7 gorgeous minimalist small living room ideas — say bye-bye to bland

These expert minimalist small living room ideas deliver without looking cramped or boring

Minimalist small living room ideas do not have to be boring or crampled. This trio of minimalistic living room ideas are testament to that with neutral pallettes and interesting furniture
(Image credit: Future (Jessica Isaac, Lance Gerber))

If you thought minimalist small living room ideas were basic, bland, or boring, you've been looking for advice in all the wrong places. Stripping decor and furniture back to basics, choosing clean lines and a quiet color palette might prove tricky in a small space but  when done well, minimalist small living rooms are cozy and charismatic.

Our expert interior designers are masters of finding such solutions and have certainly delivered with these seven ingenious ways to embrace minimalist small living room ideas without being basic with your decor.

Hang tight to find out how to enjoy your space with a minimalist aesthetic with these brilliant and inspiring small living room ideas.

Laetitia Wagnapel
Laëtitia Wajnapel

Laëtitia Wajnapel is the creator of Cinquième Gauche, a full-service interior design studio based in LA. Wajnapel who was born and raised in Paris, started her career as a journalist before branching out into styling. Her design practice is led by a love of storytelling, making each project truly unique to the client.

Minimalist small living room ideas

Laëtitia Wajnapel, Interior designer and founder of Cinquième Gauche believes small living rooms  work particularly well with this aesthetic. "Minimalist design works for rooms of all sizes, but it can really shine in smaller spaces," Laëtitia says. 

A small space might, in fact, be perfect for a minimal interior design scheme, after all. Laëtitia adds, "You have to remember that minimalistic doesn't equal boring or sterile. It's more about the careful curation of items and furnishings," continues Laëtitia. 

Wondering how to create the perfect minimal look in your tiny living room? We've done the leg work for you.

1. Embrace your blank canvas

Warm and minimal living room with ivory couches surrounding coffee table dressed with candles and dried flowers

(Image credit: Life Created Photography, for Living with Lolo)

"Minimalism values simplicity, and highlights beauty and purpose at the same time," says Ami McKay, interior designer and creator of PURE Design

Far from adding a layer of work or irritation to your processes, starting with a blank  canvas of a room is something to embrace as a great base for your minimalist small living room. 

Ami says, "In a small minimal space, start fresh, clear out clutter, and paint the walls in a fresh bright tone or a lime wash. I love the potential of an empty room." A new coat of paint in a light tone will lift and modernize a small space, and if you can't paint, consider peel-and-stick wallpaper.

Ami McKay headshot
Ami McKay

Ami McKay founded PURE Design in 2000, designing welcoming spaces that bring her clients joy and harmony. She is proud to be named one of Canada’s top five interior designers.

2. Contrast textures to add depth

All white smooth couches and armchairs on a sand colored jute rug surrounding a light wooden square coffee table and facing two colorful canvases a top the panelled with and black mantel

(Image credit: Lauren Engel for Victoria Holly Interiors)

A key component of designing an interesting minimalist small living room is nodding to the aesthetic's core ideas, without taking every item – not to mention ounce of personality – away. 

Victoria Holly, design principal and founder of Victoria Holly Interiors reminds us prioritizing texture in the items we keep will stop a small living room space from feeling empty and without interest. 

"There is a difference between bare and minimalism," Holly told Hebe Hatton, Deputy Editor for our sister brand Homes & Gardens. "A bare room has fewer pieces but without richness and depth. A minimalist room has fewer pieces, but with this richness and depth, through the use of texture, rich palettes, and different types of material." 

Keep this in mind when picking your minimalist items, contrasti cozy textures like boucle or jute with smooth cotton and tonal woods, as demonstrated in the image above.

3. Display items you love with asymmetry in mind

Kerah faux marble coffee table in center of small living room on top of textured rug, central to slouchy ivory couch with abstract art in warm colors on the wall

We are fans of this two-tiered round faux marble coffee table bringing organic energy to a small minimalistic living room

(Image credit: Wayfair, Mercer41)

Even if it is just one gorgeous decor item, or an accent piece that evokes happy memories, let your personal brand of joy and playfulness be a part of your small minimal living room. 

According to designer Ami, it's all about how you display them. "Think about asymmetry and negative space," she says. "I love displaying a few significant collectables in clusters, or a few chosen works of art." 

Remember to stick to clean and unfussy lines, she adds. "Do patterns, yes, but minimally, and don't feature too many. Choose a few and keep the rest simple."

Whilst the rest of your space gets pared back, let your favorite items take center stage in a way that is simple but still stylish.

4. Choose streamlined furniture that is interestingly shaped

Small neutral and minimal living room space with sculptural couches positioned around angular coffee table

Styled by Laëtitia Wajnapel, creator of Cinquième Gauche, photography by Jessica Isaac.

(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

Ami encourages us to be playful with the size of your furniture too, as it can add instant interest. "Bring in oversized and undersized items with clean and interesting lines," she says.

However, when square footage is limited, every piece of furniture should be carefully chosen, making sure it's streamlined for access around it, and coming loaded with multifunctional features wherever possible.

"In small living rooms, choose multitasking furniture like storage sofas or convertible tables," Artem Kropovinsky, interior designer and founder of Arsight tells Real Homes. This way, you won't overclutter the space with lots of bulky furniture items that will impede flow and make the space look busy and claustrophobic.

If you're not sure how to style a sofa in a small living room, Real Homes' own Jessie Quinn shared some top tips in a recent piece. 

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.

5. Be playful with scale and the room's natural proportions

A white couch in a cozy cream minimalist small living room

(Image credit: @aloftlife_)

You'll want to consider scale and how every object will interact with the room's natural proportions. 

"We've all seen rooms crowded with surprisingly few items," says interior designer, Laëtitia. "Scale and color palette play an important role in a minimal scheme too. These are all things to take into consideration." 

Ami additionally encourages us to consider form and scale when recreating minimalist small living room ideas. "For example, combine a large beautiful light, a sculpture in the corner, and a few well-chosen pieces of furniture," she suggests. 

"Play with a simple hand-drawn floor plan first, and find inspirational images to help. In a minimal space, especially a small one, it’s important to carefully consider what you will bring back into the room."

5. Keep a tonal color palette

Cream fabric sectional in white small living room space with layers of texture, marble round coffee table and black decorative accents

(Image credit: Jack Gardner, for Brad Ramsey Interiors)

While color doesn't take up physical space, it can definitely have an effect on our perception of a room's size and even living room layout. Minimalist small living rooms need a fairly tonal palette, so choose warm neutrals and keep it monochrome to add depth and evoke the sense of cozy space. 

Laëtitia is a fan of darker colors, too. She says, "Personally, I think small spaces do very well with tonal palettes. I love a small, dark living room for example, where the sofa, side tables and cased furnishings all match the wall color. Then you can play with contrasts and add pops of another color through your soft furnishings, art and rugs."

6. Expand the space with mirrors and lighting

Wooden console with accent fabric and wooden chair, table lamp and large round mirror on the wall

Space created by Joshua Smith Inc

(Image credit: Lance Gerber, for Joshua Smith Inc)

Bouncing around the natural light in your space will expand minimal small living rooms in all the right ways. Stop yours from feeling cold and uninviting by using thoughtfully place lights and mirrors to "reflect light and give the illusion of greater space," adds design expert, Artem.

By sticking with multifunctional furniture and maximising on every square foot, you allow yourself the space to have more than one lamp too. This is especially nifty if the natural light in your small living room doesn't currently work in your favor. To remedy, combine ambient, task, and accent lighting to warm up the space as a functional whole. 

7. Add height and interest to the vertical plane

Small grey living room corner with two boucle cream armchairs and tall olive tree planter between them in a dark wood colour to match the hardwood floors and wavy coffee table

Styled by Laëtitia Wajnapel, creator of Cinquième Gauche, photography by Jessica Isaac.

(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

Walls, whilst decorated simply, should not be ignored on the vertical plane in your small minimalist living room. Use their height to draw the eye up, but don't go overboard with busy prints or gallery walls. 

"Add vertical elements such as tall bookcases and paintings to bring the eye upward and creating a sense of space," says Artem. 

Tall shelving, perfectly styled with meaningful and minimal decor placed higher up will give a sense of grandeur, without overwhelming the space. Likewise, a sole print in serene monochrome colors that blend in with the surroundings will expand the space without it being OTT. You could even give it life with a touch of live greenery. 

This small, minimal living room corner as styled by Laëtitia is proof that indoor plants and trees work in unfussy spaces to bring serenity and cohesiveness to a neutral monochrome color scheme without adding clutter.

FAQs

What are the best colors for a small minimal living room?

Warm neutrals and minimalism go hand in hand, but this is not to say that cool grays, dark hues, and even a splash of color cannot work. The key is to keep it balanced and to take a predominantly monochromatic approach where you can. 

"For color, you want your space to be calming and serene. A few highlights of color or black work with a neutral base as accents, or even choose a monochromatic scheme for less metal clutter, especially in a small space," says designer Ami.

The personality can come via material finishes and shapes present in the room's objects, adds Artem, "Choose a monotone design with different textures. It binds space together without clutter and creates depth and interest." Then use small doses of colors you like, particularly ones that are close to nature via houseplants, to warm up the space and stop it from feeling bland or uninspiring. 

What items shouldn't you keep in a minimalistic small living room?

There are some items that designers never keep in a small living room, including furniture that doesn't pull double duty and overly busy artwork. Bear this in mind especially when creating a minimalist look.

"My main tip is to think like a designer and map out your room on paper before committing to a purchase! And if this is too daunting, a lot of designers offer space planning consultations to help with the process," recommends Laëtitia.

Laëtitia says to put the focus on function when choosing items and resist fleeting decor cravings where possible. She says, "Even in the smallest of rooms, you have to make sure to surround yourself with meaningful, comfortable, and functional pieces only. That means not falling for a trend and instead really interrogating yourself about what you love and want to see in your home. Use your space wisely." Say yes to your favorite coffee table books, serving up a focal point and good read for guests, and even coasters that you love, because they will save you trying to get rid of coffee rings in the future...

How can I keep a small minimal living room uncluttered?

We can't ignore the fact that clutter is unwelcome in most spaces, but especially in a minimalist small living room where square footage is precious. Laëtitia approaches this with careful consideration for results that will last beyond living room makeover day.

She explains, "I love to create evocative and clutter-free spaces for my clients and this usually involves a deep dive into their minds, emotions, and lifestyle." Keep simplicity in mind, less is more when it comes to creating small minimal living rooms in particular. Trying out the minimalism game could be a good place to start. Then, for essential items you might need close by in a living room like television remotes, coasters, stylish books, and candles (a must), corral them on trays and stick to a rule of three when displaying them on a coffee table for example. This means your space will never be overly busy, whilst clustering similar pieces together will bring a sense of cohesion, too.


Though it is easy to think that all small living rooms look like a box, this isn't always the case. Some small living room spaces are fairly average in terms of square footage, but are filled with alcoves and odd design decisions that render them awkward living room spaces to work with as a whole. 

Pay close attention to layering textures, including items that add function and personality, and your room can still look cool and minimal, without feeling totally plain and empty.

Camille Dubuis-Welch
Former Deputy Editor

I'm Cam, the former deputy editor of Real Homes who worked on the site from 2020 to 2023. As a renter myself, sharing a home with two friends (and my cat) in London, I know all too well the challenges that this can pose when it comes to creating your perfect setup. As someone who has always loved everything interior design-related, I cannot rest until a home feels right and I am really passionate about helping others get there too, no matter what their living situation, style, or budget may be. It’s not always the easiest to figure out, but the journey is fun and the results are so worth it.

After interior design, travel, art, and photography are my next big passions. When I’m not writing or editing homes content, I’m usually tapping into other creative outlets, exploring galleries in London or further afield, taking photos, scribbling, or drawing! 

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