Use smart strategies to make your small living room feel larger. When carefully planned, a small living room can be both attractive and user-friendly. When you take the time to consider your storage needs and daily lifestyle, you can create a small but smart living room that increases the enjoyment of your home. "Make sure the furniture you choose for your small living room is appropriate for the space," says eco-friendly designer Robin Wilson, CEO of Robin Wilson Home of New York City. "For example, avoid sofas with skirts. You want to go for furniture raised off the floor." A tall lamp that draws your eye up and adds height to the room or a stylish chair with a pop of color or interesting back are other tools Wilson likes to use to make a small living room feel larger and give it personality. Other simple ideas, like going for a space-saving flat-screen TV or a laptop that hides out of the way instead of a stationary desktop computer, keep the area free from clutter and allow traffic flow in and out of the room. But try to resist the urge to use only small pieces in your small living room. Instead, consider an oversized chair that gives unexpected scale to the space, suggests San Francisco interior designer Jonathan Rachman. "Oversized wall art also expands the room," says Rachman. "Doing an accent wall color stretches and deepens the room. You can use a complementary color or something that offers contrast: You can have three walls neutral and then take that same color and use the deepest version of that color for the accent wall." Creating the illusion of more space is the way to go, believes Rachman. A great area rug can be used to mark a seating area, or you can paint a pattern, like chevron stripes, on your hardwood floor to create borders to help the room feel more spacious. And just because you have a sofa doesn‘t mean you have to have a standard coffee table. "In a small living room, you can use ottomans or stools that move out of the way when you need the space," says Rachman. "Just make sure to consider how you need that room to function and if there are any special requirements. For example, if you need a pullout sofa for guests." Think about traffic flow when you arrange furniture, but avoid placing all the pieces in one corner of the room. Also consider pulling your sofa away from the wall. This simple move gives you space to add a console table that offers open storage and a place for displaying your favorite collectibles.
Control your catchall living room closet and get organizing tips that fit your daily needs. Depending on the age of your house and the style of its layout, you may or may not have a closet within the living room. If you do find yourself with a closet here, count your lucky stars. More storage space — especially the kind behind closed doors — is always a plus. A closet in one of the less-trafficked rooms, such as a living room, can solve problems you did not know you had. One approach is to dedicate the space to the things that fall outside the daily workings of a home. Ginny Snook Scott of California Closets says this can be the perfect landing spot for the items that rotate through our homes while we are busy welcoming and celebrating others. She recommends that clients treat this space as an entertaining storage hub of sorts. "We recommend hanging linens, which can keep them wrinkle-free and ready at a moment‘s notice," she says, "and this is a perfect space for them." It is also a good spot for large trays and oddly shaped serving items. Because this closet won‘t be used on a daily basis, it can be a safe home for the odds and ends — some fragile, some just bulky — that rotate through our lives, like vases, candlesticks, board games and such. Scott also notes that her own family room closet includes a gift-wrapping station complete with a tall desk and baskets and drawers for ribbon and wrap, where she can prepare a gift at a moment‘s notice. Decorator Rebecca Hawkins says that the more creatively you think about outfitting the space, the better it can work for you. "If your closet has plenty of room, you could put a pretty chest of drawers in there so you had have drawers for all the little things," she says. "But I have seen people hide media equipment in spots like this. Anything needed for televisions, computers or music — even Wi-Fi equipment." And that brings us to another approach to decking out the living room closet. Because it does not get rummaged around in as often as others, this can be a good spot for hiding some of your home‘s necessities that you don‘t want to spotlight. Think Wi-Fi network adapters, maybe even home security systems or fireproof boxes — anything that must be in an easily accessible and central location but also out of the way. Think about how you can best use this closet space for the practical necessities that keep your home in good working order or the things that make entertaining a little bit more effortless. Regardless of which approach you take, you will be glad to have the peace of mind knowing that things are safe and sound — and behind the door that keeps it all neatly out of view.
Use different kinds of light to illuminate your living room and create an inviting atmosphere. Homeowners spend lots of time choosing a sofa or paint color for their living room walls, but often forget about the importance of proper lighting. In a space where you watch TV, read books, play games and entertain guests, lighting serves an important purpose in both the function and look of the room. "Lighting is important because of the intimacy it creates," says interior and lighting designer Linda Allen of Linda Allen Designs. "Since living rooms are usually one of the first rooms you walk into, it sets the tone for the rest of the house." Texture and neutral colors help make this living room the ideal spot for relaxing and entertaining. A good living room lighting scheme uses different kinds of light, set at different levels, that work together to make the space warm and attractive. Allen says if you want people to linger, use dimmers that allow you to control the level of light to suit the activities that take place in the space. Take advantage of the newer, more energy-efficient lighting solutions for residential use, suggests Mary Beth Gotti, manager of the GE Lighting Institute. "Ten years ago you wouldn‘t have seen nearly as many halogen fixtures, and LEDs are definitely one of the newest options," says Gotti. "Lighting can be magical. You can go online or visit your local lighting showroom and learn about the new light sources and colors now available." When you want to highlight certain features in your living room, like a fireplace, textured walls or a favorite painting, accent lighting is the way to go. Recessed, adjustable lights directed to points of interest or under-cabinet lighting in a display case that highlights selected objects are examples of accent lighting. "Accent lighting adds a pleasing variation of brightness," says Gotti. "You are drawing attention and putting more light on an architectural feature." In order for accent lighting to work, it needs to supply about five times as much light on the focal point as the surrounding general light. Although the overall style of the workspace is traditional, Alex was able to bring a touch of his classic, modern style into the room with a smoked glass pendant light centered above the Chinese farmhouse table. Stylish chandeliers, ceiling lights, wall-mounted fixtures or portable lamps can provide the ambiance that casts a warm glow in your living room. It controls glare and provides the general illumination that makes the living room feel comfortable and inviting. "As a lighting designer, when I am creating ambient light I am creating an effect," says Allen, who likes to use ambient light when she wants to illuminate a surface but not see where the light source comes from. Since this type of lighting affects the overall quality of light in the room and tends to be used the most, Gotti says this is where you want to use your energy-efficient When you want to create interest and add sparkle to your living room, table lamps, hanging pendants and chandeliers can provide the decorative light that adds coziness and intimacy. "It personalizes a space," says Allen. "I always say it‘s like wearing a great pair of earrings to complete an outfit." When you want to read a book or need to write at a desk, good task lighting helps you get things done. This brighter light can be a floor lamp with a swinging arm next to a comfortable chair, or a directed light source over a desk. "These are not the lights you use all the time — they are only to be used when you are doing a task, like reading or writing," says Allen. A more localized type of lighting, positioning is especially important. Portable table lamps allow for flexibility when furniture is moved.
Do you find yourself drawn to contemporary living room décor but concerned about how to warm it up for real life? You’re not alone. The lines and design of contemporary style are fluid over time (today’s contemporary will not be the contemporary design of 2025), but currently they involve a bit of minimalist modernism, which has the potential for aesthetic sterility. Here are some options to consider for easily warming up your contemporary living room so that you have the best of both worlds – a great, clean-lined design with plenty of welcome and staying power. Deep Wall Color, because contemporary living room furniture is often clean-lined and hard-angled, the aesthetic can appear more rigid and cold than is probably intended. Soften the feel of the entire living room by laying a foundation of muted, deep, and/or warm coloring on the walls. Contrast Piping. There is something inherently softening and friendly about two-tone furniture, and contrast piping on contemporary living room furniture is as welcoming as it is classy. Particularly when the colors themselves are neutral and soothing, such as are on this eggshell-and-steel-blue sofa. Animal Reference. From faux taxidermy to wall art, statues to rugs, animal prints, patterns, and references adeptly combine the contemporary zest for chic wildlife with the animals’ intrinsic natural-ness. Even in a space where high gloss, reflective surfaces, and glamour are the thing, reference to animals brings the entire space down to an absorbable and truly inviting level. As shiny metallic, abstract, or modern as your living room’s light fixture might be, the inclusion of light bulbs with warm lumens will create an immediate softening of the space. This is a particularly effective balance to strike in the contemporary living room, as lighting extends throughout the entire room, not just affecting one visual experience. Layers of Layers. Whether your first love is layering prints in front of the mirror on the mantel, or mixing eight throw pillows on the sofa, or stacking area rugs, layering is an excellent design choice for softening a space. Edges and lines don’t disappear (which is important in contemporary design), but they do blur a bit when layered. These nesting-type oval coffee tables have an excellent layering appeal and add depth (which usually = warmth) to this neutral monochromatic living room arrangement. Tropical Foliage. While the days of matching printed upholstery to curtains (and even wallpaper and flooring) are history for many, remnants of those delightful prints still remain to create a sense of comfort in the contemporary living room. Tropical foliage and other related prints are always welcome in a modern living room. A throw pillow with frond print, for example, provides a sophisticated dose.Natural Wood. The grain and multi-colored characteristics of raw, exposed, and natural wood is a beautiful addition to the contemporary living room space. Not only does the neutral color of wood bring in warmth, but the inherent variation in the wood grain and shape itself brings in organic and nature-loving elements to the contemporary décor.Textured Textiles. Natural fabrics and wovens tend to have an innately inviting texture to them. Think of tweed, wool, and linen, for examples. Their appearance mimics the subtle unevenness that’s exhibited in nature itself, in tree bark, rock faces, and the cloudy sky itself. While the silhouette of a piece can be decidedly modern or contemporary, the upholstery can soften it right up. Green plant life, in small and large doses alike, offer an inherent freshness and softness to the contemporary living room, regardless of many other factors. Place a larger potted plant in the corner of the living room, or a smaller potted green on the coffee table or bookshelf. Plaid Touches. Let’s be real for a minute: few items of décor are as cozying as plaid. Plaid upholstery, walls, throw pillows, rugs, etc. On whatever and wherever plaid finds itself, the immediate surroundings feel friendlier, more familiar, and inviting. Plaid works in the contemporary space, though, because of its solid classic grid pattern, so the two pieces make an excellent pairing. You can have furniture with great lines that is still comfortable, as is evident by this plush contemporary sectional, which is key to a warm, inviting living room. Few people want to linger in a space where the furniture is stuffy or uncomfortable, but the opposite is true in a contemporary living room with beautiful seating that you can sink into and stay awhile.
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