7 Decorating Tips for a Small Living Room

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Home decorating can often create more headaches than it's worth. Furniture is expensive, and it's hard to fill up the endless space of multiple rooms. Fortunately, if you're designing on a budget and with limited area, then the odds are stacked in your favor. There is a fine line between cozy and cramped, and you want to make sure you don't stumble over it. Try to imagine your space as a whole, instead of in separate pieces. Keep a "less is more" attitude toward your furniture and accent pieces, and follow these tips to help maximize space.

  • Clear the Coffee Table: You don't want to bulk up your small space with a huge coffee table. The heavy, wooden models tend to cost a lot more than you want to spend. To make your space seem larger, invest in a glass-top coffee table. They are simple and sleek, and make the surrounding space seem unrestricted and maneuverable. If you want to save yourself some cash, then try purchasing one used at a garage sale, or online. Since they are a popular piece of furniture, they won't be too hard to find. To truly maximize the appearance of space with your coffee table, look for a mirror topped model. 
  • Don't Block Windows: Windows can provide a much-needed reprieve from the confines of a small space. Arrange the furniture in your living room around the windows. Keeping the space open attracts attention to the outside world, instead of the cramped space within. Best of all, windows don't cost a thing! You can draw the eye to your windows with vibrant curtains. If you want to keep the style of your living room from getting stale, then trying swapping out the drapes with the seasons.
  • Ottoman with Storage Space: Multitasking furniture is always a plus in a small space. If you're the type that likes to keep books and magazines strewn about your living room, consider purchasing an ottoman with a removable top. They cost anywhere from $20 to $100, and can provide much-needed storage space for the random items that pile up in your living room. Keeping clutter out of sight will make your small space easier to operate in.

small living room decorating tips

  • One Large Piece of Art: If you have limited space and a limited budget, decorating the walls in your living room can easily get put on the back burner. To save yourself time and money, let your empty walls do the work for you. Don't crowd your space with tons of posters, pictures and other wall-hanging items. Pick a focal point in the room, and extenuate it with one large piece of artwork. If one of your walls is opposite a window, then this may be the best choice. Since windows add space of their own, the two will complement each other. (For living room wall art ideas, see Wall Art Ideas For The Living Room.)
  • Limit the Personality Pieces: The living room is the welcome center for your home. You want to make the space accommodating, but you don't want to forget to add your own personality to the mix. Pick five or six pieces that represent your personality and place them throughout the room. Coffee table books always give the room a more personable feel, and don't take up too much extra space. A few family photos on the mantle will also add a personal flair to the space. Musical instruments can be a nice addition to an empty corner, and can serve as a conversation starter. (For tips on how to decorate your fireplace mantel, see How To Decorate A Fireplace Mantel)
  • Keep Entertainment Consoles Out of Sight: An entertainment center that has closing doors will do wonders for your small space. When you're not using the television, you can keep it out of sight. Not only will it increase your space, but it also prevents your living room from looking like it functions exclusively as a home theater. If you have an extensive movie and music collection, then it's best to store these where they can't be seen. Tons of movie boxes and CD cases will make any entertainment center seem crowded and hard to manage.
  • Smaller Couches: Large sofas can take up entire living rooms. You don't want to go overboard with the seating, but you still want your family and guests to feel comfortable. Avoid large sectional couches; they tend to suck space from small areas. Loveseats or apartment couches are a better fit, and they also cost a lot less than their bulkier brethren. If you need additional seating, floor pillows are fun and affordable, and take up a lot less space than a bulky armchair. You can usually find them for around $20 at most home stores. (For a guide to the different types of couches, see Six Different Types Of Couches You'll Love.)

small living room decorating tips

Most of the problems that arise when you're decorating a small space stem from tireless searches for the right pieces at the right price. Remember that the living room should be more about comfort than style. You will spend more time lounging around in it than anything else, so make sure you don't sacrifice your own coziness for the sake of fashion. Keep an eye out for bargain finds at garage sales and store clearances for the best shot at finding furniture that will fit your lifestyle as well as your living room. 

Last Updated: March 28, 2013
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About Chanti Burnette Chanti was a freelance writer for IdealHomeGarden.com.

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