15 apartment living room ideas to copy whether you own or rent

Let our apartment living room ideas inspire you to make the most of your space, no matter what the size, layout or budget

Mid-century living room with woodburner
(Image credit: Colin Poole)

On the hunt for some inspiring apartment living room ideas? Well, we have you covered, no matter what size you are dealing with, or awkward layout, or what your budget might be, hey, even if you rent, you are sure to find a ton of looks you can copy right here. 

Decorating an apartment often involves styling rooms that aren't stand-alone spaces. They usually double up as other rooms too — a dining room, a home office, a second bedroom — you name it. We work those spaces hard.

So before all else, they need to be functional, but that doesn't mean they can't look stylish too. We've rounded up all our favorite on-trend living room ideas to prove just what can be done with an apartment living space so you can be inspired to give yours a refresh...

1. Zone your apartment living room with paint and pattern

a living room with paint feature wall and Carpetright Dynasty Twist Plain Carpet in Light Pink - carpetright

Carpetright Dynasty Twist Plain Carpet in Light Pink and Lustrous Duck Egg Rug

(Image credit: Carpetright)

If your space is limited, a room divider idea might not be an option without crowding the living room even more. One clever space-saving hack is to use your color on your walls to segregate areas. 

My Bepoke Room's Head of Interior Design, Lucy Henderson and Lick's Lead Color Specialist, Tash Bradley explain, 'A lick of paint can make all the difference. There are multiple different approaches you can take when designing a studio apartment. We recommend zoning your room with different patterns, prints and colors.'

'Painting the walls and furniture isn’t the only way to zone your space. You can also select rugs to section parts off as well as using different lighting intensities in each section depending on its purpose. For example, bright lighting will be needed in the kitchen but the living room can have a more cozy and ambient lighting scheme.'

apartment living room with pink walls, artwork and green paint with leaf wallpaper - lick paint

(Image credit: Lick)

2. Add a patterned carpet or rug

a small apartment living room with patterned rug and desk area - Brintons

(Image credit: Brintons)

Jodie Hatton, Design Manager at Brintons explains, 'Similar to how dark walls can transform a small room or a patterned wallpaper can bring interest to an otherwise dull space, a patterned carpet is an inspired way to make a feature in an apartment adding interest and character. However it is important to choose the right patterned carpet depending on the size of the room.'

'Rugs create a feeling of warmth, depth and textural emphasis when laid over carpeting, wooden floorboards, or ceramic floor tiles. It’s an opportunity to introduce a bold color or pattern to your space. The unexpected shape of the rug will give an artistic aesthetic to the room.'

3. Choose multi purpose furniture

An orange velvet sofa bed extended in a modern living room

(Image credit: Dreams)

You can't go wrong with multi purpose furniture. The most obvious is to invest in the best sofa bed you can buy that'll be a statement piece in your living room and convert to a comfy bed for guests to come to stay. Another living room storage idea would be multi tasking built in storage

'Built-in storage is always a massive help but it either comes with the apartment or you have to spend a fair amount of money building it. However, you can solve this by purchasing multi-purpose furniture,' explains Bradley.

4. Think about your apartment living room layout

boho style apartment living room in a loft with tall windows and sectional sofa

(Image credit: Ikea)

When it comes to configuring the layout of an apartment living room it can be a bit of a tricky task, especially if you are working with an open-plan space or a room that has to double up as something else. But there are plenty of living room layout ideas to make the most of your space that are way more interesting than just pushing everything up against walls.

We would actually start by drawing up a plan of your space and then deciding on what furniture you can actually fit in the space, then start planning its location. Remember it's okay to float your furniture, it can actually make the space feel bigger than if you just go for the layout that shows the most floor.  

5. Make your room multi-purpose

Open plan studio apartment with white walls and a collection of house plants

(Image credit: Ikea/Lisa Cohen)

Often in an apartment, you have no choice but to make your living room multipurpose, but embrace that, and rather than see it as you have a one-room apartment see it as an open-plan space.

Carve out space to create a little dining area that can double up as a workspace too. If you have the room add in screens in the form of curtains or furniture to make the living space feel like it's made up of different zones. 

6. Separate your space with a sectional

Grey minimalist loft apartment living room with sectional sofa

(Image credit: Ikea)

In an open-plan apartment or a studio, it can be tricky to decide on the best sofa. You don't want it to look like it's just floating in the middle of the room. Opting for a larger sectional sofa (even if your space isn't massive) can solve that problem, acting as both a sofa and a 'wall' between your living room and the rest of the space. We love that this one is double-sided, adding a sofa to both the living room and the dining room.

P.S. even if your space isn't as big as this living room, don't be afraid of choosing a large corner sofa. Let it hug the walls of your room and create a cozy, inviting ambiance, plus plenty of seating.

7. Opt for wall storage to save on space

String shelving system in ash with white wall and floor panels - String Furniture

(Image credit: String Furniture)

When your floor space is at a premium but you need to add storage to your apartment living room, open shelving is the way to go.

'We suggest you use all the available space you have, including your walls. You can use shelves, but also use your walls to store your dining chairs for easy access and to not clutter your floor space,' explain Henderson and Bradley. 

Peter Erlandsson, Co-Owner of String Furniture agrees, 'In a small room, it’s great to be able to change the design once in a while. Sleek wall shelving provides you with plenty of flexibility both practically and aesthetically, meaning you can achieve a completely new look whenever you like. There is an age old doctrine of using light colors on walls to make your home look bigger. This is true, and your shelves need not detract from this.' You can invest in this String System in ash at Utility Design

Opt for something slimline in the same color as the wall it's going to sit on, so you can maximize the storage space and so your shelving idea doesn't dominate the room too much.

8. Embrace an all white color scheme

A sliding glass door as a room divider idea in a small living room

(Image credit: Benjamin Edwards/Ikea)

If you are renting, chances are you have inherited a sea of white walls, so why not embrace them and go for an all-white living room idea. Even if you aren't at the mercy of a landlord's tastes, white is a classic that creates a very serene, calming vibe, plus it's really versatile so you switch up your decor as your styles change without having to paint all your walls.

Pair your white walls with a sofa in a similar hue, and pile up the white pillows and blanks too. Choose white window treatments too to maximize the natural light in your apartment. Add a touch of contrast in the form of prints and houseplants. 

9. Mix and match style for an eclectic vibe

a Danish apartment sitting room with wood chevron flooring and period features

(Image credit: Iben and Niels Ahlberg/inagency.dk)

We love the whole vibe of this Copenhagen apartment. By mixing so many different styles and textures this room is so unique and full of personality. Recreate that in your living room by picking out furniture that means something to you (even if you think it won't go, that's part of the look). 

Start collecting objects and decor that feel personal to your style and layer them up with new pieces to create a very eclectic cozy space, that still has a stylish, contemporary feel. 

10. Or keep things simple and linear

An apartment living room styled by Interior Fox with gallery shelf, sofa and archairs

(Image credit: Interior Fox)

Or if you like a more contemporary look and like for your room to have some structure, pick furniture and decor that have a linear look to them. 

And by that, we mean clear lines, so a modern coffee table with a metal frame, a straight-backed sofa with square arms, even simple prints in black frames will add to the very clean vibe. You can add in some softness with cushions, rugs and blankets in you still want the soft to have a comfy feel.

11. Anchor your space with a statement rug

Rustic style living room with brown leather sofa

(Image credit: Fiona Murray)

If your living room is in an open plan apartment, a rug is a super easy way to create a 'zone'. See your living room rug idea almost as like walls of which you can arrange your living room furniture around to create a space that feels slightly separate from the rest of the room. 

Pick a large, plain-ish, short pile rug to act as an anchor, and then you could always layer up a smaller rug in a more intricate pattern on top to be a focal point in the space.  

12. Don't underestimate a strategically placed mirror

An apartment living room with a large mirror

(Image credit: Veronica Sheaffer)

It's interior design 101, mirrors make spaces feel bigger. A strategically placed mirror can make the smallest of apartments feel larger and lighter. Go for a simple mirror, nothing too heavy or ornate and go as big as you think your place can handle.

‘It’s incredible what you can do in your studio apartment to make it look like you have more space than you do. Mirrors, glass or tiles reflect not only the space you already have but also the light, which makes all the difference,’ explain Henderson and Bradley.

‘The more natural light you have, the more spacious and soothing your space will feel. Try to keep from blocking this precious light with bulky furniture. Opt for pieces with a slim profile and with legs rather than bulkier options to cover as little floor space as possible.’ 

Rather than put it high on the wall, behind your furniture, try hanging it just off the floor like in the room above or even get a leaning mirror you can prop against the wall (a great solution if you are renting) and you'll see how it instantly makes the floor space feel much bigger.

13. Add life with plenty of house plants

Apartment living room with green plants

(Image credit: Ikea)

We've mentioned the room-changing abilities of the best indoor plants many times, and there's no denying that they can add so much... life to a space. In an apartment living room where floor space might be tight opt for a shelving unit you can display your plants on but will also work as some handy extra storage too. 

14. Pile up the textiles and textures to create a cozy feel

small living room in an apartment with shelving, sofa and wicker accent chair

(Image credit: Ikea)

Sometimes the best thing for a cramped apartment living room is to embrace those small dimensions. Turn a small sad room into a rustic, boho, bang-on-trend dream space just by filling it with plenty of different textiles and textures. 

Pile up the throw pillows and blankets on the sofa, cover the walls with prints and memorabilia, stack up your books and fill every surface with decoration. Stop it looking too crazy by keeping the walls white so you have that neutral backdrop, and pick a simple color palette for your decor too. 

15. Use your book collections to add color

Colorful bookshelves in an apartment living room

(Image credit: Ikea)

And if you do want to go adding in some bolder colors, use books. Book storage ideas are great options if you are renting too and can't go nailing stuff to the wall or painting a bright mural. If you've got books, you've got decoration. 

Dedicate an empty wall to creating your library and use some simple shelves to display your collection. Mix in some storage too with baskets and add extra interest with prints and houseplants.

How can I decorate my apartment living room on a budget?

Mid-century living room with woodburner

(Image credit: Colin Poole)

The best way to decorate an apartment living room on a budget is to shop second-hand. Not only is this going to save you money it's going to add a ton of personality to your space that you won't get if you just fill it with a load of cheap flat-pack furniture. 

Also, get DIYing, a lick of paint can make all the difference to a space, or pull up carpets (if allowed) and see if you have anything beautiful underneath, make your own throw pillow out of vintage fabrics. Just think; can I make that/restyle my current space to get that look, before you go spending any money.

What is the best layout for an apartment living room?

Open plan living space with kitchen and living room area divided by grey sofas and armchair

(Image credit: Argos)

The best layout for an apartment living room very much depends on the size and shape of your space and what you need to use it for. It is solely a lounge? Or does it have to become a dining room or a home office idea when you need it to? This will obviously dictate the layout, but the best place to start is by drawing up a plan of your living room and trying out different layouts.

Our top tip is to always give your living room furniture some room to breathe, don't have every piece in your room stuck up against a wall. And be creative with your layout too, don't just pick a focal point and angle everything towards that.

Plants on shelves on a balcony

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Narrow garden? Look to vertical garden ideas. You can use old pallets or wood planks to build a shelving unit that will house several tiers of pot-grown herbs and veg. Add a few hooks at the top and hang some hanging baskets for more variety. Making use of vertical space is one of the best options if you're figuring out how to make a small garden look bigger.

You can also buy a plant stand from Amazon and use that if you don't feel like DIYing this idea. 

Plants on shelves on a balcony

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Narrow garden? Look to vertical garden ideas. You can use old pallets or wood planks to build a shelving unit that will house several tiers of pot-grown herbs and veg. Add a few hooks at the top and hang some hanging baskets for more variety. Making use of vertical space is one of the best options if you're figuring out how to make a small garden look bigger.

You can also buy a plant stand from Amazon and use that if you don't feel like DIYing this idea. 

Hebe Hatton

Hebe joined the Real Homes team in early 2018 as Staff Writer before moving to the Livingetc team in 2021 where she took on a role as Digital Editor. She loves boho and 70's style and is a big fan of Instagram as a source of interiors inspiration. When she isn't writing about interiors, she is renovating her own spaces – be it wallpapering a hallway, painting kitchen cupboards or converting a van.