Photo by Melanie Rieders
Decorating a living room is a lot like putting on clothes, except you have to commit to one “look” for at least a season—maybe even longer. Because, well, home furnishings can be really expensive! But if you think about this analogy, you can actually exploit it for the better. In the same way certain items of clothing can accentuate your best features, decorative accents and strategies can also play to a living room’s advantage.
Want to make your small space seem bigger? These seven tricks will help you gain a few inches—or just look like you did—in just a few minutes. Seriously! Here’s how to make living room decorating magic.
Photo by Alexis Buryk
Maximize the Effect of Mirrors
Mirrors are not just for selfies! Strategically place a big one opposite your windows and watch your living room double in size. Okay, maybe not double—but the optical illusion is real, as seen in this Brooklyn Heights studio. Mirrors throw light around a space, and that’s always a good thing when it comes to opening up a room. Glass and lucite furniture can have similar effects, as well.
Photo by Brittany Purlee
Undress Your Windows
Traditional curtains can feel dark and heavy. So let the sun shine in with lighter drapery fabrics. Try a set of sheers in lieu of blackouts in a living room (you don’t really need anything that opaque outside of your bedrooms anyway). Or forgo window treatments altogether, so natural light can really stream into your space. This will make your room appear brighter and bigger almost immediately.
Photo by Diana Paulson
Make the Perimeter of Your Room Pop
The easiest way to make your living room feel more spacious? Move all of your furniture that’s leaning against the walls out a few inches, if possible, like this homeowner did. Giving pieces like sofas, bookcases, and chairs that little bit of breathing room will help the whole room feel less cramped and more airy.
Photo by Minette Hand
Work Your Walls
If you don’t have high ceilings, no worries. Fake it ‘til you make it by mounting some shelves or a piece of art in the top half section of a wall, as seen in this home. This will draw guests’ eyes upward, creating a sense of loftiness without any major construction. Mounting your curtain rods a little higher than your window frames can fool the eye this way as well.
Photo by Morgan Schemel
Edit, Edit, Edit
Apply the Coco Chanel rule to your living room: Instead of taking an accessory off before leaving the house, edit those small decorative pieces out of your living room entirely. Minimalism is definitely having a moment, so let go of tchotchkes you don’t use or books you don’t read. Aim for fewer, larger objects, even in small spaces. The more you can clear off surfaces and tabletops, the bigger your room will seem.
Photo by Jessica Isaac
Get Rid of Cords
If you haven’t hidden your messy electrical wires, get on that. In ten minutes’ time, you can install a raceway with drywall screws to hide your television cord. Zip ties and eye hooks can be used to control cables around a desk or entertainment center. If you don’t want to DIY a solution, you can bring in a charging station for your devices. Fewer wires means less visible clutter, which creates the illusion of a more streamlined space.
Photo by Magali Saberian
Vertical lines can be slimming because they elongate the silhouette. That same logic can apply to a living room, when you roll out a striped rug or use striped curtains, as this Argentinian homeowner did. Just make sure the lines are running vertically to maximize this effect with minimal effort.
So it’s not impossible to gain space in your current living room layout without renovating—it’s just a challenge. But any of these tips should help you live a little larger in your small living room.