Interior designer reveals the piece of furniture that’s making your living room look smaller

Nicki shares expert advice for decorating your tiny lounge

Compact living spaces are like a game of Tetris - but there's always a way to make them work. Interior designer Nicki Bamford-Bowes has plenty of experience in this area, and she says there's a certain sized sofa to avoid.

We spoke to the owner of interior design company & Then They Went Wild as part of her work with Home Essentials. When it comes to small living room ideas, don't automatically assume all you can have is a small two-seater sofa.

Nicki Bamford-Bowes sitting on a white chair in a pink living room

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Lol Johnson Photography @still_loljohnsonphotography)

The sofa size to avoid in a small space

'A sofa is a key piece,' Nicki tells us, as part of her work with Home Essentials. 'People very often think you just have to have a very small two-seater sofa in there, but really think about using the nooks and crannies of your lounge.

'So if you have a bay window, you could perhaps fit a corner sofa in there. This prevents that "waiting room" feel that you can get with a small lounge if you had a standard sofa against a wall,' she adds.

a blue-grey curved corner sofa and pink circular padded footstool, both with button detailing, a living room with light brown floor and light grey panelled wall

(Image credit: Rose and Grey)

The interior designer also suggests thinking outside the box and opting for a curved sofa. 'Think about shapes of furniture that couldn't slot into a bay window, which then pushes the furniture into the room and opens up the space more as you walk into it.

'I've recently done one of those on a client job and it's totally transformed the space as she had a very narrow lounge,' Nicki tells us. The best sofa can create a really cocooning space - and considering curved designs, corner sofas, and simply bigger pieces could make a dramatic difference.

When brainstorming living room ideas, storage is one of the first things to think about. These days, many sofas come with built-in storage, perfect for hiding away kids' toys.

a close up of an orange sofa with blue, green and dark floral patten cushions as well as reading glasses resting on paper on the sofa

(Image credit: Home Essentials)

Aside from thinking carefully about which size or shape sofa to pick, Nicki recommends getting a carpenter in. Even if you can't do the drawings yourself, carpenters are brilliant at trying to interpret your ideas by showing them image references, she tells us.

Extra shelving above doorways can work wonders in freeing up other areas, and painting from the skirting boards to the coving will elongate the walls. It's all about making the most of all those nooks and crannies - and not going for a mini sofa by default.

Nicki Bamford-Bowes is an Interior Designer, Stylist and the owner of Then They Went Wild who will act as Home Essentials curator of content across the brands home decoration and interior design. 

Millie Hurst
Senior Content Editor

Millie Hurst was Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home from 2020-2022, and is now Section Editor at Homes & Gardens. Before stepping into the world of interiors, she worked as a Senior SEO Editor for News UK in both London and New York. You can usually find her looking up trending terms and finding real-life budget makeovers our readers love. Millie came up with the website's daily dupes article which gives readers ways to curate a stylish home for less.