How to maximise space in a small living room

Cassie Pryce

Follow our top ten tips on how to make your living space feel cosy instead of cramped

1. Storage solutions

Keeping clutter out of sight is key in any living room, big or small. If your space errs on the compact side, this should be one of your main priorities when designing the room. Make the most of wall space by fitting shelves into otherwise wasted spaces; for example, alcoves either side of a chimneybreast. Built-in storage can be painted the same colour as the walls to help it blend seamlessly into the room and become part of the overall design. You should also consider investing in dual-purpose furniture that incorporates storage, such as a TV unit or coffee table with hidden compartments.

Giovanna circular glass table, £350; Newington sofa in green velvet, £1,800; Hermione pink rug grey fringe 140cm x 200cm, £350, all Habitat 

 

2. Supersized styling

Go big when it comes to dressing your living room walls if you want to create a sense of space. A series of small frames can draw attention to the size of the room and look too busy, whereas you can trick the eye into seeing bigger walls if you use large-scale artwork. Don’t pick pieces that fill every square inch of bare wall, but instead choose something with sensible proportions that will become a focal point.

Snowflake patterned living room roller blinds, from £45.67, English Blinds 

 

3. Two-in-one

Multi-purpose furniture is a must-have in small living rooms and can really help to save space when it comes to laying out the floor plan. Instead of a regular coffee table, for example, why not opt for a pouffe instead that will double-up as both a footrest and somewhere to place drinks (on a tray). A sofa bed is another popular piece to get the most from small-space living – having the ability to transform this space into a guest bedroom is a huge bonus in a small flat.

Silhouette rectangular wall mirror, £94.99, MY Furniture 

 

4. Perfect positioning

While it may be tempting to cram lots of furniture into a small living room, it’s important to give each piece some breathing space to stop the room appearing overwhelmed. Don’t push your sofa or sideboard right up against the walls, but instead leave a gap of a few inches to help create an illusion of space.

 

5. Upward thinking

Drawing attention upwards is a great way to make any room appear larger than it is. Use vertical decorating ideas to maximise this illusion; try painting picture rails in a different colour to the walls to make them a stand-out feature high on the walls, or opt for a statement ceiling light that will draw the eye to this part of the room.

 

6. Smart seating

While a corner sofa may seem counterintuitive in a small room, using this L-shaped piece of furniture is actually a good way to benefit from the most amount of seating. Because it sits as just one piece of furniture, it won’t make the room feel as full or cluttered as if you had two sofas, for example. Choose a design that has a slim frame and low arms to stop it feeling overly bulky or overpowering in the room.

Tropical dawn framed art print, £250, Decoville 

 

7. Bright idea

Open up a small living room by letting in as much natural daylight as possible. Avoid hanging dark or heavy curtains on the windows, as these will block out light even when left open. Light-coloured and light-weight fabrics are a good choice for window dressings in small living spaces, or go for something semi-sheer to filter the light through whilst still allowing privacy.

 

8. Clear winning

Glass or clear acrylic furniture is a great way to help open up small spaces, as it won’t appear bulky within the room. A clear Perspex coffee table or nest of side tables, for example, will look almost invisible so visually they will take up less space than a wooden or metal piece. If you’re not a fan of this modern look, go for a coffee table with a glass top and wooden legs as an alternative.

Fandango media unit, £499, Atkin & Thyme 

 

9. Design details

Choosing furniture with exposed legs will show off more floor space and in turn help the room appear less cluttered and boxed-in. Sofas with skirts or a chunky armchair can easily look overbearing in a small space, so pick pieces that incorporate the frame and legs into their design. Alternatively, some furniture, like TV units, can be bought as wall-mounted pieces to relieve floor space altogether.

 

10. On reflection

Hanging a large wall mirror will instantly help to open up your living room and bounce light into those dark corners. Try to position the mirror opposite a window to make the most of the light, or use a cluster of smaller mirrors to create an interesting piece of wall art.

 

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