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Small living room ideas: How to decorate a small living room

Most of us consider the living room to be the heart of our home: it’s where we catch up on our favorite TV shows, hang out with friends and family, and spend some time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But, when your living room is on thesmaller side, it can be difficult to work out how you can decorate it to get the most out of your space while keeping it smart and stylish.

Here, we’re going to provide you with some small living room ideas that will help you to do just that. If you’re tired of your space feeling a bit too cramped, read on to discover how to devise the best small living room layout, and some decorating hints and tricks that will help you to make the most of the space you do have.

Carefully consider each piece of furniture

When you're looking to decorate a particularly small living room, the first thing you need to do is pick out your furniture. This is because, while there are so many sofas, coffee tables, and storage solutions available on the market, your lack of space will mean you're limited in what's going to work for your living room. And, you won't want to paint your walls and lay down a carpet, only to discover that you can't find the perfect pieces to complement the backdrop you've created.

So, it's vital that you pick out the essential pieces of furniture that are going to fit your space before making any other decisions. Here, we'll outline some of the key things you need to consider during the process.

How to choose a sofa for a small living room

The sofa is likely to be at the heart of your living room, so it's important that you choose a suitably sized couch that's also going to provide all of the comfort and style you need.

Of course, the most important thing is that any sofa you choose is going to physically fit into your space. So, you'll want to measure up your living room before you start shopping. We have a guide to ensuring a sofa will fit into your space, which outlines exactly how to go about getting all of the measurements you need.

But it isn't enough to know that you'll be able to get your chosen couch through your front door and settled into your living room: you also need to make sure it leaves enough practical space to add other essentials. Plus, you'll want to ensure there's enough space around it to allow you to move freely throughout your space. According to The Spruce's guide to the basics of furniture arrangement, there should be 14–18 inches (or 35–45cm) between the front of your sofa and your coffee table. It's also recommended that you leave 48–100 inches (or 122–254cm) between your sofa and any side chairs you add, although this space can be smaller to accommodate the size of your room. Just make sure you do give each piece of furniture some breathing space.

Here at Sofas by Saxon, we offer 1.5-seater and 2-seater sofas, which are more compact than three- or four-seater couches. But, they're still incredibly comfortable and are available in a lot of the same styles. So, you don't need to miss out if you are slightly lacking in the square-foot department. Should you have a narrow living room, a sectional sofa can also really help your space to feel more like a living room and less like a corridor, as it will break the room up and make it more homely.

If you’ve always wanted a sofa to suit your home but just haven’t been able to find one that’s going to fit your home perfectly, we might be able to help with our custom sofa service. We can help you design and create a couch that’s made to your specific requirements, so you can achieve the look you’ve always dreamed of.

You'll also need to consider what color sofa is going to work best in your living room. When you're trying to avoid your space looking cramped, it's best to go for a sofa in a light hue that will complement — rather than clash with — the color of your walls. Not only will the lighter shade help your living room as a whole to appear brighter and bigger than it is, but choosing a complementary color will also help with the flow of the space which, again, can make it seem roomier. For example, you could opt for a light grey sofa and set it against a dusty blue wall, or a cream sofa would work well with a light khaki backdrop.

How to choose a coffee table for a small living room

When picking out a coffee table, you're going to want to find the right balance between having one that fits your space, but that also provides you with a big enough surface to enjoy your morning cup of coffee or the odd takeout in front of the TV. Again, you'll also want to ensure that there'll still be enough space for you to move around your new table freely.

There are some other tricks you can use to pick out a coffee table that will work well in your small living room. For example, you could choose one with a glass surface, or even opt for one with reflective sides. This will help to prevent your room from looking too broken up and also let more light to travel around your space, which is a fail-safe way of helping it to appear bigger and brighter.

How to choose storage solutions for a small living room

Clutter can make a small space appear even tinier, so you'll want to invest in some storage solutions that will help to keep your living room mess-free. Opting for multi-functional furniture that has in-built storage space is a great idea, because it won't take up any additional space, but will give you plenty of places to hide anything that you don't want on display.

Of course, you won't want to use up more of your floor space that you have to, so it's also worth prioritizing storage solutions that can be attached to your walls. Overhead cabinets that match the color of your paint are fantastic, as they'll blend in but are also incredibly practical.

If you have any trinkets or books that you would like to use to decorate your space, we would recommend displaying these on shelves that you can build into alcoves or attach to walls that would otherwise be left bare. This will ensure everything has a place, limiting the risk of senseless clutter and, again, making your living room to appear as big and as bright as possible.

Opt for multi-functional furniturewhere possible

When you're furnishing a small living room, hardworking, multi-functional pieces will become your best friends. For example, side tables that also work well as mini bookcases, or lidded stools that can be filled with any clutter that you don't want on display can be incredibly handy to have.

Furniture with mirrored or transparent surfaces can also help to prevent your space from looking and feeling too cramped, because they’ll let the light through, or reflect it back into your space, giving it a brighter and airier feel. So, for example, you could opt for a storage cabinets with reflective doors, or an entirely lucite coffee table.

Here at Sofas by Saxon, we offer ottomans and poufs with storage, as well as footstool coffee tables that have a glass surface. These are all multi-functional pieces of furniture that will help to save you space and make your living room appear bigger.

Perfect your small living room layout

When you have a very limited amount of space to work with, the way you arrange your furniture can have a huge effect on whether your living room feels nice and livable, or just a bit too cramped. So, it’s certainly worth putting plenty of time and thought into working out where everything is going to fit best.

Choose the perfect spot for your sofa

The sofa tends to be the focus of a living room, so it’s a good idea to decide on the placement of yours and then build around it. A popular technique is to push your couch up against a wall, so you have as much remaining space to play with. This can work incredibly well but, if you do go down this route, we would recommend leaving a gap of two or three inches between your sofa and the wall. Not only will this help to prevent your wallpaper or paint work from getting scuffed, but it will also create a feeling of depth, and subtly make your room appear larger. This trick can be used with any furniture that you choose to place near a wall.

Resist the urge to pack everything together

You might also be tempted to pack all of your furniture together, so you have as much space around it as possible, but this can actually have the opposite effect of what you’re going for. Instead, place all of your different pieces of furniture so there’s room to move around and between them. This will help to give the illusion that you’ve actually had plenty of space to create the look you wanted.

Take full advantage of your wall space

It’s also a good idea to think about how you can use your walls to free up some of your floor space. For example, instead of placing your television on a stand, why not hang it? And, if you’re not sure you have enough room for standing shelves and storage cupboards, floating versions that are designed to be attached to your walls can be incredibly handy.

It’s also worth keeping all of this in mind when you’re thinking about the rough layout for your room because, for example, if you want your sofa to face your television, and are also thinking about hanging your TV, you’ll have to ensure that it’s possible to place everything in a way that allows everything to come together in the way you’ve planned.

How to decorate a small living room

There are some small living room decorating ideas that have been tried and tested by interior designers and homeowners alike. The tips below will help you create a feeling of having more space than you actually do and will also help to ensure you can still inject an element of personality and style into your living room. You’ll still want to it to feel like yours, after all!

Opt for light or pastel colors

When picking out the paint for your walls, your flooring, and your main pieces of furniture, we would recommend sticking to light and pastel colors, as these will reflect the most light and help your living room to appear bigger than it otherwise might. Many interior decorators will paint the walls of small rooms white or cream, and then add color with decorative pieces like cushions, drapes, and artwork, which is a great trick to use.

A good ratio to use is two light colors for the larger elements of your room, to one darker or brighter shade that can be used to add interest. For example, you could paint your walls white, and pick out light-colored wood and sand-colored furniture. This will create a bright and airy canvas that you can then pepper with hints of a more intense hue like navy blue, teal, burnt orange, or even a deep purple. This technique can work whether you’re going for a more modern look, something a bit more traditional, or even a shabby-chic inspired style.

Let plenty of light in

In a similar vein, you’ll want to allow as much natural light as possible into your space as this, again, will help it to look much bigger and airier. So, it’s important that you make the most of the windows your small living room has.

We would advise against opting for heavy drapes as, although these can look very stylish in larger living spaces, there is the risk that they’ll overpower a small room. Plus, even when they’re open, they can block out a lot of valuable sunlight, so we would recommend going for something a little less harsh. Sheer drapes in a light color are ideal, because they’ll still add some style and decoration to your windows, but you won’t have to sacrifice any of those all-important rays.

We would recommend investing in some sheer drapes that are on the longer side, as this will help to make full use of the space you have and help to open the room up. Hanging your curtain pole a few inches higher than you usually would can also help to open up your living room and ensure you’re making the most of your room’s height.

Create layers to add depth

While it might seem counter-intuitive, as this will technically take up more space in your living room, creating layers can add depth and help it to appear larger.

There are a whole host of ways in which you can use this technique. For example, you could add a rug that’s just big enough to sit under all of your essential pieces of furniture or place a row or two of throw pillows on your sofa. Adding prints and paintings to your walls can also go a long way to creating feeling of your room having more depth. Plus, none of these tips will take up any usable floor space — they’ll simply add some extra style and interest to what you already have.

Make your space cozy with soft furnishings

When you’re trying to prevent a space from looking too cramped, it can be tempting to pare everything back, so it doesn’t look too cluttered. And, while this is still something you’ll want to keep in mind, it’s also important that you’re able to create a nice, cozy space that you enjoy living in. So, although you might want to keep furniture and anything else that takes up floor space to a minimum, you can still create a homely vibe with soft furnishings like throws and throw pillows rugs.

This will bring some warmth into your space but, again, won’t actually take up any room that you could be putting to better use. So, they’re great tools for ensuring your living room is somewhere that you love spending time.

Don’t be afraid to inject your personality into the space

It’s easy to get hung up on trying to make your small living room seem as big as possible, but don’t forget that you still want it to feel like home! So, it’s a good idea to look for ways in which you can inject a bit of your personality to give it a stamp of your own.

As we’ve discussed, although it’s a good idea to pick out light-colored wall paint and furniture to help your space appear as airy as possible, you can still add some interest and a dash of your personal style with some pieces in a color or two that you love. Vases, works of art, and cushions or throws are all perfect for this.

If you have a bare wall that you would like to make the most of, creating a gallery wall could also be a great idea. Not only will this give you a chance to highlight some of your interests or elements of your personal style, but it’s also a great way of creating a sense of depth, which we’ve previously touched upon.

Finally, why not print out some photos you’ve taken with friends and family, which you can hang on your walls or display on your shelves? While these won’t take up a great deal of space, they will help to add a nice and personal touch, which is guaranteed to make your living room feel more homely.

Create a focal point to use as a distraction

One great way of distracting from the lack of space you might have in your living room is by creating a focal point that will attract the eye whenever anyone walks into your home. There are a number of ways in which you can do this. For example, you could hang a particularly large piece of art on a bare wall, which will have the added benefits of adding a dash of style and also creating a sense of depth.

Alternatively, you could hang a particularly interesting light fitting that will draw the eye upwards, or choose one statement piece of furniture that you would like to make the focus of your space. For example, you could pick out a sofa in a particularly bright or interesting fabric. We offer Chesterfield sofas and more in a range of different leather and fabric options, which is ideal if you’re looking for something unique.

Use mirrors to create a sense of space

There’s a reason why you’ll find a mirror in most lifts: they are great for making a space appear larger and less claustrophobic. So, why not use this same technique to create the feeling of having more room in your living room?

A great tip is to place a mirror directly across from a window as, not only will this reflect plenty of light, but it will also help to bring a sense of the outdoors in, which will make your space feel airier. It can also help to give the impression that your room actually has more windows than it does, which is ideal if your space is lacking in that department.

Working out the interior design for a small living room can certainly come with its challenges but this simply means you need to get a little bit creative and use some of these hints and tricks to maximize the space that you do have. By decorating your space with light colors, choosing your furniture carefully, and creating a sense of depth as well as adding dashes of your personality, you can easily help your space to appear bigger, and make it a room that you love spending time in.

Here at Sofas by Saxon, we handmake sofas, chairs, and footstools that are perfect for smaller rooms. Each piece is crafted by our expert team in our UK workshop, so they're always of the highest quality. We even deliver to the US! Just take a look at our international delivery FAQ to get started.

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