How to maximize space in a small living room — 6 tips from the pros

Our design pros have explained how to maximize space in a small living room

Finding out how to maximize space in a small living room boosts function like these three pictures show of small living rooms - one of an armchair, one of a bookshelf, and one of a chair next to a fireplace
(Image credit: Wayfair)

If you live in a little home, learn how to maximize space in a small living room for a boost in function. Just a few clever tricks will help you make the most of what you already have.

Our interior designers and design pros have plenty of useful advice if you're unsure of how to fully utilize yours. From fitting in furniture properly, to prioritizing functionality, we've got the lowdown on their top tips and tricks.

You might be looking for stylish small living room ideas, but we're here to give you all the practical know-how, too. Making your space work as hard for you as possible is just as important as adding delightful decor.

How to maximize space in a small living room

By using just a few small living room organization ideas and selecting certain furniture pieces, you can make your space shine even more.

If our experts have recommended any helpful products, we've also found shoppable buys we're eyeing up for our own homes.

The prices below were correct at the time of publishing this article. 

1. Go for multifunctional furniture

A living room with a green chair with red pillows, a gold coffee table with books, and two lamps and a plant

(Image credit: Casa by JJ)

Every small living room furniture piece counts, so it’s important to pick pieces which will do as much for your space as possible.

“I like to seek out pieces with multiple purposes, such as coffee tables with storage, a sofa bed to accommodate guests (we like this Papajet Sofa Bed on Walmart), and storage ottomans you can also use as seating,” says Artem Kropovinsky, interior designer and founder of Arsight.

Artem Kropovinsky
Artem Kropovinsky

Artem Kropovinsky is an interior design expert and founder of Arsight, an award-winning interior design studio based in New York. He's used to going into small living rooms and making them as functional as possible for clients.

Next time you’re choosing furniture, such as if you’re at a secondhand furniture store, check if the piece you’re in love with can work in multiple ways before you head to the cash register.

2. Optimize seating arrangements

A red living room with a red couch, a plant on a black side tabe, and a wooden floor with a rug

(Image credit: Clarissa Hulse)

Whether you’re kicking back on the couch or snuggling up in an armchair, every living room needs seating.

Artem says, “Pick ones with the right size for your space and place seating against the wall to make the floor space look larger.”

He adds, “Make sure the seating furniture won't occupy the pathway, too.”

Allowing energy in your living room to flow as smoothly as possible is also a key part of small living room Feng Shui.

3. Utilize vertical space

A blue living room wall with white shelves with books and decor on with a green leafy chair in front of it

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

Maximizing space in a small living room doesn’t just involve floor space — it involves putting those walls to work as well.

Artem explains, “You can gain floor space and create a less-cluttered room by mounting your TV and the shelves on the walls. It also angles the eye upward, which gives an impression of height.”

If you’re renting and can’t drill into the walls, utilizing damage-free strips (we always recommend these Command Strips on Amazon) will allow you to hang up less heavy shelves.

4. Define zones

A striped armchair in front of an ottoman with a tea set on it, with a tall plant next to it

(Image credit: Wayfair)

In a small living room layout, it can be easy to fall into the pattern of creating one central space for relaxing. With a few clever tricks though, you can create lots of cozy spaces to chill. 

“Use rugs, furniture placement, and lighting to create designated areas for conversation, reading, or relaxing,” says Mohammad Ahmed, interior designer and founder of The Home Guidance.

A picture of Mohammad Ahmed in a brown suit
Mohammad Ahmed

Mohammad Ahmed is an interior designer and home expert. He has worked as an interior designer in various companies, creating functional and beautiful rooms for clients. He's a pro at designing small living rooms and maximizing the space in them.

He adds, “This visually breaks up the space without walls.”

For example, you could place down a rug (this VK Living Rug on Amazon will make a big statement) and throw down an armchair (this Muumblus Modern Accent Chair on Walmart is so cute) to create an inviting reading nook.

5. Edit down your decor

A light pink bookcase with books, plants, and decor in it

(Image credit: Wayfair)

Showing off your personality is key in living rooms — after all, this is the area where guests will get to know you.

This being said, too many pieces can overwhelm the whole room. If you want to make the most of your small living room space, letting it breathe is one of the best things you can do.

“Keep the decor simple and minimal, as too many accessories can make a small living room feel cluttered and cramped,” says Ricky Allen, interior designer and director of Ever Wallpaper.

A picture of Ricky Allen in a suit
Ricky Allen

Ricky Allen is the interior designer and director of Ever Wallpaper, experts in high-quality wallpapers and murals, using non-toxic, odorless, and environmentally friendly materials. He’s an expert at maximizing the impact of rooms such as small living areas.

If you’re trying to make a small living room look bigger before people arrive, take a step back and edit out any items not adding anything to the overall finish.

6. Declutter regularly

A green living room with a fireplace, rattan chair, and plants

(Image credit: Wayfair)

The living room is the area you probably use the most, so it’s understandable if you’ve left bags on the floor, placed down mugs on the surfaces, or forgotten to pick up the trash.

These are easy mistakes to make, but allowing unnecessary clutter to build up will make it look smaller and won’t help you maximize your small living room.

Artem says, “A room with all the clutter removed appears, and feels, to be larger.”

To give your small living room a declutter, we recommend moving any items on surfaces onto the floor and moving them into piles of things to keep, things to donate, and things to trash. From here, you can move items accordingly. 

If there is anything you aren’t sure about, store it in a plastic bin (these IRIS USA Stackable Bins on Amazon would be perfect) and keep it in storage until you’re ready to part with it.

Taking the time to learn how to maximize space in your small living room will help you enjoy being in your space even more.

We also recommend finding out ways to maximize space in your small bedroom, as this will make drifting off to sleep so much dreamier.

Eve Smallman
Staff Writer

Hi there! I’m a staff writer at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses.