Small Living Room Decor: How to Make the Most of a Small Space

Small living rooms can sometimes feel cluttered and stifling. If your living room is giving you a little bit of claustrophobia, it may be time to change your decorating approach. A well-arranged small living room design will feel like the cozy confines of a peaceful den. It's a lot like a warm bath or a big hug. 

With so many people opting for smaller homes that are easier to maintain, and taking on a minimalist lifestyle that will allow them to use their salary for more experiences instead of material things, small living room ideas are becoming a ubiquitous trend. Plenty of people have created perfect small living rooms, and they all incorporated a few of these strategies into their design gameplan.

Work from the Ground Up

You'll likely need storage solutions, task tables, and a media console in your living room. These pieces of furniture often have larger footprints, sometimes comparable in size to a sofa. You don't want to monopolize so much floor space that the room becomes difficult to navigate. Choose furniture that goes in a direction that no one will be walking: up. 

Always opt for vertical solutions instead of horizontal ones. A very tall, slim bookcase will hold just as many books as a short, wide bookcase. The difference is that a tall bookcase will allow you to properly utilize the height of a room, rather than its length and its width. 

This is an invaluable solution not just for people with small living rooms, but for people with small homes or apartments. If you find that you don't have much space anywhere but you still need proper storage solutions, always climb the wall with them. 

Another way to utilize the height of the room is by installing hanging chairs. Hanging chairs often cater to a highly specific aesthetic. If hanging chairs will work with your design theme, go ahead and chain a few up. More of the floor will be visible as the chairs will appear to float, emphasizing the furniture's negative space. 

Slap On a New Coat of Paint

There are two ways to maximize a small space with paint color, and they're both at extreme ends of the spectrum. Choosing white walls or neutral colors will help the light to bounce around the room, creating the illusion of a bigger space. When the walls are bright, it creates the illusion of limitlessness. The eye won't necessarily stop at the wall - it envisions an area beyond the whiteness that removes the confines of the room. Accent walls aren't a bad idea either!

Alternatively, you can use a very dark color scheme. Deep grey, for example, will create a similar illusion that makes the walls of the space feel a little less defined. If you choose a darker paint color, it also helps to paint the ceiling that same shade. Everything will be lent the subtle illusion of floating in space and time, in the same way we know that the night sky extends forever in every direction. 

Incorporate Natural Light

Basements tend to feel like cramped spaces, even if they're relatively large. This is because they're typically dimly lit and without windows, so no natural light can make its way inside. When decorating a small space, always let in as much natural light as possible. It almost has the same effect as allowing a little bit of the outside to reach the inside, merging the two spaces to create a mental cue to the person standing in the space that they aren't boxed in. It eliminates the feeling of being trapped or confined in a small living area. 

You may not have the option of installing additional windows or larger windows. If this is the case, you need to be clever with what you have. Opting for sheer curtain styling and removing miniblinds will assure that light constantly enters the room. Light can be bounced to help fill the space with the use of carefully positioned mirrors. Large mirrors also add the illusion of more dimension to a vertical space, meaning they work double duty to create the feeling of a larger room. 

Prioritize Quality Over Quantity

When you're working with a small living space, your first inclination might be to add lots of small touches. Small spaces, small embellishments. It seems to make sense in the grand scheme of things. The problem with small embellishments is that they pile up to overwhelm a small space, ultimately becoming clutter. Instead of focusing on the quantity of decorative touches, focus on the quality of decorative touches. 

Choose small pieces that make statements. If you don't have enough room for a large sofa, opt for an ornate loveseat. You'll still have seating (albeit less), but your seating will simultaneously serve as a conversation piece. Sculptural or decorative table lamps will add a creative touch to the room without adding a new piece of furniture or decor for you to deal with. 

Use Multifunctional Pieces

Way back in yesteryear, design ideas for homes were built to accommodate things like murphy beds that folded into the wall. There were built-in ironing boards, and even blow dryers installed into bathrooms like light switches. The modern idea of space saving is, thankfully, far different. Now, multifunctional furniture is the primary solution for space maximization.

Ottomans can double up as an extra seating area, footstools, and storage space (though we don't recommend doubling them up as side tables). Hollow ottomans are the perfect place to store extra pillows, blankets, and tech equipment that you won't need readily accessible in your living room. Keeping these things inside of your furniture eliminates the need for an alternative storage solution, and it won't occupy any additional floorspace. 

Loveseats that convert into sofa beds or act as daybeds maximize space in homes that don't have spare bedrooms for company. Friends in town for the weekend? Perfect. Just move the coffee table and unfold the couch to comfortably sleep two people for a few nights in an interior designer-esque space!

Coffee tables with hinged lifting tops can be used to store things you might ordinarily leave on the table. Remotes, video game controllers, and chargers can be concealed beneath the table top until it's time to use them. This is only the beginning. There are floor lamps with bases that double as small shelving units, and modular sofas that easily disassemble into multiple seating solutions for entertaining.

Play with Scale

Playing with the scale of your living room furniture and home decor can slightly alter the way your brain perceives your small living room. Mismatching larger pieces with smaller pieces will add emphasis and focal points, and the balance will keep the room from feeling crowded. A giant chandelier may serve as the perfect focal point for your small living room. Hanging that chandelier above a normal-sized coffee table will do a lot to make a statement without occupying too much space.

Similarly, using a large rug will work in your advantage. Several smaller rugs create areas of broken space, making it clear that the room's dimensions are small. Using one giant rug beneath your seating creates a whole new expanse, making the living room feel larger by avoiding the gaps between smaller rugs. 

You can also add the illusion of height to a room by hanging curtains several feet above where the window actually begins. Long drapes hung high are eye-catching, placing more emphasis on the floor to high ceiling dimensions on the room and taking attention away from the wall to wall dimensions and the reduced square footage. 

Keep Away from the Walls

When placing furniture, most people instinctively arrange couches so that their backs are up against a wall. In a small room, you might feel even more inclined to do so. It seems like keeping the furniture up against the wall will open up more of the center of the room, giving the illusion of more space. It doesn't always work that way.

Try moving your furniture away from the walls and closer to the center of your small living area. You'll be creating pathways behind your furniture that make the room a little easier to navigate. These pathways will make the room look a little wider than it actually is, all while freeing up a little extra space for floor lamps or opening up the walls for taller mirrors or larger pieces of wall art. 

If you're unable to push your furniture towards the center of the room, try repositioning it into a corner. Modular sofas or sectionals will then occupy about a quarter of the room, leaving the rest of the space free while creating a cozy little corner to relax in. The rest of the walls are free for shelves or other storage solutions. 


Decorating ideas for a smaller living room usually requires a little more creativity than decorating a large space. When you don't have much to work with, the challenge comes in curating the best of the best decor and allowing it to speak for itself. At Whom, we have plenty of statement decor pieces and minimalist furniture that will help transform your small living room into a cozy space with that perfect vibe. 


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