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Decorating a Small Living Room

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Decorating a Small Living Room

Neutral colors, lots of storage, lack of clutter and simple lines make this small space shine.

Photo © Comstock Images/Getty

Decorating a small living room is often a cause of stress and frustration. Besides our sleeping space, we spend more time per day in our living room than any other, and we’re usually awake!

The reality is that you can have a small living room that functions as well and looks as beautiful as a large one. The key is to take advantage of small space solutions.

Our solutions to common problems for decorating a small living room, and small room layout and design, will help turn your troubled living room into a divine design in no time!


Problem #1: Clutter Control
Even large living rooms won’t look beautiful with a lot of clutter, and small spaces easily become overwhelmed by too much stuff. Owners of small homes have to be especially diligent about clutter control.

Solutions:
Small spaces are usually short on storage. When decorating a small living room, adding hidden storage and areas is a necessity. Maximize space under coffee and end tables. Even small nooks can become a place for wall shelves.

Consider a section of faux built-ins. Wardrobes, closet storage systems and even stock kitchen cabinets are an affordable way to add a custom look at a budget price.

But be careful – storage containers and cabinets can quickly fill up a small space, leaving you right back where you started. I know you love your stuff, but no matter how organized you are, sometimes there’s just not enough space to put everything. If so, it may be time to take a long, hard look at your room and remove anything that is unessential, is getting in your way or just doesn’t work.


Problem #2: Too Much Furniture
A small living room may not fit a sofa, two chairs, two end tables and a coffee table. And in a small home, furniture can easily become a drop zone for clutter.

Solutions: By removing some of your furniture, you may kill two problems with one stone – you’ll increase floor space and reduce clutter. Start with a clean slate by clearing the room. Bring in your sofa first, and slowly add pieces from there. When you have a layout that you like, stop. Anything leftover needs to find a new home.


Problem #3: Furnishings Are Too Big
Small spaces can rarely handle large sectional sofas, large side chairs, or even large artwork. A smaller scale room demands smaller scaled furnishings.

Solutions:
Start with your most essential piece of living room furniture – your sofa. Look for a sofa in a solid neutral color with clean arms and a low back. In small spaces, you may prefer to use a loveseat instead of a full-sized sofa. With your chairs, choose small slipper chairs or other armless alternatives with a low back.

If you already own a sofa but discover that it is too big for your small space, don’t fret. I encourage renters and first-time homeowners to invest in a sofa that they love because your sofa may last longer than your house. Average homeownership is currently less than 4 years, but a good sofa can last 10 years or longer. Just keep other furniture simple and small.


Problem #4: Too Much Color or Pattern
Red walls are not for the slight of heart, nor for slight spaces. Neither are large patterns. Dark woods, dark furnishings and dark paint shades will make even the largest space feel smaller. It’s easy to overwhelm the space with too much color and too much texture or pattern.

Solutions:
When it comes to color in small living room decorating, stick with light shades and neutral tones. Small spaces work best with a three-color (or less) palette, and do especially well with an all-white decorating scheme.

When choosing larger furnishings, like a sofa or shelving system, stick to solid colors and lighter woods. To enliven your space, use brighter colors and small patterns in your decor and small furnishings.

If you just can’t bring yourself to limit your walls to neutrals, consider an accent wall or a simple wall decal, stencil or painted design.


Problem #5: Not Enough Light
Small homes are often lacking natural light because of two reasons: Builders know that windows are expensive, and they also know that they take up valuable wall space, and well, there’s only so much of that in a small space already.

Solutions:
Don’t take up too much valuable floor or table space with lamps. Choose recessed, wall-mounted, hanging or shelf-mounted lighting. Floor up-lighting is also a great way to enhance a small space.

When decorating a small living room that doesn’t have a lot of natural light, choosing light shades of flooring, furnishings, walls and decor can do a lot to brighten your space.


Next: Ideas for Small Living Room Furniture Arrangement

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