Since most apartments don’t have dens, rec rooms, or kitchens large enough for entertaining, the living room is usually the best place in them for hanging out with friends and family. And while small living rooms are challenging to decorate, it’s often even more difficult to arrange all the furniture in them in a way that flows and doesn’t feel cluttered.
Peruse these furniture arranging best practices before you haphazardly start putting pieces in random corners, and you’ll find that you’ve created the perfect common area in no time at all.
Before you start decorating your small living room, you’ll want to measure it so you know exactly how much square footage you have to work with. Research the dimensions of the pieces you’re considering, and do a mock-up of how you could arrange them in the living room. Although this may seem like a tedious task, it’s a better option than having to return pieces that just don’t work — or fit — in the space you have.
Heavy, overstuffed couches and chairs look great in large living rooms, but they make small living rooms look bloated and crowded. Lightweight furniture with legs imparts an airy quality and is also easier to move around to accommodate larger groups or make room for dancing.
Visit a few antique and secondhand stores to find smaller furniture from past eras, when all the rooms in houses and apartments were considerably smaller than today. If you’re feeling a little kitschy, you can even check out some retro styles from the 50s and 60s. Just remember to never be afraid to mix and match furniture styles. After all, it’s considered chic and creative!
The couch is the centerpiece of most living rooms. Unfortunately, small living rooms can be easily overwhelmed by conventionally-sized ones. If you’re trying to find something that works with your living room, look into petite sofas or angular loveseats with legs, and round out your seating area with a few simple but comfortable chairs.
Fainting couches offer another great option here, especially since they’re always winners in terms of both comfort and sparking interesting conversations. Another cool option is a backless sofa, which is open horizontally and has backrests on each end, making it approachable from both sides. If you move to a space with a large living room, you’ll find this type of couch to be the perfect room divider.
If you’re really feeling adventurous, you can also choose to forego a couch altogether, instead placing three or four chairs around a coffee table. This arrangement is nice because it’s often just as intimate as the conventional one, but a lot more open for rearranging as needed. A lonely corner is also the perfect place to install a hanging chair, available in assorted styles from wicker to stainless steel and brass-plated metal.
Devoting an entire wall to storage might seem excessive, but it does free up the rest of the room for more decorative items. A huge shelving unit can hold several books and trinkets, and you can also add drawers to a few of the shelves to hold the miscellaneous items you regularly use but don’t need on display. You can even install a pull-down desk in the shelving unit for laptop work and reading, and use a few more shelves for electronics like DVRs and game consoles.
Ottomans and poufs generally also have storage space inside them, and they double as casual seating. A decorative trunk easily does double-duty as a coffee table and stash for books and magazines. You might also want to stash a few comfortable folding chairs under a bed or in a closet for times when more people show up than you anticipated.
Plants can make any room feel larger than it really is. Hang some ivy in corners and top your tall bookshelves with lush ferns and plants with lovely drooping leaves. Place a few potted ones in corners or behind chairs and sofas to add depth to the atmosphere. If your living room has a bay window, you may even want to invest in an insert that displays a variety of herbs, small cacti, or miniature flowering plants.
Other Tricks and Illusions
If you have your heart set on a sectional, try placing the angled piece in a corner and extending the rest of the sections down two walls. That way, the rest of the room will be open to a coffee table and whatever else you choose to put in it.
For apartment living rooms with limited windows, wallpaper on one wall topped with a mirror aimed toward a window should give off the illusion of two windows. High ceilings are also ideal for making a room look larger. Hang art near the ceiling around the perimeter of these rooms to draw attention upward and make the entire apartment feel more spacious.
Table and floor lamps also take up a lot of precious space. Lucky for us all, there are a lot of new lighting options out there that install flat against walls or ceilings, and suspended lighting configurations that are easily adjustable for reading or setting moods for different occasions.
Last but not least, you should always remember that neutral colors can be used create the illusion of more space in your living room. Not everything has to be the same color, of course, but you’ll find that sticking with beige, ivory, taupe, black, gray, and shades of white for the walls, picture frames and furniture makes the room look and feel much larger. Pepper in a few colorful throw pillows, small rugs, and high-quality silk flower arrangements for contrast.