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5 Trends on Maximizing Available Space in Living Rooms

Published on January 13, 2023

Small living room with a modern sectional sofa.

The living room is where most people spend a good portion of their free time, which means it’s quite easy for this busy space to feel cluttered or cramped. Fortunately, the right type of design can help you to maximize the available space you have, regardless of the size.

So, what are some trends in maximizing available space in living rooms? Let’s dive into some current trends that’ll help you design a living room that’s not just stylish, but also functional to the max.

1. Use Mirrors to Create the Illusion of More Space

Living room with a gray sofa and a full-length mirror.

Not only are mirrors a stylish addition to any room, but they also help to create the feeling that more space exists, even if a room is small. It’s important to make sure that your mirrors are placed strategically throughout the room in order to maximize their light-reflecting and room-opening abilities.

Place a large mirror or several smaller wall mirrors on the wall that’s opposite the biggest window in the room. This tactic will allow the mirror to reflect the most amount of light possible. Light instantly makes any room feel larger, so it’s a great way to create the illusion that your living room is larger than it really is.

If your living room doesn’t have a lot of windows, simply add a tall, slender mirror behind a piece of furniture like an accent chair or sofa. This can also help to make your space feel visually larger without taking up more room.

For wide, narrow living rooms, hang a rectangular mirror directly above the fireplace or your sofa to create a brighter, airier space.

2. Keep Colors Light and Neutral

Living room with neutral colors and tropical plants.

Dark, dramatic colors may make a room feel smaller and more closed-in. Instead of busy patterns and deep, rich tones, stick to light, neutral colors as much as possible. This tactic goes for everything from the paint color on your walls to the flooring and upholstery fabric of sofas, chairs, and sectionals.

Of course, you can always add pops of color with a funky piece of wall art, some decorative throw pillows, or a fun area rug if you choose. Neutral tones help your living space feel calmer and more inviting.

They also help to give the feeling that your living room is larger than it is. Stick to tones like off-white, soft tan, light gray, and sandy beige. You can also add a few muted tones, including dusty or pastel pink, lilac, sage green, or a lovely pale blue if you prefer a bit of color.

When you use light and neutral tones, the natural light bounces off of the colors nicely to make your living room feel fresh and airy without sacrificing warmth. Add some houseplants or a small tree to give the living room a touch of organic appeal.

Materials like wool, jute, and bamboo can help to transform your living room into a nature-inspired oasis without feeling cluttered or cramped.

How can I add color to a neutral living room?

If you like the idea of neutral tones for the basic pieces in the living room but your heart is set on adding some color, then keep these tips in mind:

  • Select a large wall canvas or wall sculpture infused with vibrant tones for a colorful focal point.
  • Only use bright or bold colors on accents like rugs, throw pillows, or table lamps.
  • Spice up storage pieces by adding colorful hardware to cabinets and tables with doors and drawers.
  • Incorporate live or faux plants and flowers for a fresh, colorful touch.

3. Incorporate Storage Furniture

Storage bench with striped bins.

One of the easiest ways to maximize space in the living room is to keep it free of excess clutter. An organized living area will instantly feel a lot more open and airier. Use storage furniture to corral extra items like stray pairs of shoes, throw blankets, or books.

A large storage bench or ottoman is not only stylish, but it makes tossing stray items on the floor a breeze. This furniture also doubles as comfortable seating for guests, and it’s a great place to prop up your feet when you want to relax at home.

There are also storage sofas and sectionals available with a chaise that opens up to reveal roomy storage hidden inside. Look for coffee and end tables that have drawers or hidden shelving, so you have even more access to storage. The more functionality you can get from each piece of furniture, the more organized your living room will look (and actually be!).

How can my entryway keep my living room organized?

If your home has a foyer or entryway, it’s a perfect opportunity to reduce clutter in the main living area. Try these tips to help you design a functional entrance to your home that will maximize the living room’s space for relaxation and entertaining.

  • Use wall hooks or coat racks in the entryway for hats, purses, and dog leashes.
  • Try placing the storage bench in the foyer or entry area so people can take off their shoes and store them here.
  • Add a slender console table with drawers to hold keys, mail, and other items. Top it with a tray so you have a designated place for wallets and sets of keys.
  • A hall tree with hooks and a built-in bench provides seating, storage, and a place to hang coats and hats all in one piece of furniture. You also won’t need to worry about mounting hooks to the wall.

4. Focus on the Corners

Living area corner with bookshelf and plants.

If your living room is on the smaller side, consider arranging your furniture and/or some bigger pieces of decor in the corners to make it feel larger. Use a comfortable accent chair and a nice side table with a lamp to design a comfy reading nook.

If you don’t want to add another piece of furniture to your living room, just swap the table and lamp with a tall, slender floor lamp instead. When you arrange some of the furniture closer near the corners, it opens up the center of the room and leaves plenty of space for your family and guests to walk around.

Anchor the living room with a large area rug in the center so that it feels warm and cozy. You don’t have to put all of your furniture in the corner, but utilizing this method will help to make the living area look and feel a lot more open and less cramped. When you do this, it encourages the eye to draw toward the corners of the room and away from the edges, creating the illusion of more space.

Author and interior designer Laurence Llewlyn-Bowen says:

Our minds become confused in a room if our eyes can’t see corners. If our eyes can see corners, then our mind knows exactly what size the room is, but if you can find ways of disguising corners, hiding corners, drawing the attention of the eye to the middle of the wall rather than the edge of the wall, that will always help significantly.

You don’t necessarily have to put furniture in the corner to make the space appear larger. Even something as simple as a tall tree in a pot or a floor lamp will help to create the illusion of a bigger space. The key is to use items that add style and functionality without contributing to clutter.

5. Keep Furniture Size to a Minimum

2-seater sofa with teal color

Big, clunky furniture takes up a much larger footprint than more minimalist designs. Instead of sofas with overstuffed arms, try an armless loveseat or a chaise lounge chair. Select furnishings with a modern design boasting tall, slender legs to elevate the furniture and keep it off the ground.

This can also give you an opportunity to store a few items underneath the furniture if you choose. Stick to sleek, understated pieces that are still functional and stylish, but that won’t overtake the entire space and make your living room feel cramped.

Wall-hugging recliners give you the comfort of a traditional recliner without hogging all of that valuable floor space. Be intentional when shopping for new furniture and choose designs that are well-made, comfortable, and small enough to fit nicely in the living room without overtaking it.

Can shapes affect how large a living room looks?

The overall shape of your furniture and other pieces can impact not just how large your living room looks, but also how it feels in terms of the overall design. Opt for pieces of furniture with smooth, curved edges like an oval-shaped coffee table or a soft U-shaped sectional.

A round area rug instead of a square or rectangular one is another easy way to “take the edge off” and make a living space less harsh and uninviting. As for materials, try accent, coffee, and side tables with a glass or acrylic top.

The clear tabletop will help to create that illusion of space that you’re aiming for. While you can’t physically make your living room any bigger than it already is, you can utilize some simple tactics and trends to get the most out of it and maximize the space that you do have.