Castlery | Jun 14, 2023
A small living room doesn't have to feel cramped or lacking in style. With the right design approach and some clever tricks, you can transform your compact space into a cosy retreat that is both functional and visually appealing.
In this article, Castlery’s interior stylist, Adrika, shares 11 tips and creative ideas to help you style your small living room, maximising its space and injecting your personal style.
When it comes to selecting furniture for a small living room, it's essential to prioritise functionality and scale. Opt for multi-functional pieces like a sofa bed or a coffee table with storage.
The Todd Sectional Chaise Sofa can be configured to fit your available space.
Modular sofas are a smart and practical choice that offers flexibility, versatility, and optimal use of space. You can configure the individual sofa units such as creating an L-shape or a U-shape, or even separating them to form individual seating. This flexibility allows you to maximise the available space in your small living room and create a seating arrangement that suits your specific requirements.
Adrika also shares that opting for a sofa with an open base can trick the eye into thinking it's lighter and airier. “Sofa styles that are off the ground help to increase the feeling of space,” she adds.
Additionally, avoid bulky, oversized pieces that can overwhelm the space. “Consider using compact furniture like nesting coffee tables or stackable chairs that can easily be moved around to accommodate different seating arrangements and stored when not in use.”
Don't overlook the vertical space in your small living room! Make use of the walls for storage and decor to free up valuable floor space.
Install floating shelves or wall-mounted cabinets to keep things like display books, decorative items, and even electronics organised. You can also add hooks to your walls to hang baskets and wall pockets to store other items.
In addition to utilising vertical space, Adrika shares that you should invest in furniture pieces with built-in storage such as ottomans or benches with hidden storage compartments or TV consoles with shelves and drawers.
Place decorative baskets or boxes under tables or on top of cabinets to store items like blankets, remote controls, and magazines, keeping them out of sight yet easily accessible. This keeps your living room neat and tidy, resulting in a bigger space.
Avoid cluttering the space with too many accessories or oversized furniture pieces. Choose furniture with clean lines and minimalistic designs over loud and bold pieces that can overwhelm the already small space.
Limit the use of patterns and textures in your living room. Instead, focus on a few subtle textures and patterns to add visual interest without creating an illusion of clutter.
Keeping it minimal also includes making a conscious effort to declutter unnecessary items in the living room. Using the KonMari technique of decluttering, keep only the essentials that bring you joy or serve a functional purpose. Donate or discard items that you no longer need or love.
Proper lighting is essential in a small living room to enhance the ambiance and make the space more inviting. Maximise natural light by keeping window treatments minimal or sheer.
Layering lighting with a combination of overhead fixtures, table lamps, and floor lamps can create a well-lit yet cosy atmosphere. Consider using wall sconces or pendant lights to save floor space and provide targeted illumination.
One of the most effective ways to create an illusion of a larger space in a small living room is to use a light and neutral colour palette. That’s because lighter colours reflect more natural light, making the room feel more open and airy.
Opt for soft, light colours like whites, creams, and pastels on the walls and ceiling, as well as larger furniture pieces like your sofa. Introduce pops of colour through accent pieces such as cushions, rugs, and artwork without overwhelming the space.
Alongside using lighter colours, mirrors are an excellent tool to visually expand a small living room. Hang a large mirror opposite a window to reflect natural light and create the illusion of additional space. You can also place mirrors strategically to reflect interesting views or focal points within the room.
Reflective surfaces, such as glass coffee tables or metallic accents, can also help bounce light around the room and make it feel more open.
Every small living room needs a focal point to anchor the space and draw the eye. It should be something that immediately catches the eye and becomes the centre of attention in the room. For example, a bold-coloured sofa, a unique coffee table, or a stunning piece of art can all act as focal points.
The Pebble Sofa in Ocean Blue creates a focal point in @ourcozyabode’s living room.
If you have limited space for furniture or statement pieces, consider creating a focal point on your wall - accent walls, photo galleries, or wall-mounted features. By directing attention to a specific area, you can divert focus from the room's size and make it feel more purposeful and intentional.
Do take note not to overcrowd the space with multiple competing focal points. Choose one main focal point that stands out and complements the overall design of the room.
Using rugs strategically in a small living room can have a significant impact on the overall design and functionality of the space. “Rugs not only add warmth and comfort but also help define different areas within the room,” says Adrika.
The Aziza Area Rug helps to define the living area.
Choose a rug that is proportionate to the seating area, allowing the furniture legs to sit on it comfortably. A rug that is too small can make the space feel disjointed and disproportionate. Ideally, the rug should be large enough for the furniture to sit partially or entirely on it to create a sense of unity and make the room feel more spacious.
Opt for lighter-coloured rugs with subtle patterns, as they can make the space appear larger and brighter. If you prefer patterns, select geometric or striped patterns that are smaller in scale to avoid overpowering the space.
Recommended read: How to Place Area Rugs in the Living Room
“You can also use rugs to create clear pathways and guide the flow of traffic. Place a runner in narrow areas between furniture or along walkways to delineate the path and make the room feel more organised,” Adrika adds.
"Hanging curtains from the ceiling to the floor draws the eye upward, creating the illusion of taller ceilings and a grander space," says Adrika. This vertical emphasis can make the room feel more spacious and open. Opt for curtains that are long enough to brush the floor for a polished and sophisticated look.
Choose lightweight and sheer curtains that allow natural sunlight to filter through while maintaining privacy.
If your small living room shares space with other areas, consider using sliding doors or room dividers to create the illusion of separate rooms within a limited space. For example, you can use a sliding panel system to separate the seating area from a workspace or a dining area. This allows for better organisation and a sense of separation without sacrificing an open layout.
Furthermore, you can use semi-opaque dividers like frosted glass panels to maintain an open feel and allow natural light to hit all areas.
Decorating a small living room requires a thoughtful approach that combines creativity, functionality, and space-saving techniques. Remember, the key is to find a balance between style and practicality to make the most out of your limited space. With these tips and tricks, your small living room will become a cosy haven that reflects your personal style while maximising every inch available.