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In the smallest of spaces, everything counts – which is why it’s important to make the most of what you have. Luckily, we can utilize simple design concepts that fool the eye and make interiors seem extra spacious. We put together a few clever tricks to help your small living room space appear massive.


Our living rooms serve as the center of the party we call life: we dine with our family, we entertain friends and we relax in our down time. But let’s face it: small living rooms can sometimes make it seem like the walls are closing in on us.

In the smallest of spaces, everything counts — which is why it’s important to make the most of what you have. Luckily, we can utilize simple design concepts that fool the eye and make interiors seem extra spacious.

We put together a few clever tricks to help your small living room space feel like it’s massive.

7 ways to maximize your living room space

Book storage

Contain clutter with baskets and shelving.

Baskets and shelves make the perfect solution for clutter control. They help you organize small items, disguise unsightly messes and even add a touch of decor. Here are a few placement ideas to make your living room feel much larger:

  • Why consume valuable living space by placing things on the floor? Think vertical: devote a wall of storage to open up the center living room space.
  • Incorporate shelves beneath end tables and coffee tables to hide books, toys and small items.
  • Add wheels to the baskets underneath your coffee table for neat and easy access to your daily necessities.

natural light

Use natural light and tall mirrors to bounce light around.

Properly lighting your living room requires light from various sources and positions. Mirrors are a simple but effective way to make any room appear larger, and open windows will not only let in more natural light, but also give the eye a place to wander outside of the room.

“When it comes to mirrors, it’s all about tricking the eye,” says Justine Hand, design blogger for Remodelista. “Drapes and curtains also just add more ‘stuff’ to the room. Eliminating them keeps the space simple. If you want privacy, consider shutters or lightweight cloth blinds so you can fully expose the window.”

Looking to reflect more natural and artificial light?

Angle your mirrors towards a focal point to give the illusion of depth. Mirrors across from a window, for example, will reflect light and scenery while giving a great balance to your living room.

Living room height

Add height with wall décor

In a small living room space, walls can actually be your best friends. Wall decor can create a sense of height and force the eye to travel around the room. Add art, shelves or mirrors and instantly create a heightened vocal point.  

  • Add shelves near the ceiling to draw the eyes upward.
  • Hang your favorite artwork to elongate your living room space.
  • The floor and ceiling are the fifth and sixth walls to your living room. Paint or wallpaper the ceiling to make the room appear taller.

To test how your room would look with wall decor, use the newspaper trick: create a template of your artwork by hanging newspaper in the same dimension of the art pieces and temporarily square off the space with painter’s tape. Move the template around until you are happy with the arrangement!

Living room area rug

Throw in strategic area rugs.

“A rug in a living room should ground the whole seating around it,” says Emily Henderson, designer, author and TV host. “It tells everyone that THIS is where the conversation is, this is the focal point of the room — and a rug that’s too small makes the room feel disjointed and cheap.”

Adding an area rug will make your living room look larger, as you will visually expand the center point — but adding these rugs can make or break the appearance of your living room.

To select the proper area rug, the general rule of thumb is to place the rug over the center of your room (either place all of the furniture on the rug or all of the furniture off of the rug). This distributes your furniture equally, visually. To add the feel of more space, keep at least six inches between your rug and the walls.                                                                           

Looking to elongate your living room? Similar to vertical stripes on clothing, a striped rug will make the room appear longer.

rethink furniture

Rethink your furniture.

Whether it’s your L-shaped couch, your love seat and ottoman set or your large coffee table in the middle of the room, furniture can take up a lot of space. Give function to some of your bigger pieces and make use of hidden storage and multi-purpose items.

“Built-in benches and window seats with hidden storage are fantastic options to consider when planning space in your living room,” says Beth of Home Stories A to Z, contributor to and Better Homes and Gardens magazine. “Instead of adding a sofa to an open wall, consider using a storage bench that can also function as additional seating.”

Some other furniture ideas to consider:

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  • Keep it low. Use low-to-the-ground or glass tables to keep the appearance of open and free spaces.
  • Show a little leg. Expose the legs of your furniture. Instead of using a sofa with a long skirt or boxy shape, exposed legs make the room feel airier because they take up less visual space.
  • Tuck it away. Make your ottomans and coffee tables work harder and smarter for you by using those with removable tops to tuck away blankets and books.

living room

Paint with the right hues and designs.

Carefully placed furnishings mixed with carefully chosen color can create an inviting space with style far beyond its size.

  • Keep it light. Color has the power to change our visual perception of the size of a room. One of the best ways to expand a space is by using light, simplistic colors. Since the eye perceives lighter colors to lack boundaries, sticking to pale whites, greys and blues will help make your living room appear light, airy and open.
  • Connect with color. “Just as different wall colors can divide your apartment into different work areas, different shades of the same color can unite different rooms,” notes Anne Krueger, HGTV editor. “In a small space, little touches — the pillow that matches the lampshade, the style of mirror that echoes a side table — can help add up to a cohesive room.”
  • Add depth. Bringing little splashes of color to a small living room space will add tons of depth. Use bright, bold colors in radiators, the insides of bookshelves or windowsills. Using this type of color in your hall or foyer will also make your living room feel spacious by comparison.

living room

Bend the rules a little.

Just because you’re working with a standard living room doesn’t mean you absolutely need a coffee table, sofa and entertainment center. Add unique, unexpected furniture to open your space and give a personal touch. Fold-up couches, bean bags, hanging plants and sleek, modern furniture can help decorate your room in a new and simple way – while giving your room a new, spacious spin.

We all need space!

We all need open, functional living rooms – but fitting everything we need into a small space definitely isn’t an easy task. Sometimes we need a little more.

Life Storage offers storage unit options for your seasonal items and oversized furniture that you might not need at this very moment. Save time and hassle with a free moving truck rental when you rent any storage unit.

Small living room spaces don’t have to be an inconvenience — in fact, they can be your next decorating challenge to embrace. What are you looking forward to most? What will be your biggest living room obstacle? Connect with us on Twitter @LifeStorage or leave a comment in the space below.  

About the Author

Kristin Sullivan

Hey guys, I'm Kristin. I guest blog for Life Storage, and I'm always up for a new adventure -- whether it's redecorating a room, exploring the great outdoors or tackling my next DIY project. Connect with me on twitter @kristnsullivan!

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