Small living rooms can be super inviting and cozy, but they can also feel really cramped and messy, the line between these very different aesthetics is quite thin. When designed properly, a small living room does not feel small. In fact, it can feel quite airy and spacious, which can be hard to believe. Here are a few design tricks that you can use if you want make your own living room look bigger without actually expanding it.
Set up a gallery wall
Instead of a large TV, try integrating another type of focal point into a small living room. A gallery wall is a good idea because it gives the space a full and dynamic look without actually taking up much space. It also allows you to have furniture pushed all the way against the wall without disturbing the design. Here’s a great example of Brittany Stiles.
Play with patterns
To avoid making this space seem boring, one strategy you can use is to introduce a variety of patterns. A selection of bold accent colors can also help create eye-catching details and focal points and add character to the space. In this way, the living room has a rich and diverse decor, even if it is small. A similar strategy was used here by design studio Nichole Staker.
Take advantage of natural light
A small room filled with sunlight always looks bigger and brighter, and this is a strategy you can use to your advantage when designing a small living area. Instead of covering the windows with long curtains that block the light, try some different window treatments instead. Also, make sure to illuminate the room in a comfortable way when it is dark outside. You can use a combination of lamps and ceilings to achieve this. This inviting living room designed by The Mansion is a great source of inspiration.
Use mirrors as decorations
Mirrors are very effective in making small spaces appear larger and brighter. You can incorporate them into your decor in a variety of ways. For example, this cozy living room has a rectangular mirror over the fireplace framed by cones. It reflects the sunlight coming through the windows and it gives the impression of a larger space.
Use bright and muted colors
You can also achieve some great results by using a simple and muted color palette. Shades like beige and light gray or white are excellent choices if you want to make a small space seem larger. Of course, it would also help to go with a minimal design without too many ornaments and with sleek furniture in general. This living room designed by Rachel Horn Interiors is a representative example in this sense.
Avoid large and bulky furniture
It goes without saying that it is not a good idea to fill a small living room with large and bulky furniture. On that note, it might even be a good idea to swap the couch for a pair of armchairs or use small pouf and sleek accent chairs instead of large upholstered seats. Similarly, choose a coffee table that does not make the room look visually heavy.
Use a large blanket
This may not be very intuitive, but a large rug may actually be better for a small living room. This is because carpets in small area break up the floor and it can have a detrimental effect on its design. A large rug, on the other hand, provides cohesive power and anchors the space in a really nice way. For this room study, Heather Disabella Interior Design went with a muted pattern.
Make the ceiling look higher
When dealing with a small footprint, a good trick is to emphasize the height of the room. For example, you can make a small living room seem larger and more spacious by highlighting the verticality of the room. You can do this in a number of different ways. An accent wall is a good option. You can also choose specific window treatments that draw the eye up. Another strategy might be to keep the top of the walls open and avoid tall furniture.
Introduce dark colors
Dark colors can be quite scary, and we often try to stay away from them when designing and decorating certain spaces, especially small ones. On the contrary, dark colors and small spaces actually go really well together. A dark gray hue, a rich blue, a deep green tone or even black can be used strategically to make a small living room like this one by Crystal Sinclair Designs look sophisticated, inviting and very cozy.
Use architecture to your advantage
Before you start planning the design of a room, look around and note particular architectural features that stand out. There may be some elements you can use to your advantage, such as these bay windows in the design created by Rosanna Bossom. They offer this little bit of extra space that can be used strategically to include more furniture, and they also bring in lots of light, which is always a wonderful
Play with proportions
It is ok to decorate a small room with large paintings or oversized light fixtures, as long as these are designed to give a statement. Take, for example, this lovely living room by Ellen Hanson Designs. The furniture keeps a low scale and there are o high shelving or wall mounted pieces. Instead, the walls are decorated with bold pieces that give the room a bit of drama without it feeling cluttered.
Mix and match geometric shapes
It is not always great to maintain a linear and cohesive connection between all the different furniture and decor elements in a room. In fact, it is sometimes nice to mix and match and pair a rectangular coffee table with a curved sofa or to complement a square armchair with a circular rug. It can be really fun to play with different shapes. To avoid making the room look chaotic, keep the color palette simple and neutral. You can learn a lot from this design created by studio House of Gray.
Related: Pros and cons of sunken living rooms
Create an eclectic design
This is such an elegant and stylish living room and its design is created in layers. Each piece of furniture and each decoration has character and stands out by contrasting with the elements around it. All these elements bring out the beauty in each other, and even though there are so many different details to take in, they come together harmoniously. This is a design by Fleur Delesalle.
Add an unexpected feature
By giving the eye something unusual to focus on, this removes the attention from the fact that the space is small. It is a really good strategy and a very versatile one. You can be really creative with it. The focal point of the room can be anything like an accent chair, a painting, sculpture, a set of curtains and so on. This design by Tali Roth is the perfect source of inspiration.
Related: Feng Shui your living room: Location, layout, furniture and general ambiance
Choose a lamp that stands out
Although very small, this living room designed by Shelby Girard looks and feels very light, open and airy. The bay windows bring lots of natural light and the white walls and curtains create a beautiful and unspoilt background for the elegant furniture and the stylish decorations. The decor is brought together by the oversized pedant lamp, which gives this room a lot of character.