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Keep It Fresh: Design Decisions to Consider Before Undertaking a Bathroom Renovation

When moving into a new home, bathrooms are often one of the first things to get updated. They’re such high-traffic spaces that it’s important to make sure they function for your needs. (And, of course, it’s nice when they fit your design style as well!)

But bathroom renovations can be costly and involved—especially if you’re changing the layout or knocking out any walls. So, it’s important to know what you’re getting into before undertaking such a large project. And it’s worth thinking through what you actually need to change versus what would be nice to have. This can help you prioritize where to splurge and where to try and save on your bathroom renovation costs.

All of this leaves you with a lot of decisions to make! But there’s no need to worry—you don’t have to go through a major renovation alone! If you want some bathroom renovation ideas and help to design and plan your bathroom remodel, check out our Renovation Design packages. Our renovation design experts will create immersive, 3D design plans for your renovation project, customized to your style, budget, and lifestyle needs. Learn more about Modsy Renovation Design.

Your renovation design expert will tell you that, when exploring bathroom renovation ideas, there are a few big design decisions to consider:

  • Fixtures and Hardware
  • Walls
  • Flooring
  • Storage
  • Cost

Today we’re walking you through all of the design decisions to think through and plan before you start a bathroom demo. Read more about each of these bathroom renovation ideas below!

Bathroom Fixtures and Hardware

In real estate, a fixture is anything that’s permanently attached to the house. In a bathroom, this generally refers to toilets, sinks, showers, and tubs, as well as lighting and mirrors. Bathroom hardware, like cabinet pulls and faucets also generally fall under this category.

Toilets

You might be surprised to discover exactly how many styles of toilets are out there. Probably the biggest decision you’ll have to make when shopping for a new toilet is if you want a one or two-piece toilet. A two-piece toilet is the most popular option, where the tank and bowl are actually separate pieces. There are more style options available with two-piece toilets and they also tend to be more budget-friendly. One-piece toilets tend to have a smaller footprint, which is great for small bathrooms. They’re also more durable and easier to clean!

Tubs and Showers

Some bathrooms have combined tubs and showers, others have freestanding tubs and a shower stall, and still, others have only one or the other. Tub options run from economical molded kits and drop-in tubs to luxurious freestanding soaking tubs. Whatever style you choose, a tub is a must-have for households with young children. Showers can also run the gamut, ranging from simple shower inserts to custom tiled rain showers. Standalone shower stalls are the most practical choice for small bathrooms.

Vanities and Sinks

There are two general options for bathroom sinks—freestanding pedestal sinks or vanities with built-in sinks. Pedestal sinks don’t offer storage space, but they’re a good choice for powder rooms and small bathrooms. Vanity sinks are more practical; they tend to offer both drawer and cabinet storage, and you have the flexibility to have one or two sinks built into the vanity, depending on the space you have to work with.

Mirrors

In a bathroom, you’ll generally have a mirror above your sink. If you have a double vanity, you’ll want to choose either one large, rectangular mirror or individual mirrors above each sink. Some people also appreciate a full-length mirror in their bathroom, particularly if it’s part of a primary bedroom suite.

Lighting

There are a couple of lighting areas to consider in a bathroom. You’ll generally want vanity lighting above your sink and mirror, which provides proper lighting for makeup application and other personal care needs. But it can be nice to have an overhead flush-mount light as well, plus additional recessed lighting in or around your tub or shower. This layered lighting also allows you to create the level of brightness you desire throughout the day.

Faucets, Showerheads, and Hardware

Faucets, showerheads, and bathroom hardware are a great way to drive home the design style of your bathroom. (Hardware can include anything from vanity draw pulls to towel racks and toilet paper holders.) With each of these pieces, you have your choice of a variety of finishes—from black or bronze to brass, nickel, or chrome. The shape of these pieces of hardware will also impact if your space feels more modern or traditional. Swapping out your hardware and faucet is a low-cost, high-impact way to update the look of your bathroom.

Bathroom Walls

When it comes to your bathroom walls, you can keep it simple or make a statement. Aside from paint colors, there are a number of wall treatments you can put on your walls to achieve the particular style you’re going for. But different design choices will, of course, impact your budget, the time it takes to complete your bathroom renovation, and if it can be DIY or if you’ll need professional assistance.

Painted Walls

Painted walls are the simplest and easiest ways to finish your bathroom walls. And, it’s a great way to easily add color or change the look of your bathroom if you want a quick refresh! It’s probably obvious, but paint is also the most affordable option for bathroom walls. We recommend using a satin sheen when painting bathroom walls.

Tile Walls

Tile walls are durable and easy to clean—which is definitely a plus when it comes to bathrooms! And while installation may take a bit longer than simple drywall, it can also have a big visual impact. Tiling can be simple and affordable (think: white subway tiles) or luxurious and detailed, with intricate designs or hand-made tiles. There’s something to fit any and all price points!

Millwork

Millwork like beadboard, wainscotting, or board and batten can add a timeless, classic look to your bathroom. Woodwork like this—which is often just installed on the lower half of a bathroom wall—can also help protect the drywall. This wall add-on can be tackled as a DIY project, but depending on the design you choose, it can be more custom and involved. If that’s the case, bring in the professionals!

Wallpaper

Installing wallpaper in your bathroom is a great way to add a pop of color, pattern, and character to your bathroom! It’s great for an accent wall or peek-a-boo nook, like the photo above. However, since wallpaper can be sensitive to humidity, this type of wall treatment is best for low-moisture bathrooms—particularly half-baths where there isn’t a shower or a guest bathroom that isn’t used for showering as often. Peel-and-stick wallpaper is great for those who just want to dabble in the wallpaper trend. But if you’re going for traditional wallpaper, we recommend hiring a professional for proper installation.

Bathroom Floors

bathroom with tile flooring

The flooring you choose for your bathroom can have a big impact on the overall style of your bathroom. But the material you choose also determines how high or low-maintenance it is—and, of course, impacts your budget.

Tile Floors

Tile is the most common bathroom floor choice—and for good reason. Tile can get wet without getting damaged and it’s easy to clean. Tile also comes in so many different materials, colors, styles, and patterns; it’s incredibly versatile for a range of styles and budgets. However, tile can be quite cold if you don’t have in-floor heating, and it’s slippery when wet. And, while tile has a long life, the grout needs to be replaced about every 10 years.

Wood Floors

Wood floors are a great way to add visual warmth to your bathroom. And physically, wood floors are also warmer than the more common tile flooring. However, wood is more sensitive to moisture and humidity than tile—so only install wood flooring into a bathroom with good ventilation. Wood flooring is a better choice in a half-bath, where you don’t have a tub or shower that will potentially leak water onto the floor. Despite its sensitivity, wood flooring is beautiful and versatile, and when treated properly will have a long life. It can even be refinished to extend the life and refresh the look.

Vinyl Floors

Vinyl is a durable and affordable material. Since it’s waterproof, it’s a great flooring material for high-traffic areas or bathrooms where spills are more likely to occur (we’re looking at you, kids and pets!). You can opt for vinyl tiling or vinyl planks that mimic the look of wood flooring. Vinyl flooring is also fairly easy and affordable to swap out if you want to refresh the look of your bathroom.

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Bathroom Storage

Bathroom linen storage

There isn’t anyone who wants less bathroom storage. In fact, most bathroom renovations include adding storage! Having ample storage space in your bathroom means less clutter on your countertops. Plus, the proper amount of storage space can transform the usability of your space. Here are some storage areas to consider.

Bath and Shower Storage

One often-overlooked bathroom storage necessity is proper bath and shower storage. So many tubs and showers don’t have built-in niches or shelves where you can store shampoo, conditioner, and soap. Instead, you’re stuck hanging shower caddies on your showerheads or trying to get tension-rod shelves to stay put. When undertaking a bathroom renovation, it’s well worth it to think through bath and shower storage.

Cabinets

There are a couple of different places in the bathroom where it’s helpful to have closed cabinet storage. First off, it’s nice to have towels and toilet paper ticked away in your bathroom, rather than in a hall closet. When you need a fresh towel or a toilet paper refill, you don’t want to have to leave the bathroom to grab them. So, it’s ideal to have a linen closet or cabinet for stashing these essentials.

It’s also ideal to have ample storage space for personal care products like lotion, makeup, and medications. Some bathrooms have cabinets that hide behind the mirror above the sink, which offers easy-access storage. If you opt for a sink with vanity rather than a pedestal sink, you’ll also get some drawers and under-sink storage to keep more products close at hand. If you don’t have one or both of these storage options near your sink, you’ll want to think about other cabinetry or storage space you can add to your bathroom to give yourself enough space to store all of your products while keeping them easily accessible.

Freestanding Storage and Floating Shelves

If you need a little extra storage space but aren’t ready to undergo a bathroom remodel, consider adding some freestanding storage shelves or installing floating shelves for aesthetically pleasing personal care products or decor.

Bathroom Renovation Costs

Costs for a bathroom remodel can vary pretty drastically depending on if it’s a total gut remodel or just some hardware and paint updates. The square footage of your bathroom will also impact your budget. For example, a powder room (AKA a half-bath) will generally cost less than a full bathroom. And if you decide to change the layout, which often involves moving to plumb, the overall cost will jump significantly. While there are so many factors that impact cost, below you’ll find three general levels for a bathroom renovation.

The Starter Bathroom

Starter bathroom with blue and white tile pattern

If you just moved into your first home or are embarking on your first renovation project (especially if it’s DIY), this is probably the level of renovation you want to undertake. You want a bathroom that’s practical for your needs and reflective of your style—but it’s all about achieving this with the lowest-cost, highest-impact design choices.

The Budget: $3,000–$5,000

To keep the budget for this level of renovation reasonable, keep and reuse as many pieces of the original bathroom as possible—and definitely keep the original layout. Only swap out the fixtures that absolutely need to be updated; otherwise, opt for simple hardware updates that will make a big visual difference without a big price tag.

The Needs and Wants: 

  • Choose affordable, entry-point hardware and select fixture upgrades
  • Keep original layout, flooring, and large fixtures, but use wall treatments, decor, and hardware to update the look to your preferred style
  • Select durable materials that can handle wear-and-tear
  • Use paint and decor to drive home your unique style

The Family Investment

Family style bathroom with lots of closed storage

This level of renovation is generally embarked upon to meet the lifestyle needs of a homeowner. Sometimes that’s accommodating a growing family or guests and other times it’s reflective of storage needs or outdated fixtures. Often style preferences play a role in the direction of the final look of the space.

The Budget: $10,000–$30,000

With this renovation level, you’re investing enough that you want to make sure the materials and fixtures you choose are ones you love and can live with for a while. You want to make sure the materials you choose are durable and can withstand plenty of foot traffic over a long period of time.  It may not be 100% your dream bathroom, since practicality is definitely a factor—but it’s going to come pretty close, with the added benefit that it will better serve you or your family’s needs.

The Needs and Wants: 

  • Update wall treatments and flooring
  • Install new hardware and possibly fixtures
  • Add storage to meet your or your family’s needs
  • Prioritize a highly functional and durable design that’s adaptable for a growing family or changing needs

The Luxe Bathroom

Luxurious bathroom with wood paneling

This is the type of bathroom that dreams are made of. This is generally a bathroom renovation that you plan and save for quite a while, with the end result being a high-end, spa-like bathroom that’s tailored to your exact needs and wants.

The Budget: $30,000+

For a luxurious bathroom renovation, you’ll want to make sure you have a pretty robust budget so that you can make all the updates you desire.  For this renovation, go big and splurge on beautiful, high-quality materials and professional labor to make sure everything is installed to perfection.

The Needs and Wants: 

  • Reconfiguring the layout and potentially moving walls and/or fixtures
  • Update flooring and possibly install in-floor heating
  • Install custom tilework
  • Update hardware and fixtures throughout the space
  • Add storage space

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15 Spring Habits to Spark Joy At Home

Spring is (hopefully) not too far off, and we could not be more excited for more sunshine, time outside, and the beauty and hopefulness of budding trees and flowers. This time of year represents renewal and new beginnings. As such, it’s a great opportunity to create some fresh habits in your home that will bring peace and joy into your life.

In today’s stressful world, it’s more important than ever to prioritize staying healthy and finding a sense of calm in the midst of the chaos. And there are small habits you can establish in your home that will help you stay healthy, maintain motivation, and feel more rested.

Keep reading for 15 healthy habits that will spark joy and help refresh your home for the spring season—and beyond!

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1. Make Your Bed Every Morning

Taking the time to make your bed every morning can help you start your day with a sense of accomplishment. And doing one task helps build momentum for subsequent tasks, making doing the next task (and the one after that), easier. The simple act of making your bed can lead to better productivity, a sense of pride, and lower stress levels. (Plus, it’ll make going to bed at the end of the day feel so much better—talk about making your bedroom feel more like a wellness retreat!)

How to Establish This Habit

To help remind yourself to make your bed, start doing it right before you get dressed in the morning, which will help make it part of your routine. If you hate making the bed, keep things simple by not cluttering the bed with throw pillows and extra blankets. Make it easy for yourself with a minimal set-up!

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2. Boost Your Morning Drink Routine

The ritual of drinking morning coffee or tea can spark joy and start your day on a good note. Both coffee and tea have both health and wellness benefits—from more energy and less stress to promoting that cozy, familiar feeling that makes your day more enjoyable.

How to Establish This Habit

Carve out a hot beverage center or coffee nook in your kitchen or dining room where you can easily make yourself a cup or coffee or tea. Display your sugar or tea bags in a pretty jar or bowl, and stock your cabinets with stylish mugs. By creating a pleasing environment, you’ll be more likely to take time to sit down and really enjoy your drinks before the rush of the day begins.

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3. Maximize Natural Light

Exposure to natural light helps our bodies produce Vitamin D, improves our circadian rhythms and sleep patterns, helps us to focus, enables us to get more done, and even makes us happier. Ensuring we get enough of this vital resource is key to our physical and psychological well being.

How to Establish This Habit

Each morning, pull back your blinds and curtains, and even open the windows if the weather allows. In the spring, swap out heavy drapes for sheer ones to let in more sunshine. (Need help finding the right ones? Check out our guide on how to choose curtains.) If you live in a cloudy area, try investing in a sunlamp, which helps activate the same parts of the brain as sunlight and promotes focus and mental clarity.

4. Keep a Pitcher of Water on Your Desk

We could all benefit from staying more hydrated. After all, staying hydrated keeps your energy levels up, allows for clearer concentration, and improves sleep. But many of us are more likely to grab coffee, tea, or soda rather than water. So, you have to set yourself up for success!

How to Establish This Habit

Get yourself to drink more water by keeping a pretty pitcher or glass carafe of water near your desk! Having water readily accessible and in your sightline will make it much more likely that you’ll grab some water rather than a different beverage. Make it part of your morning routine to fill it with water, ice, citrus, or whatever you want to make it more enticing. Put it on a tray with an accompanying cup and keep filling it all day until the pitcher is gone.

Springy space with room defuser in living room

5. Diffuse Essential Oils

Did you know that scents can impact your mood—and certain scents can even lower stress levels and benefit your mental health? Different oils have different benefits, and diffusing them in your home can promote calmness, ease stress, boost your mood, and even improve mental clarity.

How to Establish This Habit

Buy a diffuser that’s pretty and fits into your home decor. Add it to a shelf or surface area in your home where you want to fill a room with scent. Keep a variety of essential oils on-hand to transform your mental state and give yourself whatever you need each day.

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6. Tend to Your Plants

The benefits of indoor plants are extensive—from cleaning the air, purifying smells, and boosting your mood. They bring in the outdoors and add a zen feeling to any space. And caring for your plants by watering and pruning them can ground you and act as a meditative, calming activity. Spring is the perfect time to give your plants some love!

How to Establish This Habit

Choose new plants to add to your collection or refresh your existing ones with new soil and pretty new planters. Add plants to spaces you wouldn’t normally think of, like the bathroom to add joy to all areas of the home. Set a weekly reminder on your phone to water your plants and embrace the meditative benefits of taking care of a living thing!

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7. Set Aside Time to Read

Reading improves brain function and memory, and reading novels can reduce stress by pulling you into another world helping you disengage from the daily grind. Reading in the evening can also help you fall asleep more easily than if you watch TV before bed, since it doesn’t stimulate your brain in the same way.

How to Establish This Habit

Make reading a more enjoyable activity by creating a cozy reading nook—like a corner with ample lighting and a big chair. Establishing a physical space to read each day will help you develop the habit of reading. If you prefer reading in bed, set up your bed for the activity; keep your book next on your nightstand, get good pillows to prop yourself up and support your back, and make sure your bedside lamp offers enough reading light!

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8. Move Your Body

Our bodies and minds are very connected. That’s why doctors will often encourage patients dealing with depression or anxiety to exercise along with any medication as part of their treatment plan, as it helps activate chemicals in our brains that promote feelings of well-being. That’s right—movement is good for your body and brain. But most of us don’t get enough movement in our day-to-day lives. It’s far too easy to go straight from our desks to the couch after work! But introducing even a little movement into your daily routine can have a profound impact on your physical and mental health and well-being.

How to Establish This Habit

Create a space in your home that will give you a visual cue to move your body—whether that’s a full home gym with a bike or treadmill, a yoga mat in the corner of your living room, or walking shoes right next to your desk that you can put on as soon as you close your laptop. When establishing an exercise routine and creating a home workout space, make it a visually pleasing space so you want to utilize it daily. You can also find equipment that folds up or is easily stored away for mixed-use spaces, like home office/gym combos.

9. Take Care of Your Clothing

Wash, fold, and put away clothes with appreciation for your items. This will not only keep your bedroom tidy (and therefore help you feel more calm)—but taking care of items you use daily sparks positivity and a deeper connection to your home. It can even give you a sense of pride and self-confidence.

How to Establish This Habit

Make your laundry room a place you enjoy being in, so that doing laundry doesn’t seem like a daunting or unpleasant task. Then, create organized spaces for your clothes, utilizing your dresser and closet to give every article of clothing a proper space. Don’t have space for all of your clothing? Maybe it’s time to pare down your wardrobe and donate unused items! Need a little extra help? Check out our best home organization hacks.

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10. Take Your Shoes Off at the Door

When entering your home, leave your shoes at the door. This not only keeps dirt and germs that are trapped on your shoes from tracking through your home, but it also caters to a more zen home.

How to Establish This Habit

Add a mat or shoe rack near the front door or in the coat closet to encourage yourself and guests to leave shoes at the door. If you don’t like going barefoot, you could also invest in a pair of slippers or house shoes. That way, you can take them off by the door before putting on your shoes, and then they’ll be ready for you to switch back into when you get home!

Carve out time each day to jornal or meditate to reduce stress

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11. Journal or Meditate Daily

A daily habit of meditating, journaling, or simply taking time to intentionally assess and engage your emotions can help promote a sense of calm in your body and mind. Both journaling and meditation have countless benefits—such as gaining a new perspective on stressful situations, building skills to manage your stress, increasing self-awareness, and grounding yourself in the present moment.

How to Establish This Habit

Like developing a reading habit, with meditation or journaling, it helps to have a physical space that you return to each day for this activity, which will help give you a mental cue that it’s time to slow down. Set up a comfy chair that you can sit in and journal or carve out a space on the floor to listen to a guided meditation. Wherever it is, make sure it’s quiet and comfortable to help eliminate distractions.

unplug from tech and enjoy time with family to improve focus

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12. Unplug from Technology

Unplugging from technology (yes, your phone, the TV, and the internet) are vital to balancing your mind and reconnecting with your own thoughts. Spending time every day without technology around can bring peace and bring about positive thoughts.

How to Establish This Habit

Find a place to put your electronics away for an hour or two each evening—like a drawer or a tray. Get the whole family in on it by encouraging everyone in your household to put their phone away for family dinner or even removing the TV from your living room to create a family space that isn’t centered around technology.

take and epson salt to help you unwind

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13. Take a Bath

Help your body recover from the physical strain of the day by taking a hot Epsom salt bath for 15 to 20 minutes in the evening. Magnesium sulfate—the scientific name for these salts—has been shown to help muscles relax and reduce inflammation.

How to Establish This Habit

Creating a spa-like feel in your bathroom will make taking a bath feel more alluring. Deck out your bathroom with candles, plush towels, ambient lighting, and even candles for a space that encourages relaxing.

Maintain a tidy kitchen to help promote focus

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14. Do the Dishes Every Night Before Bed

The kitchen is a pretty central place in the home. So, when it feels messy or in disarray, it can make your whole life feel overwhelming. One small thing you can do to reduce stress is doing the dishes before bed each night. And it can help with more than stress! A Florida State University study found that students who practiced mindfulness while washing dishes by focusing on the smell of the dish soap, the texture of the bubbles, or the temperature of the water not only saw a decrease in their stress levels but also a boost in inspiration!

How to Establish This Habit

Make the chore of washing dishes more enjoyable by creating an aesthetically pleasing environment around your sink. Put your hand and dish soap in a beautiful, reusable glass bottle instead of the plastic bottle it comes in—and be sure to pick out a scent you love! House your sponge in a pretty bowl, too. You can even arrange all of your dish-washing items on a nice ceramic tray to corral it all together. If you have a window above your sink, decorate it with a plant or small vase of flowers for a little extra mood boost. Finally, add a cushy rug in front of the sink to make standing there more comfortable. And don’t forget about an aesthetically pleasing dish drainer!

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15. Get on a Sleep Schedule

Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day is very important for your body and mind. Routine aids in establishing a positive outlook and boosting memory and productivity. Try keeping a sleep schedule every day of the week, including weekends, for full benefits

How to Establish This Habit

Keep a notepad in your bedroom, by a reading nook or in your nightstand. Spend five minutes before going to bed planning out the next day’s tasks to put your mind at ease. Plan to start each day with something joyous to make you more excited to both go to sleep and wake up. Once your mind is at ease, you can enjoy crawling into bed and will be more ready to relax. Freshen up your bedding to make crawling into bed an alluring activity. Consider switching to a more luxurious material or higher thread count to simplify the sensory experience.

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Layout Guide: Two Options for a 12 x 12 Living Room

In our Layout Guides series, you’ll find layout solutions for rooms of all shapes and sizes. We show you different ways to lay out a space—because we’re big believers in working with what you’ve got! Here, we’re breaking down the essentials for a 12×12 living room layout.

12x12 Living Room Layout

The Space: A 12×12 Living Room

The Challenge: This small living room design has to factor in big windows, a square floor plan, room for functional storage, and comfy (and compact!) furnishings for lounging and entertaining.

But how do you arrange a 12×12 room? What fits in a 12×12 room? Is there a way to make a 12×12 room feel bigger?

First, consider your lifestyle needs and how you see yourself using the room every day. From there, think carefully through your furniture layout—a clever use of functional pieces is key when working with any small space. Finally, get specific about the color palette and style aesthetic you want to play up in your 12×12 living room.

To inspire you and provide some guidance, we’ve come up with two different layouts for a 12×12 room that are, each of them, stylish, practical, and insanely comfortable. Scroll down to see our layout ideas along with tips for bringing your own small living space to life!

Also, don’t forget to read this square living room layout guide and check out our living room checklist for tips on finding the right small-space furniture. Want more inspo? Explore our gallery of living room design ideas!

12x12 Living room design with open seating area and bistro table

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Layout Idea #1: The Cozy All-Purpose Den

In this layout approach, the small living room is a combo lounge, family room, and guest room all in one. The layout optimizes space with furniture placed along the walls and moveable accent pieces floating in the middle of the room. With a sleeper sectional, a console cabinet, and a set of chairs and table lining three walls, the space feels open yet inviting and extra cozy.

This layout approach is a great way to create a ‘formal’ living room that can still be used for casual lounging or hosting overnight guests. It’s high style and high function for a small home.

12x12 Living room design with open seating area and bistro table

How To Make It Work

Aim for a double-duty sectional. A large sectional that pulls out into a sleeper bed is a stylish way to make the most of a small 12×12 living room. Sleeper sectionals have an extra comfy look and feel, so they’re a great option if you want to play up a cozy vibe in your living space. At the same time they’ll also turn your living space into a multipurpose den. It’s a win win!

12x12 living room bistro seating area

Add in moveable accent pieces. To balance out a large sectional in a small living room, you’ll want to pull in versatile accent pieces. The two poufs in this layout act as a coffee table, footrest and extra seats for kids but can easily be moved when you need to pull the bed out of the sectional. Similarly, the bistro table and chairs near windows provide a stylish spot for entertaining, enjoying coffee or cocktails, or setting up a laptop for work, but can easily be rearranged to make more room if needed.

12x12 Living Room Layout

Create a focal point with storage. Combining function and style is key in a small living room. Here, the long console cabinet offers tons of hidden storage for extra blankets for guests and everyday living room essentials, and the round mirror helps open up the room and reflect light. Together, they make for a captivating focal point in the room while serving a practical purpose.

12x12 Living Room Layout

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Layout Idea #2: The Relaxed Rec Room

With this layout approach, the small space is divided into two zones using living room furniture that’s carefully arranged. At one end of the room, a TV with a media stand anchors the space; and opposite of that, a floating sofa and settee define the main seating area for lounging. Additionally, to optimize floor space, a tall standing cupboard behind the sofa offers storage while making use of vertical space.

With this zoned approach, you can have a practical TV viewing rec room in a small space without it feeling closed off or cluttered, both visually and physically.

12x12 living room with leather loveseat and armoire

How To Make It Work

Think small-scale, big function. To keep a small living room feeling open and airy, try floating an apartment-size sofa (under 80” in length). It’s the easiest way to zone out a seating area without it overwhelming the space. Then, mix it with other moveable pieces, like poufs and side tables. They’re light and easy to move, so they can be pulled up to the sofa as a surface for a drink or as a footrest whenever you need them. With a small living space, it’s about grouping functional pieces together to create a comfy seating space.

12x12 Living Room Layout

Ground your space with a rug. When creating different zones in a small space, you’ll want to unify your furnishings and designs visually with a rug. Try using a neutral rug or a natural-fiber one across your TV stand and sofa as a grounding element. Here, the rug also helps with the flow of the room by keeping the walking space behind the sofa feeling open.

Living room in contemporary boho design with tv media area

Streamline focus with storage. Small spaces can feel cluttered quickly, so keeping extra items concealed is essential for a calming environment. So opt for a long and low TV console with closed storage that lets you easily store cords, books, and other living room accessories out of sight but still within easy reach. This will help minimize the visual clutter in the room. To add to the clean-lined look, keep the walls around your TV minimally decorated also.

Check out more Small Living Room Design Ideas!

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Layout Guide: Three Ways to Design a 10×10 Living Room

In our Layout Guides series, you’ll find layout solutions for rooms of all shapes and sizes. We show you different ways to lay out a space—because we’re big believers in working with what you’ve got! Today, we’re tackling 10×10 living room layouts.

10x10 living room layout

The Space: A 10×10 Living Room

The Challenge: This small living room has the constraints of including an entryway and a doorway into another room, which limits where you can place furniture.

This is a commonly sized living room in smaller family homes and apartments. But the fact that it includes a window, an entryway, and a doorway into another room can make landing on living room layouts more challenging. Plus, the layout you choose will depend on how you want to use this space.

Keep reading to explore three different ways to approach this 10×10 living room layout—along with some small living room design tips—to help you explore the possibilities in your own home! Bonus: despite the small footprint, each of these three living room ideas includes all the essentials in our living room furniture checklist.

Need help with your room’s layout or needs some additional living room design ideas? Modsy designers can help! See your exact room—expertly designed in 3D—like these designs below.

glamorous living room and home office

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Layout Idea #1: 10×10 Living Room with a Home Office

Just because you have a small living room doesn’t mean you can’t make it work for multiple purposes. In this living room furniture layout, we not only included a seating area with a sofa and accent chair, but we also made room for a small desk for someone who has to work from home but doesn’t have a separate home office.

10x10 living room layout

How to Make It Work

small awkward living room

Include a small desk for an at-home workspace. To utilize the small wall space between the entryway and hallway, we chose a desk that perfectly fits along that wall. It’s not a huge workspace—but the desk is just big enough to house a laptop, and it includes an internal drawer for storage.

The floating shelf above the desk provides additional storage for the work area without taking up floor space. And, pairing the desk with a clear, acrylic chair helps to reduce visual clutter in this small space.

10x10 living room layout

Work in some hidden storage. Since this living room layout doesn’t leave space for any storage furniture, we opted for a coffee table that offers some hidden storage inside—a favorite small space storage hack that tops the list of our small apartment furniture checklist. It’s also round, making it easier to walk around by eliminating sharp corners.

Reduce clutter (but not style!) by keeping decor to your walls. In terms of decor, the accents are mostly on the walls, so as not to clutter up the few surface spaces in this living room.

  • The floor mirror helps to reflect light around the small space, giving it a sense of openness and airiness.
  • The tall floor lamp illuminates light upward, helping to further open up the room.
  • And a piece of statement wall art, as well as a patterned rug add a stylish, chic point of view to the space.
  • We also included a hanging plant to bring some texture and greenery into the space.

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Layout Idea #2: Living Room With TV Viewing

This living room layout is centered on TV-viewing, reading, and just lounging and relaxing. The sectional sofa adds a comfortable place to lounge, and it faces the television, which is perfect for movie nights. But there’s also plenty of space for storage, organization, and other activities.

10x10 living room layout

How to Make It Work

10x10 living room layout

Choose an artfully placed sectional for optimal lounging. The sectional has a smaller footprint than some, and by having it nestled in a corner, it doesn’t take up as much space in the room. But it’s still big enough for several people to lounge on while watching a movie.

10x10 living room layout

Incorporate plenty of storage to maximize your space. The media stand is stylish, while also providing ample hidden storage. And a wall-mounted bookcase takes up less floor space and provides open storage while utilizing vertical space in the room. (No matter the room, wall-mounted bookcases are among our favorite small space hacks for the storage they offer while taking up minimal floor space!)

10x10 living room with a workout space

Give yourself the flexibility to embrace a multifunctional space. The open rattan coffee table is airy, keeping the space visually open. It’s also very lightweight and easy to move around. We love this living room idea, as it allows you to shift the coffee table out of the way for at-home workouts, whether they’re self-directed or a group class you’re streaming on your TV!

living room with leather sofa and bookcase wall

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Layout Idea #3: Conversational Lounge Living Room

This living room layout is geared toward entertaining, conversations, and lounging. With multiple seating options and a bit more space to spread out, this layout is perfect for game nights, happy hours, and long conversations.

small awkward living room

How to Make It Work

Establish a conversational layout. The deep sofa fits several people, with the lounge chair facing it for a conversational layout. We also included an extra ottoman next to the sofa, which can be used either as a side table or a makeshift extra seat, depending on your needs.

10x10 living room layout

Make use of vertical space. The wall-mounted bookcase is the perfect way to utilize wall space and ceiling height in this living room. We styled it with decor and books—but also a mini bar set-up housed on a few of the shelves, which is perfect for entertaining.

10x10 living room layout

Keep the energy flowing. The oblong coffee table provides ample surface area for snacks and drinks without being bulky or impeding on walking space and flow throughout the room.

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