If you’re struggling with your small living room design, you’re not alone. Many small space dwellers find it trickiest to decorate their living rooms, according to our Modsy designers. They previously shared some of their best hands-on tips for decorating small living rooms. Still, it’s a common design struggle that perplexes many homeowners—and we can totally see why.

First, when you’re already pressed for space in your home, the living room needs to function as a catchall area, meaning it needs to be designed for entertaining, lounging, dining, and even working. Second, because you’re working with limited space, you have to get creative with your decorating, be it small space hacks or sneaky storage solutions. Finally, you want to make sure you bring all the comforts of a normal-sized living room design into your pint-sized one, which is no simple feat. It all needs to add up to a space where form meets function meets comfort.

Below, we’ve rounded our best small living room ideas to help inspire you. Keep reading for our favorite foolproof tips for tackling this tricky space!

small living room design

1. Optimize Your Vertical Space

Take a page from this mid-century-meets-boho space, which makes clever use of all the wall height. This will help add vertical storage and make your ceilings look taller. Decorate at least two walls in a living room that has tall ceilings to balance out the room visually and add a sense of well-rounded warmth.

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Add double bookcases. With any apartment living room design that doesn’t come with built-in storage or wall shelving, tall open bookcases will create extra storage for baskets and bins. Fill it with your favorite decor and objects so that it doubles as a functional and stylish display.

Hang a large tapestry. This helps create the illusion of a more spacious living room. It does so by drawing the eye up and making the ceilings feel higher than they are. And even if you don’t have super high ceilings, hanging a tapestry will cozy up your living room by giving it some warm visual texture.

small living room design

2. Prioritize Dual-Function Furniture

If you’re dealing with a smaller living room that’s also long and rectangular, be sure to maximize the whole space. Finding furniture that fits and serves multiple purposes will be a game-changer for your small space.

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Design Ideas To Try

Look for a small space sectional. In a tiny living room, find a piece that maximizes your main seating by choosing a sofa that fits into a corner and touches both walls (width of space). Before you rule out sectionals as too big for your space, keep an eye out for loveseats with a detachable ottoman. This opens up the rest of the room to better flow and more walking room. Learn more about sectionals versus sofas here.

Seek out storage tables. This is one of those living room ideas that work in any size room but especially in small spaces. Go for pieces with hidden storage to make the most of your space. A storage ottoman or coffee table that has a top that lifts off and a deep compartment for stashing away blankets, books, pet toys, and remotes. It’s a stylish way to keep spaces clutter-free.

3. Make the Most of Awkward Spaces

When you’re working with a small space, every unused corner is a design possibility. For instance, in this relaxed contemporary living room, a stair nook is made into a comfy reading corner that extends the living space. You can do the same with any awkward living room corner.

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Find a comfy reading chair. With a small living room, pulling out an armchair for a separate reading corner can make the space feel much bigger. With this stair nook, the armchair is all you need to carve out a cozy spot for one that doesn’t feel removed from the larger living room. Get more ideas for a nook under the stairs.

Sneak in floating shelves. Adding function to unused walls is one of our favorite living room ideas. It makes the most use out of awkward corners and stairwell nooks. Get creative with what you store based on how you want to use your nook. Organize books if you make it a reading corner or use it for craft supplies if your nook is going to be a play space for your kids.

4. Pick Pieces That Reflect Light

Use mirrors and glass to amplify natural light and open up the look and feel of a small living room, like this contemporary spot. Combine it with glass surfaces and accents, which will let light shine through and add to the overall brightening ambiance.

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Design Ideas To Try

Large round mirror. If there’s one accent piece that totally changes the perspective in a small living room, it’s a statement mirror. It bounces light around a room and also gives the illusion of space. Think more mirror, less frame, which for us means a chic round option.

Get in on glass and acrylic. Whether it’s the surface of a console table, the legs of a side chair or the base of a lamp, glass and acrylic designs add a light and airy effect. Light will shine right through these transparent pieces and continue the visually open and airy look of the living room.

small living room design

5. Lean Into a Limited Color Palette

With a small living room, busy patterns and bold colors can easily overwhelm the space. Instead, limit the palette to a few neutral shades, then build on those hues. Case in point: This clean-lined mid-century living room, where gray walls make for a perfect neutral backdrop.

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Stick to solid shades. Solid neutrals are best for small spaces as they keep everything visually streamlined. Use soft hues for your walls, then work in shades like white, tan, black and pops of light or crisp blue. If you want to work in patterns, use them in small doses on art and pillows.

Mix warm neutrals. Employing deep neutrals is one of those living room ideas that instantly cozies up any space. Off-white and beige hues will add warmth while charcoal and fog gray make great contrasting tones. It all adds up to a palette that’s both cohesive and calming.

small living room design

6. Go Big With Small-Space Furniture

You may have hundreds of small living room ideas, but first you need furniture that’s proportionate to your room size. Make it a mission to find small space furniture that’s scaled to your room. Start with the key pieces (sofa, coffee table) and finish with the accents (armchair, ottoman, side table).

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Find double-duty small furniture. Tiny spaces are exciting to work with because the furniture often has secret functions. For instance, the compact sofa that’s also a sleeper or the coffee table that doubles as a bench. These dual-function designs are key in a pint-sized living room.

Pull in moveable pieces. Whether it’s a side chair or an ottoman, think of these versatile pieces as the mini workhorses of the small living room. They’re your multitasking accents that can be easily tucked away or moved to the side as needed when you need to free up space.

small living room design

7. Add ‘Airy’ Furniture

What we mean by airy is furniture that has open bases and appears to take up a smaller footprint. Think minimal designs like tables with tapered legs and chairs that have open backs and arms. In a small living room, these details will make things look lighter and roomier.

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Seek out slender sofa silhouettes. The best kind of sofa for a tiny living room is one that’s sumptuous but doesn’t come off as bulky or visually heavy. That means going for streamlined designs and sofas that have tall legs, which will make it seem less chunky in a smaller space.

Go for leggy tables. Narrow your living room tables down to pieces that are heavy on top and light and airy at the base. A coffee table with a carved wood surface and splayed legs will take up less visual space than one that has a bulky base.

small living room design

8. Get Lifted Furniture

In the same vein as airy furniture, look for designs that are raised off the ground, such as a sofa with an open metal base, and tables and floor lamps that can be tucked into larger pieces. The idea is to draw the eye upward to open up the look and feel of your small living room.

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Design Ideas To Try

Open up your seating. Of all the tried-and-true small living room ideas, prioritize having a mix of seating that’s versatile and moveable. A sofa with four legs that raises its profile off the ground will do the trick, just as a few low poufs can be stacked or moved around. Combine those with an airy side chair and you’ll have upped by the style and perspective in your space.

Tuck in your accents. Mix in a C-side table that can be pulled up and into your sofa along with slender nesting tables that can be stored within itself or spread out across the living room. Or opt for a floor lamp that can be sidled up next to your sofa or moved into a corner when not in use. These space-savers will keep a tiny living room looking stylish and flexible.

small living room design

9. Maximize Your Layout

Coming up with a functional furniture floor plan is crucial in any small living room—and especially if it’s a small apartment living room. The ultimate goal is to open up as much floor space as possible in the middle of your living room, as in this rustic modern space.

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Design Ideas To Try

Avoid floating furniture. Unless you’re using your sofa as a divider between your living room and dining/kitchen areas, try not to suspend your larger pieces in the middle of a room. It’s great in large spaces, but it can end up making a small living room look cramped. Keep furniture against the walls and in corners instead to open up the room from all angles.

Make it a point to layer rugs. With a chair in one corner and a sofa against another wall, your furniture can quickly feel disparate in a small space. Layer rugs on top of each other and across your room to connect the different areas. This is a great way to add a bit of comfort underfoot, but most of all it will warm up your small space by making it feel cohesive and tied together.

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