How to style a small living room, according to an interiors expert

Dusty Baxter-Wright
·3-min read
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Cosmopolitan

We spend a lot of time looking at the likes of Kylie Jenner and Charli XCX's enormous homes, but the reality of our living space is a little different. We're all about space-saving hacks, small bedroom ideas and inexpensive ways to make our space more luxe.

With that comes decorating ideas for small living areas. Because less square footage doesn't have to mean boring: you can still create a cosy, homely sitting room in a smaller property, rented or not.

Here, Kelly Collins, Head of Creative at sofa-in-a-box company Swyft Homes, shares her top tips for nailing a small living room that you'll probably want to spend all of your time in.

Work out a sensible layout

Think about what you use the living room for and position your furniture accordingly. As Kelly says, "Should your sofa sit directly in front of the TV for lounging? Or perhaps you like to entertain, do you need it spaced out for socialising?" Think also about whether you actually need things like a TV unit, or if it'll take up unnecessary space, and how you can combine side tables and storage options.

Consider a modular sofa

One of the biggest issues you might face with a small space is making sure the furniture you like actually fits, which is where modular sofas comes in. "They're a great option for small or awkward spaces," Kelly says. "Being able to play around with the compositions will not only help save space but give you the opportunity to design your own sofa. You can experiment with the size and layout of a modular sofa, adding footstools or extra segments if you have space.

Declutter, declutter, declutter

You probably know this already, but sadly "too much going on in a room will instantly make it feel smaller. If possible, have a mix of closed and open shelving. Hide away all the ugly but necessary items and display those beautiful vases, picture frames and keepsakes." Consider floor to ceiling shelving, and hiding boxes under your other furniture.

Choose colours to reflect the light

If you have any control over the colour of your living room, go for neutral, lighter tones to bounce the light around. As Kelly says, "Dark coloured walls will close off the room, stick to light and neutral tones. If you are wanting to add colours do this with smaller furniture items and accessories."

Don't try every trend

Having a mix of styles will only complicate things - with a small space, interior experts advice sticking to one style trend. "It can be fun to mix these up and create your own style but when working with a smaller space just keep it simple. Try not to overdo the accessories either, think minimal and perfectly curated."

Don't underestimate the importance of lighting

"If you have the fortune of large windows that add in lots of natural light, then this will obviously help open up the room. If not make sure to add a mixture of lighting options ceiling, floor and table lamps. Don’t overdo it though as the room will feel messy and cluttered. Also make sure to add in a beautiful statement mirror to reflect as much light as possible."


Choose a key piece of furniture

The smaller the space, the less you should try and have in there. Yes there are some things you'll need (e.g. somewhere to put a cup of coffee), but think carefully about pieces that might just be taking up space. "Choose one main feature piece; if it's a living room this would usually be the sofa, and style around this. Don't use large statement pieces. Matchy matchy never looks good, but I would suggest matching the coffee table and one other item and select other complimentary items to go around these."

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