How to style a sofa in a small living room — with these 8 expert tips

It's easy once you know how to style a sofa in a small living room thanks to our interior design pros

Our experts share ideas on how to style a sofa in a small living room like this beautiful green sofa dressed with cream pillows and a draped dark brown throw blanket
(Image credit: Article)

If you're short of design inspiration, learn how to style a sofa in a small living room. When working with tiny spaces, make the most of the square footage you have, and incorporate stylish design elements without overcrowding the room.

One of the best places to start is with the sofa, as this seating focal point allows you to add some personality with the right styling. We spoke to interior designers for eight ways to style your sofa.

Whether you want to freshen up your current space, or you've just moved and don't know how to style your sofa, we’ve got you covered with these small living room ideas, approved by experts.

How to style a sofa in a small living room 

When decorating a small living room, a sofa can often serve as a great focal point. Usually more simple in design, sofas make for a versatile blank canvas you can revitalize with modern home decor and purposeful styling. It's the perfect opportunity to showcase your personal design taste, too. 

Our expert-approved tips and tricks for how to style a sofa in a small living room (spoiler: it’s about so much more than an accent pillow) will have your sofa freshened up in no time.

1. Add dimension with accent pillows

Yellow blue orange and brown throw pillows on neutral plaid sofa

(Image credit: Room & Board)

When it comes to styling any sofa, accent pillows are a shoe-in. However, Bethany Struble, a lead designer at Totum Home, advises opting for pillows in multiple sizes (like these Target throw pillows) instead of matching everything up. 

“I don’t just stick with one size pillow — I feel like it gives so much more dimension,” she explains. 

In addition to different sizes, switch up your sofa style further with different pillow shapes. Consider pairing traditional square accent pillows with a rectangular one, or even an interesting sculptural pillow (such as this round white snowball throw pillow from World Market).

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. 

2. Mix patterns and fabrics

Anthropologie Floral Couch

(Image credit: Anthropologie)

In addition to jazzing things up with pillows in different sizes and shapes, Struble says to also mix patterns and fabrics to truly elevate the sofa in your small living room and create an interesting focal point. 

“Mix velvet and linen, or a luxe look and faux fur with leather for a rustic look,” she shares, adding that you can just as easily mix all of the above together, too. 

If you want to also incorporate seasonal throw pillows, it’s worth adding just one or two into the mix — along with the others — in a more subtle print. 

You can't go wrong with these neutral corduroy throw pillows from MIULEE store at Amazon as they go with everything and they're so soft to the touch. Just make sure you're washing your throw pillows properly to keep them in great shape.

3. Create effortless chic with a throw blanket

Green and red plaid throw blanket on neutral grey sofa and green plant in background

(Image credit: Amazon)

It’s impossible to tackle sofa styling without talking about throw blankets. These versatile covers are a way to add texture, color, and warmth to your sofa situation, and can be easily incorporated in multiple ways. 

For something that looks a little more effortless and inviting Struble says, “literally throw a blanket over one arm of your sofa — don’t fuss with it, just let it fall how it likes.” 

This works particularly well with plush blankets such as this faux fur ruched throw from Pottery Barn, but it would also work with something a little more lightweight like this checkered throw blanket from World Market

4. Try a slipcover

Pottery Barn Slip Cover

(Image credit: Pottery Barn)

“Using a slipcover can be a less expensive way to switch up the look of your sofa,” says Struble. 

She adds if you can’t find a slipcover that fits your couch or don’t love the options out there, you can easily customize your sofa by using a large piece of fabric and creating the illusion of a slipcover. First, drape it over your sofa, then tuck it in where you can to secure it.

Alternatively, you can opt for a luxe couch cover, such as this linen cover from Magic Linen.

5. Fold blankets on the back of your sofa

Pottery Barn blanket on armrest

(Image credit: Pottery Barn)

For another throw blanket styling technique, Struble says to try placing two blankets (we love Amanda Seyfried's fave throw blanket) on top of each other on the back of the sofa. 

Struble explains, “I fold them neatly, one wider than the other, and drape them long ways over the back. I think the layered blankets add effortless warmth and texture."

This looks best on a sofa that isn’t against a wall, but you can also create a similar effect for couches that are by folding your blankets long ways, and then draping them over the armrest. 

6. Use a sheepskin rug

White long-pile sheepskin throw on tan leather couch. There is a picture gallery in soft focus in the background with a three-armed candelabra visible too

(Image credit: The Fabulous Fleece Company)

Another way to style a sofa in a small living room is to add a small sheepskin rug — like this ULLERSLEV one from IKEA— over the arm, or across the top of a sofa. “It’s a bit more unique than just a throw blanket and just as cozy,” says Struble. 

In addition to using a mini-sheepskin rug, you can also find washable pet throw blankets (like this luxe faux fur pet throw from Pottery Barn) with a similar texture, allowing you to protect your couch, while also adding chic dimension and texture. 

7. Get pillows with removable covers

Multi-colored houndstooth throw pillows on gray sofa

(Image credit: Wallace Sewell)

When incorporating pillows into your couch style, Struble says opt for ones that have removable covers for the versatility factor. 

“You can just switch the covers when you want to bring out seasonal pillows or want a quick refresh,” she notes, adding it’s often cheaper to buy the pillow covers and reuse your inserts (it also saves on storage, which is ideal in a small space). 

There are plenty of places to find a variety of pillow covers in various sizes, such as this  pack of two chenille pillow covers from the MIULEE store at Amazon.

8. Ground your sofa with a rug

Living room decor

(Image credit: Wayfair)

On top of adding to your sofa, it’s important to add under it, too. Struble recommends adding a rug, like our favorite Target rugs, under a sofa — even if you have carpet — as this can anchor your furniture and help create a more established zone. 

“Just make sure it extends past the arms of your sofa,” she adds, noting that size matters when anchoring living room furniture. For something a little extra, you can also layer a smaller rug on top of a larger one to create more dimension. 

With over 10k reviews, this Jonathan Y boho area rug available on Amazon is a pretty safe bet.

Sofa styling buys

We found the best pieces to add to your sofa for a more elevated and personal result. See our top picks, including small living room buys under $100.

Prices were correct at the time of publishing.


What kind of couch looks good in a small living room?

“Truly any sofa can look great in a small space if it’s the right size,” says Struble. She recommends a modular sofa so you can customize the layout for your specific space and seating needs. “I would also lean toward a mid-century style sofa since they tend to be more streamlined and compact,” she adds. 

How do you maximize seating in a small living room?

When you’re working with a smaller living room, Struble says floor pillows are the ultimate hack for maximizing seating. “Make sure you also have a cozy soft rug,” she adds, noting this adds to the overall comfort of your space.

Similarly, Alex Bass, an interior designer, art curator, and founder of Salon 21, says don’t constrict yourself to just a couch. “Look for other stools, ottomans, and creative options [such as a bench that can be transformed into additional seating] that provide additional seating,” Bass explains. 

Alex Bass
Alex Bass

Alex Bass is an interior designer, art curator, and founder of Salon 21, a NYC-based fine art and design studio providing curated cultural experiences for the contemporary consumer. 

No matter the size of your living room, styling your sofa can make your space feel all the more elevated. According to design experts, choosing pillows in a variety of sizes, shapes, fabrics, and prints (such as these Urban Outfitters throw pillows) can make your sofa a little more interesting from a design standpoint and can add depth and dimension, too. 

It’s also worth considering the types of throw blankets you wish to incorporate and how you layer them onto your sofa. And, of course, to anchor everything together, you’ll want to slip a rug under your couch — just make sure that extends beyond the armrests for a more grounded effect.  

With these expert tips in hand, you'll no longer be left wondering how to style a sofa in small living room.

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.