Living  room by WN Interiors: modern Living room by WN Interiors of Poole in Dorset

​Visual space: Working with furniture for a small living room

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
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It’s a struggle that the majority of us are all too familiar with – trying to cram our worldly possessions into a tiny space while aiming to achieve that unique balance between practicality and style. And when it comes to small living rooms, most of us can write books about fitting in our favourite furniture (and décor) pieces without resulting in a space that feels cramped and claustrophobic.  

After all, no guest wants to be entertained in a room that makes it seem difficult to get in and out of, right? 

Fortunately, we have good news (otherwise there’d be no article!). It is possible to successfully transform a small living room into an appealing, multi-functional and visually spacious area – it just all comes down to your choice of furniture for a small living room. 

See, it all boils down to tricking the eye into making it look as if there’s more space and legroom in that living room than there actually is. 

And it all starts with step 1…

1. Furniture for a small living room: Keep it compact

New York City Family Home: modern Living room by JKG Interiors
JKG Interiors

New York City Family Home

JKG Interiors

First of all, avoid any heavy, weighty styles of furniture pieces. Rather go with sleek and elegant designs that take up less visual space. In a small room, space becomes even more vital, and you don’t want to go with coffee tables, sofas and other elements that eat up usable legroom. 

A sleek, contemporary sofa, for example, can offer up just as much seating opportunity as a big, bulky couch – it just takes up much less room.

2. Furniture for a small living room: Keep it proportional

Kensington Lateral Apartment :   by NSI DESIGN LTD
NSI DESIGN LTD

Kensington Lateral Apartment

NSI DESIGN LTD

Regardless of the room in question, or how big/small it is, you always have to consider scale and proportion. 

The general rule of thumb is that if a furniture piece touches the boundaries of the room, it is too large for the space. To help enhance the illusion of spaciousness in your small living room, always leave a little “breathing room” between the sides of furniture and the walls.

3. Furniture for a small living room: Show some leg

Creating a sense of openness and movement in your small living room will result in optimising the illusion of extra space. Streamlined furniture allows for a visual flow over, around and under it. Therefore, it is recommended to opt for low-slung furniture that is on raised legs, which will create a sense of light and space.

4. Furniture for a small living room: Keep a low profile

Minimal living aera: minimalistic Living room by Fibi Interiors
Fibi Interiors

Minimal living aera

Fibi Interiors

Did you know that furniture that is lower to the ground will create the illusion of a bigger room due to the fact that is more space above it? That’s why it’s advisable to choose furniture boasting low profiles, such as mid-century, sleek and/or contemporary pieces.

5. Furniture for a small living room: Reflect, reflect, reflect

123 Blyth Road :   by NSI DESIGN LTD
NSI DESIGN LTD

123 Blyth Road

NSI DESIGN LTD

There is always room for a mirror, seeing as mirrors are quick, affordable and attractive ways to create a greater sense of openness and light. 

Think about what happens to a tiny room once light is reflected onto the mirror – it gets lit up, sure, but it also reflects the view, tricking the eye into thinking that there is more space than there actually is.

Thus, always leave room for a wall mirror somewhere in your small living room.

6. Furniture for a small living room: Clever curtains

Hampstead, London - Residential: classic Living room by Peach Studio
Peach Studio

Hampstead, London—Residential

Peach Studio

For your small living room, you have two options in terms of window treatment: 

1. Hang that curtain rod higher above the window and ensure those curtains drape all the way to the floor. This will make the room seem taller than it actually is, adding visual space to it. 

Or

2. Ditch the curtains completely, allowing the eye to travel throughout the room, to the window and the garden view beyond. If privacy is a concern and some form of window dressing is a necessity, consider blinds, shutters or curtains in a pale colour and lightweight material.

7. Furniture for a small living room: Find your path

When working with furniture for a small living room, it might seem tempting to push everything to the edge of the room. Don’t give in to that feeling!

This can make it more difficult to move around in the room, resulting in you bumping into things and shrinking the room even more. First, find out where the natural flow of traffic will be in your living room. Then, group the furniture on one side of the room, allowing a clean and open path for you and guests to walk though unhindered.

8. Furniture for a small living room: Do a light palette

Living /Dining room : modern Living room by In:Style Direct
In:Style Direct

Living /Dining room

In:Style Direct

Ah, the beauty of soft neutral colours, which are so skilled at reflecting light and making a room feel airy, serene and (most importantly) bigger! Therefore, paint your small living room in white or very light neutral colours (off-whites, creams, soft greys and beiges, etc.). 

What’s more, painting the walls and ceiling the same soft shades helps to blur the boundaries between the walls and ceiling, causing your eye to travel upwards. This helps create the illusion of added height. 

The same goes for your furniture – pick pieces that are upholstered in light tones, or those that are made of transparent materials, like glass coffee tables. This further helps to blur the lines and make the space seem larger.

9. Furniture for a small living room: Multi-functional pieces

Just as the name suggests, your living room needs to be a room in which you can live. As such, functionality should reign supreme in there. And when it comes to furniture for a small living room, multi-functional pieces are crucial for keeping the space equally attractive and functional. 

Think of stylish-yet-clever designs like an ottoman that can double as a table and chair, but which also flaunts built-in storage compartments.

10. Furniture for a small living room: Keep it simple

At the end of the day, your small living room should be about editing. The more pieces, patterns, textures and colours you mix in there, the more cluttered it will look and feel. 

Thus, toss out all knickknacks that don’t add any value, including artworks, textiles with busy patterns, etc. Be very selective about the pieces (furniture and décor) you bring into the space. That’s the only way in which your choices in furniture for a small living room will be successful and stylish. 

Speaking of gorgeous interior palettes, have you seen A fresh look: homify’s green living room ideas?

Any other tips and tricks you can think of when it comes to furniture for a small living room?
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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