Small Living Room Design Rules to Break

You have doubtless read some of the many guides that list "rules" for small living room design. Having a small living space, such as an apartment or a small home, can make it difficult to decorate, but you do not need to conform to these outdated misconceptions. The power of design is still in your hands.

How to Break Rule 1: White Paint Will Brighten and Unify Small Areas

The truth is that white paint is not only boring, its very light color can make the walls seem to advance forward and make the room look even smaller. Darker colors and even rich colors can make the walls appear to recede, providing the illusion that the room is larger. Use your light colors on floors and ceilings to intensify the effect. Light colored floor and ceiling spaces draw your eye across the room horizontally, instead of vertically up walls.

How to Break Rule 2: Downsize Your Furniture

Many designers promote buying furniture that is proportional to your space. They will tell you to avoid the large, luxurious, sofas covered in pillows unless the room can really handle it. So, instead of having a typical number of furniture pieces in small sizes, why not have fewer pieces in large, comfortable sizes? A typical living room set, including a chair, love seat, and sofa, would be overkill in a small living room if it was over-sized, whereas a single plush sofa, or a twinset of plush chairs would fill the space nicely. You can have larger furniture. Just have fewer pieces and don't overcrowd them with other accessories.

How to Break Rule 3: Hidden Storage is the Best Option

Allocating corners for cabinets to hide away things you need to store can actually reduce the amount of living area you have to work with. Why not make your storage decorative? Install cube storage units or bookshelves where you can display your items openly or inside decorative vases, pots, baskets, and other containers? This can provide visual interest to your room, display collections that are important to you, and it still gives you places to store things.

How to Break Rule 4: Give Up Your Beloved Coffee Table

Even though you live in a small space, why should you give up the coffee table? Use an ottoman with a glass top as a smaller version, or use a full-size table and borrow back the space by transforming some of the seating into stackable floor pillows for extra guests.

How to Break Rule 5: Use the Minimalist Approach

Does your small living room have to be a dedication to the minimalist movement? By no means. Clutter-free spaces do seem larger, but they can be lacking in personality. If expressing your personality through your collection of eclectic items brings you joy, then it will make your living room comfortable, regardless of size. When decorating, start with a few items that are very important to you, and gradually bring in items piece by piece until you feel that the room suits the needs you have for it but is not overpowered or junky.