Depending on your home layout, your living room can serve many different functions. If you have a family room, it is often a formal sitting area or parlor used for reading, relaxing and entertaining guests. If it's the only living space you have, it's also used for watching TV, playing games and spending time with family. Regardless of its purpose, any good space has a comfortable sofa or sectional, a coffee table and a focal point, such as a fireplace or entertainment center
The Scandinavian style is ideal for spaces of all sizes. Its emphasis on minimal clutter, light colors, and beautiful, natural materials makes it easy to accommodate in many different layouts. The three homes featured here each have their own take on the design style, from stark white to much more colorful.
Further, the comparison between the three spaces gives a great sense of how the style expands, contracts, and adapts to fit different size spaces. Take a look inside these small, medium, and large homes and channel your inner Goldilocks to find the one that might suit your tastes.
The next home, another small space, uses those Scandinavian elements in a more subdued and earth way. While the design does not shy away from white, there is a lot more natural wood and dark leather to offset the white walls and ceilings. A mix of woods gives the home a purposefully eclectic feel and once again midcentury elements are used sparingly to great effect.
The home greatly benefits from a large bookshelf that stretches from floor to ceiling, giving an otherwise empty wall a sense of purpose and making it easy to change up the look of it by just shuffling around a few knick knacks.
The final featured space has an immediate sense of area with its loft style ceiling and windows. It takes the Scandinavian style even further towards the colorful end of the spectrum, using not only white and wood but also plenty of gray and splashes of red. The resulting look is a bit more vibrant and lively, making the sleek home feeling welcoming and lived in. White brick walls have a warm industrial feel to them while lovely hardwood floors are decidedly elegant.
Whether you’re enjoying family game night or entertaining guests during a festive party, there is no better place to congregate with family and friends than the living room or family room. True to its name, the living room is the place where you and your family truly live; together you watch movies, read stories, and maybe occasionally get some homework done.
As the hub of the home, it’s meant to be practical, comfortable and friendly, a room that’s inviting to guests and the homeowners alike. So while planning a renovation it’s key to keep those needs in mind.
Before filling your living room or family room with an abundance of furniture, it is important to consider your storage situation. Although it might not seem glamorous, having enough storage is instrumental when it comes to keeping the room organized and practical. Built-in bookcases, shelves and cabinets are great way for storage without taking up too much space, and you can even add a media console for a custom entertainment center.
Movie buffs can turn an extra living space into their own media room, complete with projector, projector screen and oversize lounge chairs.
One of the biggest dilemmas homeowners face when redesigning a living room is what to do with the fireplace. Despite often being a stunning, cozy focal point, an older, worn-down fireplace can also be an eyesore.
When you finally decide to renovate, it’s important to consider the lasting power of the material you use; stone and tile are very popular and contemporary options, while brick is always a safe choice. Be sure to stick with lighter neutrals; color can look old-fashioned quickly, and darker colors may make the room feel smaller.
Decorate your living room using ideas from our favorite spaces. Browse photos of living rooms to discover new decor ideas, fresh color schemes, and smart furniture arrangements. Then start creating a living room that suits your needs, whether you want a calming space to relax, a room to have fun with family.
Finally, ensure that the room feels warm and open by letting in light and color. If your room is dark and dreary, splurge on a few windows if room allows or a skylight if windows aren’t an option. This one change will make all the difference and will cut back on energy costs because the room will require little to no lighting during the day.
When it comes to color, stick to lighter or neutral colors on the wall, and go for bolder colors with accessories, such as throw pillows, curtains and artwork. That way when a color palette goes out of style, you can merely switch out the small things and keep the paint color intact.
Modern Living Room Design Ideas
If you could only choose one room in your home to put your heart and soul into designing, the living room would top the list. It’s that treasured (and often off-limits) space that sets the tone for your entire decorating style.
Light and Airy
You can pack a lot into your living room—even a dining set—if you keep furnishings from weighing the space down. Lucite dining chairs, an open-weave coffee table, and an unobstructed wall of windows keeps this room from feeling cramped.
White on White
You can’t go wrong with an all-white space. To prevent it from feeling like a hospital room, introduce different textures. A crocheted throw, a rough-hewn linen sofa, and a nubby rug all add depth to a monochromatic look.
Touch of Trend
Update your living room as you would your wardrobe—with a few new accessories each season. This neutral room is an easy canvas for a few pops of color and pattern—an aubergine throw, a zebra pillow, and a metallic side table.
Plus Size Arranging
An extra-large sofa can mean plenty of room to stretch out, but it can also engulf a room. The trick is to anchor an oversized piece of furniture against a wall and use other voluminous accessories (a jumbo print or a king-sized ottoman) for balance.
Swathe one wall in a cheery wallpaper to warm your space. Choose a print that picks up other colors in the room.
Create a petite home office in your living room that’s big on style: Instead of a traditional desk chair (that would look out of place) appoint a living room chair that looks good facing the desk or the rest of the space.
Load on Layers
Stimulate the senses with plenty of textures, including a scratchy jute rug underfoot, a tweedy wallpaper, and a luxurious cashmere throw on the sofa.
A mix of polished and unfinished wood pieces, and a neutral shade on the wall, can make a room feel chic and not campy.
The trick to turning a small-space into an elegant living area is to use appropriately sized furniture. A sectional sofa might seem too big for a petite area but in fact it’s the perfect size and helps define the space. (Using small furniture in a tight space only exacerbates a compact feeling.)
Sea of Space
Make your living room a welcome respite for a gang of friends with ample seating and a circular coffee table that’s easy to navigate.
Keep a formal living room from getting too fussy by mixing dramatic accents like these floor to ceiling drapes with everyday classics, like a pair of neutral slipper chairs.
Soft, muted colors and sinuous curtains infuse a living room with a little feminine grace.
The right furniture layout, with a quirky accessory added here and there, can broaden a living room to accommodate large groups and big parties.
Mix It Up
Throw caution to the wind and mix in a bunch of different patterns for a lively look. Pick complimentary colors to guide you when shopping.
"Don't Mix Old and New"
One of the fastest routes to a boring room is sticking to a single style or period. The most livable and inspiring rooms combine old and new pieces in a variety of styles to give them an effortless sense of having been assembled over time.
An easy way to mix old and new is to consider a room’s architecture. If you live in a 1930s house, you can incorporate some period pieces, and then add contemporary lighting, rugs, or accessories to bring the rooms into the 21st century. If you live in a brand new high-rise apartment, choose a Persian rug, an antique mirror, or a vintage chandelier to create a sense of history and warmth.
Small-Space Design for Living Rooms
Living rooms come in all shapes, sizes and styles. Find living room decorating ideas through photos, before-and-afters and videos to create your dream living space.
Small-Space Design for Living Rooms
Find out how to make the most of your small living room with tried-and-true design ideas and color schemes that won’t cramp your style.
Need a little living room inspiration? From colour ideas to living room design, we have hundreds of stylish living room pictures to inspire. Do remember that living room decorating doesn't have to be grand (we're talking to you, small living room owners). A simple feature wall, new living room lighting or even rugs can transform your space completely. So get inspired and dive into all our living room design ideas below. Your perfect living room could be just a picture away.
Savvy furniture choices, smart storage, and clever arrangements can help a small living room live large. When decorating and outfitting a small living room, pay attention to the type and scale of furniture, consider the way color can impact how large or small a room feels, and incorporate plenty of storage.
All spaces present design challenges, but as the living room is where you probably spend the most time (and certainly the one guests experience the most of), designing a small one can be especially tricky. How do you strike a balance between making the room feel as spacious as possible while also squeezing in extra seating? What furniture should you choose, and where do you put it? Here are 15 design tips for making the most of your space, plus 10 specific furniture layout ideas for small living rooms. Let’s get started.
How to get your furniture arrangement right
1. Use mirrors and wallpaper. A small living room, especially if it’s short on windows, can feel a bit boxed in. Create a focal point, boost light and add depth all at once by papering a wall and hanging a mirror on top. If you can position the mirror across from a window, all the better — the mirror will reflect the view outside, giving the impression of an extra window.
The layout: Center the love seat on the papered wall, flanked by a pair of matching side tables and lamps. A large woven ottoman can work as a coffee table or an extra seat. If there’s room, you could work in an extra (small-scale) chair or two across from the love seat in this arrangement. Seats: two to four.
2. Add hidden storage. Pick furniture with built-in storage to limit clutter. A trunk or storage ottoman as a coffee table works well. Along the perimeter of the room, try a small chest of drawers or a small credenza instead of a console table to boost storage options.
3. Choose small-scale furniture. There is more to living room furniture than full-size sofas and bulky armchairs. Antiques shops are a great place to look for small-scale furniture, because the average room size was typically quite small until the last half century or so. Look for small settees, love seats and chairs that can work for your space.
The layout: The love seat is centered in front of the bay window, with petite tables on either side. A pair of Louis XVI armchairs sit opposite the sofa, with a trunk as a coffee table in between. An antique recamier is positioned on the wall diagonally across from the sofa, with a slim console table opposite it. Seats: six.
4. Look up. If your small living room is blessed with high ceilings, take full advantage of that extra space! While vertical space doesn’t help with squeezing in an extra seat, drawing the eye upward does help give the impression that your room is far larger and grander that it would otherwise seem. Fill the vertical space with an eclectic art gallery.
5. Completely fill a corner. It’s a bit counterintuitive, but if you have a small corner living room space, sometimes going with the largest piece of furniture possible can actually make it feel bigger. Why? A generously sized sectional (like the one shown here) is comfortable and able to seat tons of people — but because it reads as just one piece, it helps the room feel uncluttered. A modern sectional with clean, straight lines works better in a small space than an overstuffed version.
The layout: A tailored sectional sofa is in one corner, with a pair of leather folding stools pulled in close to form a conversational group. Fill out the group with a slipper chair if you have the room. Seats: seven or eight.
6. Try a backless sofa. In an open-plan space, sometimes the best position for the sofa is not on the wall but in the middle of the room. But unless your sofa is quite small (see previous photo), a couch in the middle of a small room can really gobble up space. A backless sofa is a very chic alternative and can be used from both sides — quite a bonus when seating options are limited. And if you want to use it in a larger room someday, it can act as a divider between two seating area.
7. Add plants. Like wallpaper and mirrors, plants are a wonderful way to add depth to a small living room. Lush greenery softens corners and fools the eye into thinking there is more to the room than there really is. Plants are especially effective in corners and beside or behind chairs and sofas.
The layout: A backless sofa floats in the center of this open-plan space. A pair of upholstered armchairs with a small table between sits beneath a bank of windows opposite the sofa. A small side table that can double as an extra seat sits beside the sofa — and during a party, the backless sofa can handle two people perching on each side. Seats: four to seven.
8. Use multifunctional furniture. In a small living room, each piece of furniture should earn its keep. Think of using ottomans that work as a coffee table or extra seating, nesting side tables that can be moved around as needed or versatile little stools that can be seats or tables.
The layout: A sleek, armless sofa floats slightly away from the wall; two large, low ottomans double as coffee tables and seats. Seats: two to four.
9. Build in storage. Instead of letting lots of small pieces of furniture (a bookshelf here, a chest there) eat up space, bite the bullet and devote one entire wall to storage. A floor-to-ceiling storage wall can be customized to contain everything from books to a media center — perhaps even a pull-down desk!
10. Keep a stash of spare seats. In a truly small space, it may not be possible to have as many seating options as you would like. One way to get around this is by storing a few folding café chairs or stacking stools in a closet (or under a bed), where you can easily pull them out when company is coming.
The layout: This built-in storage wall has a hide-away TV, bookshelves and cabinets; a small-scale love seat is opposite. A low-slung plywood Eames lounge chair has been slipped in front of the media wall without blocking the storage. Seats: three.
11. Shake up the sofa-and-armchair routine. This stylish, petite living room has a wood-frame daybed (which doubles as a guest bed), a little upholstered settee and a window seat, offering an array of seating options without a single traditional sofa or armchair in sight.
The layout: The daybed faces a settee, with a slender acrylic coffee table and a fur pouf between them; there’s a built-in window seat beneath a bank of windows on the opposite side of the room. Seats: seven.
12. Skip the sofa. Who says a living room has to have a sofa at all? If space is tight, try circling two, three or four armchairs around a coffee table instead. For added flexibility, make the coffee table a tray-topped ottoman that can be used as a seat, or add a pouf or stool to the arrangement.
The layout: Set a low, round coffee table in the center of the room with three armchairs around it.
13. Try an “invisible” piece. Acrylic, Lucite and glass are wonderful materials to use in a small living room, because they take up zero visual space. Try a coffee table or nesting side tables with a waterfall edge in one of these clear materials.
14. Put low seats in front of the fireplace. Put a pair of small, backless seats — stools, X-benches, ottomans — in front of the fireplace in a small living room to sneak in some extra seating without blocking the room’s focal point. In fact, far from blocking the fireplace, a pair of cute, low seats can actually make the fireplace area look more inviting … and if they come with concealed storage, so much the better!
The layout: Put a pair of armchairs in front of a bay window and a long chesterfield sofa against the wall opposite the fireplace; add a slim, clear coffee table. Set a pair of small upholstered storage ottomans in front of the fireplace. Seats: seven.