Expand on the Architecture
Small living rooms offer clues about ways to expand their function and style. For example, if you have a nook or cranny that is underutilized, tuck in a bench or desk. If you have an interesting feature, such as a coffered ceiling or a fireplace, make the most of it with decorative treatments. Hang a chandelier to draw the eye to the ceiling. Place eye-catching artwork above the mantel to make the fireplace stand out. Or, play up the windows with elegant curtains that highlight their shape and size.
Work Your Way Up
When you emphasize its height, a small room feels bigger. Don't overlook the wall space just below the ceiling as potential for decorative attention. Mount the window treatments at that height to make the window appear grand. Create a grouping of art or photographs that reaches up to the ceiling. Or attach picture-rail molding around the room about 18 inches down from the ceiling and paint the wall space above it a coordinating color.
Snug rooms are a chance to get cozy. To seat a crowd, ditch the sectional sofa (no one wants to sit in the corner anyway) in favor of small seats packed closely together. A love seat and two chairs add up to more cushions than a three-seater sofa, for example. Keep the profiles of the pieces trim and tight: no beefy arms or hefty wing chairs. Look for chairs with straight sides -- armless slipper chairs are even better -- that can be placed hip to hip.
Nudging one piece of furniture in front of another is a way to build necessary function or storage into a tiny living room. Place a console table or low dresser against the back of sofa to add table surface for lighting, as well as a place to put drinks. Tuck poufs or floor pillows under the coffee table so you have extra seating. A bookcase arranged with books and collectibles can be an elegant backdrop for a desk or sofa.
Tie It All Together
Often, the living room serves also as the entry, home office, or dining space. To smoothly incorporate these other functions, keep the overall color palette (including wood tones) similar. Also carry through any decorative touches: Does the entry rug coordinate with the living area rug? Do the seat cushions on the dining table work with the sofa and pillow upholstery? When the areas work as a unit, the space will feel comfortably cohesive.
Inspiration for Small-Space Decor
-Do you suffer from multipersonality decorating? I know I do. Sometimes, I crave a so serene space and sometimes I just want a punch or two of color. I'm Lacey Howard, editor of Decorating Magazine and today I'm going to show you how to express all your decorating personalities with just a few easy changes. Right now, with beige walls, painted white case goods, comfortable upholstery, and just a few accessories, this living space is a neutral oasis inspired by Swedish design. -I traveled to Sweden for work and fell madly in love with their simple elegance. They only have a few pieces of furniture in each room and they deal in light grays and beiges, I just find that so soothing to your mind. -Meg likes to be able to put technology behind closed doors at the end of each day. -Technology already has such a strong grip on our lives. It shouldn't have our every moment. -To that end, Meg incorporates painted white case goods to hide her computer, television, and other electronics. Her serene design scheme allows her guests to relax, unplug, and be the focus of Meg's attention. When Meg craves a spot of color, her home offers a beautiful neutral canvas on which to paint an accent hue or two. The simple addition of a couple of pillows on the living room's upholstered pieces, a few lampshades with color, painted pottery and colored glass to catch the light in a window, and some patterned bedding gives Meg's home a whole new look. Look at this place now. At stage 3, Meg's serene oasis boasts a playful color palette and lots of personality. With a bevy of colored accessories including rugs, pillows, drapes, painted tables, dishes, bedding, and artwork, there's no need to paint the walls. The simple addition of accessories gives these rooms all the color, pattern, and energy they can handle. -Well, I really didn't wanna have to go and paint the walls so I figured I'll just run down to the art store and buy a canvas and paint it solid and I find it's the better way to go because anything else is just gonna compete with the fabric so stay solid and stay within your color scheme. -Remember where Meg's home started? Her rooms whispered with a serene palette inspired by sooting Swedish design, beautifully upholstered pieces, painted white furnishings, and textured rugs make her space a neutral oasis. A few pops of color in the form of pillows and other easy additions gave Meg's space a few visual accents from room to room. In the final stage, Meg's home reaches its saturation point. Layers of accessories bring color, pattern, and additional texture to walls, windows, floors, and furnishings. Loads of color take Meg's room from soothing to energetic, serene to empowering, all without painting walls or changing the major furnishings. Don't let multiple decorating personalities keep you from making design decisions. Just choose furniture you love and a neutral scheme that suits you. Have a few colorful accents to pop in and a closet full of bold accessories to layer on when the mood strikes. Then, you just tuck it all away and return to your neutral oasis. For Decorating Magazine, I'm Lacey Howard.