Let me tell you how I live- I live in 1290 square feet on my main floor with 5 kids, one husband, and a baby coming in January! It is small- so if you live small too I FEEL YOU. And fear not, your living room can feel super large with a few strategies. Here are a few ways to do this:
1. Start with a great sofa
Note- it does not have to be small! I repeat- it does not have to be small. In my own living room, I have got a fairly grandiose sofa- meaning, it's got large rolled arms, lots of tufting, and I did not purchase it in the "condo / apartment size" section of a furniture store. It is big and bold and I love it. Make sure you leave enough room on either side of course for side tables- for example I wouldn't want the sofa to take up more than 3/4 of the wall, or determined space in an open concept living room. And why this works in a small space is reason #2…
2. Pair your great sofa with streamlined chairs
A large sofa can absolutely be successful in a small space as long as you pair it with smaller scale chairs. PLEASE DO NOT BUY THE SAME LARGE CHAIR THAT MATCHES YOUR LARGE SOFA. In a small space, this just isn't going to fly. Instea, choose pieces that have slender arms, have legs that elevate it off the floor so they appear not so bulky, or one of my favourite approaches in small spaces- use clear pieces like the ghost chair, or anything with metal mesh or negative space cutaways where you can actually see through the chair so the visual weight is reduced. I like putting a chair on either side of the sofa as per my image above- but of course if your small space allows consider adding small ottomans on the other side of the coffee table, o4 2 chairs on ether side of the sofa.
3. Ground it all with a large rug
OK- you might think I'm nuts here- you want me to put a LARGE area rug in my SMALL living room? Go with me for a moment. A small rug that does not sit under all the furniture pieces breaks up the visual line. It creates choppy breaks, where your eye jumps from the foot of a chair, to the edge of the carpet, to the edge of the carpet again, to the edge of the sofa- and this is what we want to avoid. In a small space we want to create as harmonious of a visual sweep as possible. Think of how a camera pans across a room in a television show "reveal shot". Instead of interrupting the sweep with a bunch of broken lines that create visual chaos, your small space will feel so much more open and large without as many visual breaks- so go big on the rug and ensure it sits under all the pieces of furniture.
4. Use pattern
Again I promise I am not nuts. Pattern in a small space? Isn't that going to be super overwhelming? I argue no- the key is to ensure you vary scale and keep things in a harmonious colour palette. As you can see in my own small living room, I went with a bold wallpaper- and kept other elements of the design like the carpet, and upholstery fabrics more neutral for balance.
5. Use colour
A harmonious colour palette, I argue, is a great way to ensure a space feels larger than it actually is. And yes- a lighter palette will help a space feel brighter and larger as well- but I wouldn't hesitate from using a dark colour in a small space as long as 1) it is your style and 2) your space is appropriately lit (large windows or sufficient layered lighting). Make sure you repeat a colour (like one of the ones you used in a patterned pillow or wallpaper) at least three times in a space to create visual harmony.