Stylish Ways To Make A Small Living Room Seem Bigger And More Inviting

Small living rooms can be super inviting and cozy but they can also feel really cramped and cluttered the line between these very different aesthetics is quite thin. When designed right, a small living room doesn’t feel tiny. In fact, it can feel quite airy and spacious which may be hard to believe. Here’s a few design tricks that you can use if you want to make your own living room look bigger without actually expanding it. 

Set up a gallery wall

small living room design

Instead of a large TV, try incorporating a different type of focal point into a small living room. A gallery wall is a great idea because it gives the space a full and dynamic look without actually taking up a lot of space. It also allows you to have furniture pushed all the way against the wall without interfering with the design. Here’s a nice example by Brittany Stiles.

Play with patterns

modern small modern living room design

To avoid making this space seem dull a strategy that you can use is to introduce a series of different patterns. A selection of bold accent colors can also help to create eye-catching details and focal points, adding character to the room. That way even though it’s small the living room has a rich and diverse decor. A similar strategy was used here by design studio Nichole Staker

Take advantage of natural light

small apartment living room ideas

A small space that’s filled with sunlight always looks bigger and brighter and that’s a strategy that you can use to your advantage when designing a small living area. Instead of covering up the windows with long curtains that block the light try instead some different window treatments. Also, make sure to light up the space in a pleasant way when it’s dark outside. You can use a combination of lamps and ceilings to achieving that. This inviting living room designed by The Mansion is a good source of inspiration. 

Use mirrors as decorations

small living room layout

Mirrors are very effective at making small spaces seem bigger and brighter. You can incorporate them into your decor in a variety of different ways. For example, this cozy living room features a rectangular mirror above the fireplace framed by sconces. It reflects the sunlight coming through the windows and it gives the impression of a larger space. 

Use light and muted colors

couches for small living rooms

You can also achieve some great results by using a simple and muted color palette. Nuances such as beige and light grays or whites are excellent choices if you want to make a small space seem bigger. Of course, it would also help to go with a minimal design without too many ornaments and with sleek furniture overall. This living room designed by Rachel Horn Interiors is a representative example in this sense. 

Avoid big and bulky furniture

small living room chairs

It goes without saying that filling a small living room with big and bulky furniture pieces is not a good idea. On that note, it might even be a good idea to swap the sofa for a couple of armchairs or to use small poufs and sleek accent chairs instead of big upholstered seats. Similarly, choose a coffee table that doesn’t make the space look visually heavy. 

Use a large rug

how to decorate a small living room

This may not be very intuitive but a large rug can actually be better for a small living room. That’s because small area rug break up the floor and that can have a detrimental effect on its design. A large rug, on the other hand, provides cohesiveness and anchors the space in a really nice way. For this room studio, Heather Disabella Interior Design went with a muted pattern. 

Make the ceiling look higher

small living room design
Image from R. Kimbrough Photography

When you’re dealing with a small footprint a good trick is to put an emphasis on the height of the space. For instance, you can make a small living room seem bigger and more spacious by highlighting the verticality of the space. You can do that in a variety of different ways. An accent wall is a good option. You can also opt for certain window treatments that draw the eye up. Another strategy can be to keep the upper section of the walls open and to avoid tall furniture. 

Introduce dark colors

sectional in small living room

Dark colors can be quite intimidating and we often try to stay away from them when designing and decorating certain spaces, particularly small ones. However, on the contrary, dark colors and small spaces actually go really well together. A dark shade of gray, a rich blue, a deep green tone or even black can be used strategically in order to make a small living room like this one by Crystal Sinclair Designs look sophisticated, inviting and very cozy. 

Use architecture in your favor

small house living room paint

Before you start planning the design of a room, take a look around and make note of any particular architectural features that stand out. There may be some elements that you can use in your favor, like these bay windows in the design created by Rosanna Bossom. They offer this little bit of extra space which can be used strategically to include more furniture and they also bring in lots of light which is always a wonderful 

Play with proportions

small living room ideas 2020

It’s ok to decorate a small space with large paintings or oversized light fixtures as long as these are designed to make a statement. Take this lovely living room by Ellen Hanson Designs for example. The furniture maintains a low scale and there are o tall shelving units or wall-mounted pieces. Instead, the walls are decorated with bold pieces which give the space a little bit of drama without making it feel cluttered. 

Mix and match geometric shapes

small living room sets

It’s not always great to maintain a linear and cohesive link between all the different furniture pieces and decor elements in a room. In fact, sometimes it’s nice to mix and match and to pair a rectangular coffee table with a curved sofa or to complement a square armchair with a circular area rug. It can be really fun to play around 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 Grey.

Related: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Sunken Living Rooms

Create an eclectic design

Neutral elegance ShelbyNYCApartment living room

This is such a chic and stylish living room and its design is created in layers. Each furniture piece and each decoration has character and stands out by contrasting with the elements around it. All these elements bring out the beauty in one another and although there’s so many different details to take in, it all comes together harmoniously. This is a design by Fleur Delesalle

Add an unexpected feature

Neutral elegance ShelbyNYCApartment living room

By giving the eye something unusual to focus on, this takes the attention away from the fact that the room is small. It’s 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 Overall Vibe

Choose a light fixture that stands out

Neutral elegance ShelbyNYCApartment living room

Although it’s very small, this living room designed by Shelby Girard looks and feels very bright, open and airy. The bay windows bring in lots of natural light and the white walls and curtains create a beautiful and pristine backdrop 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.