Clever sofa ideas for small living rooms that will prove a compact floor plan can still go a long way

These sofa ideas for small living rooms will up both the style and functionality of compact spaces

A curving sofa in the small living room
(Image credit: Kingston Lafferty Design. Photo credit Al Higgins Photography)

Finding the perfect sofa for a small living room usually means striking a compromise – whether that's in size, comfort or style might depend on where your priorities lie. 

The ideal small space sofa would be compact yet provide seating for several people comfortably, but in an ideal world, it's got to look good and be versatile, too. Thankfully, with a little inspiration, you can re-imagine a sofa to better suit your small living room. 

So where to begin? These experts have suggested some great small living room ideas with clever sofa styles, layouts and more to make your space work better. 

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari
Aditi Sharma Maheshwari

Aditi is a homes writer and editor with several years of experience. Her articles, backed by expert insights, offer suggestions aimed at helping readers make the best home design choices. For this article, she spoke to top experts from the industry to understand the best sofa designs for small living rooms.

8 creative sofa ideas for small living rooms

'With many homes becoming smaller and more compact, there are some key design considerations you should make to maximize on the space available, especially when it comes to the living room,' says Emma Deterding, founder of Kelling Designs. 'A room in which we spend a lot of time relaxing, socializing and living, it's really important to plan it to make sure it's equally practical as it is stylish.' 

Have a think about who will use the space and how. 'This will enable you to make easier decisions on elements like the size of the sofa, other upholstery pieces such as armchairs and ottomans, as well as storage furniture,' says Emma.  

1. Go custom to perfectly fit your space

A living room sofa fit into the wall

(Image credit: Chad Dorsey)

When picking out your small living room furniture, a made-to-measure piece that fits perfectly, and snugly into the room's dimensions might just be the best bet. While this solution may not be ideal for renters or those on a budget, for rhose with a little extra spending power, there's nothing like a sofa that fits like a glove. 

The advantage of customizing is that it allows you to choose the best design, color, and fabric as well, so you can make your sofa not only highly functional but also a statement piece in the home. 

2. Choose a sectional

A small living room with dark green walls and a deep tan sectional sofa

(Image credit: Mary Patton)

If you want to fit as much seating as possible into a small living room, a sectional is your answer. Though these pieces of furniture are larger than the average sofa, they make use of every inch of space, into the very corners of the room, ensuring you have as much seating area as possible without introducing separate pieces of furniture. If you have a large family or like to host a lot of friends, you'll understand the appeal of a sectional sofa.

'A sectional sofa plays a major role when your living area is a narrow one,' says Noorein Kapoor, founder of NKD. 'It can be easily placed in a small corner of your living area as it is a compact design that provides more seating space and can be built according to the size in consideration.'

The great thing about sectionals is that they can be configured to work within nearly any kind of space limitation. In a small living room layout, it can be placed against a wall so that there is enough circulation space in the middle. In a large living room, it can be placed in the middle so its back creates a subtle partition between different areas.

Leather Convertible Sectional Sofa, Target
Editor's pick

Leather Convertible Sectional Sofa, Target

This sectional offers generous seating and dense foam padding that makes the seating experience comfortable. The modular piece can be placed along a wall and is the ideal addition for a room with small dimensions.

3. Bring in a lightweight sofa

A thin framed sofa

(Image credit: SML Architects)

In a small, narrow living room, it may be a good idea to find a sofa that is small, compact, sleek, and straight-lined. A visually and physically lightweight piece will not only look neat and orderly inside a small living room but also make it look larger.

'Taking a lightweight sofa where the legs are exposed makes the living area look much bigger,' says Noorein. 'Centralizing the position of your sofa design for a small living room makes the room look wider. Taking into consideration the functionality of the sofa and the design of the piece, including color,  proportion, weight, placement, shape, and style is also key.'

In a design like the above, the choice of seating doesn't offer the sumptuous comfort you'd necessarily want for a cozy snug, but for a small space it's a compromise to consider, especially when packed out with comfy cushions. 

4. Reimagine your living room seating 

A long sofa integrated into the architecture

(Image credit: Pascali Semerdjian arquitetos)

Where a structural column interrupted the layout on this small apartment, an innovative sofa idea not only allowed for this set-up to take shape, it also re-imagined how the owners could use this space. In this small apartment living room,  the sofa surrounds the pillar and thanks to its movable backs, can be used to lie down on comfortably to watch television or sit facing the dining room. Though unconventional, it's far bigger of a seating area than could have ever feasibly been incorporated otherwise, especially given the restraints of the space. 

The thoughtful pick of soft blue juxtaposes against the yellow flooring and while the square footage is small, the resulting room has a magical, colorful feel. 

5. Create flow with curved sofas 

A curving sofa

(Image credit: Kingston Lafferty Design)

There are many advantages of curved sofas – this help create a cozy living room, are useful for defining an area, they help break up a long narrow room and define the family-room portion. Design-wise, when you float the sofa away from the wall, there is something so sculptural about a sweeping curved back that doesn't make the room feel stiff. Plus, a curving sofa can be placed within a curving niche or corner, making it look like it was made perfectly for the space.

A curving sofa can also offer more seating, as dwellers make use of the extra, rounded corners to perch or even stretch out on. 

'I think when you're using the sofa to sit on, rest or sleep on, there has to be a kind of softness and tactility to the piece,' say Nipa Doshi and Jonathan Levien, founders of international interior design brand Doshi Levien. 'This doesn't mean the sofa needs to be strictly round but there is something about human beings inherently relating to curves. In any case, sharp corners on a sofa can make the seating experience a little uncomfortable.'

6. Fit a sofa along a wall

Small red living room with corner sofa

(Image credit: Christian Bense)

A sofa placed in the living room corner, next to a window, or along a wall can be a great addition to the small space, as it can provide seating in the room while maintaining circulation space in the middle. 

'A corner sofa fit-to-size is often the go-to choice for a smaller space as people feel it provides cozy seating that doesn't take up too much room, however, going for a 3-seat and 2-seat sofa can be just as effective, providing enough seats whilst giving the illusion of space,' says Emma of Kelling Designs. 'Furniture pieces that are raised on legs will also help to create the illusion of space, helping to keep the floor clear.'

7. Avoid huge prints on the sofa

A sofa with no print

(Image credit: Lindye Galloway Studio + Shop. Photo credit Leslie Brown)

'Avoid opting for a sofa that features a huge pattern or print,' says Emma. 'The chances are you'll grow sick of it in a few years and any changes you make to the overall space will clash – it'll limit the rest of your design choices as time goes on. Instead, opt for something comfortable, beautiful, and timeless.' 

'Many amazing performance fabrics are lifeproof that look beautiful, but will also survive anything,' Emma adds. 'Whether you go for a neutral linen or a bold and vivid velvet, this will create the perfect base for you to update and refresh with new paints, living room wallpaper or smaller accessories time and time again.'

8. Pair seating with a compact daybed

A daybed

(Image credit: Studio DB)

A daybed in the living room is full of advantages. The furniture piece is great for reclining or leaning on to read, playing video games, or working on a laptop. Many daybeds these days have chaise-like options that make them as good as a standard bed or like a lazy boy chair. 

Some designs have side rails or armrests, so you can easily lean or lounge around in them. Plus, the bottom cushion on a daybed is a standard mattress, so plenty of comfort and support is guaranteed.

'A daybed is designed to fit in a small area,' says Noorein. 'It can be coupled with two armchairs, a pouf with a small center table to make it a whole set. It can also be switched into a bed to solve the purpose for a guest to spend a night at your place.'

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.