- Using a neutral palette throughout a living room and connecting spaces is one of the best ways to push back the walls. The eye can roam freely through a neutral palette, so the space feels more expansive.
- A room's space always includes more than just its horizontal dimensions. Invite the eye to move above and below eye level.
Use Small Scale Furniture
- Choose furniture in a scale appropriate for the room and for the people who will use it. The sleek design and small scale of a Saarinen Tulip chair suits a small living room, as does the Parsons table. The armless chair is heftier, but its lines and shape won't make a small room feel crowded.
Play Up the Light
- Take advantage of all available light to help enlarge the space. Use white or pale colors, which increase the brightness of a room by reflecting light. Keep window treatments simple and avoid blocking the windows with heavy layers of fabric.
- Turn a window niche into a mini living area with a window seat. Choose slender, leggy furniture for small spaces because they take up less visual space. The eye is fooled into thinking the space is larger because you can see under and through these pieces of furniture.
- A narrow living room escapes feeling constrained thanks to white walls, a tall vaulted ceiling, pale floors, bare windows, and white upholstery. A long tapestry on the fireplace wall emphasizes the vertical dimension, while a gray wing chair and espresso brown coffee table ground the space.
Furnish for Multitasking
- Use fewer large furniture pieces and include some dual-purpose items to make a small space live large. In this small living room, a long, low dining table is surrounded by a sofa and armless chairs so it can do triple duty--as a dining room, a home office, and a gathering spot for conversation.
- In an open floor plan, stake out a corner for the living room with two love seats, a large coffee table, and a rug. One of the sofas separates the area from the main room.
Choose Dual-Purpose Pieces
- Dual-purpose furniture maximizes space in this living room. A pair of ottomans double as coffee tables, and the lids lift off to reveal storage capacity inside.
Use an Ottoman for a Coffee Table
- A large upholstered ottoman doubles as a coffee table when you add trays to provide a flat surface for drink glasses or a vase of flowers.
Scale Furniture to the Space
- In a small living room, a narrow bench serves as a convenient coffee table without taking up much space.
Define Activity Zones
- A half-circle table tucked under a window turns a corner of the living room into a home office or a breakfast table. Use a pendant light for illumination, and save space on the table itself. Paint a piece of plywood with chalkboard paint to make an oversize blackboard for notes and messages--or impromptu art.
- Give a small space grand character and maximum function with a bank of custom-built cabinets. This unit, installed across one wall, incorporates a gas direct-vent fireplace, which doesn't need a chimney. The cabinets stop short of the ceiling to allow light to enter through the window.
- Turn the conversational group on the diagonal to liven up a boxy room. The fourth side of this group is a cushioned bench, which consumes little visual space.
Create Clear Traffic Paths
- Arrange furniture to direct traffic around the conversation core rather than through it. In this small living room, the love seat anchors the seating group and defines a path to the sliding glass door along its left side. An angled chair and side table welcome a visitor into the space while discouraging passage through it.
Pack in Comfort and Function
- This cozy living room packs a lot of comfort and function into a small space. Upholstered chairs and a sofa offer sink-in seating, while an antique trunk does double-duty as storage and a coffee table.
- Built-in bookcases define a niche for a daybed-style sofa in this petite living room. Wall lamps illuminate the niche, creating a cozy feeling as well as providing reading light.
Keep Colors Light and Soft
- Pastel furnishings, white walls, and a light neutral area rug make this living room feel lighter and brighter and therefore larger. The wing chairs offer standard-size seating, but with their exposed legs, they consume less visual space than a club chair would.