Furniture Arrangement Ideas for Small Living Rooms

Make your small living room seem larger with these decorating tricks.


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Living Room
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Choose Visually Lightweight Furniture

    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.

    In this small living area, the leggy chair doesn't obstruct views of the passage or the floor, so the space feels more open. The metal and glass coffee table also consumes very little visual space.

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Use Neutral Color Throughout

    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.

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Emphasize the Vertical

    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.

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Use Small Scale Furniture

    Choose furniture in a scale appropriate for the room and for the people who will use it. The sleek design and small scale of a Saarinen Tulip chair suits a small living room, as does the Parsons table. The armless chair is heftier, but its lines and shape won't make a small room feel crowded.

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Play Up the Light

    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.

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Add Seating with a Window Seat

    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.

    Add storage without eating up floor space by building shelves into the space between wall studs.

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Enlarge Space with White

    A narrow living room escapes feeling constrained thanks to white walls, a tall vaulted ceiling, pale floors, bare windows, and white upholstery. A long tapestry on the fireplace wall emphasizes the vertical dimension, while a gray wing chair and espresso brown coffee table ground the space.

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Furnish for Multitasking

    Use fewer large furniture pieces and include some dual-purpose items to make a small space live large. In this small living room, a long, low dining table is surrounded by a sofa and armless chairs so it can do triple duty--as a dining room, a home office, and a gathering spot for conversation.

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Carve Out a Corner

    In an open floor plan, stake out a corner for the living room with two love seats, a large coffee table, and a rug. One of the sofas separates the area from the main room.

    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.

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Choose Dual-Purpose Pieces

    Dual-purpose furniture maximizes space in this living room. A pair of ottomans double as coffee tables, and the lids lift off to reveal storage capacity inside.

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Use an Ottoman for a Coffee Table

    A large upholstered ottoman doubles as a coffee table when you add trays to provide a flat surface for drink glasses or a vase of flowers.

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Scale Furniture to the Space

    In a small living room, a narrow bench serves as a convenient coffee table without taking up much space.

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Define Activity Zones

    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.

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Build in Storage

    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.

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Reshape the Box

    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.

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Create Clear Traffic Paths

    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.

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Pack in Comfort and Function

    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.

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Put the Walls to Work

    Built-in bookcases define a niche for a daybed-style sofa in this petite living room. Wall lamps illuminate the niche, creating a cozy feeling as well as providing reading light.

    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.

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Keep Colors Light and Soft

    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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