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

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

Small 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 small 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 small 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.

Small 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 small 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. 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 small 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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 small 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. 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.

How do you decorate a small apartment living room?

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.

Jennifer Ebert
Jennifer Ebert

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.