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Space-saving Ideas for Furnishing a Small Living Room



We all know that NYC apartments can sometimes be on the smaller side. Some critics might even call them “cramped,” “tiny,” or, more colorfully, a “shoebox.” But New Yorkers know better; your space is what you make it. With some creative thinking and smart adjustments, what others call “small,” you can call home. Here are some of NewDevRev’s top tips and ideas for a small living room transformation to turn your place into the perfect multi-use living space.

Make a Game Plan

Our first piece of advice is a good idea for all interior decorating projects, but is especially important when working with small spaces; make a game plan. By that, we mean you should sketch out your space and decide on your budget before you commit to any major purchases.

Sketch Out Your Space

First, get a hold of your floorplans so you can see exactly what you are working with. You can find official floorplans in your apartment’s offering plan. You should have received a copy of the offering plan (also known as an OP) when you purchased your apartment. If you cannot find it, then do not worry, you can just search for the OP on this handy online database.

If you are renting, then you can ask your building manager for the floorplans to your unit. If all else fails, you can even draw up your own floor plans. With a good, old fashioned measuring tape, notebook, and pencil, you can record the dimensions of your space and create a scale drawing based on that.

There are high-tech options as well, like online floorplan tools that generate 2D and 3D images to fit your specifications. Some of these tools allow you to drag and drop furniture so that you can simulate different layouts. All of this can be very helpful when trying to get the most out of ideas for a small living room.

Plan your Budget

Next, you should plan your budget. Budgeting for decorations can be difficult. After all, what is really necessary? And where should you splurge vs. cut back? Our advice is to make a priorities list first, and a budget second.

For example, let’s say that you are an audiophile; high quality sound equipment is important to you. Then you should be sure to put this at the top of your priorities list, and be willing to spend a bit more on this important category. Your needs are unique to you, and your budget should reflect this.

Research Your Options

Once you have a better idea of your space and your budget, you should start shopping. Look into what’s out there so that you have a better idea of your options. Find brands that you love, aesthetics that resonate with you, and furnishings that you feel are essential. If you find the perfect piece, then do not be afraid to spend a bit more on it if it will “make” the room.

Don’t know where to start? Here are some ideas for what to look for when furnishing a small living room.

Space-Saving Home Entertainment Solutions

Living rooms are the heart of your home. They are one of the best spots for entertaining and for entertainment. Unfortunately, some home entertainment setups can be bulky. To make it work in a small living room, give these tips a try.

Wall-mounted TV

The best way to save space in a small living room? Mount your TV. Getting rid of the TV stand entirely means that you open up that floor space. If you still want storage under the TV, then a floating sideboard cabinet is a great option. These legless cabinets are low-profile, making the most use of the space that they occupy. Not to mention how chic and minimal they look.

Low-profile TV Stands

Want something more traditional, but still appropriate for a small living room? Consider getting a thin, low profile TV stand. What it lacks in storage, it makes up for in sleek sophistication.

Another great option is to get a corner TV stand. These fit perfectly into the nooks of your room and create a cozy, but never cramped, atmosphere. There are legless corner tv stands, as well as more traditional ones.

Small or Wall-mounted Speakers

While some sound systems are huge, imposing, and multi-part, you can still get great quality audio in a smaller package. Look into high quality, small speakers or wall mounted speakers that can give you a big sound in your small space. This upgrade will instantly improve your home entertainment set up.

Take a look at some of our suggestions for best speakers for small apartments here. There are traditional options, as well as cutting edge smart speakers that can integrate into the rest of your smart home.

Furnishing Ideas for Your Small Living Room

Now that we have talked about entertainment solutions, let’s talk about entertaining. The living room is your social hub, so you want to make sure you pick smart furnishings that make your guests feel comfortable and welcomed. Consider these tips when designing your lounge space in your small living room.

Simple Color Palettes

Small spaces can be easily overwhelmed by too much color. Choose one or two key colors that you can use as accents. Then, fill the rest of the space with neutrals for balance. In general, the lighter the neutral color, the more airy and large the space will feel.

Paint the walls a light neutral–white, gray, beige, cream, etc., and paint the trim, ceilings and other features the same color or lighter. You will be surprised home much bigger this will make the space feel.

Transparent and Reflective Pieces

Use transparent glass pieces in your furniture and decorations. A glass coffee table, for example, can make your space look more open and large. If breakable glass makes you nervous, acrylic lucite is a great, more durable option. Mirrors and other reflective surfaces can similarly trick the eye into thinking your living room is larger than it actually is.

Modular Furniture

When it comes to the main seating in your living room, you may be tempted to buy multiple separate items–like an armchair, loveseat, and sofa. Since each of these is their own discrete piece of furniture, you can buy exactly what you need to fit in your small space, right?

Well, while eclectic looks using separate pieces are great in large spaces, in a small living room, modular furniture is the way to go. Modular furniture is made up of multiple coordinated parts that can be arranged in several configurations to match your needs. Because of this need for flexibility, modular furniture on the market tends to be more low profile, minimalist, and chic.

Modular sofas, sectionals, and lounges are particularly popular, but there are also modular options for shelving, tables, and storage. With modular furniture, you can tailor your furnishings to fit your specific needs without hiring a contractor to make custom pieces.

Custom Pieces

However, if you are willing to spend a bit more for the perfect piece, custom work is unbeatable. A contractor can tailor make exactly what you need, from built in shelving to a Murphy sofa-bed. Custom pieces are a particularly good option for those dealing with small, awkwardly shaped spaces.

Making the Most of Multi-Use

If space saving is your priority, be sure to make use of multi-use furnishings. This can transform your living room into a valuable multipurpose space. Chances are that if your living room is on the smaller side, the rest of your apartment is not the biggest, either. And with more and more New Yorkers working from home, every inch counts.

Combining Living Room and Dining Room

If you want to make your living room into a functional dining room while saving space, consider getting a coffee table that can convert to a dining table. Often, these tables will fold out, elevating a portion of the surface to a more comfortable height. This eliminates the need for a separate dining nook, and can be easily collapsed back to a coffee table in seconds.

Combining Living Room and Office Space

If you are working from home, then you can use multipurpose furniture to create an office space in your small living room. For example, you can use a sideboard, window ledge, or coffee table as a small writing desk. If you have a custom bookshelf made, consider asking for an additional built-in desk. Custom writing desks can be a great fit in the otherwise unusable nooks in your home.

Combining Living Room and Play Area

If you need an open space at home, like a play area for the kids or a studio or workout space, then collapsible furniture is a great option for your small living room. Built-ins like Murphy daybeds that completely fold up work well in these living room set-ups, and collapsible furniture like folding tables and chairs are also good ideas. These furnishings can easily convert your living room to a play area in a matter of minutes.

Keep Up with the Latest Design Trends

Stay up to date with the latest design trends by reading NewDevRev. Our tips and tricks can help you make the most of any NYC apartment, even the small ones.