How to Arrange a Small Living Room

When decorating a small living room, most people have the goal of making the room appear larger, brighter and more open. The obvious solution is to use fewer furnishings, but this could also mean fewer seating options. At Pottery Barn, we don't think you should have to sacrifice seating space for style. That's why we've put together this guide to arranging a small living room. Here are our top tips for making a tiny living room feel more spacious.

Choose Small-Scale Furniture

With small living rooms, every piece of furniture counts. Adding too many pieces to the room -- or pieces that are too big -- takes up valuable floor space and impedes traffic flow. One way to make a small space feel more open is to choose small-scale furnishings. A loveseat may work better in your living room than a full-sized sofa, for example. When selecting furnishings for a small living room, you'll want to consider not only the size of the room but also the people who will be using the furniture. If you can do without a sofa completely, consider a café-style layout, with four chairs arranged around a coffee table.

The key to choosing small-scale furnishings is to consider not just the size of the furnishings, but their visual size in relation to one another. Select furnishings with slim profiles and opt for a small, tight-back sofa over a bulky, upholstered design. Miniature upholstered armchairs are another space-saving option that provide all the comfort of their full-sized counterparts. Whenever possible, select pieces with legs; they provide an unobstructed view of the floor, giving the illusion of more space. Color is also important; light, soft colors make furniture appear smaller than bold or dark colors.

Clean Lines Can Work Better than Overstuffed

When it comes to decorating small living rooms, modern furnishings with clean lines work better than overstuffed sofas and chairs. Backless and armless sofas are modern, stylish options that can open up a small living room. Their design allows these pieces to be used not only as seating but also as attractive room dividers for open-concept floor plans. If you have a combined living and dining room, placing a backless sofa between them is a great way to delineate the spaces.

Think "less is more" when choosing pieces for a small living room. Glass and metal coffee tables have sleek, simple lines that add symmetry to the space, while furnishings made of transparent materials like acrylic can make a room feel less constricted. Another way to streamline the look of your living room is to select furnishings that serve more than one function -- a side table that doubles as a bookshelf, for example, or an upholstered ottoman with a hidden storage compartment. A narrow bench can be used as a table to hold drinks and snacks when the family is enjoying time together and as a console table when the living room is not in use.

Fill Out the Corners

The typical living room furniture arrangement includes a sofa, a love seat, a coffee table and two side tables, but this arrangement can make a small living room feel even more closed in. While it may sound counterintuitive, filling out the corners of a small living room with a large sectional sofa can actually make the room feel larger. Maximizing seating space is the main goal when arranging a small living room, and placing a large sectional in a corner allows you to accomplish this with a single piece of furniture.

Using a large sectional in place of a sofa-and-love seat combination can make a living room seem more inviting while also eliminating dead space and wasted corners. Most sectionals are modular, with pieces that can be mixed and matched to create a configuration that suits the size and layout of your living room. To free up even more floor space and make the living room feel less cluttered, consider eliminating side tables and have reading lights wired into the walls above the sectional instead. An oversized upholstered ottoman topped with a tray can double as a coffee table.

Arranging furniture in a way that maximizes a small space is not only practical, but it can also make a cramped room feel more open. By choosing the right furnishings and placing them strategically, you can transform your small living room into a cozy, yet spacious, entertaining area.

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