Furnishing Your Tiny Living RoomMarch 10th, 2008 by Oh My Apartment
Do you live in an apartment where a dishtowel can double as an area rug? Is it impossible for you to have a television larger than 13″ because you’re already sitting too close to it? When you go to purchase new living room furniture, do you find yourself looking in the toy section? It can be a sad state of affairs when the only chair you can fit into your living room is a child’s Spongebob Squarepants chair!
But seriously, tiny living rooms can affect much more than just your sense of style.
“My living room was so small; I was embarrassed to have anyone over,” says Tracy of Pittsburgh. “It really affected my personal life and I lost many boyfriends because I didn’t want anyone to see how tiny my apartment really was. I have a good job and a nice wardrobe, so I was always afraid of what people would think if they ever saw where I lived.”
Tracy is not the only person who has faced this dilemma–if you live in New York, Boston or San Francisco, the cost of a tiny apartment is a lot more than the average mortgage payment in the US.
Enter the Realm of Creative Cozy
Furnishing a tiny living room takes a lot of creativity and it helps to think outside of the box on more than one level. In fact, experts agree that designing a small living space can be a huge challenge. Decorating choices, colors, and furniture all play very important roles on increasing the dimensions, at least visually, of your living room.
Small rooms will typically feel even smaller if the color of the room is dark or if the furnishings have a busy, floral print on them. To immediately improve the scope of the room, try painting the room a lighter color. If you have floral-fabric furniture, consider a solid-color slipcover complimentary to the color on the wall.
Design divas agree that as the day turns into night, the ceiling darkens first, thus creating a “shrinking” feeling in an already-small room. Using crown molding is a great way to give the illusion of height to a room. In addition, sconce light fixtures will bounce light off of the ceiling and improve the feel of the room.
If your tiny living room features an even-smaller window, there’s a trick to help give the illusion of a much larger window. Simply extend the drapery rod about a foot past each side of the window and allow the curtain to extend well below the bottom of the sill. Nobody will know that what lies beneath the curtain is a 2′ by 2′ window that basically only works as a vent.
When shopping for new furniture for your small living room, forgo the sofa because that will consume too much space. Try using two love seats and a chair, or a few comfortable chairs. There are numerous hidden seating solutions available if you know where to look. For instance, purchase a padded ottoman that can double as an extra seat, or sturdy storage blocks that serve dual purposes.
Making simple changes such as these can vastly improve the look of your small living room and can actually lend an air of coziness you never thought possible.
It can be difficult for some people to feel free when they are feeling constricted by the rooms in their apartment. Like Tracy, they may be embarrassed to have guests over, or they may be totally confused as to how to design around the minuscule living room they’re cursed with. But today, there is an entire industry dedicated to helping maximize the accessibility of your small space.
The Tiny Room Revolution
There are a number of websites where you can find furniture specially designed for small spaces. Many of these items are made with more than one purpose in mind. For example, this chair sleeper from TinyLiving.com is a comfortable chair by day and easily turns into a twin bed for the overnight guest come nightfall.
But, what about those with studio apartments? There is literally no room for anything in these one-room living spaces. Well, that’s where Happijac comes in. Happijac is the manufacturer of power lift beds. With the press of a button, your bed gets lifted off the floor and raised to the ceiling, thus freeing up the floor space for whatever you need it for. And just think of how that will impress your date! She may begin looking at you like you’re James Bond!
Another great source for room-expanding solutions can be found at Design Within Reach. Their website has a section dedicated to small spaces and how to maximize your room’s potential. From space-saving bookshelves to tables and chairs, you can get a wealth of ideas here.
“TinyLiving.com saved my personal life,” exalts Tracy. “I completely furnished my small living room and I made a few decorating changes and I can’t believe the difference. I feel like I’m in a different apartment. I’ve even begun inviting people over.”
As we grow as a species, we eventually learn better ways of doing things. It’s all about the evolutionary process. At one time, we had to listen to music on big, black, plastic discs. At one time, we had to drive automobiles the size of modern-day tanks. At one time, there was only one type of coffee–regular. And perhaps most amazing of all, at one time, small living rooms were uninhabitable. But not anymore.