If your living room or family room is cramped and cluttered, the last thing you’ll want to do is spend time in there. That is, unless you trick your eye into thinking the space is bigger than it appears. It’s not magic; it’s just smart styling. Get ready to Pin all these tips and transform your small space into a comfortable, stylish oasis for you and your house guests to hang out in. When it’s done, you’ll love the room so much that you’ll never want to leave it.
If your living room has access to a ton of natural light, don’t block it out with dark curtains. Let light pour in to make the space feel more airy and open. Even if you don’t have large windows and tons of sunlight, choose lighter shades to maximize the light you do have. Semi-sheer shades like the ones in this living room designed by Barrie Benson will help, too.
Don’t be afraid of making a big statement in a small space. There’s a difference between clutter and well-curated collections and dramatic design moments. In this modest living room designed by Leanne Ford Interiors, we love how the over-the-top, formal chandelier creates contrast and intrigue.
Choosing a larger rug—even in a bold pattern—is a trick that makes a room feel bigger. Unlike smaller rugs, the large size doesn’t visually break up the floor. This can also help anchor the space and give you a good staple piece to design the rest of the room around. Corner seating can also help you get more out of your space, as it does in this room designed by designed by Katie Ridder.
Leaning into the smallness of a space can actually be what makes it feel genuinely cozy and inviting. Keep seating close together and intimate, and choose a plush, soft rug, like the one in this space designed by 2LG Studio. This is especially well advised if you’re decorating a small family room, where you’ll want things to be super welcoming and functional.
Dark, glossy walls create a sophisticated backdrop for simple, clean-lined pieces and even colorful, bold items. Use the small space to your advantage and make it feel like a jewel-box. Painting your ceilings the same color can enhance the sense of intimacy even further. Then have fun with brighter furniture throughout, as done in this small living room designed by Andrew Felsher.
When space is lacking, the only option is to get creative and make things multi-purpose. For example, if you don’t have room for a separate living room, family room, and home office, combine each concept into one space. This living room and office by Leanne Ford proves that the right layout and pieces can look great, no matter what shape or size the room.
Even if you’re lacking in square footage and surface space, you can get a lot of mileage out of high ceilings. To take advantage of that vertical space, accentuate tall windows with high curtains and a show-stopping wallpaper like in this room designed by Catherine Bailey. Also, curtains hung well above a window add airiness and height to a small room. Keep the curtain design basic but use extra fabric for fullness.
Keep walls and floors all white to brighten up the space. Large artwork on the wall is eye-catching yet not the least bit cluttered, as shown in this room designed by Andrew Flesher. That way you can make a colorful piece of furniture the focal point of the room, so it’s not like the walls are closing in on you.
Usein place of a traditional coffee table to make better use of your space (because a tiny house means your living room often does double or triple duty when people come over). You can top them with a tray to hold flowers and books, or use as extra seating. Then when it’s family time, they become footrests. These red leather ottomans in a small family room designed by Redmond Aldrich strike that perfect balance between formal and casual.
A lower sofa or settee creates the visual effect of higher ceilings. Playing with proportion and scale will also help, like the tiny side table next to this daybed. Just add pillows to make it more comfortable for lounging.
Use two small tables to take the place of one big coffee table. They’re better for traffic flow and easily moved to wherever else you may need them. We’re also digging the use of a daybed over a sofa in this room designed by Robert Mckinley. And have fun with wall decor!
As we’ve mentioned a few times already, a small space doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with color. So if you love incorporating pretty pastels or vivid brights but want to make sure your living room doesn’t look chaotic, the trick is to stick to a tight color palette. Mixing patterns is also fair game, especially when done as masterfully as this cheerful room designed by Ellen Kavanaugh.
Resist the urge to push all of your furniture up against the walls. If you create space behind the furniture, it makes the room look wider than it is. An antique stool vibes well the chesterfield sofa in this room designed by Leanne Ford.
Bring your artwork up to trick the eye and expand or accentuate the height of the room. A gallery wall might seem too busy for a small space, but it can actually make it feel larger if it extends to the ceiling. In this family room designed by Katie Ridder, the mirrored effect of this glossy red paint on the ceiling makes the small space feel larger—and more glam.
Choose lighting that can be attached to the walls or hung from above to save room on floor space like in this room designed by Nick Olsen.sconces also free up space on side tables.
Swing chairs are super fun and seem to be having a design moment right now. More importantly, they can be a life saver in a small living room or family room. You can add seating without taking up a ton of floor space, like you would with a traditional armchair. This mod style in a Hecker Guthrie-designed space is all the convincing we need.
Mirrors help make any small room look incredibly larger. Prop one up on a mantel or even layer two framed mirrors like designer Annie Brahler did here. You could even make a mirror or tiled mirrors completely cover one wall.