Make walls pale and interesting
Starting with the walls, the first thing to do is to use pale colours. Lighter shades will instantly make your room seem bigger, and give an open atmosphere. Light coloured walls reflect any available light, where dark colours do the opposite. They absorb the light, and will give a stuffy feel to a small room.
Pale colours don’t have to be boring. Lighter greys and oatmeal shades can be a neutral starting point, but pale pastel yellows, pinks or blues could be used to add colour. All-white is another option. By painting both the walls and ceiling white, light is given full rein, and any boxy feel substantially reduced.
Keep floor covering simple
To help create the illusion of space, keep the floor covering simple. One uniform colour or texture leads the eye smoothly across the floor. Also, keep things off the floor. If furniture has some space between the base and floor, lifted by small feet, that’s another way to keep the floor looking open.
Mirrors bring in light
Mirrors multiply the effect of any light coming into a smaller space. Position one to catch daylight by a window so it can send brightness around the room. Keeping your room clear of clutter will help the reflection, too. If your room has low ceilings, a taller mirror will accentuate height. With narrow rooms, a sofa along the length of a sofa or above a sideboard will give a sense of depth.
Keep curtains light
Continuing the uncluttered, smoothing idea, keep your windows as clear as possible. Have your curtains pale in colour – matching the wall colour is ideal. This stops an interior style looking disjointed, and keeps the smaller room looking harmonious. Hang your curtains as high as possible too, to accentuate height in the room. Pale coloured textiles will help reflect light in from the window, too. Translucency from sheer materials – if practical – will enhance light.
Make furniture work for its space
When furnishing your smaller room, keep to simple shapes, and slim lines. Use furniture that has two uses – a storage footstool can act as extra seating as well as being a handy place to put things. A nest of tables tucked by the sofa will provide extra surfaces just when they’re needed – and then they can be tidied away again. Loveseats are bigger than an armchair, but smaller than a two seater sofa. Could one fit an awkward small space to make the most of the seating space?
Try to keep as much floor space clear as possible – and that includes under the furniture, too. The more of the floor you can see clear, the more open a room will look. As obvious as it may seem, it's always good to consider smaller pieces too - for example, a small tv unit, a small bookcase or a small sideboard.
Plan your lamp light
For evening, plan the position of your lighting to give the illusion of space. Choose table lamps with light or translucent shades. Position these pools of light in a couple of different places – the spreading glow will keep the look open. Choose a floor lamp like our Tampere floor lamp with a slender and streamlined design. A tall, slim lamp won’t intrude in the daytime, but will come into its own on dark winter evenings.
Open the door to more space
Doors take up room in a small room. If practical, you could consider removing them completely. To have the freedom of choosing between an open room or cosy snug, maybe folding doors would be the answer for your interior style. Doors with panes of glass let light shine through, while keeping the noise barrier intact between rooms.
Shelving can be used imaginatively to make the most of a space. Awkward spots under stairs or above doors can hold a shelf, or maybe a statement wall filled with narrow shelving – floor to ceiling – would be the answer for your room. Don’t over fill shelves, but keep things spaced so they don’t look cramped. Shelves shouldn’t be a dumping ground, but a place to put things of interest, whether books or ornaments. Think about painting them the same colour as the walls, too, so the shelves visually recede and blend in.
Artwork for impact
With pale walls, sleek furnishings, and smooth flooring, the idea has been to make colours and textiles complement each other. When deciding what to put on the wall, a larger artwork to focus attention in the most open part of your smaller living room is best. Position it to balance the room, whether that’s for symmetry on a chimney breast, or where it can be seen comfortably from the sofa. Choose the shape for balance, too. A tall, portrait picture adds height, and a landscape shape will make a room seem wider.
So easy to advise, and sometimes hard to do. For a cleaner open space, clutter will have to go. Put a display area of photos or ornaments in one part of the room – and keep the rest clear. Be ruthless when clutter starts to build. Put remotes for the TV away, keep on top of magazines and books – make sure there’s a place for them to live. The storage footstool, perhaps? Maybe a coffee table with drawers will make all the difference for keeping your living room neat. Take stock, now you’ve gone to the trouble of really thinking about how to make the most of your smaller living room.