How To Make a Small Living Room Look Less Cluttered —'It's Far More Elegant This Way'

Professional organizers and interior designers share their top tips for a small living room that's clutter-free as well as stylish

how to make a small living room look less cluttered; small apartment living room with large chandelier and art by Brad Ramsey
(Image credit: Brad Ramsey Interiors/Showcase Photographers)

When space is at a premium, keeping it tidy and ordered is more important than ever. Making a small living room look less cluttered can create the illusion of more space, as well as a more relaxed, inviting vibe.

'Creating a clutter-free room isn't just about clearing space; it's mastering the art of smart organization,' says Michelle Urban, Founder, The Organized House. 

'Focus on what matters most and get savvy with how you store or showcase your stuff for a more elegant space.'

Whether you're wondering how to declutter in 10 minutes or thinking about a bigger project, this approach is vital. She continues:  'Keep surfaces clear by tidying up and removing unnecessary items. It's always a good idea to give your items a specific spot so they don't end up scattered everywhere. For example, in a family room, have a designated place for remotes, magazines, and blankets.'

How To Make a Small Living Room Look Less Cluttered

See more top expert tips on how to make a small living room look less cluttered below - a bijou lounge can feel spacious and chic with the right styling and organizational pieces.

1. Use your vertical space

Small living room with tall shelving by Kristen Pena

(Image credit: Kristen Pena Interiors/Brad Knipstein)

Installing floor-to-ceiling shelving works two-fold to enhance a small living room: as well as offering small living room storage solutions for a clutter-free area, it also helps to draw the eye upwards and create a feeling of more space.

'If you have tall ceilings, utilize shelving for storage, which will draw the eye up, while also leaving the rest of the room clear of clutter,' advises Molly Torres Portnof of DATE Interiors. A large bookshelf also does the trick.

And Lauren Lerner, CEO and Founder of Living with Lolo, agrees tall storage is a great solution for a clutter-free space, adding: 'With a small room, you always want to utilize vertical space like shelving and bookcases.'

2. But keep open shelving ordered

Small living room with bespoke shelving by Melinda Kelson O'Connor

(Image credit: Melinda Kelson O'Connor Architecture & Interiors/Sarah Millet)

Whilst utilizing your vertical space is an effective way to a more clutter-free small living room, what you don't want to do is overcrowd your open shelving.

'Keeping your decor pieces organized and stylish is key when using open shelves to show off your stuff,' warns Michelle Urban, founder of The Organized House. As with the 80/20 decluttering rule, you want to keep the things you use in each reach.

'Skip the overcrowding - too much on display can make it all look chaotic. Instead, pick a handful of decor or books you love and arrange them in a way that catches the eye.'

Michelle's top styling tip? 'Try grouping by color, size, or theme for a neat, coordinated look. Remember, less is more! Let your favorites steal the spotlight and keep that display chic and clean.'

3. Stick to essential or multifunctional furniture pieces

small living room with oversized art by Kristen Pena Interiors

(Image credit: Kristen Pena Interiors/Brad Knipstein)

Choosing furniture pieces that really serve a practical purpose and avoiding superfluous items is a step in the right direction to a clutter-free small living room.

Living with Lolo's Lauren Lerner says: 'When trying to make a small room less cluttered, it is important to prioritize essential furniture and keep only items that serve a practical purpose. 

'We love selecting pieces with hidden storage so that they are as functional as possible.'

And Kristen Pena, principal, K Interiors, urges you to slim down on furniture and think about alternative placement arrangements to avoid a cluttered look.

She says: 'Say goodbye to maximalism. We have moved on to a trend of a few gorgeous pieces embracing the less is more vibe! 

'In an effort to make a small living room look less cluttered, look into unique furniture arrangements. It’s possible that one really great chair takes the place of what would be normally two. Choose your profiles with intent to create a visual story and you’ll never miss the second chair.'

Michelle Urban, meanwhile, highlights the efficacy of multifunctional furniture in a small space.

She says: 'One way to make the most of your space is by using furniture that serves multiple purposes. This can help you maximize your available space and make your home more functional. 

'For example, use a coffee table with compartments or an ottoman that offers storage inside. These smart organizing solutions look great and provide clever storage for books, mags, blankets, and whatever else you'd rather keep out of sight.'

4. Scale down on the number of small decor pieces

small living in neutral color palette by Victoria Holly Interiors

(Image credit: Victoria Holly Interiors/Lauren Engel)

Whilst a beautiful vignette and a few books will add character to a space, try not to overwhelm a small living room with an avalanche of decor pieces. 

A few larger, thoughtfully selected pieces will work best to create a clutter-free space in a small living room. Essentially, the minimaluxe approach.

'When it comes to decorating a small living room, opting for a few larger statement pieces can make a big difference,' says Michelle Urban.

'Rather than having many small items, larger pieces help to reduce visual clutter and create a more cohesive look. For example, instead of several small paintings or photographs on the wall, one large piece of art can make a bolder statement and draw the eye in. Similarly, a big rug can anchor the room and provide a focal point, while smaller rugs create a disjointed look.'

5. Conceal cords and wires

small white living room with white sofa by Victoria Holly Interiors

(Image credit: Victoria Holly Interiors/Lauren Engel)

Nothing makes a space look more untidy and chaotic than myriad cords littering the room. Happily, there are many ways to tidy cables.

'To keep your living spaces neat and organized, conceal all the cords and wires from electronic devices,' suggests Michelle Urban. 

'You can use cord organizers or routing channels to keep everything hidden.'

Perfect pieces to help you declutter a small living room

Ruth Doherty is a lifestyle journalist based in London. An experienced freelance digital writer and editor, she is known for covering everything from travel and interiors to fashion and beauty. She regularly contributes to Livingetc, Ideal Home and Homes & Gardens, as well as titles like Prima and Red. Outside of work, her biggest loves are endless cups of tea, almond croissants, shopping for clothes she doesn’t need, and booking holidays she does.