July 29, 2022

Small Apartment Living Room Ideas

Small Apartment Living Room Ideas

Decorating a small apartment living room can feel intimidating. How do you style the space with furniture and decor without making it feel cramped?

There are definitely special considerations when dealing with tiny spaces. For a living room, we want an inviting, comfortable space where we can relax, gather with loved ones, and just enjoy being home. With some careful planning and design tricks, you can absolutely achieve that goal - even if you feel like you live in a shoebox!

We have rounded up the top 10 design and decorating tips to make your small living room feel more spacious as well as some fun styling ideas to equip you with ideas and inspiration. Let’s get to it!


small apartment living room


Tip #1: Plan the Living Room Layout

Putting careful thought into the layout of your living room is the first important step that will lead the rest of your design decisions. Sometimes this is not obvious, especially with open floor plans or narrow spaces.

Start by choosing the focal point - a window, the tv, a fireplace, etc. Once you have your focal point in mind, you now know where you want your couch or main seating area to face and you can map out how much total space you want to designate for your living room. It can help to sketch it out and even take measurements to refer to when furniture shopping. 

Then consider the flow of traffic into and possibly through the room. Keep walkways as open as possible (a minimum of 3 feet) and try to avoid blocking a straight path into the living room with pieces of furniture. 

Another important step in making your living room feel inviting is by creating a conversation area with extra seating angled towards the main couch or seating area. If space allows, a low profile L-shaped couch can serve as an instant conversation area.


apartment living room with large window


narrow apartment living room


Tip #2: Stick with a Color Scheme

Plan a cohesive color scheme for your apartment living room and avoid getting “too” eclectic. Too many colors, patterns and textures can make a small space feel chaotic and overwhelming, whereas simple and subdued colors are relaxing. If you are a color person, choose one or two bold accent colors and stick to that scheme.


neutral colors living room


Tip #3: Try Color Blocking

Though we want to avoid physically blocking off the living room from the flow of the rest of the apartment, you can still create a sense of space with color blocking. Create a definitive area within your color scheme with your rug, furniture, and consider painting an accent wall in the living room its own color that’s different from adjacent areas.


living room with green accent wall


living room with blue accent wall


living room with green and wood accent wall


Tip #4: Multi-Purpose Pieces

There are many creative furniture pieces out there that can double as storage or can be used for more than one purpose. For example, a “pouf” or small ottoman can be used as a coffee table by adding a tray to the top, or it can be used as extra seating. Coffee tables and sofas can have hidden storage solutions built in. A space saving nesting coffee table can expand as needed and a small c-shaped table can hang over an arm of the couch.


trunk coffee table


nesting round coffee table

(image credit: Pinterest)


Tip #5: Hang the Curtains High

Opt for tall curtains that will draw the eye upward. Hang curtain rods 6 inches or more above the top of the window. With low ceilings you can even go up to a couple inches below the ceiling. This simple tip can make a big impact on the feeling of spaciousness in the room.


sheer white curtains in apartment living room


Tip #6: Furniture Sizing Matters

Furniture at the right scale is key. We don’t want to cram a massive overstuffed couch from wall to wall. It is important to allow for some open space on both sides of furniture pieces, so choose a couch and chairs accordingly. Modern or contemporary couches tend to have simple, clean lines and are typically lower to the ground. 

Choosing the right size rug for the room is also paramount. A common mistake is choosing a too-small rug, which visually dwarfs the space. A rug should fill the entire designated living room space. The couch and other furniture should be placed on top. 

Another visual design trick is to opt for furniture with “legs”. Look for coffee tables, end tables, accent chairs and even couches with thin or low profile legs. This allows for more visibility through, under and around the furniture and gives the illusion of more space.


small living room setup


coffee table set with gold legs


dog on sofa in living room

 Shop the Look: "Night at the Duomo" Fine Art Print


wooden accent chair in living room


Tip #7: Utilize Light and Reflection

Whether your small living room is blessed with lots of natural light or resembles a cave, use mirrors & furniture with reflective surfaces to your advantage. The light will bounce around the room which makes the room appear bigger and brightens it up. You may even be able to play off that concept when selecting artwork for the room. Art pieces with reflective media like acrylic, framed photographs or even shiny or reflective frames can also enhance the light in the room.


living room couch with round mirror


small apartment design


Tip #8: Elevate with Art

Even a tiny living room can make a big statement and look put together with well chosen wall art. With single pieces, be mindful to select artwork with a large enough surface area. Similar to rugs, artwork too small for the space can make the room look smaller. Conversely, oversized artwork that is too large for the wall can have a similar effect, making the room look tiny relative to the art. 

A gallery wall can be a good choice for a small apartment living room as you can hang multiple small pieces and have full control over the configuration. 

If you are considering hanging a gallery wall, grab a copy of our free resource The Ultimate Gallery Wall Guidebook. Not sure how high to hang your artwork? Check out our step-by-step guide to hanging art.


beach art in living room

 Shop the Look: “Tower 19” Fine Art Print


black and white art in living room

 Shop the Look: “Pillars” Fine Art Print


gallery wall in small living room


nature themed gallery wall

Shop the Look: “Equinox” Gallery Wall Set


Tip #9: Think Vertical

Instead of potted plants sitting on the ground or on furniture, hang them up!  Apply the same principle for floor and table lamps - look for ceiling and wall mounted lighting to save some valuable floor space.

For storage and decorative items, consider floating shelves in lieu of bookcases or pieces of furniture that would normally be taking up precious real estate.


hanging plants in living room


living room with floating shelves


Tip #10: Less is More

As a general rule, avoid clutter at all costs in a small living room. Lots of small items can overwhelm a small space quickly. Keep the decorative items cohesive and minimized and embrace the “less is more” mentality – at least in this room. You can even enhance that concept on your walls with minimalist art.


coffee table statement piece


We hope these small apartment living room ideas and design tips helped you piece together the main concepts and you now feel equipped to start designing your own! 

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