15 Small Living Room Ideas
that will make it Look Bigger

For a faster, more profitable home sale

Small living room with open-legged furniture.Neutral colors, open legged furniture, and lots of natural light flowing in help this small living room appear more spacious. Photo by mydomaine.com

There are many small living room ideas you can apply that will help your tiny room look more spacious and appealing to home buyers.

Just because your living room is small doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on style and comfort.

Keep reading to learn how just a few changes to your small space can help your home stand out competitively against the others on the real estate market!

Some interior decorators say that the eye travels more quickly through a small space, so it may be necessary to make a few changes to help the eye linger.

You can accomplish this by eliminating anything that stops the flow of the eye, like clutter, sharp contrasts in color, dark heavy draperies or bulky furniture. 

1. Eliminate all clutter

A cluttered living room.This cluttered room will NOT sell your home.

If you don't do anything else, do this! A clean, tidy room always looks more spacious than a cluttered, dirty one.  As a bonus, buyers will think that the house is well taken care of.

The most common problems I've seen people make in a small space are; too much furniture or furniture that's too large for the space, making it look cramped and even smaller.

Removing half of the furniture will instantly make your living room look larger. Pack it up for your new home or have a yard sale.

If you're trying to sell your house, this is the time to pack up any excess furniture, collections and personal items. This will depersonalize your home as well, helping buyers to mentally see themselves moving in.

2. Use neutral colors in a small living room

Small living room in gray neutral colors and lucite coffee table.Neutral colors and glass topped tables contribute to an open, airy feeling in this space. Photo by interiordecoratingcolor.com

Color is the key to all successful decorating— it can work magic by "visually" expanding or shrinking space and raising or lowering ceilings. It even effects our dispositions.

More people respond positively to light, neutral colors over any other color group. Additionally, neutral colors go with most people's furniture.

The right color combination can change our perception of the size of a room. 

Living room done up in one color for a most expansive feel, white.Painting an entire room white has an expansive effect because there a fewer color breaks to stop the flow of the eye. Punctuate with spots of color to liven the space. An open-legged coffee table reveals more floor space, extending sight lines.
  • To create the illusion of spaciousness, use neutral or pastel hues as the main palette of your small living room decor. Pale colors reflect and multiply light, and when combined with natural light flowing in, can visually expand a small space.
  • Cool whites, creams, soft grays, greens, blues and yellows, pale colors in general, are receding colors.
  • A small living room will appear even larger by painting walls, trim, doors, and woodwork all the same light, neutral color.
A small living room looks larger all done in white.White walls, ceiling and floor, open-leg furniture and natural light flowing in through the windows all help "expand" this small room. Photo by spaceoptimized.com.
  • One of the best small living room tips is to paint an entire room white! This creates an uninterrupted space with no color contrast, preventing the eye from stopping, fooling you into thinking the space is larger than it is. Abrupt shifts from dark to light will stop the eye.
  • To create a feeling of maximum space, use the same light color palette on the walls, floors, cabinets, window treatments and even trim work. Add no more than two to three accent colors in a small space.
  • Dark colors absorb and deflect light and can make a small space feel closed in. Cool colors appear to retreat, while warm colors seem to advance.

3. Use a monocromatic or monotone room color scheme

Small living room in a monotone color scheme.This small living room has all the right elements: pale neutral colors, open-legged furniture, and natural light flowing in! Photo by idealhome.co.uk.
  • Prevent boredom by introducing different textures and patterns with fabrics and accessories. How do they differ? A monotone color scheme simply uses less variation of tone, as pictured above.

  • A small living room will appear even larger by painting walls, trim, doors, and woodwork all the same light, neutral color.

4. Keep pattern and texture to a minimum 

Horizontal strips on a short wall can appear to lengthen the wall.Horizontal stripes on a short wall or floor seem to "elongate" a small room. Use wide stripes, as thin stripes can have the opposite effect.

Don’t be afraid to incorporate pattern and texture into a small space, just keep them to a minimum. In the absence of wild patterns and bright paint colors, adding textural elements will bring excitement and interest to a small living room.

Solid pale colors are expansive and lend a serene feel.Solid pale colors, even in the artwork on the wall, give this space a serene feel.
  • Horizontal stripes on the walls or floor can visually lengthen a small room. If you are staging your home for sale, use subtle, neutral colors for the stripes. 
  • Vertical stripes on the walls can visually add height and appear to "raise" a low ceiling. Use wide stripes, as thin ones can have the opposite effect.
  • Avoid large or busy patterns that can diminish the scale of the space. If you must use a large pattern, confine it to a small area, like an accent pillow.
  • Use fabrics with texture rather than pattern so as not to overwhelm a small space. Texture adds interest when light hits the uneven surfaces, bringing varying degrees of lights and darks of the same color.
  • Avoid heavily brocaded fabrics, laces, ruffles and dark colors in small room design.

5. Paint the ceiling white!

By uniting walls and ceiling in the same light color, it's harder for your eye to tell where the walls and ceiling meet, so a small room will feel larger. 

A ceiling that's too high can be “lowered” by painting it darker than the walls. Bringing the paint down onto the walls a bit will intensify that effect.

6. Use light-colored flooring

Light-colored tile, pale hardwood flooring or light carpeting will make a small living room appear feel more open.

If you have a dark floor, consider placing a large, light-colored area rug in your small living room.

A large area rug that covers most of the floor should have at least 1 to 2 feet of flooring showing between the wall and the rug. An area rug that goes all the way to the wall has the effect of "shrinking" the space.

7. Keep floors clear to extend sight lines

The more exposed flooring you can see, the larger your room will feel. Keep floors clear of objects that block your view of the other side of the room.

Too many small rugs in a tiny room will just look cluttered. One large area rug will do the trick.

8. Bring more light into a small room

Natural light

Natural light is always the preferred lighting in any room. Opening window treatments to let in more natural light will instantly make a room feel more spacious.

  • Maximize the natural light that you have by keeping window treatments minimal or simply go without. Remove dark, heavy, or oppressive window treatments that block light.
  • No natural light? Consider installing a window, skylight, or sola tube. A sola tube will brighten a room without sacrificing wall space. They are quite affordable, don't leak like skylights, and can be found at most home supply stores.

Artificial lighting

Clear LampsLamps with see-through qualities will extend sight lines.

Living room lighting must function well because of the nature of activities that occur there. A living room typically uses three types of lighting; ambient, task, and accent lighting.

  • One glaring overhead light fixture can dominate a room, fixing the eye to that one spot. Use more than one source of light to keep the eye from fixating there.
  • Recessed lighting is a great choice for small rooms and low ceilings, because they don’t take up any space by protruding into the room. 
  • Dark corners can shrink a room. Recessed lighting is one way to light up dark corners. Or, place a floor lamp in a dark corner, just remember that too much furniture and accessories can clutter and shrink a small space.
  • Avoid large, obstructive light fixtures like drum pendants and heavy chandeliers, as they can overpower a small room.
  • Select light fixtures with clear shades that you can see through.

9. The best furniture for a small living room

This small living room is decorated with a lucite coffee table, side tables and chair, which appear to take up no space.Lucite furniture extends sight lines in this small living room.

Select furniture that allows you to see from one corner to the opposite side of the room.

  • Glass and lucite furniture are great remedies for a small room, as you can see right through them!
  • Use open-leg furniture that allows you to see deeper into the room, like a coffee table with a metal frame and glass top.
  • Use fewer pieces of furniture rather than many small pieces.

10. Storage ideas that take up less "visual" space

Living room with floating shelves and a glass coffee table top.Floating shelves and a glass coffee table help this small room feel more open.

Add depth by replacing cabinet doors with CLEAR glass. This will effectively add depth by taking your eye all the way to the wall. Be sure to keep the interiors uncluttered. 

Hang floating shelves rather than those with heavy corbels or ugly bracketing.

Glass shelves increase a rooms sense of space because they're almost invisible. Items placed upon them seem to float in space.

When accessorizing open shelves, use objects sparingly and keep spaces open between. This "breathing room" translates to an open, airy feeling. Focus on using just a few standout accessories rather then a collection of small objects, which can look cluttered.

Take advantage of unused vertical space by replacing long storage cabinets with tall ones that go all the way to the ceiling and take up less floor space. 

11. Use reflective surfaces in a small space

Use mirrors in a small space to create an expansive feel.Reflective surfaces illuminate this small space.

Mirrors are a favorite home staging decorating tool, as they can "visually" enlarge a small room by adding depth and light.

A mirror can give the impression of extending space by duplicating it. 

  • Hang a mirror where it will reflect a good view or a light fixture that will scatter light around a room. 
  • Or, position two mirrors opposite each other— this will make it feel like another room exists in the small space.
  • A mirror collage can look cluttered if you use more than four mirrors. 
  • Avoid floor to ceiling glued-on mirrors. While this is an effective way to make a room look larger, most people don’t like them and will only be thinking of all the work it will take to remove them.
  • Reflective surfaces like sleek cabinets and shiny hardwood floors will illuminate a small living room by amplifying natural and artificial light.
A large floor mirror will bring extra dimension to a small room.
  • Choose shiny metals for their reflective qualities. Make sure they all match—stick to one type of metal finish in a small room. 

  • Decorate with clear glass or reflective accessories, like vases and canisters—they will look light and airy. 

12. Small living room ideas for awkward spaces

If your living room walls are broken up by doorways, poorly placed windows, nooks, or a slanted ceiling, make them less conspicuous by painting them the same color as the walls.

Electrical outlets and switch plates are also a distraction to the eye if they contrast too much with the wall color. Make them the same color as the walls so they blend in and don’t interrupt the flow of the eye.

Make unwanted features, like an ugly radiator or imperfect moldings less noticeable by painting them the same color as the walls.

13. Window treatments for small spaces

Hang window treatments the same color as the walls to prevent color breaks.Window treatments the same color as the walls will increase the sense of space.
  • No matter what size or style, a window will enlarge the feel of any room if natural light is allowed to flow in without obstruction. If privacy is not an issue, simply leave windows bare.
  • Avoid complicated details like ruffles, swags and bows. Too much fussiness can make a small space feel cluttered and dated.
  • Use simple valances, blinds or shades—aim for a clean contemporary look. Sheer curtains are another alternative.

  • For low ceilings, mount curtain rods higher than the window frame, even up to the ceiling. Hang long draperies to the floor to create a strong vertical line to draw the eye upward.
  • Create the illusion of wider windows by extending curtain rods well beyond the width of the window, wide enough so that curtain panels don't cover any glass when fully opened. This will bring more natural light into the room, as well.

14. Renovation ideas for a small living room

If you can afford it, a small living room renovation can pay off in the end if you are selling your house. Here are a few design ideas that will enhance your small space: 

  • Steal space from an adjoining room to expand the living room. Be sure to get expert advice before your start. If it's a load-bearing wall, it will be expensive.
  • Open up a wall to gain extra storage by building recessed shelving or cabinets between the studs in a wall. 
  • Enlarge a doorway going into the living room. Doing so will make the area feel more open and spacious.
  • Replace small windows with larger ones to bring in more natural light. 

15. Home staging tips for a small living room

Home staged monochromatic living room.This small living room is very simply staged. This is all you need to sell your home.

If you have a natural focal point, like a great outdoor view or a fireplace, arrange some of your furniture toward it. Create a focal point if you don’t have one.

It’s okay to have at least one element that is somewhat bold in a small space. It can be a piece of artwork, a mirror, or even a large upholstered chair. 

  • Group smaller pieces of artwork together so they read as “one” piece, as in a vignette.
  • Limit collectibles to one or two favorite pieces, or allow one outstanding accessory to become a focal point.
  • Display a single elegant bloom, like an orchid or peony instead of a large floral bouquet.
  • Create needed height by accessorizing shelves with tall objects or hanging a large picture over a console or sofa.
  • Accessorize with clear, see-through objects that blend into the background, like glass jars and canisters.
  • Avoid artwork with heavy ornamental frames, as these can overpower a small room.
  • Large artwork is fine, just be sure picture frames aren’t ornate or bulky.
  • A large, frameless painting with a wrapped canvas edge is ideal.
  • Hang a picture that has visual perspective, like a landscape. A landscape makes you feel as if you're looking through a window.

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