Although many of us dream of having expansive living rooms to lounge and entertain in, with generous bay windows that overlook acres of grounds, the reality is that most of us are living in rather compact, urban settings with limited square footage. Instead of being perpetually dissatisfied with one’s living room and avoiding entertaining at all cost though, why not make the most of it?! Limited square footage is a common challenge we are faced with and therefore, out of necessity, we’ve come up with some fool-proof solutions for making the most of small living rooms. The trick is to make very strategic decisions as everything makes a difference in a small space. Here’s what we suggest…
1. Think About Storage
Nothing makes a space feel cramped quite like unnecessary clutter. The more you can store out of sight and off the floor, the larger the space will feel. We usually start by urging our clients to do their best to edit things down and donate what they don’t need. Once you’ve boiled it down to the items you absolutely need and wish to keep, it’s a matter of selecting pieces that can help you store and display things in a visually-appealing but functional way. Custom built-ins, whether it’s shelving or wall benches, are usually the sleekest way to go about this but it can be rather costly. If this isn’t in the budget, there are still plenty of other options that can do the job. Many poufs and ottomans are designed with hollow interiors and removable tops making them great ‘hidden’ storage solutions. For seating, we’ve come across several sectionals that also have a segment that hinges open for additional storage. If you have a TV in the room, there are countless stand-out pieces that have plenty of storage but also serve well as media stands.
2. Keep Walls Simple & Light
When considering your options for wall colour or paper, try to keep things simple and light. If you’ve been eyeing wallpapers with bold patterns or a heavy texture, we suggest reserving those for another room, such as your powder room. As much as we love a wallpaper that’s stunning in its details, they tend to have a closing-in effect on a room. If it’s paint you’re after, the same effect can be said of darker paints. Reserve those dark, mysterious hues for rooms such as dens, libraries, or offices, for example. Lighter colours tend to create a more airy atmosphere and allow light to be reflected and bounced around the room, which creates an illusion of space.
3. Incorporate Mirrors
Speaking of bouncing light… If changing the wall colour or paper isn’t an option, then incorporating some mirrors into your decor is an excellent alternative. Whether it’s a strategically placed framed mirror, creating a custom-mirrored wall, or simply selecting some furniture with a mirrored finish, they are a wonderful way to brighten up the room and trick the eye into seeing more space.
4. Make Clever Lighting Decisions
Being strategic in your lighting choices is important for two reasons. First, light has the power to brighten up any pokey little room and turn it into something that feels dreamy and spacious. For that reason, you want to make sure there’s enough of it. Second, the light fixture itself can either encroach upon already limited space or it can enhance and add to it, if you select the right type. So what does this mean? Although you want there to be enough light, you don’t want it to take up unnecessary space. Floor lamps are great but when space is limited, they take up unnecessary square footage. Instead, you can opt for fixtures that don’t take up any floor space at all such as wall sconces, hanging light fixtures and flush mounts. In addition to being space efficient, they can also have the added bonus of drawing the eye up and creating a sense of extra ceiling height.
5. Spring for Proper Window Treatments
In a smaller space, we do urge our clients to consider bringing in a professional to consider various options for custom window treatments as this is truly a case-by-case solution. One trick we like to use is installing drapery or roman blinds that are mounted a few inches above the window frame. This often has the dramatic effect of exaggerating the height of a room and frames the view beautifully. By drawing attention to the scenery just outside your window, it becomes a visual extension of your living room making the space feel more open.
6. Select Appropriate Seating
When selecting your seating, comfort is of course paramount but positioning an oversized sectional, as lovely as it may be, in your 800 square-foot condo’s living room is just not a good idea. Sofas that sit a little lower tend to not overwhelm the space as much. For additional seating, armchairs that sit on a pedestal or feet feel less heavy, as you can see space underneath.