Top 10 small living room ideas from interior designers

I can pinpoint the exact moment when I started rethinking living room design. There I was, standing in my new empty apartment. Each solid wall of the living room has the feeling of being drilled inward, making very Confined space feels smaller by second. Wow — this living room is small and impossible, I was thinking. But after standing there for a few minutes, I realized: The room wasn’t lacking. It’s an opportunity to get creative with my decor. That’s when I started diving into small living room ideas that would make the most of my space.

Honestly, many of us fall for the living room situation. (The TV is there, the sofa is there, the lamp is next to it…) But space constraints, often found in city apartments and smaller homes, can unleash a wave of creativity. A compact room challenges you to consider — and respect — every inch of real estate you have. “Smaller spaces require a bit more thought and planning, especially multifunctional spaces, such as living rooms,” says interior designer Regan Baker, based in San Francisco. “It was important that the room felt inviting and comfortable, due to space constraints, but also because it was very functional and highly usable.”

So where do you start dealing with the living room when the space is upscale? Baker believes you start by considering function, flow, and proportions in the room. And as several other interior designers allude to below, it’s important to get in and have fun with what you have. Join me as I reveal these designers’ top 10 small modern living room ideas to incorporate into your home. As you’ll see, with a few tips and tweaks, limited space can really be the catalyst for your interior design dreams.

Idea #1: Embrace built-in features

Photo above provided by Regan Baker Design.

Renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright is known for the flow and function he has instilled in his home. Much of this comes from his love of built-in stands and seats. This tactic is a huge win in small spaces in the eyes of Regan Baker. Interior designer and founder Regan Baker Design says the built-in rack provides functionality in proportion to a room. Furthermore, built-in “brings more texture into the space rather than a standout piece that feels like another piece of decorated furniture,” she says.

Idea #2: Honor every piece of anchor

The photo above was provided by Karen Harautuneian of Hub of the House Studio.

Consideration is a goldmine for all aggressive decorating decisions. This means we must love and cherish what we choose to have in our homes. This approach is necessary when space is limited, implores Hub of the House Studio’s Karen Harautuneian. She said of the small living room: “Every piece of furniture should be comfortable and usable. “Always start with a simple spatial plan, definitely including the main anchor sections — then build around those.” In the case of the Harautuneian, these “anchors” include the sofa, ottoman, and robe.

Idea #3: Encourage flow with less fixtures

It’s a common mistake: trying to make up for the lack of space with additional furniture. While it seems like a step in the right direction, it narrows the flow and makes the room appear smaller, says Regan Baker. “Too much furniture, or too big or small for an item in a room, can really change the overall feel of a home and whether it is appealing or not,” she says. Baker continues: “The real goal of an ideal living room, regardless of size, is for it to be attractive and suitable for all the functions it contains. So rethink that extra table and treat the negative space as a worthy accessory.

Idea #4: Celebrate a Simple Color Palette

The photo above is by Kate Zimmerman Turpin.

When it comes to smaller living rooms, simplicity is an asset. This is true of wall shades and colors of decorative accessories. Harautuneian believes that being uncomplicated is understandable, who leans towards natural tones in smaller living room spaces. “In my living room, the rug, fabric, and leather palette are drawn from the natural wood tones of the pine wall paneling, the bird’s-eye maple tables and the last one made of boxes. stacked antique wooden hats,” she told us. One note: Simple can mean concentrated and rich tones, such as dark green or purple. Just aim to keep them flowing and complement each other.

Idea #5: Make a Plan Plan a Plan

This is where complacency begins: It is often thought of as a self-designed living room, with a sofa leaning against the wall, a coffee table in front, etc. Truth be told, a well-designed living room begins by examining the space closely. Layout planning is “required,” asks Amy Youngblood, lead designer and owner of Amy Youngblood Interiors. Taking into account flow and size will help you determine what furniture to choose for a small modern living room. “It will also prevent costly mistakes when buying furniture,” says Youngblood. You can draw the room on a piece of paper or get more technical using design software like Autocad.

Idea #6: Combination of beautiful curtains

Photo above provided by Butler Armsden Architects; designed in collaboration with Katie Martinez Design.

Of course, not just any curtain. Consider sheer fabric floor-to-ceiling window treatments. The reason for the length is that it gives the small living room more height, says Trisha Snyder of Butler Armsden Architects, and organically invites the eye to look up (thus demonstrating that there’s always more to appreciate in a space). This tactic also brightens up a room, Snyder adds. It allows natural light rays to shine through and cover a smaller room.

Idea #7: Bring multi-function

If there’s one big buzz for the design and decoration trends of 2022, it’s multifunctionality. We work and play and relax where we live, so each piece must have a nuanced purpose. In small living rooms, aim for every large piece to have a dual role. Regan Baker is a big fan of incorporating large bags that act like otters and can be stored underneath the coffee table. She reiterated her love for built-in pieces, saying that the built-in bookshelf can also act as a desk in a smaller living room. And don’t be afraid to consider using a large coffee table as a place to dine. Karen Harautuneian shares these thoughts: “Every piece of furniture should accommodate both large gatherings and solo moments, like stepping foot in after a long, satisfying day.”

Idea #8: Maximize seating and light

Photo above provided by Amy Youngblood Interiors.

While a smaller living room offers less linear space, there are always more opportunities to work with vertical real estate. Amy Youngblood likes to do this by providing maximum seating for different activities — everything from flat surfaces for drinks to comfortable places to relax. Regan Baker extends this idea by incorporating layered lighting that supports multiple living room functions.

Idea #9: Think outside the box (Sofa)

Photo above by Nikole Ramsay.

You might be inclined to think you need a full-sized sofa — but think again, suggests Amy Youngblood. She notes that, when living room space is limited, you can skip a full section and opt for a medium or small sofa. You can even choose not to use the sofa entirely and bring in a couch or an accent chair set “for better aisle,” she says.

Idea #10: Add a dose of intense color

Photo above provided by Regan Baker Design.

While honoring tip #4, you can still incorporate splashes of vibrant colors. Amy Youngblood believes concentrated doses work wonders for small living rooms. She recommends adding pops of color through vibrant artwork, pillows and accessories. Youngblood adds: “This will make your space feel larger but still integrate color. At his San Francisco home, Regan Baker takes a similar approach (see above), adding a dose of yellow through wall art.

Love to decorate but are limited for space? Share which of these game-changing tips you would apply to your home.

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