Small living room ideas can still be big on style, as all these beautiful, but modestly proportioned spaces prove…

Small living rooms are often cozy but they have to work much harder than their more spacious counterparts. Layout, furniture, window dressings, flooring and accessories all carry extra weight in a smaller space and it’s more important than ever to get the scale, proportions, and balance right. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to play it safe with your living room ideas either. It’s always good to follow the rules, but breaking them can make a much bigger statement. It’s all about knowing where the limits are and when you can push them.

So, while you’ll still find plenty of neutral, light, and airy spaces here, we’ll also prove that color can work in small living rooms, dark hues can look wonderful too, and often the whole less is more concept that’s often applied to small spaces can be broken. We’ve also consulted the experts to find out their top tips for creating a small living room that feels spacious and stylish.



Bespoke storage in an all white living room

Whilst we’d like our rooms to be completely square with no awkward angles or dead spaces, this is rarely the case. But with some careful planning, all those awkward places can be turned into treasure troves of storage potential.

‘Many homes have awkward alcoves. This is one area where it pays to invest in bespoke cabinetry to really maximize the storage’ says Andrew Dunning of London Contemporary. ‘Whether your interior is modern or traditional, cupboards and shelving will finish this space in the room without intruding into it.’

The bespoke media unit in this open-plan reception room provides essential living room storage with decorative floating shelves above. Designed by London Contemporary to fit the wall shape without protruding into the room too much.


Blue living room with yellow sofa and pink cushions

(Image credit: Farrow and Ball)

Clever multifunctional designs are great space-saving options for small spaces. Mireille Baumgart is a BoConcept Partner and says: ‘In small living rooms it is important to choose furniture that can be adapted easily and have multiple purposes.” She suggests opting for coffee tables that convert to a dining table or footstools that transform into a single bed.

If you need to sleep more than one overnight guest at a time then swapping your sofa for a sofa bed can also be a useful option. It isn’t always easy to find an option that’s comfortable enough to work as your main living room seating, but we’ve done the legwork to find the top solutions in our guide to the best sofa beds available.


White modern living room with a mix of different style furniture

(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to small living room ideas, windows have a huge role to play and have the potential to make your small room look lighter, brighter and even larger. Debbie Leigh is Design Manager at ILIV and suggests extending the curtain pole beyond the width of the window.

‘This allows more light into the room and makes a room feel larger,” she says. “Hang living room curtains high for a professional-looking window treatment. This will instantly give your room an illusion of extra ceiling height which in turn feels very luxurious. Ideally, the pole or track should be positioned a minimum of 4 inches and a maximum of 12 inches above the top of the window.’


Rustic white living room with white sofa and gallery wall

(Image credit: Davide Lovati)

Flooring can make or break or a room and it is often overlooked in smaller spaces. ‘It needs to be flexible, to transition from the daytime role to a more relaxing space in the evening,’ says Rebecca McCloskey of Weave Interiors. ‘But it also has to be durable. I love the clean lines of a solid floor but polished concrete and real wood floors are often not an option for everyone. Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVT) can be a great alternative. I love the selection from Moduleo as it looks so realistic. They also have the benefit of being extremely practical and easy to maintain.’


white living room ideas for victorian terrace period homes

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

Rug size and placement seems like a relatively straightforward decision, but it is one that is easy to get wrong. Sam Norris, Design Consultant at Garden Street says ‘Choosing a large rug is another trick that will help make a room feel bigger. There’s a reason interior designers always claim a rug ties the room together and it may be a cliché but it works.’

Alternatively, opt for a fully fitted carpet instead of a rug. ‘Rugs can make spaces look smaller, fully fit the carpet to draw your eye to the edges of the room,’ says Camilla Clarke, Creative Director at Albion Nord.


Dark grey living room with rattan swinging chair

(Image credit: Little Greene)

Space is at a premium, so small living room furniture that can double up as storage is always a bonus. Wayfair’s Resident Style Advisor, Nadia McCowan Hill says that searches for storage ottomans are up 20% in the last six months alone. ‘Storage ottomans are the small space designer’s best friend,” she says. “Go for a beautifully upholstered version in a bold jewel hue for a style statement that works double duty as a secret storage spot.’


Small living room with large grey corner sofa

(Image credit: Marc van Praag)

The knee-jerk reaction to a small space is often to paint it white or another light shade to maximize the feeling of space. But there are other options. ‘Don’t be afraid to embrace the small,’ says Caoimhe McKenna of Yellow Brick Road Design. ‘Create a cozy and inviting ambiance with warm tones and tactile textures but offset this with clean, clear lines in order to retain a sense of calm.’


White and grey living room with boucle chair and grey sofa

(Image credit: Anna Stathaki)

With any small space the main priority is of course maximizing natural light. But when that isn’t easy or even possible, you may need to get creative with your living room lighting have says Simon Terry, MD and owner of Anglepoise. ‘To create the illusion of space you must think about layering and creating pools of light.’

Adam Wade, Technical Director of Anglepoise encourages us to get creative with lighting. ‘Make the lights work for you and don’t be dictated by the more traditional ways of using lighting,’ he says. ‘If a pendant at the center of the room isn’t creating quite enough light, layer in light from the side (wall or floor) instead. It’s easier to control, more pleasant to sit under.’


Dark blue living room with fireplace and foot stool

(Image credit: Future)

Instead of painting a small living room white, go bold with color choices and create the illusion of space. ‘Blue is the best color for making a space feel bigger,’ says color and paint expert Annie Sloan. ‘It is recessive, which means it draws the eye outwards, blurs horizon lines and gives a sense of never-ending space. It’s also a calming, meditative color which encourages us to breath-in-and-out, creating a psychological and spiritual sense of space as well as the physical illusion.’