17 small living room ideas for apartments – enhance the feeling of space in a studio

These small living room ideas for apartments will supersize your space. Use our pictures to make the smallest of rooms feel perfectly proportioned

Small living room ideas for apartments
(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

If you are looking for small living room ideas for apartments, then you’ll be more than aware of the tricky task of making it look wider, taller or brighter than it actually is, while also trying to make every corner look cozy. These small living room ideas for apartments will help you to achieve the space of your dreams.

Though small apartments and studios living rooms can present challenges, 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 we come in.

See: Small living room ideas – clever ways to plan and decorate a smaller space

Small living room ideas for apartments

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

See: Living room ideas – clever ways to decorate living spaces, whatever its size

1. Emphasize vertical lines to cheat the eye

small living room ideas for apartments

(Image credit: Stefani Stein)

Whether you choose striped wallpaper or floor-to-ceiling hung wallpaper, 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. 

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

2. Choose curvaceous furniture

small living room ideas for apartments

(Image credit: Future / Damian Russell)

To develop a little on what we said above, curved furniture is a great way to furnish a small apartment living room idea. 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.

3. Direct your gaze to the view

small living room ideas for apartments

(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

small living room ideas for apartments


(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

If you are looking for small living room ideas for apartments with 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, lighting 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

Small living room ideas for apartments

(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

Apartment or studio 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. 

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

6. Decorate with a monochromatic color scheme

Small living room ideas for apartments

(Image credit: Richard Powers)

A monochromatic color scheme, using different tones of the same color, will help to make the furniture and other features recede and appear to take up less space. Soften the palette by adding a warm gray blue rather than a harsh black or white.

7. Keep small apartment flooring simple

Small living room ideas for apartments

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

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

8. Use the same color palette

small living room ideas for apartments

(Image credit: Little Greene)

Create the illusion of higher ceilings by painting walls and floors, woodwork and even fireplaces all the same color, this provides a seamless space where your eyes are not stopped by a change in color, thus giving the illusion of more 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.

Low-slung furniture has been used effectively to make the room look taller, too.

9. Go for one feature piece – and frame it

small living room ideas for apartments

(Image credit: Gunter & Co)

Choose one large-scale piece – a large-scale artwork, an oversized lampshade or a wall to ceiling mirror. By choosing carefully these large accessories will draw attention away from the lack of space and focus the eye onto other things.

A clever trick has been used in this 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 be a low-ceilinged space.

10. Play with scale

small living room ideas for apartments

(Image credit: Rachel Smith)

Carefully consider which furniture would work best in a small living room apartment. 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 room feel larger.

11. Invest in space-saving furniture

small living room ideas for apartments

(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 and keep them under-populated.

12. Consider armless furniture

Small living room ideas for apartments

(Image credit: Jonathan Gooch)

Opt for armless chairs and sofas and consider a corner unit sofa to create a more open feel. Not only space-saving, armless pieces will 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 reflection and shine to make a small apartment living room feel larger

Small living room ideas for apartments

(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

Try using silks, satins and velvets on upholstery and soft furnishings, this 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

small living room ideas for apartments

(Image credit: Richard Powers)

Make a 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, helping a narrow room feel more spacious.

15. Hang a tall mirror 

small living room ideas for apartments

(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

small living room ideas for apartments

(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

The key to compact 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, Keir Townsend. Make sure you keep your room tidy and organized by removing toys, plants, knickknacks and other unnecessary items, and your space will instantly feel bigger and more pleasant to be in.

17. Make a studio stand out

small living room ideas for apartments

(Image credit: Richard Powers)

Try to create the feel of rooms within a room, by invisibly dividing your living area into key spaces to accommodate separate living, work, and sleeping zones, unified by 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 the living room, it 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. 

See: Small living room storage ideas – clever ways to clear clutter in a compact space

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, nest of tables, beds with drawers for 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 is not broken up.