional furniture
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.
31. Pop an L-shaped sofa into a tight space
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.
32. Distract with statement pieces
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.
33. Factor in textural pieces
Decorating with white on walls, ceiling and floor is a winning small living room idea it can leave it 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.
34. Create a central focus with overhead light
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.
35. Display objects of interest
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.
36. Place your pattern to create a theme
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.
37. Distract the eye with characterful furnishings
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.
38. Make the most of the space under the stairs
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 thoughtful staircase idea results in a built-in bookcase and sofa tucking in neatly in that often unloved and underused area.
39. Make storage fit comfortably
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 grey living room idea 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.
40. Maximise storage potential
Small living room ideas 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.
41. Keep it to scale
If you have a little living room, don’t go overboard with a huge L-shaped sofa that’s big enough for the whole family, the dog and the neighbours when they pop round for a cuppa. Large furniture will easily overwhelm a small space, so keep it simple – a two-seater sofa works perfectly in this sunny living room and a neutral scheme keeps things feeling light and bright.
42. Play with patterns
Don’t be afraid to experiment with fun, bold patterns in a small room and incorporate patterned textiles or living room wallpaper ideas.
This fabulous floral print not only creates a beautiful statement in this snug space but it also sets the colour theme for the room, which is drawn upon in the soft furnishings and accessories. This gives the space a lovely unified, considered feel.
43. Nice and neutral
Like we mentioned earlier, neutral tones will help a small room to feel larger. Light coloured carpets, walls and furniture are a great way to keep a space feeling bright and airy, whatever the size of the room. We love the little extra touches in this charming living room – the wall-mounted shelving unit provides the perfect space for personal mementos and accessories.
44. Make it multi-functional
If your living room doubles up as a place for guests to stay, multi-functional furniture will make the world of difference. Here a tailor-made day bed doubles as a sofa and a cosy place for guests to rest their head. Built-in storage is an added bonus, especially when tight on space.
45. Go big
Go big, in a tiny room? Didn’t we just tell you not to buy a massive sofa? Yes, yes, but when it comes to wall décor and artwork, it’s a different story. If you’ve got the wall space, use it! This small living room makes a big impact thanks to this tropical feature wall.
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.
How can I decorate my living room when it is small?
It’s all about making clever choices when buying your furniture, as Rachael Fell, Furniture Buying Manager at Habitat explains, ‘Linear furniture designs with a minimal profile are ideal for smaller rooms. The open lines of a wire metal coffee table gives the illusion of more space as the surrounding scene is visible through it. Look out for designs that incorporate shelving into their silhouette to maximise storage capabilities.’
And when it comes to colour, be brave and go for that bold shade you love, regardless of the size of the room. Helen Shaw, UK Director at Benjamin Moore explains, ‘Some fear that adding a deep or bright colour to a small room will make it appear claustrophobic, opting instead for light neutrals to keep the space open. However, when working with a small area, dark colours cleverly absorb the light of a space, making the division between walls appear blurred. This ‘blurred edges’ effect adds depth and dimension to a room, making it appear larger.’
How do you make a small living room look bigger?
Again, you have to be clever with your decorating and furniture buying, but Patricia Gibbons, of the Design team at Sofa.com suggests,’ If you are short for space in the living room, adding some height to your key pieces of furniture will help create an airy, open feel to help enlarge the room. Not every piece needs to be elevated but adding legs to your sofa would be most effective for bringing in the illusion of space. There is something about being able to see more floor which creates the feel of spaciousness especially when you aren’t spoiled for it.’
And in terms of a flooring choice, David Snazel, Hard Flooring Buyer at Carpetright offers this advice, ‘For small rooms, a light wood finish floor with a single plank design will help create the perception of space. In a broken plan layout carry the same flooring through from the kitchen to conjoining areas to create a consistent flow between the rooms. Chevron wood flooring can be especially effective running from a narrow kitchen into a separate dining or living space to help these areas feel harmonious. ’
Where do you put a TV in a small living room?
If your living room is more of a snug, and you use it generally for cosying up and watching movies, you don’t need to worry too much about where the TV goes, as it’s all about being comfortable. Céline Erlam of Indie & Co advises, ‘A TV needs to be at the correct height in relation to your sofa- you shouldn’t need to look up to view, and ideally, place it central to your sofa.’
She goes on to say, ‘Before you start work on your living room or snug, think about the audio systems and TV that you have so you can conceal any cabling’
But if you’re not keen on having your TV on show, think about hiding it away. ‘Don’t rule our concealing your TV- you can even fit a projector in the ceiling, which drops down when in use, as well as concealed built-in speakers,’ Céline advises.
You could look at hiding your tv behind a set of framed prints or a screen, or even in a TV cabinet.