Modern small living room ideas to make the most of your space

As the name suggests, living rooms are where we spend a lot of our time at home. However, these spaces don’t need to be large in order to make an impact. Modern small living room ideas bring contemporary style to even the most petite spaces.

Living room ideas come in all styles, but modern styling, with its typically less ‘fussy’ looks, works especially well for small rooms. Cleaner lines, bold colour choices and contemporary solutions make the most of smaller living rooms.

Modern small living room ideas

From decorating and styling tips to doors and windows, read on to discover our favourite ways to design a small living room space.

1. Create impact with patterned wallpaper

Living room with blue patterned wallpaper, orange sofa and brass lamp

Image credit: Future PLC/Mark Scott

Wallpaper is always a useful way of injecting personality into a room. ‘Wallpaper has a huge impact on the mood of a room so it’s key to get the design right,’ says Martin Waller, Founder of global design brand Andrew Martin.

One of the best living room wallpaper ideas for small rooms is to choose a medium to large scale repeat for your pattern. ‘When choosing wallpaper, consider the size of a room,’ says Martin. ‘Smaller scale patterns work well in big rooms, but can overwhelm smaller spaces. Larger scale patterns work well in most rooms but think about lighting, as this can affect the look of wallpaper and make a colour appear lighter or darker.’

2. Trick the eye

Green l-shaped sofa with mural wall panels

Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles

There’s not always much you can do to literally in order to increase the size of your living room. Unless you have the time, money and space to start knocking down walls. Instead, use small living room ideas to create the illusion of space.

One of the most clever top modern small living room ideas is to use a trompe l’oeil mural. Depending on which image you choose, this might make the room seem to open up onto a garden, another room, or even go on further.

For outdoor murals, a nifty trick is to set the wallpaper in panels to make it appear to be viewed through windows.

3. Utilise alcoves

White living room with shelving in alcove and metallic bar cart

Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb

Contemporary interiors style can work well regardless of the architecture of your home. If you have a period property, make the most of architectural details to gain more space and utilise modern living room ideas.

Alcoves are an ideal opportunity to make the most of the available space in a smaller room. If not already in place, add a few basic shelves into the alcove, and paint these the same colour as the rest of the room, to help blend in. Then you have an extra storage area which doesn’t use up any precious floor space. Easy and breezy.

4. Use tiles to create a focal point

Living room with turquoise tiled fireplace and blue armchairs

Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole

Chimney breasts may be a lovely detail, but they can also seem to eat up space in smaller rooms. Use one of these modern small living room ideas to make it a living room feature wall, rather than an obstruction.

‘Wallpapering the chimney breast in a muted scheme highlights it and creates an element of surprise,’ says Ruth Mottershead, Creative Director, Little Greene. ‘Try painting the fireplace in a contrasting colour to the walls or using decorative tiles to become the room’s feature highlight.’

This may seem counterintuitive in a small living room. However, by placing so much focus on one area, you actually take notice away from the rest of the space. If you keep the rest of the walls in a neutral colourway, these will effectively disappear, creating the illusion of a larger room.

5. Separate work and play

White living room with brown leather sofa and siding door over desk space

Image credit: Future PLC/Chris Snook

‘If your family room needs to double as an office or guest room, then that’s great news as you are making the most of your space,’ says architect and designer Lynsey Ford. ‘Nowadays, a sofa bed doesn’t mean compromising, while closed storage allows you to shut the door on clutter. I’m loving desks that can be hidden away in a cupboard – work just disappears!’

Keeping work and play separate isn’t just great for mental health and a sense of peace. By having a sleek sliding door, you can tuck way any mess, giving you more space to use when it’t time to switch off.