Small Living Room Ideas


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

Small living room ideasLight airy colors, open legged furniture, and tons of natural light give this small living room a more spacious feel. Photo by mydomaine.com

Discover many small living room ideas that can make your tiny space seem bigger and more inviting to home buyers.

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

For many home buyers, the living room is the most important room to consider when looking for a house. 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.

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. Accomplish this by eliminating anything that stops the flow of the eye, like clutter, sharp contrasts in color, dark heavy draperies and bulky furniture. 

Paint colors for small living rooms

Small living room in neutral colorsPhoto by interiordecoratingcolor.com

Color is the key to all successful decorating— it can work magic by visually expanding or shrinking space, raising and lowering ceilings. It can even effect our dispositions. The right color(s) can also change our perception of the size of a room. 

Knowing a few basic rules of color theory will help you make good color choices with your small living room ideas. Most people respond positively to light, neutral colors. When you are preparing for a home sale, your goal is to make small rooms feel more spacious. The right paint colors and color combinations can help. 

Living room design interior picturesPunctuate an all white room with spots of color
  • To create the illusion of spaciousness, use neutral or pastel hues as the main palette of your small living room design. Pale colors reflect and multiply light, and when combined with lots of 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.
  • One of the best small living room ideas is simply 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.
  • 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 SchemeA monotone color scheme gives this living room a light, airy feel.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Monochromatic color schemes are the best room designs for small spaces. Typical colors for monochromatic or monotone color schemes are whites, beiges, or greys in varying hues, although any color can be used. Excitement can be added by introducing different textures in fabrics and accessories. 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. This also makes ugly molding and trim appear to blend into the walls, making them less noticeable.

Small living room ideas for pattern and texture

Living room design interior picturesHorizontal stripes on walls or floor can elongate and bring movement to a small room. Use of pattern adds interest.

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.

  • Outdated wallpaper should be removed, as home buyers will hate it. Too much wallpaper can be overwhelming and will send buyers out the door fast! 
  • Add pattern and texture to your small living room with window treatments, accessories, flooring, area rugs and light fixtures. 
  • 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 will illuminate a small space.
  • Avoid heavy brocaded fabrics, laces, ruffles, and dark colors in small room design.
  • Use smaller prints or solid color fabrics for a more unified effect.
  • 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 together for 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.

Small living room ideas for ceilings and floors

Ceilings

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

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. Continue light tones onto the floor by with a light-colored tile or hardwood flooring. 

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

Floors

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.

TASTE SPECIFIC: Your specific taste may not appeal to a very large number of people. When selling your home, your goal is to target as many home buyers possible. Home staging helps you to achieve this goal.

Small living room ideas for renovation

A living room renovation can really pay off in the end, but realistically, most people just can’t afford to do this. If you're planning to do a remodel before selling your home, here are a few small living room design ideas for that: 

  • Steal some space from an adjoining room to expand the living room. Taking down a wall can be very expensive if it’s a load-bearing wall. Make sure you find out first.
  • 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! Drawing the drapes instantly makes 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 larger window, skylight, solar, or sola tube. A sola tube will brighten the room without sacrificing wall space. They aren't very expensive, ranging from $140 to $300, and can be found at most home builder stores.

Artificial lighting

Clear LampsUse lamps with see-through qualities to 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 creates a lovely ambience and will light up dark corners. Or place table or floor lamps in corners.
  • 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 chair or coffee table with a metal frame and glass top, will create a sense of light and space.
  • Use fewer pieces of furniture rather than many small pieces, which can make a room feel crowded.
  • Using glass or lucite furniture will open up a small space. 

Small living room ideas for storage

Living room design interior picturesFloating shelves and glass coffee table help this room feel more open.

Add depth by replacing cabinet faces 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 space open between. This "breathing room" translates to an open, airy feeling. Focus on using just a few standout accessories instead of a collection of small objects, which can look cluttered.

Take advantage of unused vertical space by replacing low storage cabinets with taller ones that go all the way to the ceiling. Strong vertical lines will seemingly “raise” the ceiling.

Decorate with mirrors and reflective surfaces

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

Mirrors are one of a home stager’s favorite interior decorating tricks, because they can visually enlarge a small room 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, which will scatter light around a room. Or position two mirrors opposite each other— this will make it look like another room exists in the small space.
  • A mirror collage can look cluttered if you use more than four mirrors. 
  • Stay away from floor to ceiling glued-on mirrors! While this is an effective way to make a room look larger, most buyers don’t like them and will only be thinking of all the work it will take to get rid of them.
Floor mirror
  • Reflective surfaces like sleek cabinets and shiny hardwood floors will illuminate your small living room by amplifying natural and artificial light.
  • 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 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, such as an ugly radiator or unremarkable 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 wall increases the sense of space
  • No matter their size or style, windows enlarge the feel of a 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.
  • One of the best small living room design ideas for low ceilings is to install 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

A clean, tidy room always looks larger and more spacious than a cluttered, dirty one. Simply removing half of the furniture will instantly make your living room look larger! Clear out bulky furniture. Make some extra money by having a yard sale.

Home buyers don’t want to see other people’s personal items strewn all over. It makes it hard for them to visualize themselves in your home.

Small living room design ideas for staging

Small living room ideasPhoto by architectureartdesigns.com

If you have a natural focal point, like a great view from a window, or a fireplace, arrange your furniture around them. 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 more relaxed, unstudied feeling.

Group smaller pieces of artwork together so they read as “one” piece, or a unit, as in a vignette. Not too many pieces, though, or they will be viewed as clutter.

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.

Use accessories with reflective or 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 make sure picture frames aren’t ornate and bulky. A large, frameless painting with wrapped canvas edges is ideal.

Small living room design ideas that really work: hang a framed picture that has visual perspective, like a landscape. A landscape makes you feel like you're looking through a window.

Go from small living room ideas to home page