When a lack of space is against you, it can be difficult to figure out how to arrange furniture in a small living room. While seating is the top priority, there are also tables and surfaces for rest to consider, not to mention storage as well, so the challenge is how to include all the essentials without feeling cluttered in the space.
Our living rooms have also become multifunctional over recent years, with many of us now needing a WFH and needing our small living room ideas to double as a part-time office space. But by rethinking the design and rearranging the furniture, it shouldn’t be too difficult to make the most of the potential of any small living room.
How to arrange furniture in a small living room
One of the big challenges when it comes to placing furniture in a small living room can be dealing with small living room TV ideas, and finding the right place for it so that it does not dominate the room.
“I always start with the main pieces of furniture first—the sofa and chairs,” says Lisa Mitchell, Design Director of Interior Style Studio. (Opens in a new tab). My pet hates is a striped design around the TV. I like to imagine how the furniture design would better stimulate conversation, reading or enjoying the scenery.
Built-in storage is the solution according to Simon Cherniak, chief designer at Neville Johnson (Opens in a new tab). “The built-in TV storage units can be individually designed to meet customized storage needs and perfectly fit into the space required,” he says. “But the main advantage of choosing smart TV storage in more comfortable small living rooms, is that it increases space for larger items within the room, such as sofas and coffee tables.”
1. Make it consistent
One of the easiest ways to make a small living room design more balanced is to choose a symmetrical layout with two sofas (or sofa and two chairs) facing each other. Often used by interior designers, the symmetrical layout works well in large or small rooms, creating a social environment with seating facing each other to facilitate conversation.
A symmetrical layout like this also works well in living rooms where the entrance is opposite the fireplace. Placing the seats centrally directs visitors to roam (rather than run through) the space and helps maintain a sense of flow. Other pieces of furniture can be pushed back against the walls and the TV set on either side of the fireplace.
“A balance between two opposite sofas, or even a sofa and two armchairs, will always be visually appealing,” says Charlie Marshall, founder of Loaf. (Opens in a new tab) ‘If it’s a corner sofa or corner sofa, balance it with a coffee table or storage footstool and an armchair on one side, which will add to the weight. The trick is not to group too much furniture into one area.
2. Get rid of the three-piece suite
While a classic three-piece suite will always have its place, if the living room space is tight, the solution might be to rethink the traditional setting of a sofa and a pair of matching armchairs.
Perhaps an extra-long single-chair sofa would be a better fit, or perhaps a two-seater lap style would be more practical in a small living room sofa idea. Or consider ditching the sofa altogether and opting for a matching mix of comfy chairs and ottomans – the footstools and stools are easy to move and can double as side tables, too.
3. Pin the room around the rug
A large rug can be a useful tool when it comes to arranging the seating layout in a small living room, especially if you have a set of furniture that looks a bit mismatched because you are working with budget living room ideas.
Choose an oversized rug, placed centrally in the room, so that it largely fills the floor space. Arrange the sofa and chairs with the rug as a fixing point, with the legs placed half over and half on. This will help to visually connect the furniture and make the whole room less disjointed.
4. Keep the furniture proportional
While clearing a small living room of any excess items is a great way to make it feel more spacious, there is only a certain amount of “stuff” that you can do without. If you’ve reduced everything to just the basics, find ways to make what you feel simpler.
Overly-furnished sofas and armchairs, with a high back and undulating or thickened arms, can feel bulky and bulky and tend to dominate a small space. Instead, opt for tailored designs and slimmer-looking pieces that better match the size of the room, such as low-back sofas with sleek and slim, or even built-in, armless designs.
When it comes to occasional furniture, choose coffee tables, stools and footstools with curves and rounded edges that don’t obstruct aisles and are easy to maneuver around from sharp corners.
5. Let the furniture float
Follow the trick that designers often use and instead of pushing the living room furniture against the walls, let it “float” in the center of the room. Even if it’s only a few inches, pulling the sofa and chairs away from the walls helps create breathing space around them, which will make a small living room appear larger.
Grouping sofas and chairs closely together helps create a comfortable and inviting meeting environment that will feel more welcoming and inviting than leaving the center of the room empty. And using an anchor rug can help tie the decor together in a complementary color.
6. Work your wall space
Living room storage ideas are key when it comes to small living rooms, from TV and media collection to books, toys, games and other essentials. Compact design can make arranging freestanding furniture a challenge, so why not consider incorporating all the storage units in a room and building them into one piece?
A wall-hugging storage unit that spans the width of the living room will provide heaps of storage and save more floor space than having several individual pieces scattered throughout the room. Storing paint that matches the wall color will ensure it blends seamlessly with the rest of the décor for a “built-in” look.
Choose modular storage units like this one from The Dormy House (Opens in a new tab)Built to order ready-to-assemble at home, it’s a less expensive alternative to bespoke built-in furniture.
7. Make the most of your space with stylish built-ins
Make full use of every inch to maximize your living room design. Don’t let nooks and crannies or any awkward nooks or crannies go to waste, instead discover ways you can take advantage of the space and create built-in storage and hidden additions that give you more without encroaching on room space.
A large window can be used to build an extra seating idea in the living room with hidden storage underneath to store pillows, blankets, and other living room essentials. If there is space, extend the building on both sides by adding floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that will turn the area into a cozy reading nook.
8. Keep the design simple
One of the easiest ways to make a small living room more spacious is to avoid filling it with furniture, which can clutter up the space. Having one or two pieces of furniture the same color as the walls can help the furniture blend in better, making the room appear larger as well. Clear glass and acrylic coffee tables and a mirror overhead will bounce light rather than block it and can help increase the sense of space.
Avoid heavy bedding and curtain fabrics such as velveteen, damsels, and wool and keep lightweight, cotton, and sheer linens instead. Forget the finer details, like frills, ruffles and puffs, while keeping simple shapes, smooth lines and tailored design for a streamlined look.
9. Tone your assets
Arrange furniture and seating so that it showcases your living room’s best features, assets, or architectural details, such as a stunning fireplace motif, a great-looking picture window, or any original decorative detail worth showing off.
If you have a chest-filled living room without any redeeming features or original architectural details of its own, create a focal point yourself. Painting, paneling, or wallpapering just one wall can give a small living room a new focus, or try adding a photo gallery with a collection of artwork or displaying greenery.
10. Get the perfect fit
Using sectional furniture or modular pieces can be a good way to accommodate more seating in a small living room. Oversized sofas and armchairs can take up a lot of space and crowd a small living room, while individual units can be configured to work with the room’s layout for a more natural fit.
Corner or L-shaped configurations can work well in a small living room, or try two sets of partitions placed on the other side as an alternate layout in a small living space.
How do I arrange two sofas in a small living room?
Planning small living room sofa ideas can be a challenge, however, there are some clever tricks to squeeze it into two. If the room has a standard shape, such as a rectangular or square-sized living room, placing two sofas of the same size facing each other with a coffee table in between (and placing them in the middle of the room’s focal point) can be appropriate. . Always make sure there is enough breathing space around the furniture, so that people are walking around and not in the conversation area.
There’s no hard and fast rule that says you can’t pair different sized pieces of furniture, like a three- and two-seat sofa, or a long sofa with a lap seat. Different sizes can create different dynamics and solve the problem of furniture arrangement if the room has a difficult or inadequate layout.
Where do you put the TV in a cramped living room?
For an optimal viewing position, the TV should ideally be placed in the center of the sofa. If this spoils the aesthetic or isn’t feasible in a small living room, placing it on one side can work well as well, as in an alcove on one side of a fireplace.
The TV should be at the right height relative to the sofa so that you feel comfortable watching it and you don’t have to look up or lift your neck to watch it.