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Pay attention to the visual weight of furniture, not just its actual size. Light-color furniture or pieces with legs appear lighter than dark or boxy upholstered pieces.
Using a neutral palette throughout a living room and connecting spaces is one of the best ways to push back the walls. The eye can roam freely through a neutral palette, so the space feels more expansive.
Here a range of taupe and beige hues cover the walls, floor, and furniture. A curtain divides the sleeping alcove from the living area. Drawing back the bed-concealing curtain during the day makes the living area feel roomier.
A room's space always includes more than just its horizontal dimensions. Invite the eye to move above and below eye level.
In this living room, emphasis on the vertical comes by way of floor-to-ceiling draperies that hang just below the ceiling beams. A tall floor lamp, a mantel-high topiary, and a mantel display that stretches up to the ceiling all draw the eye upward.
Take advantage of all available light to help enlarge the space. Use white or pale colors, which increase the brightness of a room by reflecting light. Keep window treatments simple and avoid blocking the windows with heavy layers of fabric.
Light flows into this loft living room through floor-to-ceiling windows on one wall. Pale aqua draperies pull back to let in light and views. A color scheme of white and aqua further reflects light and enhances the sense of space.
Turn a window niche into a mini living area with a window seat. Choose slender, leggy furniture for small spaces because they take up less visual space. The eye is fooled into thinking the space is larger because you can see under and through these pieces of furniture.
Filling the floor space with a coffee table may seem counterintuitive, but using a few large pieces in a small space actually simplifies the room.
A half-circle table tucked under a window turns a corner of the living room into a home office or a breakfast table. Use a pendant light for illumination, and save space on the table itself. Paint a piece of plywood with chalkboard paint to make an oversize blackboard for notes and messages--or impromptu art.
Give a small space grand character and maximum function with a bank of custom-built cabinets. This unit, installed across one wall, incorporates a gas direct-vent fireplace, which doesn't need a chimney. The cabinets stop short of the ceiling to allow light to enter through the window.
Bare floors also add to the clean and simple feeling. The continuous expanse of wood helps the space feel more open.
Turn the conversational group on the diagonal to liven up a boxy room. The fourth side of this group is a cushioned bench, which consumes little visual space.
Always include a tall element in the room, such as the ficus tree in the corner, to raise the eye toward the ceiling.
Arrange furniture to direct traffic around the conversation core rather than through it. In this small living room, the love seat anchors the seating group and defines a path to the sliding glass door along its left side. An angled chair and side table welcome a visitor into the space while discouraging passage through it.
This cozy living room packs a lot of comfort and function into a small space. Upholstered chairs and a sofa offer sink-in seating, while an antique trunk does double-duty as storage and a coffee table.
A work table in the corner also multitasks, serving as a side table for the sofa and a small desk. A large mirror over the sofa reflects light and doubles the impression of space.
A pair of fauteuils (French-style open-arm chairs) and a small, low table create an intimate library/living room that takes up little floor space.
Pastel furnishings, white walls, and a light neutral area rug make this living room feel lighter and brighter and therefore larger. The wing chairs offer standard-size seating, but with their exposed legs, they consume less visual space than a club chair would.
The coffee table, although large and dark, is a space-savvy choice because it is within reach of all of the seating pieces. The dark color grounds the pastels and gives the soft colors needed emphasis.
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