53 Small Living Room Ideas to Sell Your Home

How to sell your home and make a faster, more profitable sale

Small living room ideasNeutral 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 try that will help your tiny space appear larger and more inviting to home buyers.

Just because your living room is small doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on style and comfort. Keep reading to see how just a few changes can make your small living room stand up against the competition in the real estate market!

Many buyers consider the living room the most important room in the house, after all, this is where all the action happens; the entertaining, relaxing and hanging out with family.

Most buyers are looking for a living room that's casual and comfortable, yet roomy enough for large gatherings. Gone are the days when people kept a formal living room, used only on special occasions. 

This small living room has all the right tricks: pale neutral colors, open-legged furniture, and natural light flowing in! Photo by idealhome.co.uk.

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. 

Use neutral colors in a small living room

Small living room in neutral colorsNeutral colors and glass topped tables provide 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 can even effect our dispositions.

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

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

Living room design interior picturesPainting 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 that reflect light, creating a feeling of spaciousness.
White walls, ceiling and floor, open-leg furniture and natural light flowing in through large windows all combine to create a feeling of spaciousness in this small living room. Photo by spaceoptimized.com.
  • One of the best small living room ideas is to paint an entire room in white to create an uninterrupted space. The lack of color contrast keeps 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 trim work. Add no more than two to three 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.
Monotone Color SchemeThis monotone room color scheme has very little color contrast. This, combined with the natural light flowing in provides a light, airy feel.
  • Monochromatic or monotone room color schemes are the best decor styles for a small space. Typical colors used are white, beige, or gray in varying hues, although any color can be used. 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.
  • Minimize the length of a long, narrow room by using the following color combinations; paint the long walls in a light color and end walls in a darker warm shade of the same color. Because darker colors advance, this will have the effect of "squaring" the room.
  • A small living room will appear even larger by painting walls, trim, doors, and woodwork all the same light, neutral color.

Small living room ideas using pattern and texture

Living room design interior picturesHorizontal 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.

  • Horizontal stripes on the walls or floor can elongate and bring movement to a small room. If you are staging your home for sale, use subtle, neutral colors for the stripes. 
Small living room in solid colors.Solid pale colors, even in the artwork on the wall, give this space a serene feel.
  • 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 window treatments, accent pillows, or an upholstered chair.
  • Vary the textures of things you can touch (tactile) and things you look at (visual).
  • 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.
  • Shiny, satiny fabrics on upholstered furniture, window treatments, and accent pillows can illuminate a small space.
  • Avoid heavy brocaded fabrics, laces, ruffles and dark colors in small room design.

Small living room ideas for ceilings and floors

Ceiling colors for a small space

A dark wall against a white ceiling can make a small space feel cave-like.

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 the 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.

For low ceilings, mount curtain rods higher than the window frame, even up to the ceiling. Hanging long window curtains to the floor will create a strong vertical line that draws the eye upward.

Floor colors for a small living room

The more exposed flooring you can see, the better. Keep floors clear to extend sight lines. 

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

A floor with wide stripes will make your room appear longer (or wider) than it is. If you are trying to sell your home, use a large area rug with wide stripes to visually lengthen or widen the room. 

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

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're planning to do a remodel before selling your home, here are a few small living room design ideas that can help: 

  • Steal some space from an adjoining room to expand the living room. A load-bearing wall can be very expensive to take down. Be sure to get expert advice.
  • Open up a wall and 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. 

Small living room ideas for lighting

Natural light

Natural light is always the preferred lighting in any room. Opening the drapes to let in 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 for a small living room

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 the answer for lighting 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 chandeliers, as they can overpower a small room.

Furniture for a small living room

Living room design interior picturesLucite furniture extends sight lines in this small living room.

One of the best small living room ideas you can apply is to keep floor space open! The more floor you can see, the larger a room will appear.

  • Use open-leg furniture that allows you to see deeper into the room. Open design furniture, like a coffee table with a metal frame and glass top, will extend your sight lines.
  • Use fewer pieces of furniture rather than many small pieces, which can make a small room feel cramped.
  • Glass or lucite furniture will extend sight lines. 

Storage ideas that take up less "visual" space

Living room design interior picturesFloating 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 more depth by taking your eye all the way to the wall. Be sure to keep interiors uncluttered. 

Hang floating shelves rather than those with heavy corbels or ugly bracketing. Open shelving reduces visual weight and adds extra depth.

Glass shelves increase a room's 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. Strong vertical lines will seemingly “raise” a low ceiling.

Decorate a small space with mirrors and reflective surfaces

Living room with mirrorMirrors and reflective surfaces extend and illuminate small spaces.

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

Mirrors give the impression of extending space by duplicating it. 

  • Hang a mirror where it will reflect a good view, or a light fixture, to 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.
Floor mirror
  • 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. 

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.

Window treatments for small spaces

Living room design interior picturesWindow treatments the same color as the walls will increase the sense of space.
  • No matter their size or style, windows enlarge the feel of any room if natural light is allowed to flow in. If privacy is not an issue, simply leave windows unadorned.
  • Avoid complicated details like ruffles, swags and bows. Too much fussiness can make a small space feel closed-in 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. Hanging long window curtains to the floor will create a strong vertical line that draws the eye upward.
  • Create the illusion of wider windows by extending the 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 also allow more natural light into the room.

Eliminate all clutter!

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

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.

Buyers don’t want to see other people’s personal items strewn all over. This is one of the biggest buyer turnoffs out there! Plus, it makes it hard for them to visualize themselves in your home.

Home staging that will sell your small space

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 could be a piece of artwork, a mirror, even a large upholstered chair. 

Arrange accessories in odd numbers, as this creates a relaxed, unstudied feeling that is most pleasing to the eye.

Group smaller pieces of artwork together so they read as “one” piece, or a unit, as in a vignette.

Limit collectibles to one or two favorite pieces, or allow one outstanding accessory to become a focal point.

Instead of an arrangement of flowers, display a single elegant bloom, like an orchid or peony.

Create needed height by accessorizing shelves with tall objects or hanging a picture over a console.

Use accessories with see-through qualities that will blend into the background, like glass jars and canisters.

Avoid artwork with heavy ornamental frames as this can overpower a small room.

Large artwork is fine, just be sure the picture frames aren’t ornate or bulky. A large, frameless painting with wrapped canvas edges is ideal.

Hang a picture that has visual perspective, like a landscape. A landscape makes you feel like as though you're looking through a window.

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