Seven Decorating Ideas for Small Living RoomsApril 12th, 2006 by aptsherpa
Decorating any apartment room can be difficult due to size constraints, but the living room poses a special challenge. It’s traditionally supposed to house giant furniture—a ten-section couch, a big-screen TV, large lamps, overstuffed armchairs, and long empty tables. You probably don’t want to carry these types of items up four floors to your apartment, and you probably wouldn’t have space for them once they got there, anyway. This article contains snazzy ideas for dressing up your small living room without using hulking behemoths for furniture items.
1. Think thematic
Picking a decorating scheme for a room is always a good way to start. You can focus on a favorite color, pattern, or style—rustic, classic, contemporary, or whatever else pleases you. Visit different furniture or home improvement stores for ideas, or browse design websites. There are millions of models for you to study out there—you’re not the first person to decorate a small living room. Online listings of furniture and decorating sites are your friends, as are Google, HGTV and About.com! And don’t be afraid to pick a non-traditional style. The living room is described as a “living” room for a reason—you’ll be spending lots of time in it, and if you decorate using a style you don’t love, you might not want to use your living room as much as you otherwise would. Whether you’re obsessed with giraffes, gemstones, or Kelly Clarkson, you can find a way to (subtly, of course) insert your individuality into a room. Although wallpapering the room with pictures of Kelly is not the best decorating technique, you can display books about her or use her favorite color in the room. Keep it individualized but not insane, and the theme you choose will help you create a unique and welcoming room that’s special to you—the person living there.
2. Stay small
A small apartment living room can easily be overwhelmed by excessively large furniture. Fortunately, many furniture stores and decorating services understand this, and offer a focus on smaller items for the apartment-dweller. If you do have a large piece of furniture, either keep it from dominating the room by adding colorful or unusual accent pieces, or give in let the large item be the focus.
While you need to fit the furniture to the room, do avoid creating a sense of clutter by using too many small items. If your living room has sufficient space, you may want to use two larger couches instead of four chairs or three loveseats. Efficiency is still a concern even in aesthetic matters, and your furniture and accessories need to fit the space they’re going to occupy. That being said, there’s no reason you can’t have one or two special pieces that operate on a different scale from the rest of the room. If most of your furniture is small and low, consider using a tall cabinet (to hold your television, perhaps), unusual lamp, or grandfather clock to add height and interest to the room. Attracting attention upward
3. Make it mirrored
Mirrors are a classic way to open up space in a room and make it appear larger. You can learn to use mirrors cleverly and avoid overwhelming a room with them. Mirrors function best not just by reflecting existing space, but by adding light to a room—a key element in making the room appear more expansive and inviting. Position mirrors so they reflect and enhance light sources or light-colored walls. Whether you’re using one large mirror or several small ones, the effect will be immediate, striking, and fantastic.
4. Arrange appropriately
After you choose your furniture, you’ll need to position it in a way that best organizes and accents your living room. Consider what activities you’ll use the living room for—Reading? Watching television? Conversing with friends? Make sure to provide areas equipped specifically for all the living room endeavors on which you’ll embark. Also keep in mind that you may need to walk through your living room (if it’s positioned between other rooms), and so you’ll have to leave “traffic flow” areas open accordingly. You may wish to position rugs over these high-traffic areas to help keep your carpet from wearing differently or being discolored due to heavy use. And rugs bring us to the most important part of decorating…
5. Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize
Nobody, especially not you, wants to live in a “living” room that only holds furniture items. Where are the books, the lamps, the blankets, the conversation-sparking artifacts from your trip to Machu Picchu (or maybe to Massachusetts, if you’re not quite a world traveler)? Once you’ve established and arranged your furniture, it’s time to accessorize. To personalize the room, first use items that you already own. Why spend $80 on a book that Barnes & Noble labels a beautiful “coffee table” accessory when you already own several volumes that reflect your personality? Books are extra useful accessories because they provide visitors (and you!) the opportunity to interact and learn something. Small or unusual games like these Japanese puzzle boxes also make interactive and attractive accessories. Remember, your living room is for living in, not staring at—make it fun, functional, and fabulously decorated.
6. Wonderful wallflowers
Even where space is limited, walls aren’t—even the tiniest apartment offers plenty of wall space. Use it to your advantage by decorating walls with paint, wallpaper, fabric, or hanging items. And don’t just hang pictures—you can hang blankets, outfits, beads, and more, or consider putting up some shelves to showcase non-hangable items. You can even hang empty picture frames (perhaps with another unusual object hung inside) if the frame is attractive enough to merit it. If your furniture is sleek and simple, your walls can be the focal point of the room. However, if you’ve chosen to use heavily patterned furniture, or lots of colorful accent rugs and throw pillows, you’ll want to keep the walls somewhat neutral so as not to overwhelm the room. There can be a balance between cluttered and boring, but adding accessories or wall art is always easier than adding or replacing a piece of furniture. If your basic scheme is solid, you’ll have no trouble adding individual flourishes to it.
7. Live and learn (and live it up!)
The most important decoration for your living room is you. Without you living in it, your living room doesn’t serve its purpose. If you’ve finished decorating your living room and don’t spend much time in it, ask yourself why. Is it uninviting? Did you use the wrong colors? Is the furniture too close together, inspiring feelings of claustrophobia? Whatever the reason, fix any problems you can identify. Then ask yourself what motivates you to spend time in the rooms where you do hang out. Do you need a better light for reading? Do you need to add a table so you can engage in favorite activities like crafting or playing cards or board games? It’s your living room and it needs to meet your needs. If you’re not loving it, something needs to change. And that’s an important component of design: don’t be afraid to change.
to decorate your garden or patio.