How to refresh a small living room — 5 easy tips designers swear by

Learning how to refresh a small living room will help you transform your lounging space

Learn how to refresh a small living room like this one. It's a light pink living room with a brown marbled fireplace, bookshelf, coffee table, and chairs
(Image credit: Wayfair)

Knowing how to refresh a small living room will come in handy, whether you're getting ready to spring clean your home, or want to give it a good sprucing up.

We've spoken with interior designers who are used to heading into homes and glowing them up to find out what they do to freshen up this small space. Quickly decluttering and repurposing decor are just some of their favorite ways to do this.

You might be looking for new small living room ideas, but giving what you already have some TLC can have just as brilliant an effect as decorating with all-new pieces.

How to refresh a small living room

By cleaning, resetting, and organizing your small living room, your space will feel so much better to sit back and relax in.

Where our experts have mentioned anything specific, we've also found some helpful buys for you to shop, so you can start refreshing ASAP.

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

1. Start by decluttering

A pink living room with a wall art print, lamp, floral chair, and coffee table

(Image credit: Farrow and Ball)

When moving through the living room, it can be so easy to drop items here and there, not realizing they’re building up mess in your wake. 

“It may not seem like much, but clearing clutter from your small living room could give your space an entirely new look,” says Ivo Iv, home improvement expert and founder of Decor Home Ideas.

A black and white picture of Ivo Iv, a man wearing a black shirt against a black background
Ivo Iv

Ivo Iv is a home improvement expert and founder of Decor Home Ideas. He loves inspiring people with interior design ideas and showing them the practical steps to make these happen, no matter how small the square footage.

He continues, “Start by removing any items not serving a purpose in the room and clear any flat surfaces to provide the room with a neat look.”

As for smaller items which may serve a purpose, Ivo says to consider containing them. “You can stack magazines and small art pieces on the shelf to add to the space decoratively,” he adds. 

Freestanding shelves such as this ladder shelf on Wayfair are great if you're renting or don't want to DIY wall shelves.

When deciding what items to remove, consider the Marie Kondo tidying up approach. Her bottom line is: if it an item isn't sparking joy, it’s probably worth booting.

2. Consider furniture placement

A very light pink living room with a brown marbled fireplace, bookshelf, coffee table, and chairs

(Image credit: Wayfair)

If you’re looking for ways to redecorate without splashing any cash whatsoever, you’re going to love this trick.

Ivo explains, “This is the most straightforward and cost-effective way to revamp your living room, as your furniture arrangement significantly impacts the overall perception of this space.”

Our experts have shared how to arrange furniture in a small living room, including around a focal point, and how best to zones areas for function.

A cozy conversation-based living room will have a different arrangement from one centered around the TV area. “Decide on the mood you want the room to inspire and then rearrange the room to fit it,” Ivo adds.

The right placements can even improve your small living room Feng Shui and energy flow, which is always a big win.

3. Hang a mirror up

A white living room with a circular mirror on the wall, a blue couch with colorful throw pillows, and a yellow chair

(Image credit: Sofology)

Even if you can’t magically transform the size of your space, you can make your small living room look bigger by bringing in a beautiful mirror. 

“Mirrors can make a small room appear more spacious and open by reflecting light and views,” 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 refreshed plenty of different rooms throughout the years, including small living rooms.

To make the most of this effect, locate a big mirror on the opposite side of the window, or on a wall in need of more depth.

You could do this with either a full-length mirror (we like this artsy wavy Wrought Studio Amon Mirror on Wayfair) or a circular mirror (this Beautypeak Round Mirror on Amazon has over 1,600 five-star reviews), depending on how dramatic an effect you’re after.

4. Repurpose existing decor

A gold console table with a lamp, plants, and book on it, with a purple wall art print above it

(Image credit: Wayfair)

We love buying sparkly new small living room decor pieces, but working with the beauties you already have in your home can be just as effective.

Ivo explains, “You can change the placement of your wall art, relocate a plant, or even change your window treatments to give your small living room an updated look.”

The secret here, according to Ivo, is changing the visual outlook of the room. Don’t be afraid to look outside the living room, too. If you have your best candles or throw pillows in a small guest bedroom you’re not using, consider moving these to your living space instead to make the most out of them.

5. Add a few plants

A white wall with plants hanging off it, a chair, and plants on wooden tables

(Image credit: Hortihop)

You don’t need to turn your home into a fabulous tropical plant jungle, but even adding one or two indoor plants will add vibrancy to your home.

“One of the best ways to refresh smaller living spaces is to bring it to life with indoor plants and trees,” says Heather O’Donovan, design expert and founder of Hortihop.

A picture of Heather O'Donovan, a woman sitting down and wearing a black t-shirt and jeans
Heather O'Donovan

Heather O'Donovan is a design expert and founder of Hortihop — a design service for plants in NYC. Heather and the Hortihop team remotely pick the best plants for clients, deliver them and teach how to care for them properly.

She says to consider pairing an aglaonema (this Nature’s Way Farms Aglaonema on Walmart is eye-catching) against a brick wall to bring out the brick's softer tones or a bromeliad (this bromeliad Antonio Pink from The Sill would make a great gift) against a yellow wall for a pop of color and added fun.

Heather also says you can add 'Black Raven' ZZ plants (we love this moody Costa Farms ZZ Plant on Walmart) against darker green, navy, or black backdrops to enrich those cozy darker hues. 

“Aesthetically varied, often colorful, and with something for everyone, indoor plants enrich our homes and our lives — winter, spring, summer, or fall,” Heather adds.

Not only this, but plants last longer than fresh flowers, as lovely as these blooms are.

You don’t need to put in a lot of effort to give your small living room a refresh. use these tips throughout the year, whether you’re hosting guests or just want to switch things up. 

If you want to carry on re-energizing your home, we also love these renter-friendly ways to refresh small bathrooms.

Eve Smallman
Content Editor

Hi there! I’m a content editor 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. For Real Homes, I specialize in interior design, trends and finding the best viral buys.