Designers swear by this small living room layout - 'it makes the space feel bigger'

Have a small living room and want to expand its potential and functionality? You need to adopt and drop these trends

A small living room with bulky sofas and a low coffee table
(Image credit: Gabriel Vorbon. Studio credit Folistudio)

A small living room's layout can feel like a tricky puzzle. The limited square footage can reduce your decorating options, but the right furniture arrangements and pieces can create more function than you'd imagine. So, when it comes to putting the room together, what should you adopt and what should you keep out? 

To help you understand trends in small living rooms, we asked designers to suggest ideas. These tips by designers will tell you what to adopt and what to drop before conceptualizing this space.

YES: to an open-plan layout

A small living room connected to a dining room

(Image credit: Pedro Kok. Studio credit David Ito Arquitetura)

An effective small apartment living room layout trick is to expand the visuals and sightlines in the room. This means, consider merging this room with another, adjoining one so that the living room feels large and airy. Do not go in for a circular seating arrangement that defines a zone. Instead, place the seaters against the walls, leaving plenty of circulation space in the middle. Have a large sectional, accompanied by poufs, stools, and floor cushions creating a streamlined and aesthetically pleasing and light effect.

'When a living room is or feels small, the goal is to make the space feel bigger by connecting it to the rest of the home, either by converting the room into an open floor plan [taking down separators] so that both areas are directly connected or by positioning a transitional piece in between the two rooms, like a chaise, bench or swivel chair to create subtle zones that don't reduce the footprint,' says Guillaume Coutheillas, founder of frenchCALIFORNIA.

NO: to standard coffee tables

A small living room with an ottoman in the centre

(Image credit: Montse Garriga. Studio credit Cuaik CDS)

In small living rooms, the trend of a large coffee table in the center is slowly fading away. Instead, designers are recommending using multifunctional pieces like small living room storage pieces, that act as a coffee table and offer more function than just being a tabletop for mugs and books. 

'If a space is too small, which can be common in city homes, we like to incorporate big ottomans as coffee tables to expand the space further,' says Devon Wegman, founder and design director of Devon Grace Interiors. 'Sometimes we'll incorporate modular ottomans that fit together to create a focal point but can be moved around as needed.'

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Design Editor

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is the Design Editor at Livingetc. She is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast). Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.