“We used to hang out in my studio apartment, play music and dream about being rock stars.” – Kyle Gass
From your first apartment to your fifth, living with less space is just a part of renting. But if you think there’s nothing you can do about this problem—short of moving out, that is—you’re mistaken.
It’s time to stop throwing down any old sofa and coffee table and calling it good. Decorating for a small space rather than against it can help you maximize seating, increase floor space, and improve how you feel when relaxing at home. Plus, it’ll make your apartment living room look better than ever before.
Keep reading to learn how to bring some of the best small living room ideas to life, so you can save space and start enjoying the benefits of living in a small apartment.
1. Contemporary Small Apartment Living Room Ideas
Contemporary decor highlights the day’s current trends, meaning it is ever-changing. One of the trendier styles you might stumble across right now, popularized by social media users, is called “dark academia.”
Creating a dark accent wall can lend a bit of moodiness to the space without making your living room feel too dim or claustrophobic. Keep the rest of your walls white to emphasize the contrast.
Natural wood grain, in the form of furniture, flooring, or decor pieces, will add to the room’s warmth. The same is true for cast-iron fixtures.
Rich leather upholstery is masculine and creates incredible contrast when paired with soft throw pillows, blankets, or even an area rug. Try out a combination of a loveseat and smaller chairs to get the most out of your living room’s limited square footage.
Avoid putting large pieces of furniture in front of the room’s windows, especially if said window is the only natural light source. Instead, take advantage of the sunlight by placing potted plants along your windowsill—ferns are an excellent choice for low-light areas and will help soften the look of your room.
2. Small Apartment Living Room Design Ideas
Just because you’re working with limited space doesn’t mean you can’t emulate your favorite interior design magazine article or social media post. Adopting an ultra-curated aesthetic is often one of the best things you can do when tackling a small room.
If you have items you know are going to be featured in your living room, start there. Begin by narrowing down a living room color palette that matches your focal point. This could be a patterned area rug, an upholstery fabric, a piece of artwork, or something else entirely.
Creating a cohesive living space takes time and energy. Unless you are very lucky, it will also mean spending a lot of money on coordinating furniture and accessories. While taking this approach in a small apartment living room will cut down on these costs, make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into from the start.
3. Cute Small Apartment Living Room Ideas
Embracing your apartment’s diminutive size can help disguise just how small it is, making its limited space feel like a feature rather than a flaw. While there’s certainly more than one way to accomplish this, opting for a cute aesthetic is probably the easiest.
Artwork of some type should be the focal point of your cute living room design. Pieces can range from botanical illustrations to retro pop art. If you have a favorite comic book or pop movie poster, now is the perfect chance to frame and display it.
If your lease allows, consider hiring an artistic friend to create a vibrant mural. On the other hand, peel-and-stick wall decals are a temporary option that won’t eat into your security deposit when it comes time to move.
Incorporate patterns into your living room decor in the form of blankets, throw pillows, or an area rug. Faux fur will make the space feel warm and cozy. Chunky knit blankets or poufs are another excellent way to add texture and whimsy.
Even if you choose to embrace your small living room, it’s still important to save space where you can. A chaise sofa (sometimes called an L-shaped sofa) placed in the corner of your room will maximize seating.
4. Modern Small Apartment Living Room Ideas
Modern living room decor is so popular that almost every home features at least a few elements inspired by the trend. This style is especially suited for small apartment living room decorating ideas since it roots into the tenets of anti-clutter and functionality.
With modern design, less is more. A bench-style sectional sofa and a coffee table could be all you need to furnish a tiny space.
Keep throw pillows and blankets to a minimum to preserve your furniture’s clean lines. If you have room for more than the bare necessities, invest in a modern accent chair to balance the look.
Oversized mirrors with simplistic frames are a common element of modern decor. Hanging one or two large mirrors in your living room can make the space feel twice as big while introducing more natural light.
Since modern interior design is all about function, statement light fixtures are some of the best pieces to add character without breaking from the movement’s principles. These could range from hanging chandeliers to a unique floor lamp, depending on your preference and what your space allows.
5. Simple Small Apartment Living Room Ideas
Since apartments are often located in cities, most renters opt for urban-inspired decor. But nothing is stopping you from decorating your small living room in a completely different style.
White walls are the norm in simple rustic decor, which is great since they come standard in most apartments. If you want to emulate classic shiplap walls, textured wallpaper can mimic the look and feel without permanently damaging your apartment walls.
Furniture in shades of grey or beige will work in practically any room. If you want to add a pop of color, you can do so with sparse throw pillows. Or lean into the rustic aesthetic with cowhide blankets.
Cut flowers and potted plants help bring a bit of nature indoors. Fill unused spaces with vases or pots, such as your windowsill, shelf, or an awkward corner of the room. If plant care isn’t your forte, silk plants are nearly indistinguishable from the real thing.
6. Budget Small Apartment Living Room Ideas
The easiest way to decorate a small apartment living room on a budget is to reuse items you already own. Instead of designing a room entirely from scratch, curate your decor around the most expensive items already in your possession. Chances are, this will be your sofa.
Aside from your must-haves, keep your living room decor simple. Adding too much clutter will cost more and make your apartment seem smaller than it is.
Even if your current living room furniture isn’t exactly what you have in mind, there might be a way to change that. Repainting or reupholstering furniture is easier than most people believe and almost always more affordable than buying brand-new items.
For a less permanent revamp, play around with using different throw pillows and blankets. This simple change could be all it takes to completely transform the look and feel of your existing living room furniture.
Choosing one or two statement pieces to feature in your living room can help prevent it from feeling bare. Make sure these items are wall-mounted or serve a purpose. Otherwise, you’ll be eating up valuable floor space.
7. Interior Small Apartment Living Room Ideas
Many apartment buildings feature brick or stone interior walls. In older buildings, this brickwork is just a hallmark of the era in which the constructors built these apartments. In newer builds, exposed bricks are typically an industrial-inspired design choice.
Regardless of the origin story, exposed brick walls are a goldmine when it comes to decor. Exposed brickwork goes hand-in-hand with industrial design — your apartment may even have some exposed ductwork or pipes to go along with the aesthetic.
Choose dark upholstery—leather, if possible—and metal fixtures to go with brick walls. Faux fur blankets and pillows will soften the overall look.
One major downside of brick walls is the inability to drill into them easily like you can with drywall. Drywall can be patched and painted over. Bricks, not so much.
With that said, there are ways to get around this issue. You can lean large wall decor against your walls or do away with hanging items altogether. Command Strips and similar products are other options, but we don’t recommend using them for heavy or valuable artwork.