Small on Space, Big on Style: These Are the Best Small Living Room Decorating Ideas Around

When it comes to relaxing, napping, throwing parties, or settling in for movie marathons, most of these activities are carried out in one area of the home: the living room. As the name suggests, we certainly do a lot of living in these rooms. And at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter if your space has cathedral ceilings and an expansive floor plan — the same activities can be enjoyed just as easily in a teeny, tiny layout.

As you start brainstorming small living room decorating ideas, you'll most likely discover that a few challenges await you. But with a little ingenuity and this helpful guide, you'll find that those obstacles will be easier to tackle than you thought. However, keep in mind that an especially small living room will require even more creativity than an average-sized space. And the storage will probably be the most difficult part, but it's doable with the right furniture pieces and a little out of the box thinking.

Lastly, you'll want to factor in your budget. Luckily, a lack of square footage means that you won't need as much stuff, so you'll automatically save money in that respect. On the flipside, you may opt for quality over quantity in a small living room, so you'll need to contemplate that as you start allocating funds.

It's All About the Layout

Modern small living room decorating idea with green cabinet and small sectional sofa
credit: New Darlings

Before you buy a single piece of furniture or any decorative objects, you should come up with a possible layout for the room. If you don't plan on including a TV, great — you'll have near-unlimited options for how you want to arrange your space. But if you are including a TV in your living room, you'll need to center your seating around it, and this can limit your options.

You'll also have to consider the placement of windows, electrical outlets, and how you and your family will be moving through the space (you don't want to put the sofa in the middle of a walkway). Trying to navigate a small living room when it's stuffed to the gills with furniture is a recipe for frustration, not to mention probably a tripping hazard. When you plan your layout, allow breathing room and space to move around. You don't need to fill a tiny living room with a surplus of furniture and decor ... less is truly more in this situation.

For example, in this space belonging to Robert and Christina of New Darlings, they took the windows into account, along with the nearby kitchen counter. An L-shaped sofa and small coffee table fit in beautifully.

Let's Talk Storage and Organization

Understandably, storage can be hard to come by in a small space. But if you take a look at some of the best cozy living room designs out there, you'll notice that resourceful homeowners have incorporated clever storage options into their space.

One such living room decorating idea that never goes out of style is a console table, which doesn't take up tons of room and can be tucked behind the sofa or against a wall. That's what Mel Burstin of Emily Henderson Design did in this living room, and filled the top and open shelving with books, candles, and other essentials.

Try to choose furniture that has a storage component, like an ottoman that opens so you can stash goodies inside. There are so many bookcases available today that you'll be guaranteed to find a solution to fit even the teeniest of nooks — and remember that you can hang floating shelves, too. Utilize a nearby coat closet and stash some living room must-haves there. Built-ins work beautifully as well, if you have the budget, particularly when placed along the wall around a TV.

Last But Not Least, Living Room Decor

Now that you've come up with a layout and ample storage solutions, it's time to dig into small living room decorating ideas.

First of all, furniture is super important when putting together a small living room. Sectionals are lovely, but they might not be the best seating choice in a tight squeeze. Instead, why not get creative with loveseats and other two-seater sofas? Or, you can purchase a standard sofa and provide extra seating with accent chairs, something that blogger Ashley Hosmer did in her living room. Also, go small with coffee tables and side tables — or simply forgo them if you desire to keep your space open.

Lighting is an important factor as well. A chandelier is a fun way to create a focal point in a small living room, but if it's overwhelming the space, you may need to switch to a flush mount or semi-flush mount that's tight to the ceiling and doesn't compete with the rest of your decor. If you're short on table surfaces, a table lamp likely isn't the best option. Instead, consider installing wall sconces that don't need a table surface and don't require a lot of real estate.

As previously mentioned, when it comes to decor, it's best to practice the "less is more" philosophy in a small living room. Be selective with the objects you display, and only showcase pieces that are sentimental or create just the right visual impact. This goes for wall art, tabletop objects, plants, and coffee table books, too.

And there you have it — your small living room decorating idea is complete. Now all that's left to do is settle in, relax, and enjoy all of your hard work.


Shelby Deering

Shelby Deering

Shelby Deering is a lifestyle writer who contributes to national magazines and websites, including Country Living, Good Housekeeping, Well+Good, and more. When she's not writing, you'll find her shopping flea markets, hiking, and going for walks with her corgi.