Small living rooms can often seem cramped, cluttered, and even unusable. You might be overwhelmed by your small space’s limitations but you have more options than you think. Check out these clever designs and ideas, and you can be on your way to a much more functional living room in no time.
A shelving unit with a fold-down table is perfect if you need a desk from time to time
Shelving units are the perfect addition to any home, especially as they tend to pack a punch as far as storage conveniences go. Although, in a small living space, it’s often crucial for furniture to serve more than one purpose, and some shelving units do.
You can purchase shelving units with fold-down tables to use as you please. Whether you need a study nook, somewhere to complete crafts, or a place to work, these units can tick all those boxes. When you’re finished for the day, you can fold up the table, stow away your chair, and enjoy it as a storage shelving unit once more. Photo: IKEA/Ivar
Utilize your corners for storage
You might get away with not using corners in a large room, but small rooms need all the help they can get. Make sure all your home décor, trinkets, lamps, and artwork have somewhere to live by installing cube shelving in the corners of your room.
All you need are a few DIY skills and an eye for detail, and you could have a practical and aesthetically pleasing form of storage for your home or apartment. While you can find a few organizational ideas on the internet, you can install these cubes however you please. What’s more, if you leave gaps between the cubes, you have the perfect book nook for all your favorite titles. Photo: IKEA/Eket Cabinet
A laptop stand can also be used as a side table or a small coffee table
Laptop stands are small, lightweight mobile tables that make it easier to work on a laptop. Side tables boast these same benefits, so why not buy one table to suit both tasks? A laptop stand can be more than suitable as a side table or a tiny coffee table, especially when many come with desirable features like height adjustment. You can even use them for lamps, cups of coffee, and general living room storage. Photo: IKEA
Use the empty space above the sofa for cabinets
If you lack space for books, house plants, lamps, family photos, etc., look behind you. There can generally be quite a lot of wasted space above the average living room sofa.
In that case, why not build cabinets above your sofa? They can work in harmony with the style of your lounge suite and even blend into the wall, and they don’t use up any space you would have used for anything else. Photo: IKEA
A sturdy shelving unit on wheels can double as seating
A shelving unit on wheels is practical in any large or small home, especially when you need to move supplies from room to room. However, there’s no reason why they can’t serve more than one purpose.
If you purchase a robust shelving unit with a hefty weight limit, you can put a soft mat on the top and use it as a form of seating. You can still utilize all the storage space underneath, but you now have a convenient seat for when you don’t have enough chairs at your dining table.
Although, it’s important to ensure that whichever shelving unit you purchase has a flat top, robust structure, and a weight limit suitable for children and adults. Photo: IKEA
Rails aren’t just for kitchens
Rails are a common form of kitchen storage due to their convenience for utensils, pots, and pans. But there’s nothing in life’s rule books about ensuring these storage solutions remain in the kitchen. When you need a super flexible storage solution, rails installed on your walls could be it.
You can use them for bags, scarves, umbrellas, handbags, and so much more. There are also plenty of different design options to choose from, so you likely won’t have trouble finding one to suit your home décor. Photo: IKEA/NEREBY Rail
Replace your bookcase with shelves under the ceiling
Bookcases can be necessary to access your favorite titles easily, but they can also take up a lot of valuable space. Now might be the right time to sell your current form of book storage and use that money to purchase shelves to install as close to your ceiling as possible.
Not only do you free up your wall space for a gallery wall and your prized artwork, but you can eliminate that small living room look that might have driven you crazy. A big, bulky bookcase isn’t always as necessary as it seems. Photo: IKEA
Create a platform for a hideaway bed
If you live in a tiny studio apartment where the living room doubles as a bedroom you might consider this space-saving solution: raise part of the floor and create a platform, you could install a hideaway bed that becomes the perfect option for those last-minute guests.
As such beds are hidden away out of sight, they don’t have to be the focal point of your apartment. You can also still use the platform for daily living and enjoy a bit of definition between your living, dining, and kitchen area. Photo: Atmospheres-design
Opt for wall and ceiling lights
It can be tempting to purchase large floor lamps to place by your favorite armchair, especially when you’re trying to welcome ambiance into the space. But if you have limited space to work with, it might not be practical.
But that doesn’t mean you have to sit in darkness. Consider purchasing wall and ceiling lights that can provide as much light and warmth as you need. There are plenty of options on the market that are designed to look like they’re floor-standing without actually taking up any of that valuable floor space. However, just keep in mind that some options on the market are required to be wired in, and this job is best performed by a professional. Photo: Overstock/Swing arm lamp
Choose a coffee table with nesting ottomans for extra seating
Coffee tables don’t have to be solid pieces of furniture that serve no other purpose than to hold your beverages and books. They can be multi-functional pieces with nesting ottomans that can become extra seats for guests.
When you don’t have enough space to buy a larger lounge suite but you need more seats for visitors and home occupants, nesting ottomans can be the best option. You might even be able to find small ottomans that fit underneath your current table, saving you from having to buy a new table altogether. Photo: Crate & Barrel/Nesting coffee table
A convertible sleeper chair can double as a guest bed
No matter your living room layout, you’ll likely have enough space for a regular armchair. You might only have room for one, but you could at least have one comfortable space to sit.
However, you might be able to enjoy a comfortable seat and a bed for guests if you purchase a convertible sleeper chair. By day, they are a relaxing place to sit and read a book, but by night, they fold flat to form a single bed for one person. Some even come with built-in storage as an added bonus. Photo: Wayfair/Dionigio Chair Bed
Invest in a coffee table that converts into a dining table
Most homeowners would see both coffee and dining tables as essential, but how do you choose one over the other when you don’t have space for both? You wouldn’t need to decide if you purchased one table that could perform both functions.
Many coffee tables on the market are designed to transform into dining tables with just a few changes to the top layer. When you have friends around for a cup of tea, they are more than suitable for placing your beverages on. However, if those friends were to stay for dinner, you could extend the table and have plenty of space for up to four people. With a tiny home revolution upon us, such tables are becoming more popular by the day. Photo: Amazon/Convertible coffee table
Separate your open kitchen from your living space with a counter height table with storage ladder
Open plan living, dining, and kitchen areas are standard in many new homes built today, but they don’t suit everyone’s needs and preferences. If you need a small amount of definition between these areas, a table with a storage ladder might be an ideal option.
These storage ladders can be placed where your kitchen ends and your dining or living area begins. Some even have storage hooks so that you can hang your kitchen utensils. The table component can provide extra meal prep space, but it can also be used for work or study. The options are endless. Photo: IKEA/HÅVERUD Table with storage ladder
Combine pets and furniture
Accessories for animals can take up a lot of space – space you might not have to spare. Therefore, now might be the right time to think about the furniture you can use for yourself and your pets while factoring in interior design.
For example, you might purchase a side table that you can build a cat bed into underneath or TV cabinets with the interiors consisting of built-in crates for your dogs. The options are endless. Photo: Wayfair/Side table with cat bed
Maximise storage with floor-to-ceiling shelving
There can be a lot of wasted space in the average home, regardless of whether you have a small or large living space. Get more bang for your buck by installing floor-to-ceiling shelving in your living room.
This can be a particularly suitable option for homeowners with staircases, with the stairs providing easy access to those higher shelves. You can then use all the cubbies for your favourite books, plants, and trinkets, while still having as much free floor space as before. Photo: Craft Design
Mount two drop-leaf tables below a window
Dining tables are one of the first sacrifices homeowners make when they move into a property with a small living room. While you can live without a dining table, you typically can’t live without a sofa or a TV cabinet.
However, there’s no reason why you have to say goodbye to dining room furniture altogether. If you were to install two drop-leaf tables below a window, you might have the perfect place to enjoy a meal with family and friends.
When you install two, you can fold the leaves down to free up space when you’re not using them, but then push the leaves back up when you want to dine with your family and friends. While they certainly provide less space than a traditional dining table, they can be an excellent option when you simply have no other choice. Photo: IKEA/ NORBERG Wall-mounted drop-leaf table
Create extra storage space by replacing dining chairs with a bench
A conventional dining set has a minimum of four chairs and a table. Unless those chairs tuck away neatly underneath the table, they can take up a lot of space.
However, if you were to replace two or more of those chairs with a bench, you might be surprised by how much extra space you have to play with. You can store items underneath the bench and still have plenty of room for all your guests. It doesn’t get much easier than that. Photo: IKEA
Opt for a compact dining set with a small footprint
Dining together as a family can be challenging with a small living room design, but that could be a problem of the past if you purchased a compact dining set. Often described as space-saving dining sets, they generally have four chairs that nest in on themselves and the table when they’re not in use.
Rather than a table and four chairs taking up valuable space, you only have the footprint of the dining table. All that’s left to do is pick the one you like, pair it with a beautiful pendant light and maybe a large area rug, and you have a compact dining area to call your own. Photo: Overstock/Tobey Dining Set
Hang your folding chairs on wall hooks
Many people with small homes and apartments purchase folding chairs for their dining tables to save space. When people aren’t using them, you can fold them flat and lean them against the wall. But what if you could save even more space?
Rather than stacking your chairs in a corner, install hooks on your wall and hang them up. You might then have more space for other living room essentials like a couch and bookcase. Photo: IKEA/NISSE Folding chair
Hang your plants from the ceiling and walls
Plants can be important additions to any home for new textures, color, and health, but they sure do take up a lot of space! There’s simply no reason why they have to. If you hang your plants from your ceiling and walls, you can have more room for other activities in your home.
There are many different plant hangers on the market, and some are bound to suit your design preferences. They also often come with drip catchers to prevent your floors from being damaged during routine watering. Out of all small living room décor ideas, plant hangers would have to be one of the easiest and most affordable to consider. Photo: Urban Outfitters/Hanging Planter
A gateleg table offers flexibility and saves space
Dining with family and friends can seem like a luxury for those with plenty of space, but it doesn’t have to be if you purchased a gateleg table. These folding tables can be stored hard against a wall, out of the way, and still provide plenty of space in this form for arts and crafts and study.
However, as soon as you require them for dining, you can lift a flap and create a much larger table with room for up to four people. Some of these gateleg tables also come with storage space, which is ideal for art and craft supplies, dining supplies, and general clutter you’d prefer to hide out of sight. Photo: IKEA/NORDEN Gateleg table
Hide the desk under the dining table
When you don’t have enough space for a dining table and desk, you might find yourself using your dining table for work and study. This works just fine, but it can be frustrating when you’re in the middle of something important, and your family wants to serve dinner.
However, that might be less of a problem if you purchased a table and desk package with the desk being slightly lower to tuck away underneath the dining table. When you need to study, you can pull it out from underneath and pull up a chair. And when it’s time to serve dinner, you can leave it where it is or slide it back underneath. Many of these tables also come with adjustable legs so that you can place them at the height you need for ergonomic purposes. Photo: IKEA/ OLOV Legs
A large mirror helps create the illusion of space
You can’t make a bigger living room, but you can at least make your living room look larger than it actually is. A well-placed, large mirror can be the answer to that small living room feel.
However, you can’t just place your mirror anywhere and hope it works. It must be strategically placed. Find your focal point and angle the mirror towards it to offer the illusion of depth.
Many people find it helpful to place their mirror near a window and reflect the outside world. When doing this, you also benefit from a much brighter room since mirrors can reflect both natural and artificial light. Photo: Urban Outfitters/Estelle Floor Mirror
A coffee table with a lift-top can double as workspace and dining area
Coffee tables are must-haves in any abode, but they aren’t always as functional as they could be. That might change if you purchased one with a lift-top. Such coffee tables can trick you into thinking they’re ordinary, but they can quickly extend out and become a convenient work surface.
Rather than dedicating an area of your home to study, you can sit on your sofa, pull out the coffee table, and adjust its height to suit your sitting position. Many of these coffee tables also come with extra storage so that you’ve always got somewhere to put your all-important work supplies as well as living room items like throw pillows and blankets. Photo: Overstock/Yaheetech coffee table
A loft bed is a convenient solution if your living area is also your sleeping area
Many people’s homes are so tiny that their living rooms double as their bedrooms. This isn’t a problem for most single people, but it can prove challenging when you don’t have any definition between living and sleeping.
However, that might all change if you invest in a loft bed. If your ceilings are high enough, you can install a loft bed that effectively looks like a bunk bed but without the bottom bunk. You then have full use of the living space while your bed is on a different level above. Photo: Ettromtil
Save space with a compact loveseat sofa
While you might dream of having a large, lavish lounge suite that has room for all your family and friends, available space might not allow for such a suite. In that case, opt for something just as gorgeous but more functional for a tiny living room, such as a compact loveseat sofa.
Such sofas are designed to look as beautiful as larger lounge suites but with a smaller footprint. They still have plenty of room for at least two people – and sometimes three at a push. Photo: Amazon/Lauren Loveseat
Build a mezzanine floor
High ceilings in a home can be beautiful, but they can also be impracticable when you would prefer to have that extra space in usable form. With the help of building professionals, you might be able to put that space to good use by building a mezzanine floor.
Staircases leading to the mezzanine can include storage for throw pillows, soft furnishings, and other hard-to-store items, and the new level itself can be useful as a storage room, spare bedroom, or a study. The options are truly endless when you get your creative juices flowing. Mezzanine floors are popular in tiny homes, but there’s no reason why they can’t also be valuable modifications in traditional homes. Photo: Studio Hoka
Nesting tables can be used as an extendable coffee table or as side tables
Nesting tables have been popular for decades and remain a desirable option for homeowners today. In part, this is due to how much space they can save. When you don’t need all three tables at once, they can be nested in on each other. However, you can also slightly separate them to make one large, multi-leveled table. You can, of course, also use them in different parts of your home. Photo: Amazon/Nesting coffee tables
Use a storage ottoman with built-in trays as a coffee table
Coffee tables can be quite frustrating when they’re solid, single-use pieces of furniture. However, that can all change if you were to purchase a storage ottoman instead of a traditional table. Storage ottomans with built-in trays can be both forms of storage and coffee tables.
When not in use, you can tuck away blankets and throw pillows underneath. But when you need somewhere to sit your morning coffee, you can flip over the lid and make use of the hard surface. Photo: Amazon/Magnolia Storage Ottoman
Use over-the-door storage
Doors already serve an important purpose – a barrier between rooms. But they can also serve more than one. Invest in over-the-door storage baskets, and you can clear the clutter that has been lying around your home, causing you a great deal of frustration.
Over-the-door storage can be convenient in any room in your house, including the living room. You can use them for remotes, pot plants, digital devices, and much more. You can even purchase some for shoe storage if you have a collection you’d like to keep on display. Photo: Amazon/Hanging baskets
Use your duvets as back cushions in the daytime
Many people live in studio apartments so small that their sofas double as their beds. This can be frustrating when you want a comfortable bed and an inviting sofa for anyone visiting.
You might be able to tick both of those boxes if you get creative with your duvet and a curtain rod. Purchase a curtain rod, install it on your wall, and roll up your duvets inside them. When installed at back height, they can become a comfortable sofa back to provide support and blanket storage. Photo: IKEA/RÄCKA Curtain rod
Stackable stools can double as extra seating and side tables
If you have a small living space catering to your needs and those of your guests can be challenging. Although, you might have some luck by purchasing stackable stools. Multiple stools can take up as much space as a single stool, and they can also serve more than one purpose. You can use stools as small coffee tables for your table lamp, magazines, and beverages, or you can use them as seats for guests when your lounge suite simply isn’t big enough. There are also plenty of options to choose from, so you likely won’t have any problems finding stackable stools that suit your overall home décor. Photo: IKEA/ KYRRE Stool
Hide your wardrobe behind a curtain
Finding storage space for all your clothing can seem like an impossible nightmare if your bedroom is also your living room. You likely don’t have a closet, so where are you supposed to hang items that can’t be folded into drawers?
A clothing rack can tick that box, but placement is everything. Rather than leave it out in the open, consider positioning it by a window. That way, you can simply pull the curtains and cover it up when you no longer want to stare at all your clothing. Photo: IKEA/TURBO Clothes rack
Hang stuff on hooks
It might seem like a no-brainer, but you might have more free space in your living room than you think simply by installing hooks on your walls to display some of your prized goods. There is a wide range of hooks, knobs, and hangers available online, many of which can tie in with the overall theme of your home décor. All that’s left to do is gather up your clutter and see which items will be suitable for hanging. Photo: IKEA
Mount a shelf over the window sill for extra storage
Everyone deserves to have as many plants as their heart desires, but if your living room is bursting at the seams, it’s time to get creative with storage. Consider mounting a shelf over your window sill to make full use of the sunlight and available space. You only have to have basic DIY skills to make such an adjustment, and you can then go shopping for more sunlight-loving plants to put the shelf to good use. Photo: IKEA
Store stuff under your sofa
If your sofa doesn’t go all the way down to the ground, you have a storage solution you might never have thought existed. Measure the depth to know how much space you have to work with, then purchase under-sofa storage containers or drawers that can conveniently slide underneath.
You might be surprised by how much stuff you can fit underneath this previously neglected storage solution, such as blankets, throw pillows, and extra bedding. Photo: IKEA
A rotating breakfast bar can double used as a dining table
If you’re building your own home from the ground up and know you’re going to be tight on space, consider space-saving interior design ideas from the beginning. For example, you can enjoy a breakfast bar in your kitchen for those quick morning snacks, but you might design that same bar to swivel out and become a fully functional dining table. Photo: Atelier FB and agence MAD
Use a shelving unit as a room divider
When your living room is also your bedroom, creating a definition in the space is not always easy. You don’t always want to feel like you’re in your bedroom when you invite guests over. Fortunately, creating definition and enjoying a touch more privacy doesn’t have to be an expensive undertaking.
You can purchase a shelving unit and use it as a room divider. Not only does it function as a wall within one room, but it can provide much-needed storage space, which you’re sure to be lacking. Photo: IKEA/KALLAX Shelf Unit
A shelving unit with a swivel desk offers functionality and takes up little space
Desks and shelving units are crucial furniture for many people, but who has the space in a small living room for both? Almost everyone can if they purchase the right desk and shelving unit.
You can actually purchase a two-in-one piece of furniture that can serve two purposes with one minor adjustment. For example, you might decide to buy a shelving unit that is nestled into a desk. With one small movement, the desk can pull out and create a temporary L-shaped desk for study or work.
There are many different styles and materials on the market, so you’re bound to find an L-shaped desk with a swivel design to suit your needs. Photo: Wayfair/Zakwani desk
Cut a keyhole shape in an end table
You might want a side table and a large house plant or tree in your small living room, but your conservative floor plan might not allow for both. However, a small amount of creativity might show that you can have both!
Simply purchase a wooden side table and use your handyman skills to cut a keyhole shape into the center of it. You can then place your plant pot underneath and guide the tree trunk or plant stem through the hole. The result can be so clean and innovative that your friends might question where you purchased your high-end piece of furniture from. Photo: Reddit/Aviator Cam
Separate kitchen and lounge area by sliding door with built-in table
Many small apartments and homes have tiny kitchens tucked away in living spaces that you’d prefer not to have to look at all day. Well, you might not need to if you install a sliding door with a puzzle-like structure that transforms into functional furniture.
These innovative sliding doors function perfectly well as a door to separate your kitchen and lounge area but quickly transform into a dining table with two seats. With such a door, you now no longer have to worry about purchasing cumbersome dining tables and chairs that contribute to clutter in a small space. Photo: Tsai Design
Choose a coffee table with built-in storage
When you have a small living room, you must put more thought into the type of furniture you buy, starting with the coffee table. It’s the heart of any comfortable living space, but it’s not all that practical.
However, some are more practical than others. Consider buying one with built-in storage. Rather than buying a large, cumbersome table that serves no other purpose than to house your latest magazines, you can pull out hidden storage for your throw pillows, remotes, and other living room essentials. Photo: Wayfair/Tylor Block Coffee Table
Shoe cabinets aren’t just for entryways
Shoe cabinets always look like they’re made for just shoes, but who says you only have to use them for that? They can be a form of storage for almost anything you please. You can stack them on the ground and hang them on your wall to safely store all manner of items like paperwork, records, shoes, and general clutter. Photo: IKEA/TRONES Shoe cabinet
Squeeze extra book storage in by stacking small shelves vertically
Our natural instinct is to stack books side by side, but you might not be able to own a conventional bookcase that follows this storage style when you have very little free space in your living room.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a form of book storage. Consider purchasing small shelves, installing them on top of each other, and storing your books vertically. While you might not be able to keep as many as you would in an ordinary bookcase, you can at least have your favorites on display in a unique way. Photo: IKEA/SIBBHULT Bracket
Hang your bar on the wall
Few things are as satisfying as unwinding at the end of a busy day with a refreshing beverage. And while you might dream of having a dedicated bar with glasses, bottles of your favorite brews, and drinking accessories, you likely know you don’t have the space.
Rather than give up on your bar ownership dreams, purchase one that installs on your wall. There are plenty of wall-mounted bar options with similar amounts of space as table varieties, but that won’t take up your precious floor space. Photo: Amazon/Sauder wall bar
Wrap your home office in shelving units
If you have a home office tucked away in your lounge room, or you’re fortunate enough to have a dedicated home office, you’ve probably wracked your brain trying to devise ways to maximise your storage solutions. Why not create a storage and shelving unit around your desk?
This space is typically underutilized, so you can install floor-to-ceiling cabinetry that gives you more than enough space for all your study essentials. Now, everything has its place, and you can study and work without any chaos or mess around you. Photo: IKEA/Platsa system
Combine shelving and dining
When you don’t have room for a dining area and study nook in your home, you might think you must sacrifice one to have the other. In reality, you can have both with a bit of forward thinking.
Consider purchasing a wall-mounted drop-leaf table with storage. It can provide plenty of storage space for all your study needs but also has a table component that you can pair with chairs when you’re ready to eat. Up to two people can comfortably dine at a small drop-leaf table, and it doesn’t have to take up any extra space. Photo: Photo/NORBERG Wall-mount drop-leaf table
A rotating side table can be used as a laptop and dining table
Some side tables on the market are designed to rotate and extend, meaning you can work from them, place your morning cup of coffee on them, and even dine on them. Some even come with storage space so that you can store all your work essentials out of the way. Such tables are becoming more popular by the day, so you’re bound to find them in various colors, shades, and materials to suit your home décor. Photo: Amazon/IDEALHOUSE side table