17 apartment living room ideas – enhance the feeling of space in a studio

These apartment living room ideas will supersize even a small space.

Apartment living room ideas in blue and orange, with striped sofas, white armchairs and a wall of painted built-in storage.
(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

If you are looking for apartment living room ideas, then you’ll be more than aware of the tricky task of making a room look wider, taller or brighter than it actually is, while also trying to make every corner look cozy. 

These apartment living room ideas will help inspire you to achieve the space of your dreams.

Though it can be challenging to find the right small living room ideas for apartments and studios, there are several benefits to compact living. A well-designed scheme can feel just as comfortable as a larger space, with all the coziness and comfort associated with family living. One of the main advantages is the convenient accessibility of everything that’s needed. Easy maintenance is another bonus.

All you have to do now is to find the perfect color scheme, layout and furniture style to suit your space – and that's where our living room ideas come in.

Apartment living room ideas

If your apartment has a small living room, there are ways you can enhance it so it feels larger and thoughtfully designed. Our tips and apartment living room ideas will get you started.

1. Emphasize vertical lines to cheat the eye

A black apartment living room idea with small curved cream sofa and cream drapes.

(Image credit: Stefani Stein)

Whether you choose striped wallpaper or floor-to-ceiling hung drapes, you are creating a visual trick, drawing the eye up and down a wall rather than across it, which dupes the brain into seeing a small apartment living room as taller than it is. When used in long living room ideas too, this trick can help rebalance a room's narrow proportions. 

So, if your apartment living room has low ceilings, use this interior designer's trick – but soften the effect with curvaceous furniture.

2. Choose curvaceous furniture

Apartment living room ideas with a red and purple curved-print rug, curved red chaise longue and green patterned walls.

(Image credit: Future / Damian Russell)

To develop a little on what we said above, curved furniture is a great way to furnish a whole host of apartment living room ideas. Why? It is less visually brutal than furniture with hard lines – especially pieces chosen to contrast starkly with the other colors in the room. 

Secondly, curves save space – with those corners knocked off, they are visually smaller, perfect for a cramped space. So think curved when selecting a couch for a small living room.

3. Direct your gaze to the view

Modern apartment living room ideas in a white and gold scheme, with curved white sofas and views out onto London's skyline.

(Image credit: Elicyon/Peter Williamson)

If your small apartment living room has a great view, arrange furniture to show it off. This might mean that you ditch the classic living room layout for a more unconventional arrangement, but it will be worth the compromise. 

Choose furniture that works well with a more open layout – armless sofas and chairs, for example, won't interrupt the sight lines. This London apartment living room, designed by Elicyon, is the perfect example of this approach.

4. Zone a small living room in an apartment

A gray apartment living room with blue sofa, gold ottoman and primary colored accents along with a mirrored wall and large modern art works.

 

(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

If you are looking for apartment living room ideas that will work in larger, open-plan spaces, it is vital to include zoned spaces on your moodboard – or it is likely that the room will feel unplanned, and therefore unwelcoming.

The easiest way to zone open-plan spaces is with furniture, grouping seating around a rug, and dividing it from the rest of the space with a large piece of furniture where the rug ends. 

Here, the clever use of small living room lighting ideas on the console behind the sofa creates welcoming pools of light that delineate one area from another.

5. Have apartment living rooms fitted for storage

Apartment living room ideas in blue and orange, with striped sofas, white armchairs and a wall of painted built-in storage.

(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

Studio or apartment living rooms cry out for fitted furniture that can not only hold (and hide) everything they need to, but also make use of every inch of space in a way that feels calm and uncluttered – so opt for built-in small living room storage ideas wherever you can.

Here, the storage wall has been cleverly brought into the room through the use of the orange accent color. The orange backdrop offers a dramatic contrast to the accessories displayed, further heightening its effect.

6. Decorate with a monochromatic color scheme

Monochromatic apartment living room ideas illustrated in blue and white, with white walls and blue armchairs and rug, alongside a glass chandelier and glass doors leading onto a small balcony.

(Image credit: Richard Powers)

Monochromatic living room color schemes, using different tones of the same color, will help to make the furniture and other features recede and appear to take up less space when factored into apartment living room ideas. 

Soften the palette by adding a warm gray or blue, like in this white and blue living room, rather than a harsh black or white.

7. Keep small apartment flooring simple

Small living room ideas for apartments featuring gold and blue sofas and cushions in a traditional, neutral scheme.

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

Flooring should be unfussy so it blends into the background. Plain, neutral carpet works well in most small apartment living room ideas. Going without a rug will also open up the floor space.

8. Use the same color palette

A fully cream and white small apartment living room, with sheepskin rug and throw and textured artwork.

(Image credit: Little Greene)

When decorating small spaces, create the illusion of higher ceilings by painting walls, floors, woodwork and even fireplaces all the same color. This provides a seamless look, where your eyes are not stopped by a change in color, thus giving the illusion of a larger space. 

Paint low ceilings brilliant white, or a lighter tone of the same color that's used on the walls, to create the illusion of height. You can add color with soft furnishings and accessories.

In this entirely cream and white living room scheme, low-slung furniture has been used effectively to make the room look taller, too.

9. Go for one feature piece – and frame it

A large oil painting on a pale gray wood panelled wall above a blue sofa and leather ottoman, illustrating small apartment living room ideas.

(Image credit: Gunter & Co)

Choose one large-scale piece to showcase in your apartment living room ideas – a large-scale artwork, an oversized lampshade, or a wall-to-ceiling mirror. By choosing carefully, these large accessories will become the focus of any gazes, which draws attention away from the lack of space.

A clever trick has been used in this apartment living space by interior design agency Gunter & Co: the artwork has been framed in a portrait-shaped panel that sits alongside other identical panels. This trick of creating tall rectangles across a wall is a clever way to add architectural detail to an otherwise plain space, and to exaggerate the height of the ceiling in what might otherwise seem like a low-ceilinged space.

10. Play with scale

A dark blue, white and red apartment living room scheme with armchairs facing each other around an acrylic coffee table.

(Image credit: Rachel Smith)

Carefully consider which furniture would work best when planning small apartment living room ideas. 

Adding clear or hi-shine perspex chairs or a glass coffee table will give the room the feeling of more air and space. Light will bounce around glass furniture and glossy surfaces, so plenty of shiny and mirrored furniture and accessories will make a small living room feel bigger.

11. Invest in space-saving furniture

Built-in pale gray shelving around a red and white patterned couch in small apartment living room ideas.

(Image credit: Future/Paul Raeside)

Use shelves for items you really want to display. Floor-to-ceiling shelving will make good use of all the space you have at your disposal, and keep everything off the floor.

To make the room feel as large as possible, don't over-stuff the shelves – instead, decorate their interiors to complement the rest of your scheme, like in this sophisticated gray living room with red accents, and keep them under-populated.

12. Consider armless furniture

A large purple modular sofa and matching footstool in a modern white and orange living room with skylight.

(Image credit: Jonathan Gooch)

Opt for armless chairs and sofas for space-enhancing apartment living room ideas, and consider a corner unit sofa to create a more open feel. 

Not only space-saving, armless pieces will also give you the opportunity to reposition your furniture more frequently in a variety of combinations. An arm may not seem bulky, but when it is not there, the room appears cleaner, sleeker and less cluttered.

13. Use shine to make a small apartment living room feel larger

Small apartment living room ideas in a white scheme with gray velvet sofa and glass chandelier.

(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

Try using silks, satins and velvets on upholstery and soft furnishings. Their soft shimmer and shine will add to the feeling of space, and instill a sense of understated luxury into a small living room apartment.

14. Match walls to woodwork

Gray apartment living room ideas with built-in storage, a pale sectional sofa and orange leather armchair.

(Image credit: Richard Powers)

Make a small apartment living room feel larger by painting the walls and woodwork in the same shade. 

If you're brave enough, paint the ceiling in a brighter shade as well, to make the room feel taller. As long as your ceiling is painted in a paler color than your walls, no matter what the color, your ceilings will feel higher.

15. Hang a tall mirror 

A faded mirror over a black fireplace in a white scheme with red patterned armchairs, illustrating small apartment living room ideas.

(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

Not surprisingly, mirrors can make a room look larger. Hang a large mirror on a wall opposite a window or very near one to reflect the outdoors, broadening the feel of your room. 

Mirrors reflect both natural and artificial light to make a room brighter during the day and night and they bounce light deep into the room, making it appear larger.

16. Clear the clutter

Minimalist apartment living room ideas illustrated in a white scheme with pale gray modular seating and dark blue and yellow accents.

(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

The key to compact apartment living is to be exceptionally well organized. 'In my experience, small spaces can actually transform personal habits for the better, as they require careful editing and storage,' advises Irina Townsend of Keir Townsend. 

Make sure you keep your living room tidy and organized by removing any knickknacks or unnecessary items, and your space will instantly feel more spacious and pleasant to be in.

17. Make a studio stand out

A white studio apartment with pale blue bed, sofa and armchairs around a walnut coffee table.

(Image credit: Richard Powers)

Try to create the feel of rooms within a room in studio apartments by invisibly dividing your living area into key spaces to accommodate separate living, work, and sleeping zones. Use living room paint ideas to unify the space, with a consistent color palette and flooring throughout. 

Consider storage systems with pull down beds in small studios, to make the most of your living space during the day, while larger spaces will benefit from a sliding door system to divide living and sleeping zones.

How do you decorate a small living room in an apartment?

Small living rooms in apartments may be short of space but can still be big on style. A carefully designed studio apartment that incorporates plenty of concealed storage and furniture that is tailored to the space can achieve a sense of comfort and convenience that belies a modest square footage.

Select furniture pieces that are in proportion to the size of your room – oversized cabinets, sofas and chairs can make a small room feel narrow. Furniture that is the same color as your walls tends to blend into the wall, making it look wider, and make sure you arrange your furniture at an angle to create a sense of depth to the room.

Consider finishing the walls in polished plaster, a material that reflects light and increases visual perception of space. Any other reflective decorative surfaces, such as patinated mirrors, silver leaf or lacquer, will make the space seem bigger too.

When decorating a small room, create a focal point – one area or feature that will draw the eye so there’s less emphasis on the room’s layout. In apartment living room ideas this will most likely be the sofa or coffee table, so make sure that focal point is the star of the room.

How do I arrange living room furniture in a small apartment?

Arranging living room furniture in a small apartment is all about keeping things simple and working with the proportions of the room. Low ceilings will call for low-slung furniture that makes the ceiling seem taller; huge windows should be kept clear of furniture – or at least bulky or tall furniture – to maximize light and to show off the view. 

It also pays to arrange and buy items correctly. One great way to make the most of a smaller space is by using multi-function furniture, like a chest that can be used as a coffee table, a nest of tables, beds with drawers for hidden bedroom storage, extendable dining tables, and folding chairs that can be tucked away when you don’t need them. 

Another important pointer is to place large pieces of furniture against walls so the open space in the middle of the room is not broken up.