15 small apartment living room ideas that prove tiny can still be trendy

These small apartment living room ideas are sure to inspire a makeover, no matter the size of space you are working with

small apartment living room ideas
(Image credit: Ikea)

Small apartment living room ideas are something we are always looking out for, because the majority of us aren't blessed with a ton of space. It's always inspiring to see well-thought-out, stylish, tiny living rooms and just how creative you can get with decorating an apartment and all its small areas.

We put together five spaces that just show how much you can do with a small apartment living room — from practical tips for expanding your space to handy multifunction furniture buys to make your room work harder. 

How can you decorate a small apartment living room?

When it comes to decorating a small apartment living room from scratch there is a tendency to just focus on function. But while, yes practicality is just as important as design in small spaces, it doesn't mean you can't think style and substance when planning your decor. 

We covered both right here, the practical advice you need and the inspiring design ideas you want, so just keep scrolling to get inspired...

1. Decide on what furniture you need (and don't need)

Living room ideas

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

When it comes to picking furniture for a small apartment living room, less is probably more. Really think about the pieces that you need and what will get plenty of use. 

Storage and seating are obviously essentials but you could forgo a sofa for two cozy armchairs, or pick a small sectional that you can design to fit in your space? When it comes to deciding on storage, think about what furniture you could buy that would double up as storage so you don't have to waste space with solely storage pieces. Coffee tables with hidden storage are ideal for this, as are TV units.

2. Fill a small apartment living room with personality and prints 

Green velvet sofa in front of a gallery wall

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

We have previously advised keeping things simple in a small room so the space feels as large and airy as possible but we might have to backtrack on that slightly. Don't be afraid to still add plenty of 'stuff' to a small living room, you don't want it to feel stark and bear so make sure you add in prints and patterns that suit your style. It can actually make the space feel bigger because having plenty on the wall can blur the edges of the room.

Our tip would be to keep at least two walls completely clear however and still make sure there is some negative space in there. 

3. Pick out slimline furniture 

Living room with rocking chair from Ikea

(Image credit: Ikea/Benjamin Edwards)

So to stop your small living feeling too crowded even with all your lovely pieces in, switch swap out dark, bulky furniture for more slimline pieces. You want the light to still be able to flow around your space and lots of room between the furniture and floor to keep the space feeling airy. 

4. Expand your apartment's small living room with mirrors


(Image credit: Veronica Sheaffer)

It's interior design 101, mirrors make spaces feel bigger. A strategically placed mirror can make the smallest of living rooms 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. 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). 

5. Have a rethink of your small apartment living room

Small apartment living room with house plants

(Image credit: Ikea)

A really simple, small apartment living room idea that doesn't even involve you buying anything new is to have a reshuffle of your space. There is a common tendency, when designing a living room layout, to shove all your furnishings up against walls. 

But this attempt to claim back those precious few inches can often have an adverse effect. Instead, copy this small living room design and pull your furniture away from the wall a tad, creating space around the outside of the room, and group them around a central coffee table.

6. Embrace your tiny dimensions and make a small living room feel extra cosy 

Living room with large corner sofa, coffee table and monochrome rug

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

We are all always so keen to try and make small space feel bigger, but what if we just embraced the tiny proportions? You want a living room to be cozy and inviting and small living rooms are perfect for this, so layer up the soft furnishings add in plenty of low, glowy lighting (fairy lights too obviously) and snuggle up in your diddy but delightful space. 

7. Make practical storage a stylish feature of your room 

When square footage is limited, keeping everything organised is key, hence the need for extra savvy storage. Wall-mounted shelves look amazing even in smaller living rooms (as the #shelfie trend proves), they are often inexpensive, plus they will save on precious floor space, too. 

Pick shelves that are a mix of open and closed so you can hide away unsightly clutter and keep all your nicest knick-knacks and healthiest house plants on show. For more inspiring shelving ideas check out our gallery. 

8. Pick the right color scheme for small apartment living rooms

Ikea rugs

(Image credit: Ikea)

Generally speaking, crisp white walls and minimalist hues are always going to make a small living room feel more spacious. But neutral doesn't have to mean boring, there are loads of neutral colors you can layer up to create a really interesting space. Pair white with off whites, creams, greys and browns to add loads of depth but still keep the scheme light and fresh.

9. Don't be afraid to go bold with colors

Green living room

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

It may be common knowledge that you should stick to lighter colors if you want to expand a small apartment living room, but color lovers fear not because filling a room with color can have just the same effect. Picking a bold, colorful palette can in fact distract from the small dimension of the room.

If you prefer a more vibrant aesthetic over magnolia-blah then run with it. Just approach with a bit of a plan, pick a few colors and dot them about the room in ways that won't overwhelm the space – rugs, cushions, throws, soft furnishings will be your friends here. 

10. Wall mount your furniture

Apartment living room storage with floating storage unit

(Image credit: Ikea)

You'd be surprised how much of a difference losing the legs of your furniture and wall-mounting it instead would make. But by getting that furniture up off the floor and floating it just a few inches off the ground really tricks the eye into thinking there's more space because nothing is breaking up the floor area. 

11. Go minimalist 

Fireplace ideas

(Image credit: Modern Organic)

You knew it was coming. In any gallery about small spaces you just know at least one point is going to mention Marie Kondo and how your best option is to declutter. Sorry guys, there's a reason you hear it so much, it's because it's true. The best way to create a light, airy, spacious small living room is to literally have less stuff in it.  

Now that doesn't mean you have to throw out everything and just have a sofa floating in the middle of your room, but do go through everything in your current space and decide if it works, could it work better elsewhere? It is bringing anything to the room? You'll find that having less stuff to cram into your space will instantly make it feel bigger. 

12. Allude to height with floor to ceiling curtains

Log cabin living room

(Image credit: Future/Malcolm Menzies)

A really easy hack to give a small living room some height is drapes. Hang curtains slightly above your window and let them fall all the way to the floor to create the allusion of bigger windows and taller ceilings. Pick a light, floaty material too as you want to maximize the natural light. 

13. Throw down an oversized rug

Nikki’s elegant, light-filled extension took hard work, time, plenty of saving and attention to detail

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Easy way to make a small apartment living room feel bigger? Add a massive rug. In a small space, having lots of small furniture and decor just floating in the room is only going to make it feel tinier. Whereas a large rug that's nearly the size of the room isn't going to break up the floor space and you can use it as an anchor for your furniture. Treat the dimensions of the rug like the edges of the room and plan your layout around it. 

14. Choose glass furniture

Veronica Garcia Rodriguez

(Image credit: Future)

Using glass or acrylic furniture in a small space has long been a way of getting in some extra furniture without adding more visual clutter to the space. They add that extra surface space to park your coffee, but when not in use they almost blue into the background because light just flows right through them. Clever.  

15. Think about lighting a small apartment living room

Ikea lighting for a living room

(Image credit: Ikea)

You always want a small space to be well lit but you never want it to come from just one source. Layered lighting is key to create ambiance, so make sure you have a couple lights going on in our space. As well as an overhead light, add some wall sconces (perfect for small apartment living rooms as they take up zero floor space) and a floor lamp too for soft but more focused lighting.

Loving how this statement floor light almost work as a pendant and adds a real focal point to the room. 

How can you decorate a small apartment living room on a budget?

The best way to decorate a small apartment living room on a budget is to shop second hand. Hunt around thrift shops and eBay for bargain finds, and remember that even if something isn't perfect, think if you can upcycle it to suit your space better. Buying second hand furniture and decor isn't just going to save you money it also a guaranteed way to bring personality into your living room and make it feel more unique.  

How can you maximize space in a small apartment living room?

A simple way to maximise space in a small apartment living room is to not overcrowd it withe furniture and get your layout right. As we have said previously, only pick furniture that's going to get maximum use, and if you can get pieces that are multifunctional then even better!

When it comes to layout, don't just push everything up against walls, even though that seems like the most tempting thing to do in a small apartment living room. Give your furniture some space and you'll instantly see how much bigger it makes the room feel. 

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.