Though it can be challenging to find the right living room ideas for apartments, there are several benefits to compact living. A well-designed apartment or studio space can feel just as comfortable as a larger space, with all the coziness and comfort associated with functional family living. 

Apartment living room ideas

One of the main advantages of an apartment is the convenient accessibility of everything that’s needed. Easy maintenance is another reward. All you have to do now is to find the perfect color palette, layout, furniture and storage ideas to suit your space – and that’s where our living room ideas factor in. These apartment living room ideas will help inspire you to achieve the space of your dreams.

1. Go for one feature piece – and frame it

Choose one large-scale piece to showcase in your small apartment living room ideas – a large-scale artwork, an oversized lampshade, or a wall-to-ceiling mirror. By choosing carefully, these large accessories will become the focus of any gazes, which draws attention away from the lack of space. A clever trick has been used in this apartment living space by interior design agency Gunter & Co (opens in new tab): the artwork has been framed in a portrait-shaped panel that sits alongside other identical panels. This trick of creating tall rectangles across a wall is a clever way to add architectural detail to an otherwise plain space, and to exaggerate the height of the ceiling in what might otherwise seem like a low-ceilinged space.

2. Zone a small living room in an apartment

If you are looking for small living room ideas for apartments that will work in larger, open-plan spaces, it is vital to include zoned spaces on your moodboard – or it is likely that the room will feel unplanned, and therefore unwelcoming. The easiest way to zone open-plan spaces is with furniture, grouping living room seating around a rug, and dividing it from the rest of the space with a large piece of furniture where the rug ends.  Here, the clever use of small living room lighting ideas on the console behind the sofa creates welcoming pools of light that delineate one area from another.

3. Direct your gaze to the view

If your apartment living room has a great view of the beyond, arrange your living room furniture to show it off. This might mean that you ditch the classic living room layout for a more unconventional arrangement, but it will be worth the compromise.  Choose furniture that works well with a more open layout – armless sofas and chairs, for example, won’t interrupt the sight lines. This London apartment living room, designed by Elicyon (opens in new tab), is the perfect example of this approach.

4. Choose curvaceous furniture

To develop a little on what we said above, curved furniture is a great way to furnish a whole host of apartment living room ideas. Why? It is less visually brutal than furniture with hard lines – especially pieces chosen to contrast starkly with the other colors in the room.  Secondly, curves save space – with those corners knocked off, they are visually smaller, perfect for a cramped space. So think curved when selecting a couch for a small living room.

5. Enhance space with a mirror

Decorating with mirrors can make an enormous difference to an apartment living room, whether it’s small and dark or large and light-filled.  ‘A well-positioned mirror transform will transform a room with its reflective powers to lighten and enlarge a space, coupled with the element of enchanting design,’ says Owen Pacey, founder of Renaissance London (opens in new tab). When used carefully, a mirror can create the illusion of heightened space in the room, making its addition particularly impactful among small apartment living room ideas. 

6. Smarten up with fitted storage

Modern life requires that the main room of an apartment fulfil a multitude or functions – from offering somewhere to relax and dine to office space, so well-planned living room storage ideas are the key to a practical and stylish scheme, especially in a small living room. Bespoke cabinetry and living room shelving is brilliant for creating storage that is specifically tailored to your needs. Think about adding a full wall of large units – to either side of a fireplace or in an alcove – in your apartment.

7. Add interest underfoot

Living room trends may come and go, but few coverings can match the vast choice of color, pattern and texture offered by living room rug ideas.  With a statement rug, the rest of your furnishings can be quite simple and understated, and you may want to pick up the colors from the rug in cushions, curtains or other fittings and accessories, as shown here.  If your small apartment living room can’t take bold color, stick to a single color palette. Team pattern underfoot with neutral living room ideas for a modern farmhouse style that is cozy, inviting and brimming with rustic living room features.

8. Stick to a single color palette

Neutral living room schemes are the perfect choice for a small apartment. Many rooms are suited to the neutral look, but as they are so relaxing, monochromatically neutral designs are particularly apt for apartment living room ideas. It will feel light, spacious and serene.  One important aspect to consider when decorating with neutrals is bringing in as much tone and texture as possible, as it creates layers of interest and intrigue – important factors when strong colors and pattern are out of the picture.

9. Clear the clutter

The key to a compact apartment living room is to be exceptionally well organized. The pursuit of the best living room organization tips may seem like a never-ending mission, but keeping your apartment neat and tidy is imperative. ‘In my experience, small spaces can actually transform personal habits for the better, as they require careful editing and storage,’ advises Irina Townsend of Keir Townsend (opens in new tab).  Make sure you keep your living room tidy and organized by removing any knickknacks or unnecessary items, and your space will instantly feel more spacious and pleasant to be in.

10. Make a studio stand out

Try to create the feel of rooms within a room in studio apartments by invisibly dividing your living area into key spaces to accommodate separate living, work, and sleeping zones. Use living room paint ideas to unify the space, with a consistent color palette and flooring throughout.  Consider storage systems with pull down beds in small studios, to make the most of your living space during the day, while larger spaces will benefit from a sliding door system to divide living and sleeping zones.

How do I arrange living room furniture in a small apartment?

You’ve probably spent hours rearranging furniture in a frenzied attempt to make your small apartment living room or studio look larger, but in the back of your mind you know that unless you knock down the walls and rebuild the room from scratch, there’s just nothing you can do.  Living room furniture can be a cumbersome business, especially in small living rooms so it pays to arrange and buy items correctly. One great way to make the most of a smaller space is by using multi-function furniture, like a chest that can be used as a coffee table, nest of tables, beds with drawers for storage, extendable dining tables, and folding chairs that can be tucked away when you don’t need them. Another important pointer is to place large pieces of furniture against walls so the open space in the middle is not broken up.