Whether you’ve found your dream house or you’re living in a rental with an awkward floor plan, some otherwise lovely homes simply have small living rooms. Do you find that your living room doesn’t have enough space for seating, the television, artwork, and a coffee table? Is it hard to make your lounge room or family room a functional and liveable space for your family?
If so, we feel your pain. Spending time in a cramped and cluttered room just isn’t pleasant. You may have resigned yourself to your cramped, poky living room – but you don’t have to settle! Even in the tiniest of spaces, you can trick your eye and mind into thinking that your living room is much bigger than it actually is.
A comfortable and stylish lounge room is possible for anyone, and it can actually be quite fun to roll up your sleeves and get decorating. Before long, everyone in your home will be excited to spend time in the living room, relaxing, reading, and watching the telly.
We’ve compiled a list of 10 interior design tips that can help you transform your small living room into an oasis of calm and style. You’ll love your new living room so much that you’ll want to spend more time here than ever.
You’ve probably experienced how natural light makes a room feel brighter and therefore bigger. If your room has a lot of natural light, get rid of your dark, heavy curtains and always keep the blinds open during the day. Of course, some rooms lack big windows or are cast in the shade for most of the day. If this is the case, don’t make problems worse with heavy curtains. Instead, choose sheer or semi-sheer curtains.
In some cases, even semi-sheer curtains just won’t make enough of a difference in your small living room. That’s when you need to take advantage of the magic of mirrors! By reflecting the existing light around the room, mirrors create an optical illusion of spaciousness. Prop up a mirror or two on the mantle, hang them on your walls, or consider creating a tile effect of small mirrors. Place them in spots that make the most of your natural light, reflecting it throughout your room. Glass accessories will also add a dimension of space and light.
We know, we know – adding a massive statement piece seems like a foolish idea when you only have a little bit of space to play with. However, by playing with the scale you can create a dramatic feeling in your living room that catches the eye. Think a chandelier, or a huge piece of wall art or sculpture. Far from seeming like clutter, these elements will make your space look and feel like a curated gallery.
This is another trick that plays with the scale of a room. While you might assume that a series of small rugs will suit your small space better, a large rug is best because it won’t break up the floor. Rugs, even in fun, bright, and bold patterns, will create a visual anchor in your space and provide a sense of style and thoughtful design.
While you want to flood your room with light to make it feel spacious, you can also lean into its inherent cosiness. Think of the Danish concept of hygge, and focus on warm lighting, plush furnishings, and groupings of accent chairs that allow for conversation and togetherness. A stack of books and a few plants will add to the intimacy and heart-warming comfort.
In the spirit of cosiness, float your furniture a few centimetres away from the walls. This may seem counterintuitive – after all, you don’t have much floor space to play with! But this is yet another optical trick that makes the room look wider than it actually is and creates space.
We’ve said above that plenty of light makes things seem more open and expansive, but dark, glossy paint on the walls can actually do the same. Dark walls can provide a clean and sophisticated backdrop for your art and furniture in lighter colours, creating that sought-after jewel-box effect. Do you want to take things to the next level? Consider painting your ceiling in the same dark hue.
We recommend that you only try this trick if you have plenty of natural light in your living room.
Ok, ok – we just suggested that you try painting your walls in dark colours, but white walls can also create a sense of airiness. If you keep your walls, floors, and ceilings a clean white, you can show off a few key pieces of bright furniture or artwork. This is a good strategy if you don’t have a lot of natural light in your living room.
Everyone loves to put their feet up at the end of a long day, but tiny living rooms don’t often have space for ottomans. Or do they? Say goodbye to a traditional coffee table and go for an ottoman instead. Keep a hard board or tray in a handy place (behind the sofa?) to transform it into a surface for drinks, plates, or a vase of flowers. Not only can you rest your weary feet on an ottoman, but you can also use it as extra seating when friends and family pay a visit.
In fact, you should take advantage of any time that you can make your furniture do double duty. For great small room storage ideas, choose an ottoman that opens up to reveal storage space inside. That way, you can pop some of your clutter, remotes, and magazines into a convenient spot that you can also use for rest and comfort. If you decide to stick with a traditional table, consider two small tables instead of one larger one. This allows you to move them around the room to make the most of your space.
Even if you choose to paint your walls white, you don’t have to say goodbye to colour. You can still have fun with bright and sunny bursts of colour throughout your room. Go wild with vivid hues, add a plethora of jewel tones, or incorporate chic pastels – but make sure that things stay cohesive. If you start to add loads of different colours and competing shades things will look cluttered and messy.
The same advice goes for patterns – they look great in small spaces. Don’t be afraid to mix up your patterns, but make sure that they follow a tight colour palette. The result will be sophisticated and fashion forward.
We could write an entire article about the transformative effects of lighting in a small space – in fact, many people already have! We recommend playing around with a few different lighting options to see which ones suit your space the best and make your living room feel bigger.
Overhead lighting can make a living room feel sterile and harsh. So, when you have a lack of square metres, you can make the most of your floor space by mounting lighting fixtures to your walls instead of using floor or table lamps. There are some stunning sconces out there that also do double duty as pieces of art.
However, if you have high ceilings, we think that torchiere floor lamps can be an excellent option. They give you the cosy and sophisticated lighting that you want without taking up too much floor space or cluttering your end tables.
Small room design doesn’t have to be complicated or intimidating. Get ready to entertain – you no longer have to feel embarrassed about your poky little living room. Instead, get ready for compliments about how well you’ve made use of your space.
Which of these tips are you going to incorporate into your small living room?
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Edward is the managing director of Sloane & Sons Stylish Chairs. He is an expert in quality, comfortable upholstered chairs.