Call us crazy, but we prefer styling a small living room over a large one any day. There's something incredibly thrilling about size-challenged decorating that really forces you to get creative. Yes, you'll make mistakes arranging furniture in a small living room, but when decorated well, petite rooms can look seriously stylish (tiny bathrooms are proof). Just because there's less space to work with, doesn't mean you have to compromise on taste, either. If you're looking for small living room ideas, follow these decorating tips.
Plan Your Layout
When it comes to small–living room ideas, designer Tom Stringer says that prior planning is key when space is so limited. "The first step is to ensure that the layout will be functional for your needs," he says. "Then confirm the sizes of the pieces."
Decide What the Room Will Be Used For
If you're stumped on how to plan your layout, answer celebrated interior designer Max Humphrey's simple question: What will the room be used for most? "While you might plan on having friends over all the time for movie nights, chances are it'll be you and your family using it the most, so keep that in mind when designing it," Humphrey says.
Consider Your Furniture
Since you don't have the luxury of a lot of space, you can't just throw a bunch of pretty things together and hope it'll work. Australian interior designer and The Tailored Interior author Greg Natale believes that it's important to first consider all the pieces of furniture you'll need in order to create a "welcoming, livable space." Ask yourself questions like, Would stools or ottomans work better in the space than armchairs? Would a side table be a more size-friendly option than a coffee table?
Go Big with Your Sofa
So you have a tiny living room, but does that mean you have to compromise on the big furniture you love? Humphrey doesn't think so. "I always recommend buying the absolute biggest sofa that will fit in the space, because if you're anything like me, chances are that's where you'll spend most of your time lounging around."
Neutral Is Failsafe
When it comes to small-space living room ideas, you really can't go wrong if you stick to neutral and natural hues. You can carry this over to your furniture, too. "Use furniture that appears light or disappears, such as a glass or acrylic piece," Designer Trip Haenisch says.
If you're all about color, you aren't out of luck. Designer Jeff Andrews believes there's absolutely a place for it in a small living room. "Go dark and go big," he says. Speaking of which, we have a few favorite dark paint colors, including Benjamin Moore Black Beauty, Clare Prince, and Sherwin-Williams Charcoal Blue, if you're feeling adventurous.
Mirror It Up
When in doubt, revert to mirrors. For a small living space,Australian design firm Cordony opted for mirrored panels across an entire wall, which doubled the size of the room. Mirrors can work like clever optical illusions.
The key to minimalism is to find your style, stick to it, and then edit. Designer Christine Gachot says, "My home is edited with a capital E. I live in a constant state of chaos with my schedule, so I need to be organized and to live minimally (shoe collection aside). This is about small spaces. Be thoughtful and precise."
Whiten Your Walls
When it comes to wall color, each of our experts recommended a neutral palette with white walls and ceilings to visually brighten a room and make it appear larger. If the bleached-out look isn't your flavor, Natale suggests adding pops of color through soft furnishings, accessories, and artwork.
Play With Gray
If you're keen to ditch white completely, go gray instead. Stringer loves Benjamin Moore HC 173 Edgecomb Gray as a "great neutral with undertones that work with most spaces."
Feel free to forgo paint altogether and add use a removable wallpaper instead. Whether you opt to do an accent wall, or wallpaper the whole room, Cordony says it will layer the space with texture.
Even if you love occasional seating, a big comfy sofa will probably be the most practical in a small living room. "You can always bring in a chair or two from the dining room when you have extra people over," Humphrey suggests.
I always recommend buying the absolute biggest sofa that will fit in the space, because if you're anything like me, chances are that's where you'll spend most of your time lounging around.
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
“I love dark, glossy walls in a small room to create a sense of drama and intimacy," Andrews admits. There's something so dreamy about living room swathed in a darker shade and we love the look of a dramatic navy. After all, what's more relaxing than the color of a night sky?
Add a Mirror
According to feng shui experts, mirrors can double what's in front of them, so using a mirror (or two) in your small space living room can instantly make it feel bigger. "If you can't panel the whole wall, hang large mirrors on the walls, ideally opposite a window or door to reflect the light," Cordony advises.
Ask the Right Questions
Natale suggests asking a few questions about your space and how you live to make sure there's a balance of light, color, and texture. A few key ones include: Is there too much of something or not enough of another? Is a particular color or shape dominating the space without enough highlights or drama, or conversely, does the room look bland?
Know Your Style
"Each person should recognize his or her individual lifestyle needs and then commit to a simple vision that suits it," Gachot advises. Don't outfit your space in trends if those specific styles don't appeal to your personal taste. Be sure to purchase pieces that make you feel happy and at home.
Make sure you don't choose furniture for one specific home because, if you love it, you'll want to bring it with you to your next home. "Purchase pieces that will grow with you one day into a larger home, or your next pied-à-terre," Gachot says. Before you decide on a piece, make sure it's not too big or too small so that it will work in your future home.