16 Decorator Tricks for Small Living Rooms and Other Cramped Spaces

Beige room with light pink curtains
Photo: Polly Wreford/Homes & Gardens

Living in a place with tiny rooms presents a challenge—how to make your limited space seem larger. Try these easy home and apartment decor ideas.

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Go Light

Beige room with light pink curtains
Polly Wreford/Homes & Gardens

Use light colors on the walls and floor. Softer hues can make a cramped room feel bigger and brighter.

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Hang a Mirror

Feng Shui fireplace and mirror
William Abranowicz

Place a mirror opposite a window and it will bounce light around the room, making the space feel airier. The bigger the mirror, the better.

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Sprinkle in Some Metallics

Sprinkle in Some Metallics
Lucas Allen

A shimmery lamp, light fixture, or object will have a similar effect as a mirror, reflecting light and brightening up a space.

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Install Floating Shelves

Install Floating Shelves
Hallie Burton

They offer storage space without the bulkiness of chests, bookcases, and armoires. You can even swap your nightstands for floating shelves.

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Make Use of Corners

Make Use of Corners
William Abranowicz

This often-overlooked area can be a great spot to squeeze in an extra accent chair or a corner bookshelf, making your room more livable. Or tuck a cozy chair with a throw blanket in a corner to create an instant reading nook.

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Fake Bigger Windows

Patterned decor
Peter Dressel; Designer: Frances Herrera

Installing curtain rods a few inches below the ceiling instead of right above the window frame will draw the eye upward and make windows seem taller. The same trick works to visually expand a window's width if you hang the rods a few inches past the sides of the panes.

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Match Your Curtain Color to Your Walls

Silver metallic living room
Edward Addeo; Designer: Frances Herrera

Curtains that blend with the walls create an unbroken line, making a room feel much larger.

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Choose Scaled-Down Furniture

Neon decorated kitchen
Jonny Valiant

Opt for furniture that suits a smaller space, like this petite table. Even traditionally bulky pieces—such as upholstered club chairs—come in narrower widths these days, so you can get the same look without cramming your furnishings.

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Opt for Airy Pieces

Living room
Jeff McNamara

Instead of a solid-wood coffee table, which can weigh down a space, choose a see-through acrylic one or a table with an open metal base.

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Decorate With Double-Duty Finds

Decorate With Double-Duty Finds
Sarah Maingot

A garden stool can act as both an end table and a spot to perch; an ottoman with a tray can hold your TV remotes or transform into extra seating; and a bench can display books when not in use otherwise.

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Sneak in Some Storage

His-and-hers workspace
Thomas J. Story for Sunset

An easy way to keep a small room from becoming cluttered is to choose furniture with space to store objects, like a coffee table with a shelf below, a bench with bins underneath, and an ottoman with a removable top and empty space inside. Note how this workspace/dining space has clever cubbies to stash belongings.

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Make Your Furniture Mobile

Futon on casters in living room
Thomas J. Story for Sunset

Buying furniture on casters (or outfitting it with casters yourself) allows you to easily rearrange pieces as needed—whether that means pushing a chair, table, or kitchen island out of the way or rolling a futon into position to comfortably set up overnight guests.

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Bring in a Plant

Fig tree on wheels
Christopher Baker

Greenery makes even the smallest space feel fresher and lighter. If you don't have room on the floor, try a hanging plant instead. (Speaking of casters: To make an oversize plant mobile—to easily roll it out of the way when vacuuming or to protect it from too much sun—all you need is a piece of precut bluestone from a landscaping center set on a wheeled caddie.)

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Use Walls as Displays

Use Walls as Displays
Susie Cushner

Hang up your jewelry or pretty cutting boards and trivets to clear out valuable drawer space in the bedroom or kitchen.

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Pull Furniture Away From the Walls

Pull Furniture Away From the Walls
William Waldron

A few inches between the wall and the back of your couch, for example, will make the living room look more open.

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Add Vertical Stripes

Add Vertical Stripes
Ellen Silverman

On walls or drapes, they can make a low ceiling feel higher.

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