Small Living Room Ideas to Make the Most of Itty Bitty Spaces
Configuring your living room layout can feel like a full-time job in itself, especially when it’s smaller than most. How much furniture should you buy? Is the space already too cluttered or does it look too empty? Should you set up a workspace in there, too? What about paint colors ? The questions are endless, and once you solve one, that answer sometimes creates 10 more questions. Fortunately, the beauty of creative freedom—and the power of the internet—means no matter how small your living room is, there are plenty of ideas and layouts you can find out there that will be applicable to your living situation.
Coming up are 40 rooms—from teeny tiny spaces teeming with inspiration to larger living rooms that have adapted to living small—that all showcase the best ways to expand your square footage without any demo or renovating.
1. Go long
It can be difficult to decorate a narrow room. Don’t give up all hope though—look to this sleek Brooklyn apartment for a layout that works for a long, narrow space. Find furniture with smaller dimensions and leggy, airy pieces that don’t have a lot of visual weight. Place key furnishings like your sofa and large bookcases against the wall to take advantage of every square inch of floor space.
2. Elevate an alcove
Even a tiny alcove, like in this New York apartment , can work as the perfect living room. Emphasize the coziness of a small footprint with soft textures and calming colors, both of which can make a tiny area feel intentionally small.
3. Embrace a multipurpose room
Not enough space for a separate dining room, living room, and breakfast nook? Follow the example of this dreamy, pink-walled Washington DC studio and carve those areas out of one room. With the right sized furniture, this decorating strategy can make a layout look more like a deliberately open floor plan—not just a one room apartment.
4. Size down and build up
If your home has been blessed with high ceilings, you can leverage them to your advantage. Think vertically by decorating with tall mirrors, high shelves, and curtains mounted several inches above your actual windows, which draws the eye up and can create the illusion of a bigger home. All of these strategies—plus, the use of a smaller loveseat sofa and a tiny trunk as a coffee table—are exactly what make this stylish yet small Brooklyn studio look larger and spacious.
5. Look to decor stores as inspiration
Think of the room setups you see in stores like IKEA, West Elm, and Target—they’re usually mini versions of how you can decorate your own space. If a home store vignette reflects the actual dimensions of your home though, as in this artsy New York studio , you can simply replicate these ultra stylized setup.
6. Get your reflection on
Mirrors are one of the best ways to make your tiny space feel open and airy. This space from West Elm shows off the dramatic impact multiple mirrors can play, plus they reflect any and all light available in the room.
7. Fill ‘er up
In a tiny space, you might be afraid of overwhelming things with too-large furniture, but oftentimes, if you go full throttle with a large sectional that hugs the walls, you’ll get a room that #1 seats a ton of people and #2 feels super welcoming and cozy. Take notes from this home we toured in the UK that fits a family of four.
8. Cozy eclectic
Another example of a tiny space embracing all things cozy for the better can be seen in this comfortable, sunny Philadelphia condo . Layer in an eclectic mix of objects and furnishings that are special to you, and you’ll be left with a living room full of colorful textures you’ll never want to leave.
9. Go for the wow factor
Sometimes the best way to visually increase the square footage in a space is to keep the eye constantly in motion (so you don’t notice how small it is). Take a cue from entertaining expert Lulu Powers in her LA bungalow seen on One Kings Lane : pattern on pattern, bold color next to bold color—cozy perfection!
10. Keep things linear
Try implementing varying geometric and linear prints. This gives a small space a sense of structure while also providing the illusion of additional length and width.
11. Lose the legs
If you’re looking to add storage/display surfaces to your living room, consider going leg-free and attaching units directly to the wall (like this Besta unit from IKEA in a room via Livet Hemma ). Floating large pieces like this tricks the eye into thinking less space has been taken up because the floor area is still free (plus, you can use that newly found space for even more storage should you feel the need).
12. Make the best of strange angles
A feature wall is a great way to properly weigh and focus a room with awkward angles, like in this room from Alvhem , that uses a bold floral wallpaper to pull the attention to the seating area.
13. Invite tiny keepsakes & treasures into your space
In this charming living room, your attention is occupied and delighted by all the personal accents and accessories that draw you into each area of the little space.
14. Use color to define spaces
When you’re trying to carve a living room out of a smaller studio space, you can always use color blocking to your advantage. This Brooklyn renter anchored her sofa with a hunter green wall, which makes the space that also contains her bed look like two separate rooms. She kept the look as airy as possible by restricting her living room furniture to the bare minimum—just a couch, coffee table, and two pretty magenta pink stools.
15. A wall of books
To turn a small, sort of sad living space into your favorite room, consider taking an empty wall and turning it into a top-to-bottom mini library. It’ll provide plenty of storage opportunities, but also makes such a statement and gives a luxe built-in effect. For an even more stylish push, pick a rich color, like the hunter green of this room , and add molding to polish off the custom look.
16. Don’t be scared of quirky set ups
Just because this area’s called a “living room” doesn’t mean it can’t serve a purpose beyond just lounging. The roommates in this San Francisco apartment actually squeezed a washing machine in the corner of their living room. Although unexpected, the white unit almost blends into the space, since it’s close in color to the walls. It even features a fabric accent that matches the living room sofa.
17. Embrace less
If you’re averse to clutter, just put the good bones of your living room on display. A perfect example of this is this light and airy Michigan apartment , which has the essential pieces of furniture and just a few select decor items. Sometimes less is more, especially when you have a beautiful fireplace, nice hardwood floors, and large windows that let in tons of light.
18. The power of the tuck
The main goal of any small living space is always to use every area as efficiently as possible. So that area under the coffee table (considering yours doesn’t have shelving) can often feel a bit wasted, unless you mimic this clever space that tucks the pouf under for more usage.
19. Keep your space alive
It’s no secret that plants add so much value to any room in the home, but you can really get creative with them in your living area. In a tour of her home via House Beautiful , Justina Blakeney shows off just that in her compact living room, and is smart about hanging greenery as to not take up any precious floor space.
20. Double duty furniture
This ultra creative Washington DC apartment uses furniture with a dual purpose to save on space. The coffee table is able to go from regular height to the height of a proper dining room table and can seat up to four guests, erasing the need for a separate eating nook and excessive pieces of furniture.
21. Floor to ceiling draperies
Draperies are the quickest way to add instant height to any space. The trick is to hang them from right around where your wall meets your ceiling and let them slightly puddle on the ground.
22. Behold the power of threes
Grouping items into threes is a great way to make a living room feel a bit bigger by adding more pieces to a space without taking up more real estate. (Not to mention you can move smaller furnishings like these around as needed.)
Keep it simple, sweetie! When you don’t have a ton of room to play with but you want to inject some color, it’s best to keep it simple if you’re a newbie. Start with a foundation of neutrals and add in one feature color and one metallic and run with it, like this space which invites varying textures and finishes to add depth while remaining light and airy on the eyes.
24. Fit it all in
Packing your teeny space with lots of purpose is another way to trick yourself into thinking things are bigger than they appear. In this apartment, living room seamlessly connects to an office area, feeling cohesive and interesting.
25. White out
Nothing brightens and opens up a space like the color white can. This coastal-reminiscent apartment in California shows how even the tiniest living rooms can look larger than life when decorated in a monochrome palette.
26. Layer your lighting
This living room feels big and spacious due in large part to tall ceilings and big windows, but also of note is the layered lighting. Keeping light at multiple levels (via floor lamps, chandeliers, and task lights) creates a moody yet well-lit room.
27. Don’t overlook underused spots
If you have some windows in your tiny living room, put those window sills to work holding books, plants and other decorative objects.
28. Opt for floating shelves
When floor space is at a premium but you’ve got tons of books and whatsits to store, you’ll want to consider floating shelves. Keep them the same color as your wall for an even sleeker look (and don’t be afraid to get creative with sizes, like these scattered smaller Umbra shelves.
29. Go big
With a rug that is. A large rug like this one in the West Village apartment of Lee Lenox makes a tiny space feel much bigger than it actually is.
30. Design on a tilt
The best way to shake up a space is to give it a fresh furniture layout. If you’re bored of your little living room, consider angling a few key pieces to keep things interesting.
31. Get creative with storage
Okay, so this one is reserved for homeowners who can invest in custom solutions, but how enviable is this media center designed by London-based firm Sigmar ?
32. Go vertical
Blankets are a must for a cozy living room experience but when you’re short on space to store said blankets, you don’t have many options. Sure, you can stash them in a basket, but that takes but valuable floor space. A better option? The leading ladder.
33. Skip the coffee table in place of an ottoman or pouf
This space from Cup of Jo is by no means a small living room, but let’s pretend for a second that it is to learn a thing or two from it. See those two poufs on the other side of the coffee table? Those could easily swap in for the actual coffee table itself in a tighter space, which gives the room’s user flexibility in surfaces. Opting for ottomans or poufs over larger furnishings is a smart way to still have a spot to place a drink or remote, but be able to move things easily around as you please (and even maybe create more seating).
34. Thinking clearly
Acrylic or glass furniture has long been a designer trick for small spaces. They serve a purpose (i.e., holding drinks, etc.) while basically disappearing into the space. The result is a room with all the function you need, but without all the visual clutter.
35. Be delicate
Similar to the above trick, choosing accent furniture with delicate frames is another way to keep down the visual noise. This tiny seating living room (the home of content strategist Cole Wilson via One Kings Lane ) feels full sized thanks to the delicate gold base and glass top coffee table, thin framed accent chairs and floor lamp.
36. Try matchy-matchy
While some might tell you that all-white rooms are the key to stretching a small space, we’re here to tell you that no matter what paint you go with, the effect of color is a lot more nuanced than that. A trick that always works, though, no matter what’s on your wall? Matching your drapes (bonus points if they’re a sheer material) to your wall. Here, white walls seem to go on forever as the visual line is not interrupted by different colored curtains. If you flip this and decide to go dark and moody, stick to draperies in equally dramatic tones for a super cohesive, polished look perfect for a small living room.