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How to Arrange Furniture in a Small Living Room

arranging furniture in a small living room

Arranging furniture in a small living room is often easier than styling it in a large living room. 

For one, you need fewer decorations and pieces of furniture. This also keeps costs lower than if you had to fill a gigantic room. But, because you have less in your room, everything counts for more. Keep this in mind as you decide what to place in the space you have.

The same general principles apply regardless of room size. There are a few distinct differences between furnishing small and large living rooms, but the goal remains the same — to create a beautiful space that suits your individual needs. 

General Guidelines

You may be looking at an empty room and thinking to yourself: where do I begin? The answer, of course, is anywhere you want to. There's no "correct" way to start furnishing your space. There are a few things to keep in mind when getting started though.

1. What is the Room's Purpose?

Every living room suits a different life. 

Some living rooms have large TVs. Some have a quaint little seating areas for conversations and afternoon snacks. Others have a heavenly day bed for snoozing from time to time.

Consider how you will utilise your living room most often. From here you can decide which piece of furniture to position first. The goal here is to arrange the furniture in your room slowly — one or two pieces at a time. 

Use your room's purpose to get started. 

2. Entertainment

If you have a TV and plan on using it often, place it in a prominent location — somewhere it can be viewed easily by all. Then put chairs or a sofa opposite the TV. If you have a TV but won't use it all the time, you can place the TV off to the side or in a less central location. Feel free to place a few chairs near it instead of a full-blown sofa and chairs. 

3. Conversation

living room arrangement

If you're more of a conversationalist, you can get started in a few different ways. You can pick out an area of the room to place your seating. Place your chairs or sofa near a window or under existing ceiling lights if you can. You can also pick out a section of a wall and decorate it. 

Then centre the seating area around this visual focus. You can either place the chairs in a square or circular arrangement. Either way, you do not need to complete the shape. Leave part of the conversation space open so that it is easy to get around in your room.

A coffee table or ottomans — complete the area by providing a place to rest your feet or enjoy food & drink. If you already have a table you want to use, place it in your room first. Then, you can surround it with chairs and artwork on the walls. 

4. Relaxation

The living room can also be a great place to take a break from everyday stress. 

If you want to relax in your living room, it's extra important to have only essential furniture pieces. This keeps the distractions down and lets you breathe more easily — so to speak. Being surrounded on all sides by furniture and decor can make it hard to relax.

Place a day bed near a small table to create the perfect little relaxation area. You also might want to have a source of light nearby so that you can read while lying down.

living room arrangement

If you want to relax but don't plan on lying down, you might go for a reading chair. A small table with a lamp on it can provide you with light and a place to place for a drink or snack.

If you have extra space, you'll want to include another chair or two so others can relax with you from time to time.

5. Multi-Purpose

It can be tough to accommodate multiple purposes in a small living room, but it can be done. 

Try having only chairs instead of a sofa if you want to watch TV but also easily chat with friends. Then you can move and rotate the chairs easily to suit your needs. 

Or, put side tables with lamps near your seating area. Then, you can sit around with guests, but you can also spend time alone with a book when the room is all yours.

Suiting multiple needs is trickier in small living rooms. Focus on choosing furniture that can serve multiple purposes. You likely won't be able to have separate spaces in your room for TV, sitting around, and lying down for a bit. You'll need to find a creative way to have a single multi-purpose space instead.

6. Storage

Storage is the ultimate convenience when it comes to furnishing a small space. 

Utilise bookshelves, cabinets, and the usual forms of storage as you would in any other room. 

You should also take advantage of "secret" storage. Some ottomans, for example, can store things inside them. This is nifty if you can't afford to litter your room with traditional storage furniture. Other furniture that hides its contents is perfect for you as well. Keeping stored objects out of sight prevents a room from appearing visually cluttered. And this will make your room feel more spacious.

storage ottoman

7. Lighting

You'll want some overhead lighting around your main seating area so that you and your guests can see what they are doing. 

Lamps should be placed wherever you need light. Standing lamps and desk lamps both work, so the kind you should use depends on your room's style and furniture arrangement.

Wall-lighting is useful for drawing attention to artwork or other decorations on your wall. And because it doesn't take up floor space, you shouldn't be afraid to include some wall-lighting in your living room.

8. Rugs

A rug underneath your main seating area can comfort you and your guests' feet. You'll want it to extend a little past your seating if possible. If this isn't doable, you can have it only extend past your ottoman or coffee table.

9. Walkability

One of the major dangers of arranging furniture in a small living room is overcrowding the space. Be sure to leave enough room to enter, leave, and get around in your living room. Your living room is a place to relax and be entertained. Stubbing your toe as you try to figure out how to get out of your own living room is not the goal here.

Tips Especially for Small Living Rooms

10. Multi-Purpose Furniture

As mentioned above, multi-purpose furniture is often a must. Limit the amount of furniture you purchase by making each piece of furniture have maximum versatility. 

chest of drawers

Also, be on the lookout for efficient storage and furniture that doubles as storage. We have an entire page dedicated to living room storage. Feel free to check it out, even if you're only looking for ideas at the moment.

11. Extra Seating

It can be tough to seat a large number of people in a small room. Thankfully, there are a few ways to get the most out of your space without having to resort to playing "musical chairs" with your guests. 

For one, only keep an essential number of chairs in your room. If you only host events in your home a few times a year, you don't need the extra chairs cluttering up your room the majority of the year. 

However, this doesn't mean keeping only two chairs in your room if two people live in your house. If this is the case, three or four chairs are ideal if you have a smaller number of guests over from time to time.

Extra chairs can be kept in storage, or in other rooms of the house. Don't feel guilty grabbing a chair or two from your dining room if you're expecting more guests than your living room can seat. If you have the space for multiple seating areas, you can use seats from another area when necessary.

Stackable chairs can be a lifesaver. Storing stacked chairs takes up less space, and you can stack chairs off to the side of the room if you need it to temporarily have more space. 

12. Lighter, Simpler Furniture

lighter coloured furniture

Darker coloured furniture often looks larger than the same piece of furniture in a lighter colour. This can make your room feel more crowded, even if it isn't. 

Similarly, chairs and tables with intricate patterns and designs have the same unwanted effect. Select sleek furniture with more smooth lines for a more spacious-looking room. 

Transparent furniture takes this a step further and gives the impression it isn't there at all. Place a transparent coffee table — or one with a glass top — by your chairs or sofa. The space will look open visually, but it will also be functional. 

Curvy — but still smooth and simple — furniture can be used to liven up a boring, boxy room. It can give the room more life, and it won't make the room feel cramped like complicated furniture can. 

A medium or small sofa will take up less space but serve the same purpose as a bulky couch. Or, omit the sofa altogether in favour of a few chairs. 

13. The Walls Come Last

You should pick your wall colour last if you can. While it may seem counter-intuitive, it is typically much easier to repaint walls that don't match the furniture than to replace furniture that doesn't match the walls. 

Your walls also won't be your room's primary focal point. So, you should focus on getting furniture that fits with your personality and style. Once you've got that figured out, shift your attention to repainting the walls a colour that best accentuates your choice of furniture.

14. Keep It Simple

Only keep essential furniture in your room. We already covered this earlier, but we think it's worth saying again. If you're not into hosting parties, you don't need empty chairs surrounding you on a daily basis. 

Keep enough chairs for whoever lives in your place — and only a few extras. If you want enough space for guests but won't be using the chairs on most days, a sofa might be the ideal solution for you. 

A sofa provides space when you need it but doesn't seem "empty" in the same way a group of empty chairs would. This will keep your room from looking like an empty movie theatre when you aren't at maximum capacity.

15. Artwork and Mirrors

Artwork and mirrors are a great way to enhance the look of a room. Decorate your walls with artwork all you want, and the best part is they take up zero floor space. 

Bare walls can actually work against you in some instances. A wall without any decorations won't catch anyone's attention, leaving a room feeling dull and empty. 

When you place artwork or a mirror on a wall, it helps the room become more visually appealing. This, in turn, keeps the eye's attention away from only the furniture and floor. This will make a room appear bigger or more spacious. It's always good to have a visually pleasing room — and one where the visual interest is spread out.

A single, well-chosen decoration hung on a wall can be more effective than a collection of uninteresting decorations. Too many decorations on the wall makes a room too visually complicated. This can be distracting, and over complicate a space. Leaving one or two walls bare is always an option. You don't always need to decorate a wall near an area of the room that already has a lot going on.

Mirrors work in a similar, but more ingenious way. They draw attention towards themselves, which is good. They also reflect the room back at you from a different angle. This can give the illusion that the room is larger than it is. 

But don't go overboard placing mirrors in too many places around the home. This can be overly distracting, or even disorienting. It’s all about balance.