34 Small Apartment Living Room Ideas to Maximize Space and Style

small apartment living room ideas

Christina Loucks

If you’re befuddled at how to decorate your small apartment living room, there’s no need to fret. Maximizing a small space living room doesn't mean adding such oversized furniture that you trip over it—or leaving guests without a place to sit, either. With smart storage, consideration for scale, and a little courage, you can pack a lot of style in a small space. 

Here’s proof. Scroll on for 35 design ideas that’ll maximize every inch of your petite apartment living room.

  • 01 of 34

    Go Bold With a Gallery Wall

    small apartment living room ideas

    Design: Mackenzie Collier Interiors / Photo: Agnes Art and Photo

    To pack a punch of personality into your small space, go big and bold with a wall-to-wall gallery wall.

    “You’ll want to pick one really large piece that paves the way for the surrounding pieces and build out around it,” Yoselin Castro, senior interior designer at Mackenzie Collier Interiors, says “One of my favorite things when it comes to building gallery walls is filling in the small gaps with textural decor—think a clock, macrame hanging, or metal links.”

    Continue to 2 of 34 below.
  • 02 of 34

    Devise a Spot to Work From Home

    small apartment living room ideas

    Studio London Co.

    With working from home a new part of our routines, including a desk in your small living room may seem like an unrealistic dream. Take it from this Studio London Co.-designed living room in New York City: it's not.

    Nestled between the couch and the window is a barely-there but incredibly useful desk. The desk's slim silhouette is spacious enough to spread out during the work day, but blends into the background once you close your laptop.

    Continue to 3 of 34 below.
  • 03 of 34

    Hang a Standout Light Fixture

    small apartment living room ideas

    Design: Mary Patton Design / Photo: Molly Culver

    If you'd prefer to keep your walls bare, take a risk with an eye-catching light fixture, like Mary Patton did in this living room. It's a sculptural standout, drawing the eye up, so you can keep the rest of the room on the simpler side.

    Continue to 4 of 34 below.
  • 04 of 34

    Layer a Rug Over Carpet

    small apartment living room ideas

    K Shan Design

    Most of us have been there, stuck in an apartment with less-than-ideal carpeting. If you're renting, pulling it up and refinishing the floors isn't an option, but covering much of it up with a rug is.

    This living room from K Shan Design is a perfect example of how to layer a rug over carpet. Not only would a rug hide most of the carpet in your living room, but it'll muffle sound between you and your downstairs neighbor and add an extra soft landing for your feet too.

    Continue to 5 of 34 below.
  • 05 of 34

    Add Lots of Versatile Seating Options

    small apartment living room ideas

    Design: Mary Patton Design / Photo: Molly Culver

    You may not have the space for an oversized sectional, but there are plenty of other ways to include seating options in your small living room. Loveseats are always a great idea, and so are stools that can be moved around (or out of) the space, depending on your entertaining needs.

    Continue to 6 of 34 below.
  • 06 of 34

    Make it Monochromatic

    small apartment living room ideas

    Amy Youngblood Interiors

    To create an airy apartment living room, no matter how big or small it is, keeping everything (from wall color to furniture to window treatments) in shades of white will always make it feel roomier than the square footage suggests.

    Continue to 7 of 34 below.
  • 07 of 34

    Paint the Ceiling

    small apartment living room ideas

    Design: Joshua Smith Inc. / Photo: Tim Lenz

    It may seem risky to paint the ceiling in a small space. Won't that make it look smaller? That depends on the color. This icy blue, painted both on the walls and ceiling by Joshua Smith Inc., bounces around this petite living room thanks to the sunshine streaming through the windows, making for a cohesive space.

    Continue to 8 of 34 below.
  • 08 of 34

    Embrace the Space With a Dark and Moody Feel

    small apartment living room ideas

    Design: JF Gardemal Designs / Photo: James Peck

    When designing your small apartment living room, you have to start with one question. Do you want a light and bright space or a dark and moody one? If you opt for the latter, a cozy alternative to an airy living room, take notes from this JF Gardemal Designs space: textured eggplant wallpaper and blackout curtains are the keys to creating this mood.

    Continue to 9 of 34 below.
  • 09 of 34

    Use Muted Tones

    small apartment living room ideas

    Cathie Hong Interiors 

    Clean lines, natural materials, and muted tones—that's the recipe for this living room's zen vibe. It's part of a San Francisco condo designed by Cathie Hong Interiors, who used smart storage (like that wall-mounted Danish midcentury bookshelf and freestanding book tower) to make the most of every inch. The results are enviable and inspiring.

    Continue to 10 of 34 below.
  • 10 of 34

    Lean Into Parisian Vibes

    small apartment living room ideas

    Design: Anastasia Casey / Photo: Madeline Harper

    Oh-so-chic Parisians have lived with small living rooms for centuries. When in doubt, take in this Anastasia Casey-designed space, which we could imagine in Le Marias, and ask yourself: what would a Parisian do?

    Continue to 11 of 34 below.
  • 11 of 34

    Arrange Art on Floating Shelves

    small apartment living room ideas

    Curated Nest Interiors

    Hanging art is great. Leaning art, some may say, is even better. Casually leaning matching frames on slim floating shelves, like in this living room designed by Curated Nest Interiors, makes for a cohesive look that is far from cluttered.


    Best yet, it's all too easy to switch out frames, giving your space an immediate makeover without leaving holes in your walls.

    Continue to 12 of 34 below.
  • 12 of 34

    Take a Chance on an Adventurous Color

    small apartment living room ideas

    Fantastic Frank

    Never thought you'd own a pink couch? The confines of a small apartment living room just may be the perfect space to stretch your design comfort zone. Take this Scandinavian living room from Fantastic Frank as inspiration.

    The rosy hue, used in the plump (and petite) loveseat and accented in the artwork, are anything but juvenile-feeling. Instead, the unexpected color warms up the modern touches, like the geometric pendant light and the stone coffee table.

    Continue to 13 of 34 below.
  • 13 of 34

    Opt for a Sofa Sleeper

    small apartment living room ideas

    Christina Loucks

    Just because your apartment living room is on the smaller side doesn't mean you need to forego hosting guests. Take it from this apartment designed by Christina Loucks. It features a great sleeper sofa that easily turns the couch into a bed your guests would happily crash on.

    Continue to 14 of 34 below.
  • 14 of 34

    Create a Seamless Open Concept Space

    small apartment living room ideas

    BHDM Design

    If your living room is also your dining room, make the most of the combined space with a cohesive design that doesn't visually chop up the already tight quarters. Here, BHDM Design kept the couch, dining room table, and all the furniture in between in the same sleek color family, creating a seamless open concept look.

    Continue to 15 of 34 below.
  • 15 of 34

    Paint it Black

    small apartment living room ideas

    Eymeric Wilding Photography for Louis Duncan-He Designs 

    Feeling brave? A small apartment living room is a golden opportunity to make bold design decisions—like painting the entire room black. That's what Louis Duncan-He Designs did for this living room. The matte black paint creates a cool and dramatic backdrop for equally-as-exciting furnishings, like a rust-colored couch and a feathery floor lamp.

    Continue to 16 of 34 below.
  • 16 of 34

    Integrate Vintage Furniture

    small apartment living room ideas

    Emilie Fournet Interiors 

    Is there anything more satisfying than responding, "Oh, it's vintage" to a guest fawning over your you-name-it? Investing in vintage furniture and art, like the extra special pieces in this London apartment from Emilie Fournet Interiors, takes some scouting, but brings a je ne sais quoi to any space—especially a small living room.

    Continue to 17 of 34 below.
  • 17 of 34

    Hang Uniform Art

    small apartment living room ideas

    BHDM Design

    Small apartment living rooms can look cluttered fast. That's not the case with this clean, airy space by BHDM Design. Partially to thank for that is the neatly hung art, uniform and perfectly in place.

    Continue to 18 of 34 below.
  • 18 of 34

    Embrace Awkward Angles

    small apartment living room ideas

    Design: PJCArchitecture / Photo: Bjorg Magnea

    Look at a triangular footprint, like the one featured in this Manhattan apartment, as a welcome challenge. It forces you to be intentional about your furnishings, creating a cozy conversation corner that doesn't detract from the stunning city views.

    Continue to 19 of 34 below.
  • 19 of 34

    Go for Gauzy Window Treatments

    small apartment living room ideas

    Mary Patton Design

    Instead of heavy drapery, which could make a small space feel even smaller, Mary Patton Design kept the window treatments in this apartment living room light and airy. They filter sunlight, provide privacy, and inspire a grand feeling in the space.

    Continue to 20 of 34 below.
  • 20 of 34

    Prioritize the View

    small apartment living room ideas

    BHDM Design

    Who cares about the size of your apartment living room when you have a view like this? BHDM Design kept the furnishings and flourishes in this space minimal, so nothing distracts from that view.

    Continue to 21 of 34 below.
  • 21 of 34

    ​​Add a Pair of Matching Loveseats

    small apartment living room ideas

    Melinda Kelson O'Connor Architecture & Interiors

    A small apartment living room won't allow you to indulge in an oversized sectional. Instead, invest in matching loveseats, which you can arrange to face one another for optimal conversation and cuddling.

    Continue to 22 of 34 below.
  • 22 of 34

    Keep Furnishings Minimal

    small apartment living room ideas

    Design: Forge & Bow / Photo: Christa Tippmann Photography

    If you're afraid of overwhelming your small apartment living room, start with minimal furnishings: a couch, a coffee table, a lamp, and a plant. From there you can build on until you feel like the space is properly furnished without cluttering the space.

    Continue to 23 of 34 below.
  • 23 of 34

    Mix and Match Bold Patterns

    small apartment living room ideas

    Travis Londons / Studio London 

    For a serious jolt of personality in your living room, put a pattern to work. Then maybe another pattern too. Take this Travis Londons / Studio London-designed space as inspiration. The oh-so-fun zigzag wallpaper creates a statement wall behind the couch, with the pattern elongating the look of the room, while the diamond-patterned rug complements it with a similar-but-different feel.

    Continue to 24 of 34 below.
  • 24 of 34

    Trade a Couch for a Daybed

    small apartment living room ideas

    Fantastic Frank

    Couches can be clunky, especially when placed in a small apartment living room. That's not the case with this sleek and understated daybed in this bright, airy Swedish apartment from Fantastic Frank. Outfitted with cushions and linens, it serves double duty as a couch and as a spot for guests to crash.

    Continue to 25 of 34 below.
  • 25 of 34

    Add Storage With Book Shelves

    small apartment living room ideas

    Design: PJCArchitecture / Photo: Bjorg Magnea

    Bless bookshelves. Not only do they provide storage for books (of course), but they are also a genius use of space to house framed photos, plants, and knick-knacks—all without taking up too much precious space.

    Continue to 26 of 34 below.
  • 26 of 34

    Incorporate (Lots of) Plants

    small apartment living room ideas

    Emilie Fournet Interiors

    No matter how small your living room is, there's always room for a plant, or two, or 10. Plants add much-needed life to spaces of all sizes, just like this London apartment living room from Emilie Fournet Interiors. If you're short on square footage, look up. Hanging plants draw the eye up while saving you precious floor space.

    Continue to 27 of 34 below.
  • 27 of 34

    Camouflage the TV in a Gallery Wall

    small apartment living room ideas

    Most Lovely Things

    With just a quick glance at this gallery wall, your eyes will barely register that the TV is placed in the middle of it. What a smart way to blend a TV in your design. That's what this living area of this Brooklyn studio apartment that blogger Annie Diamond of Most Lovely Things helped design for her daughter Madeline does. Use the television as the anchor, then arrange wall art of various (but slightly smaller) sizes around it.

    Continue to 28 of 34 below.
  • 28 of 34

    Connect Spaces With a Large Area Rug

    small apartment living room ideas

    BHDM Design

    A rug is a must for any apartment living room, not only for aesthetic purposes, but also to muffle the sounds of your footsteps for your downstairs neighbor. Here, BHDM Design outfitted the entire floor, from the living room through the dining area, with one oversized rug, which makes the space seem bigger than it is.

    Continue to 29 of 34 below.
  • 29 of 34

    Work With—Not Against—Slanted Walls

    small apartment living room ideas

    Kara Mann

    If your apartment is tucked into the top floor of a house, you may be working within the confines of slanted walls. The key? Work with them, not against them. Low-profile furniture is your friend; it'll neatly tuck into the part with the shorter ceiling.

    There are plenty more design tips to take from this Nantucket living room from interior designer Kara Mann too, from the graphic black-and-white rug to the natural wood accents and the overall relaxed vibe—perfect for winding down and cozying up.

    Continue to 30 of 34 below.
  • 30 of 34

    Be Aware Of Your Windows' Height

    small apartment living room ideas

    Fantastic Frank

    Get your tape measure out. The last thing you want to do in a small living room is block any of the windows—they are key to making a room feel bigger. This Fantastic Frank-designed living room handles the window with serious grace, tucking the sofa (with the exact height and length dimensions needed for this room) perfectly underneath.

    Continue to 31 of 34 below.
  • 31 of 34

    Paint Halfway Up The Walls

    small apartment living room ideas

    Design: Leanne Ford Interiors / Photo: Erin Kelly  

    Leave it to interior designer extraordinaire Leanne Ford Interiors to add an unexpected twist to the walls of this living room. By painting a warm beige tone two-thirds of the way up the walls, the space is immediately modernized and made to feel bigger than it truly is. The results are refreshing, effortlessly working to ground the seating area while simultaneously making the ceilings feel taller. Win/win.

    Continue to 32 of 34 below.
  • 32 of 34

    Reconsider Wood Paneling

    small apartment living room ideas

    Fantastic Frank

    Forget everything you think you know about wood paneling. The living room of this Scandinavian country house from Fantastic Frank will surely change your mind. It doesn't have to look dated or cheap, and it doesn't have to make a room feel smaller either. With light, bright, wide wooden boards and plenty of sunlight streaming in from the windows, this small living room feels fresh, tranquil, and nothing like the wood paneled basements of yesteryear.

    Continue to 33 of 34 below.
  • 33 of 34

    Consider Scale

    small apartment living room ideas

    Fantastic Frank

    Playing with scale in a small apartment living room is a delicate balance. You don't want to overwhelm the room, but you don't want to solely feature dainty pieces either. A good place to start: an oversized light fixture, like this pendant in this living room from Fantastic Frank.

    Continue to 34 of 34 below.
  • 34 of 34

    Have Fun

    small apartment living room ideas

    Alvin Wayne

    No one says you have to take interior design seriously. Have fun designing your small apartment living room. Go ahead, hang colorful art! Show off a funky pattern! Encourage guests to sit on a knotted velvet pouf, like the one in this New York City living room designed by Alvin Wayne. Your living room, no matter its size, is meant to be enjoyed.