5 Ways to Make a Small Living Room Look Bigger

March 26, 2021 Updated: March 26, 2021

These ideas will help you squeeze more style into your small living room—without sacrificing function.

Forget Elbow Room

Snug rooms are a chance to get cozy. To seat a crowd, ditch the awkward sectional in favor of small sofas and chairs packed closely together. Keep the profiles of the pieces trim and tight: no bulky wing chairs or overstuffed arms. Instead, look for armless slipper chairs or others with straight sides that can be placed hip to hip.

Expand on the Architecture

Small living rooms often offer clues about how to expand their function and style. For example, if the space has a nook that is underutilized, tuck in a bench or desk—or create a custom window seat. If the room has an interesting feature, such as a coffered ceiling or a fireplace, make the most of it with decorative treatments. Hang a chandelier to draw the eye to the ceiling, or place artwork above the mantel to make the fireplace stand out. Adorn windows with elegant curtains that highlight their shape and size.

Work Your Way Up

When you emphasize its height, a small room feels bigger. Often overlooked, the wall space just below the ceiling has wonderful decorative potential. Mount window treatments at that height to make the room appear grand, or create a grouping of art or photographs that reaches up to the ceiling. To further the appearance of extra height, install picture-rail molding around the room about 18 inches down from the ceiling, and paint the wall space above it a coordinating color.

Layer It

Nudging one piece of furniture in front of another is a way to build necessary function into a tiny living room. Place a console table or low dresser against the back of a sofa for a flat surface where lighting, food, and drinks can be placed. Tuck low stools, poufs, or floor pillows under the coffee table for extra seating. Use a well-stocked bookcase as an elegant backdrop for a desk or sofa.

Tie It All Together

In a small house, living rooms might also serve as the entry, home office, or dining space. To smoothly incorporate these other functions, keep the overall color palette similar. Carry through any decorative touches, too. Does the entry rug coordinate with the living room rug? Do the seat cushions on the dining chairs work with the sofa and pillow upholstery? When the areas work as a unit, the space feels comfortably cohesive.

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