6 Design Hacks For Small Living Rooms

Not everyone has the open-concept, Fixer-Upper style home (the after, not the before) that design dreams are made of. In fact, the majority of us have small to average size homes, each with their own unique design challenges. I share more about the design challenges we faced when we renovated our home here. When it comes to making the most of your small space, it’s going to take more than some strategically placed mirrors to make a difference.

Try these 6 design hacks, to transform your enclosed space into a spacious feeling landing spot for the whole family.

  • Light, Monochromatic Paint

I’m a huge fan of white paint these days. It’s fresh, clean and opens up a space like no other colour. When thinking of white, you may worry that the final product will be stark, cold and sterile. I beg to differ! Check out Pinterest and take notice of how many rooms look breathtaking, and are painted white.

For my recent renovation, I chose Benjamin Moore, Simply White for all painted surfaces. Eggshell finish for the walls, semi-gloss for the baseboards and trim, and a flat finish for the ceiling. Using the same colour in multiple finishes creates depth and dimension. For a slightly warmer white, try Cloud White by Benjamin Moore, and for a crisp, clean white, go with Ultra White, also by Benjamin Moore.

  • Neutral Coloured Furniture

Since your sofa is the largest piece of furniture in your living space, selecting a neutral fabric will contribute to an open, airy feeling.

I’d love a shade of white, but with kids and a dog… who am I kidding!? Since I lean towards a cooler colour palette, I went with a light grey sofa. (Don’t be fooled by the colour spectrum. Cool colours can totally be used to create a warm, inviting feeling!) The point is, it isn’t some dark, blob taking up a 1/3 of the room!

  • Long, Lean Legs

Weren’t blessed with legs for days in real life? No problem! Live vicariously through your furniture! By selecting side chairs with long legs (instead of heavier chairs that have fabric bases reaching to the floor), your eyes can flow past the furniture, giving the illusion of more space.

I chose reproduction Knoll Diamond Chairs and a butterscotch (faux) leather side chair on walnut legs.

  • Glass Tops

The second largest piece of furniture in your living room is the coffee table, so to keep your space feeling open and spacious, go transparent. Yes, little fingerprints show up easily – but that’s only for a season! Glass table tops allow your eye to see beyond the table, so your eyes get tricked into thinking the room is bigger than it is.

The one I wanted, was out of my price range. So this replica was purchased, with the plan of painting the chrome legs black once the snowy weather passes.

  • Grounded Space

Select an area rug to ground the conversation space. Yes, even over those rental unit carpeted floors! Select the biggest rug your space can fit, and go with it.

My living room is 10×12 in total, (including a desk area and a doorway to the backyard), so I chose a 6×9, multicoloured rug that serves as the foundation of the seating area. In fact, the area rug was the inspiration for the entire main floor renovation design. Thank you West Elm!

  • Strategic Colour

As much as white paint creates an open, airy vibe, most people are going to want some sort of colour in their living room. Think ahead, and plan strategically about where that colour will go, and how it will get there.

Since I removed all of the main floor walls, and wanted to keep the family computer in the main living area, I knew I was limited to which walls would have space for art. So I brought in colour in other ways. All of the interior doors were painted a deep, navy blue. Green houseplants were brought in, and used on multiple surfaces to bring in both texture and colour. And of course, the area rug at the foundation of the design is a fabulous multi-coloured piece. When all else fails, pillows, toss cushions and throw blankets can add layers of colour and texture! (Check out this video from the archive for pillow inspo, and for a peek at my living space pre-reno.)

This 120 square foot living room comfortably seats 6, and houses a desk/work area too! Thankfully, by removing the walls on the main floor, our living room opens up to our kitchen, allowing for even more people to comfortably fit in the space.

Have a small space of your own? What tricks have you used to create a larger feel? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Happy Decorating!

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