8 easy upgrades for your small living room

We drilled our design experts for easy upgrades for your small living room — these 8 won’t break the bank

Living room with brown leather sofa and round wooden coffee table
(Image credit: Pottery Barn)

If you’re tired of your space, our easy upgrades for your small living room are just the ticket.

Perhaps you're feeling a little boxed in by your decor, or lack of it. The good news is your space can be as interchangeable as you'd like with our expert-approved small living room upgrades, such as little pops of color, mirrors and lampshade updates.

For small living ideas to overhaul your living room without breaking the bank — or you in the process — we’ve drilled our interior design pros for their eight easiest  ideas.

Easy Upgrades for Your Small Living Room

When upgrading your living room — no matter the size — there are several ways to achieve the aesthetic you want without any major renovations or investments. For budget-friendly and easy upgrades for your small living room, consider our eight  expert-approved tips. 

1. Add pops of color

A pink living room with a burgundy couch and a blue coffee table with a plant on it in front of it

(Image credit: @domansdecor)

When decorating your small living room, be intentional about design choices and don’t be afraid to add a splash of color. 

“To uplift a small living room, you can add pops of color by highlighting simple details through throw pillows, light fixtures, or even a larger element like a fireplace to showcase as a focal point,” says Tayah Mawer, an interior designer in Vancouver, BC. 

“This can be a great way to add interest and depth to your space without overwhelming it.” You can also make it cheaper by switching out your existing throw pillow colors and washing the inserts. Multi buy packs (such as a set of two corduroy ones from Amazon) make this even easier.

Tayah Mawer
Tayah Mawer

Tayah Mawer is an interior designer in Vancouver, British Columbia, and works with corporate and private clients to make their spaces feel unique to them and functional as possible.

2. Change the lampshades

Round dark wooden bulbous lamp with tall cream shade styles on a wooden side table with wooden abstract mini ornament

(Image credit: Lamps Plus)

One of the easiest ways to upgrade your small living room is to swap the existing lampshades. “Even simply changing the lampshade to a different color or pattern can create a whole new mood in the room, whether it’s pleated, flat, or plain,” says Tayah. 

You can also buy new light bulbs for warmer illumination to create a more elevated feel. And, if you don’t love your lamp base, don’t be afraid to spray paint it a different color, such as brass or black. 

3. Create visual interest

A modern apartment living room with framed wall art, sofa, coffee table, styled by Homesense

(Image credit: Homesense)

Tayah also recommends creating visual interest through styling. “One way to make a room feel bigger and more interesting is to add several light sources from different heights,” she explains. 

This can draw your eye to different areas of the room by incorporating a pendant light in one corner, and an interesting table lamp (we adore the Genni table lamp from Anthropologie) on the top of an end table. Sprinkling tapered candles (a pack of four twisted ones from Target will do nicely) throughout can also help enhance the space and create visual interest. 

4. Add a rug

Wayfair living room rug in burnt orange with a vintage faded look

(Image credit: Wayfair)

Rugs add a nice visual to any space, but they’re also highly functional. Not only can they invite more color and patterns into your living room, but they can also help anchor your furniture, add texture, and even create visual interest. 

“For enhancing a small living space, consider matching your room’s color palette to your existing rug,” says Tayah. “Alternatively, use a rug to create a playful and bold contrast against the rest of your furniture.” 

For busy homes, or ones with children or pets, Ruggable's affordable machine washable rugs are worth the spend up front. We particularly like the on-trend jewel tones of the Iris Apfel Flutterby area rug available in eight sizes, and three different comfort levels.

5. Hang artwork

Small living room with warm yellow paint on walls and abstract art on the walls with purple and green velvet sofas and wooden accent furniture

(Image credit: Getty Images/ Andreas von Einsiedel)

Hanging a piece of artwork — or several, depending on your layout — can also make a positive difference and act as a small, but mighty, living room upgrade. 

“Whether it is using existing pieces or being brave enough to DIY new ones and hanging them on the wall, you can achieve an impactful space through artwork,” Tayah confirms. 

Real Homes' trends writer Eve Smallman knows all the best places to buy cheap wall art.

6. Add mirrors to open the place up

West Elm gold semicircle living room mirror hung above a black ribbed sideboard and styled next to plants and ceramics

(Image credit: West Elm)

When decorating a small living room, the key is to look for ways you can create the illusion of a larger room. 

With this in mind, Tayah says to add mirrors to your living room walls. “Incorporating mirrors can make a small living room feel larger and brighter by reflecting natural light,” she explains. “Mirrors can be easily added to a gallery wall or used as an eye-catching focal point in the living room.” 

Don't forget, full length mirrors are not just exclusively reserved for bedrooms or dressing rooms. They make a grand design statement in any small living room and bounce the light around beautifully. 

7. Reduce clutter

Castlery living room decor styled with floor to ceiling voile curtain panels on a black framed arched window and L-shape sofa with abstract layered wooden coffee table dried tall orange plant in floor vase

(Image credit: Castlery)

One of the easiest — and cheapest — ways to upgrade your living room is to reduce clutter. “It is important to take a step back and edit the space, particularly if it is a small living room,” says Tayah. 

Since crowding too many things into a small space can make it feel smaller and more stressful to work with, carefully editing your decor and keeping belongings intentional can open up a space and make it more inviting, too. 

If you have a lot of belongings or decor pieces that you love, you can keep some items in storage, swap things out seasonally for quick refreshing. We've handily already gathered 21 living room storage ideas for you, but can't overlook awesome storage items such as the highly-rated teal mirrored Kelly Clarkson Amabel sideboard on sale at Wayfair.

8. Raise your curtain rods

Cream West Elm living room curtains hung high on a dark curtain rod


(Image credit: West Elm)

Another cheap and relatively easy way to upgrade your small living room is to raise your existing curtain rods. 

“Often, curtains are hung too low and are the wrong size for the room,” says Bethany Struble, a lead designer at Totum Home. “I love to hang curtains almost to the ceiling and have them graze the floor,” she adds. 

This expert technique draws the eye upwards, making the most of the vertical space in your small living room and giving the sensation of added height.

Bethany Struble a while woman with shoulder length light brown hair in white shirt and jeans
Bethany Struble

Bethany Struble is an interior designer at Totum Home and a set and prop designer for bands such as Paramore and Plain White Ts. 

Best products for easy upgrades for your small living room

FAQs

How do I update my living room on a budget?

“Switching out your pillow covers is an easy and affordable way to switch up your living room,” says Bethany. In addition to changing up your throw pillows, she also recommends painting. “Sometimes, the only thing needed is a fresh coat of paint to bring your space back to life,” she explains. For something a little more effortless, you can also incorporate potted plants in your living room. 

There are also some things you can do that don’t require spending any money. These include editing your belongings to keep clutter at bay, as well as hanging your existing curtains higher to draw the eye up.

How can I make my small living room look expensive?

Creating an expensive-looking space on a budget might seem like a challenge, but interior designer Tayah says it’s not impossible. “As a designer, I love incorporating mixed patterns into a space, as it can add texture and create a premium layered look just through cushions, curtains, and even a rug,” she explains. 

In addition to texture, Tayah also recommends adding wood tones as an “easy enhancement that can transform your small living space into a warm and inviting one.” 

Upgrading your small living room doesn’t require a major renovation. Instead, you can create a more elevated feel with our expert tips and tricks. Try swapping out your lampshades or spray painting your lamp bases for an upgrade. 

You can also add texture and pops of color through your rug choice, throw pillows, and window treatments. And, for a completely free (and highly satisfying) change, clear out your belongings to reduce clutter and create a more simple space. 

We love snooping on celebs for living room inspiration and recently, racing driver Charles Leclerc's living room delivered a cozy and chic aesthetic with minimal effort.

Jessie Quinn
Freelance Writer

Jessie Quinn is a lifestyle writer with words published in The Spruce, Byrdie, Well + Good, Shape, PEOPLE, and more. Jessie has a Bachelor's Degree in Fashion Journalism from Academy of Art University and leans on her background in fashion to inspire readers to hone their personal decor style as if it's their wardrobe. When she's not writing, Jessie can be found browsing the aisles of her local antique stores, creating DIY home decor projects, and taking care of her dozens of houseplants. Her eclectic decor style balances vintage, modern, and artisanal pieces that reflect her artsy style and love for handmade goods.

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