Furniture

Ideas and Solutions for a Small Living Space

I was recently visiting with a friend who lives in a fairly typical for Northampton MA, late 1800's farmhouse. She is a master collector of curiosities, used-yet-hip furniture, artwork, tchotchkes, etc. She manages to pack a lot of stuff into her small home - and make it look artful, cozy and inviting. In addition, everything is functional! An antique sink (not attached to a drain) decorates the mud/laundry room, and also serves as place to stack clean laundry for her children to collect and put away. Each room has a it's own color palette, giving it a separate feel to the adjoining room. Handmade plywood painted bookcases are arranged according to color family, creating an attractive backdrop to a beloved collection of Snoopy paraphernalia, etc. I immediately thought of her while reading the following article from Apartment Therapy, which is chock full of great ideas about how to create a beautiful and functional space in a small or challenging living room. It's interesting to think about the many ways we have to recreate our spaces as we live in them. Enjoy!

30 Absolutely Brilliant Ideas & Solutions for Your Small Living Room

by Cara Gibbs

Jan 17, 2018

 

Tour: A NYC Couple's Minimalist Retreat from Hectic City Life

(Image credit: Mackenzie Schieck)

Those pesky small living rooms always have us stumbling and second guessing what we should do to make the most of the floor plan. If you've ever struggled with how to arrange your furniture, how to fit in more seating, how to get in more light and beyond, here are 30 rooms—from genius teeny spaces full of inspiration to larger living rooms with plenty of ideas to borrow—showcasing the best ways to expand your square footage without any demolition.
 

(Image credit: West Elm)

Get your reflection on

Mirrors are one of the best ways to make your tiny space feel open and airy. This space from West Elm shows off the dramatic impact multiple mirrors can play, plus they reflect any and all light available in the room.

 
(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

Fill 'er up

In a tiny space, you might be afraid of overwhelming things with too-large furniture, but oftentimes, if you go full throttle with a large sectional that hugs the walls, you'll get a room that #1 seats a ton of people and #2 feels super welcoming and cozy. Take notes from this home we toured in the UK that fits a family of four.

 

(Image credit: One Kings Lane)

Go for the wow factor

Sometimes the best way to visually increase the square footage in a space is to keep the eye constantly in motion (so you don't notice how small it is). Take a cue from entertaining expert Lulu Powers in her LA bungalow seen on One Kings Lane: pattern on pattern, bold color next to bold color—cozy perfection!

(Image credit: Design*Sponge)

Keep things linear

Try implementing varying geometric and linear prints, as seen on Design*Sponge. This gives a small space a sense of structure while also providing the illusion of additional length and width.

 

(Image credit: Livet Hemma)

Lose the legs

If you're looking to add storage/display surfaces to your living room, consider going leg-free and attaching units directly to the wall (like this Besta unit from IKEA in a room via Livet Hemma). Floating large pieces like this tricks the eye into thinking less space has been taken up because the floor area is still free (plus, you can use that newly found space for even more storage should you feel the need).

(Image credit: Alvhem)

Make the best of strange angles

A feature wall is a great way to properly weigh and focus a room with awkward angles, like in this room from Alvhem, that uses a bold floral wallpaper to pull the attention to the seating area.

(Image credit: Domino)

Invite tiny keepsakes & treasures into your space

In this charming living room via Domino, your attention is occupied and delighted by all the personal accents and accessories that draw you into each area of the little space.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

A wall of books

To turn a small, sort of sad living space into your favorite room, consider taking an empty wall and turning it into a top-to-bottom mini library. It'll provide plenty of storage opportunities, but also makes such a statement and gives a luxe built-in effect. For an even more stylish push, pick a rich color, like the hunter green of this room, and add molding to polish off the custom look.

(Image credit: Josh Gruetzmacher for Style Me Pretty Living )

The power of the tuck

The main goal of any small living space is always to use every area as efficiently as possible. So that area under the coffee table (considering yours doesn't have shelving) can often feel a bit wasted, unless you mimic this clever space from Style Me Pretty Living that tucks additional poufs under for more usage.

(Image credit: House Beautiful)

Keep your space alive

It's no secret that plants add so much value to any room in the home, but you can really get creative with them in your living area. In a tour of her home via House Beautiful, Justina Blakeney shows off just that in her compact living room, and is smart about hanging greenery as to not take up any precious floor space.

(Image credit: The Apartment St. Kilda via Instagram)

Keep things monochromatic

In this space by The Apartment St Kilda via Instagram, the crisp white walls serve as the perfect canvas for the oversize jet black lighting fixture and delightfully worn-in furnishings and accents—you hardly notice the room's tiny footprint amidst the cohesive palette.

(Image credit: Suzy Hoodless)

Floor to ceiling draperies

Draperies are the quickest way to add instant height to any space. The trick is to hang them from right around where your wall meets your ceiling and let them slightly puddle on the ground, as seen in this Notting Hill townhouse via Suzy Hoodless.

(Image credit: SFGirlbyBay)

Behold the power of threes

Grouping items into threes like in this space on SFGirlbyBay is a great way to make a living room feel a bit bigger by adding more pieces to a space without taking up more real estate. (Not to mention you can move smaller furnishings like these around as needed.)

(Image credit: House Beautiful)

K.I.S.S.

Keep it simple, sweetie! When you don't have a ton of room to play with but you want to inject some color, it's best to keep it simple if you're a newbie. Start with a foundation of neutrals and add in one feature color and one metallic and run with it, like this space via House Beautiful which invites varying textures and finishes to add depth while remaining light and airy on the eyes.

(Image credit: Homepolish)

Fit it all in

Packing your teeny space with lots of purpose is another way to trick yourself into thinking things are bigger than they appear. In this apartment on Homepolish, the living room seamlessly connects to an office area, feeling cohesive and interesting.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Layer your lighting

This living room feels big and spacious due in large part to tall ceilings and big windows, but also of note is the layered lighting. Keeping light at multiple levels (via floor lamps, chandeliers, and task lights) creates a moody yet well-lit room.

An Industrial-Modern Apartment in Brooklyn

(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

Don't overlook underused spots

If you have some windows in your tiny living room, put those window sills to work holding books, plants and other decorative objects.

(Image credit: VT Wonen)

Opt for floating shelves

When floor space is at a premium but you've got tons of books and whatsits to store, you'll want to consider floating shelves. Keep them the same color as your wall for an even sleeker look (and don't be afraid to get creative with sizes, like these scattered smaller shelves in a room from VT Wonen).

(Image credit: Sherrie and Oliver )

Go big

With a rug that is. A large rug like this one in the West Village apartment of Lee Lenox makes a tiny space feel much bigger than it actually is.

 

(Image credit: Architectural Digest)

Go bold (but neutral!)

Designers Cloth & Kind opted for an impressive statement wall when it came to this petite space featured on Architectural Digest, and the mix of patterns is fresh and lively, while a subtle, neutral palette keeps things from feeling overdone. This is a genius way to inject serious personality into a small space.

(Image credit: Marie Claire Maison)

Stack storage

Spotted on Marie Claire Maison, this non-traditional "sofa" is perched atop vintage storage bins—chic and smart!

(Image credit: IKEA via Domino)

Forego traditional pieces

We're so conditioned by the living room formula sofa + coffee table, but what if you focused on doing what works for you and how you live instead? In this space from IKEA via Domino, a quarter of slipper chairs sit where a sofa might be (how modular!) while a coffee table is absent in place of a rolling cart off to the side and cushy floor rugs.

(Image credit: Domino)

Design on a tilt

The best way to shake up a space is to give it a fresh furniture layout. If you're bored of your little living room, consider angling a few key pieces to keep things interesting like this room on Domino (via Airbnb).

(Image credit: Sigmar)

Get creative with storage

Okay, so this one is reserved for homeowners who can invest in custom solutions, but how enviable is this media center designed by London-based firm Sigmar?

(Image credit: New Darlings)

Go vertical

Blankets are a must for a cozy living room experience but when you're short on space to store said blankets, you don't have many options. Sure, you can stash them in a basket, but that takes but valuable floor space. A better option? The leading ladder (as seen here in the home of shelter bloggers New Darlings).

(Image credit: Alpha Smoot for Cup of Jo)

Skip the coffee table in place of an ottoman or pouf

This space from Cup of Jo is by no means a small living room, but let's pretend for a second that it is to learn a thing or two from it. See those two poufs on the other side of the coffee table? Those could easily swap in for the actual coffee table itself in a tighter space, which gives the room's user flexibility in surfaces. Opting for ottomans or poufs over larger furnishings is a smart way to still have a spot to place a drink or remote, but be able to move things easily around as you please (and even maybe create more seating).

 

Heart & Soul in a Jewelry Designer's Providence Condo

(Image credit: Anna Spaller)

Thinking clearly

Acrylic or glass furniture has long been a designer trick for small spaces. They serve a purpose (i.e., holding drinks, etc.) while basically disappearing into the space. The result is a room with all the function you need, but without all the visual clutter.

(Image credit: One Kings Lane)

Be delicate

Similar to the above trick, choosing accent furniture with delicate frames is another way to keep down the visual noise. This tiny seating living room (the home of content strategist Cole Wilson via One Kings Lane) feels full sized thanks to the delicate gold base and glass top coffee table, thin framed accent chairs and floor lamp.

(Image credit: Better Homes & Gardens)

Be matchy-matchy

While some might tell you that all-white rooms are the key to stretching a small space, we're here to tell you that no matter what paint you go with, the effect of color is a lot more nuanced than that. A trick that always works, though, no matter what's on your wall? Matching your drapes (bonus points if they're a sheer material) to your wall. Here, from Better Homes & Gardens, off-white walls seem to go on forever as the visual line is not interrupted by different colored curtains. If you flip this and decide to go dark and moody, stick to draperies in equally dramatic tones for a super cohesive, polished look perfect for a small living room.

(Image credit: Domino)

Trompe l'oeil, FTW

Featured in Domino, the home of denim darling Nicole Najafi (founder of Industry Standard) showcases many talents, but the biggest takeaway here was her tip on a trick every small space needs to follow: "My apartment is full of eye tricks to make it look larger than it actually is. The shades, for example, are mounted a few feet above the windows to make them look taller. There's actually just wall behind them."

Decorating On A Budget

 
With the spring real estate market now upon us, buyers and sellers alike are gearing up for the busier real estate season.  For buyers, this may mean speaking to their bank about pre-qualification, connecting with a buyer's agent to receive up-to-the-minute information and advocacy, and attending many showings and open houses.  For sellers, this will likely mean readying their home to put on the market.  Whether this will require a deep cleaning, some new coats of paint, staging of certain rooms, de-cluttering and organizing - or all of the above - a seller's agent will help you to prioritize and connect with any contractors you may need to get the job done.  
 
Regardless of whether you are gearing up to buy or sell a home - many of us feel the urge to purge and start anew with the onset of spring.  This feeling can lend itself nicely to taking on home decorating projects which have fallen by the wayside this long winter.  The following article from Apartment Therapy has some great advice about how to tackle certain decorating projects on a tight budget.
 
 

5 Sneaky Money-Saving Solutions for the Discerning Decorator

 

Wouldn't it be nice if there were some kind of grant that would allow people with exceptional taste to decorate their spaces however they please? It's a nice idea, but we live in the real world, where more often than not extraordinary taste is paired with a less than extraordinary budget. But that doesn't mean you can't have the home of your dreams — you just have to get smart. Here are five sneaky solutions that will have your home looking like a million bucks — without you having to spend, well, a million bucks.

Design Problem: Upholstered furniture is super, super expensive, and none of the couch offerings at IKEA is striking your fancy. 
Smart Solution: It will definitely take a little more legwork, but if you're searching for a beautiful sofa on a budget, vintage furniture is the best way to go. Find a couch you like on Craigslist or in a thrift store, and then get it re-upholstered in a fabric of your choice. Professional upholstery also isn't cheap (you can get an idea of the price here), but once all is said and done you'll have a unique, high-quality piece, in a fabric of your choice, for about the same price as a generic-looking, mid-range sofa.

A Scandinavian home from Entrance.

Design Problem: You've finally found some dining chairs that you really love. The price, however, is less lovely. 
Smart Solution: Who says everything has to match? Buy a pair of the chairs you really love, to anchor the ends of the table, and fill in the middle with more budget-friendly pieces.

Design Problem: You have a whole wall that you want to fill, but oversized artwork is out of your budget. 
Smart Solution: Instead of a single piece, creating a grouping (like the one above) of same-sized frames. Extra-pretty calendars are great for this — use 'em for a year, and then hang them on the wall.

Design Problem: You have things in unusual sizes that you want to frame, but custom framing costs an arm and a leg. 
Smart Solution: Go to a craft store and get a custom mat cut. Make sure the outer dimensions of the mat are a standard size, and then buy a frame off the shelf.

Design Problem: You find a rug you love, but you can't possibly afford to buy the size that's actually big enough for your room.
Smart Solution: Get an inexpensive sisal rug in the size that you need, and then buy a smaller size of the rug you like and layer it on top. You'll save money AND add a little bit of interest and texture to your room.

(Image credits: Esteban CortezEntranceWilliam Waldron for Architectural DigestAndrea SparacioNancy Mitchell)

Beyond Ikea - Thanks to Apartment Therapy!

Admittedly, I am an Ikea addict.  Whenever we travel to visit my in-laws, I make sure to leave enough room in our mini-SUV to accommodate a trip to the nearby Ikea, to stock up on all sorts of items that I may or may not need - but which give me great pleasure to shop for.  We recently sold our home in town, and moved to nearby Emerson Way in Northampton MA.  This move was about downsizing, to that end I spent months selling much of our furniture, and donating unwanted items to various charities and recycling events.  This allowed us to purchase some new furniture to go with the new house.  Since the house we bought is new construction, we also had the fun, if overwhelming, task of purchasing lighting fixtures, tile, paint, cabinet pulls, bathroom fixtures, kitchen appliances, etc.  As you can imagine, I clocked countless hours on various websites shopping for our new home - and posting ideas to Pinterest and Houzz (fantastic resources for seeking and organizing ideas).  Much of my time was spent in person or online at Ikea.  They have some great and inexpensive options (as long as you don't go "full Ikea").   But Ikea is only one resource for inexpensive and attractive furniture.  I was excited to find this blog post on the ever-informative and juicy Apartment Therapy website.  It includes some great resources for Ikea alternatives.

For more information. any real estate needs, or to schedule a showing, contact us today! Discover recent real estate listings in the Northampton, MA area here.

Beyond IKEA: 10 Other Cheap, Chic Furniture Stores

SHOPPING GUIDE

We know -- you're tired of seeing IKEA on every single affordable furniture list we pull together. It's one of the biggest and best sources for modern furniture on a budget... but, yes, it can get old. So, to make up for the IKEA overkill, here's a list of sources for cool furniture on the cheap. We tried to stick to non-obvious sources. Don't worry -- there's no West Elm or CB2 here either.

East Coast

All stores listed below have e-commerce sites with online ordering.

5093f32edbd0cb0349000512. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop MUJI This Japanese store has multiple locations in New York City, as well as a US website for national orders. Their selection of sofas, beds, shelving, and tables is simple, stripped-down, and inexpensive.

5094410adbd0cb033a000762. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop White Furniture They have locations in New York and San Francisco, and they manufacture knockoffs of classic mid-century designs. The quality is much less solid than the real thing, but the prices are low.

5094410bd9127e2f06000725. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop The Grove Furniture Based out of New Jersey, the Grove sells solid wood unfinished furniture. Styles tend to be basic and traditional, but it's a good source for cabinets and case goods that could be painted any color you like.

 

Midwest

All stores listed below have e-commerce sites or catalogs with phone/mail ordering.

5094410bdbd0cb034200072a. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Roy's Home Furnishings Roy's is a 30-year-old Chicago institution. They're known for excellent prices on upholstered furniture and big pieces like dining tables and beds, and they recently launched an online catalog.

5094410cd9127e2f0a000689. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Dania They have stores scattered throughout suburban metro areas in Illinois, Minnesota, and the Pacific Northwest. Styles are a mix of contemporary and Scandinavian-modern, and prices are affordable.

5094410ddbd0cb0349000777. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Chiasso This Chicago store focuses on modern metal-frame furniture. Not all of it is cheap, but there are some very affordably priced sofas, tables, and shelving. They tend to carry small-scale pieces designed for apartment living.

5093f32ed9127e2f160004b2. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop McMaster-Carr Supply Company Headquartered out of suburban Chicagoland, this catalog retailer specializes in industrial equipment. They'll happily sell to retail customers, and you can find sturdy shelves and stools at great prices.

West Coast

All stores listed below have e-commerce sites or catalogs with phone/mail ordering.

5093f32fd9127e2f21000480. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop TINI Store Perfectly suited to this list, TINI stands for This-Is-Not-IKEA. This LA-based vintage furniture store has great prices on mid-century modern stuff, and their website is updated frequently.

5094410ddbd0cb033a000763. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Hoot Judkins Serving the Northern California area, Hoot Judkins is an unfinished furniture store. They have a mix of modern and traditional solid wood pieces, from dining sets to beds.

5093f330d9127e2f21000481. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Stanford Surplus Property Sales Colleges and universities are rich furniture resources that are often overlooked. Many schools put used office and dorm furniture on sale at the end of the year, and Stanford even has a web catalog where you can search their inventory online.Top Photo:

Larsen Chair, $350 at White Furniture

 

via Beyond IKEA: 10 Other Cheap, Chic Furniture Stores -- Shopping Guide | Apartment Therapy.