July 23, 2024

Architectural Design Kingdom

Home is where the heart is

How To Make A Small Living Room Look Bigger

4 min read

No, you don’t need to start combing through real estate listings in search of a larger home or apartment—it’s easier than you might think to make your existing small living room look more sizable by making a few thoughtful design choices. Below, Southern interior designers share eight of their tried-and-true tricks for making a small living room appear bigger (without making any structural changes, promise!). Follow their tips and you’ll be surprised at how dramatically different your living room feels. 

Go All In With A Special Material

Add character to your living room while also making it appear more spacious with this hack from Kate Ladd Chlebowski, the founder of Vernacular Studio in Nashville, Tennessee. “Wrapping the entire space in one material, such as wood planking, blurs the edges of the room and ultimately makes the room feel larger—yet cozy—at the same time,” the designer says. 

Prioritize Natural Light

Natural light can work wonders in making a smaller sized living room seem larger. “To maximize it, avoid heavy drapes or shades that block light entirely,” says Katie Skoloff, the founder of InSite Designs in Greenville, South Carolina. “Sheer dressings that allow light to flow in while still providing privacy can be a great option.” The designer notes that for privacy purposes, you can install frosted glass or light-filtering shades in your space. 

Don’t Over Clutter Your Space

The less stuff in your small living room, the better. “Overloading the room with furniture or decorations can make it feel cramped and overwhelming,” Skoloff says. Challenge yourself to become more of a minimalist! “Prioritize quality over quantity and ensure that each item serves a purpose and complements the overall aesthetic you are looking to achieve,” the designer suggests.

She also recommends engaging in frequent decluttering sprees to maintain a streamlined look. When it comes to furniture pieces, opt for items that are multifunctional; a coffee table that opens up to house items or some small ottomans are great picks, says Houston, Texas-based designer Kara Childress. “Make sure not to load too many heavy pieces into the design,” adds Zandy Gammons, the founder of Miretta Interiors in Raleigh, North Carolina. “Use chests and cabinets sparingly.” 

Embrace Vertical Space

Think tall! “Drawing the eye upward can make a room feel taller and more spacious,” Skoloff says. So, she recommends, try some floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, which can also offer valuable storage, or opt for floor-to-ceiling curtains or sheers, which “can give the illusion of higher ceilings and create a more dynamic visual flow.” 

Laurey W. Glenn

Don’t Buy Too Small Of A Rug

Yes, smaller rugs are less costly and may seem like the best bet in a petite living room, but this actually is not the case. “In a small living room, using a large area rug that fits under the front legs of all the furniture pieces can unify the seating area and make the room feel larger,” Skoloff explains. “A larger rug creates continuity and helps the furniture arrangement feel more intentional and expansive.”

And don’t be afraid to layer, either. “If you have a beautiful antique rug that is too small for the space but still want to use it, consider layering it on top of a natural fiber rug to get the size you need,” says Laura Jenkins, the founder of Laura W. Jenkins Interiors in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Choose See-Through Pieces

Infuse some contemporary style into your small living space in the form of see-through furniture, which Skoloff says will reduce visual clutter. “Transparent pieces like a glass coffee table, acrylic chairs, or shelves can make the room feel more open and airy,” she says. “They serve their functional purpose without overwhelming the space, allowing the eye to travel through them and maintaining a sense of openness.” 

Hang Plenty of Mirrors

Mirrors are not only beautiful to look at but will make your living room appear bigger in a snap. You can even fill an entire wall with them, Childress comments. And if you can position a mirror so that it reflects a window? Even better, says Cheri Etchelecu Martin of Cheri Etchelecu Interior Design. in Dallas, Texas.

Go Monochrome

Pick a paint color, light or dark, and go all in with it—as Charleston designer Megan Molten says, “Paint the entire room the same color-trim, ceiling, walls, everything!”

Laurey W. Glenn


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