Small living room ideas – how to decorate a compact sitting room, snug or lounge

Smart small living room ideas ensure there is no wasted space in a compact living space. From thoughtful furniture placement and genius ways with paint to savvy curtain tricks there’s a whole host of smart ideas to make your small living room feel bigger than it actually is.

Small living room ideas

Choose seating with legs so more of the floor can be seen, making the room appear bigger. This trick lends itself well to any living room, as many classic-style sofas and armchairs are finished with beautiful turned wooden legs.

Fill alcoves or bay windows with built-in storage. If there is little room for a side table next to your sofa, position a narrow console behind a sofa to serve as a display shelf.

When you are redecorating, one of the easiest ways to make a small snug area feel more spacious is to inject soft, neutral shades into your  to keep the room warm and inviting. Check out our ideas for for more inspiration.

Take inspiration from our gallery of beautiful small space designs to unlock the potential of your small living room

1. Use alternative furniture choices

small grey living room with footstools as seating around coffee tableView colours

The thing you should never do if you have a small living room is cram in too much furniture. Instead, choose a sofa that’s proportional to the size of the space, and if you’re still in need of more seating, use stools. They’ll take up far less room than bulky armchairs, and can be easily manoeuvred – or used as footrests.

For extra space-savvy points look for stowaway furniture, such as these cube stools that can be tucked under a coffee table when you don’t need them, or ottomans that hide hidden storage inside.

And if you’re short on space but still want to be able to entertain, then consider multifunctional furniture like one of the best sofa beds so you can put up occasional overnight guests. Thinking about furniture which offers two uses in one is a great way to make each piece in your home work harder.

2. Choose light colours for the walls

small white living room with home officeView colours

Dark colours are definitely having a moment right now, but they can be tricky to work with in small spaces. Light colours tend to work best so stick to pale tones such as white, cream, and grey to keep your room scheme light, airy and open – especially effective in small spaces with minimal natural light sources.

3. Embrace natural light

living room teal velvet corner sofaView colours

Make the most of natural light in the room by keeping window treatment ideas simple. Shutters are a brilliant alternative to curtains, providing privacy and light control without taking up space. If you do choose curtains, keep them light and make sure they can be swept away from the window for light or alternatively go for Roman or roller blinds.

4. Paint the skirting boards

Blue living room with grey sofa blue rug and pink tassel pendant lightView colours

Breaking with convention, the trick to make a space feel bigger is to paint the skirting boards in the same colour as the wall. No more bold white borders. Interior designer Kelly Hoppen enlightens with her advice, ‘One little tip, paint the skirting boards. Because it will make the whole wall look a lot taller. Because when you paint them white it’s a bit like wearing a sock and your trouser leg being too high. It kind of looks a bit odd!’

A brilliant analogy for the look of bold white skirting boards standing out from the wall colour, for all the wrong reasons – especially prominent when using a dark living room colour scheme. This trick will prevent the wall from being divided – helping to elongate them, so the room feels taller and therefore bigger.

Kelly Hoppen’s advice for painting skirting boards is a real game-changer in small spaces.

5. Add a feature wall in a warm colour

living room with navy blue feature wall and round mirrorView colours

We all want our living rooms to feel cosy and restful. However, in a small space, you may feel apprehensive about introducing too many dark colours for fear of making the room feel cramped.

In that instance, pick a rich warm colour like this plum shade as a backdrop to a part of the room that’s all about relaxation. Behind the sofa is ideal. That deep shot of colour is a visual ‘hug’ that relaxes and draws us in, without making the room feel smaller.

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