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17 Ways to Keep a Small Living Room from Looking Cluttered

Jan 21, 2019
17 Ways to Keep a Small Living Room from Looking Cluttered

Just about everyone would like to have more space than they do. For some of us, though, our living rooms are so tiny that fitting everything in them without making the space look cluttered is next to impossible. Whether you live in an apartment, an older home with a tiny living room, or anywhere else with a living room that isn’t as large as you would like, there are several ways to keep your space looking cozy instead of cluttered. Here are a few of our favorite ways to keep a small living room from looking cluttered.

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Paint Your Walls Using Light Colors

If you have a tiny living room, painting it a dark color will only make it feel even tinier and perhaps even cave-like. To make it look more spacious, opt for neutral, light colors. Shades of white, tan, and yellow work well. Have something a bit more colorful in mind? Instead of painting the entire room using a bold color, use it as an accent. If the rest of your living room is painted in a nice shade of beige, one darker or bolder wall won’t have as much of an impact on the perceived size of the space.

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Match Your Furniture to Your Wall Color

Our brains often perceive contrast as clutter. By matching your furniture to your walls, you can minimize contrast and help keep it from looking like clutter. Light-colored furniture that matches your walls is also a good choice since darker pieces tend to make small rooms feel more cramped.

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Choose Light-Colored Floors, Too

Light Floors Quote

Light floors are all the rage, right now, and for good reason. In addition to looking great and being less likely to show every speck of dust, they can make your living room look larger. Like light-colored paint and furniture, light floors make rooms feel more spacious than darker ones. While adding a rug can make your living room floor feel warmer, it can also make the space look smaller. Keeping your floors bare makes the room look larger. If you absolutely need to have a rug, check out the “Keep Patterns in Check” tip for inspiration.

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Move Your Furniture Away from the Walls

When you are trying to arrange furniture in a small space, the best way to maximize the space is by cramming each piece up against the wall, right? Not exactly. Placing your sofa, loveseat, etc. against the walls of your living room may give you a few more square inches to work with, but those insignificant inches come at the cost of making your room look more cluttered. By floating your furniture even just a few inches from the wall and keeping all of the corners clean and clutter-free, you can make the space look much more spacious. Also, avoid placing your furniture in catty-corner arrangements. No matter how hard you try to make it look good, this arrangement usually just ends up looking like you purchased furniture that was too big and decided to shove it wherever you could make it fit.

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Install Curtain Rods Above Your Window Frames

empty curtain interior decoration on wall in living room

Make your living room look like the ceilings are higher by hanging your curtain rods above your window frames. Installing them right at or just a couple inches below the ceiling tricks the eye and makes it look like there is much more space than there really is.


Hang Sheer Curtains

While we are talking about curtains, consider ditching your dark curtains in favor of sheer ones. Dark curtains block out light and can make your space look smaller, much like dark paint colors. Sheer curtains will allow more light into your living room and make it appear larger. For privacy, install light-colored blinds. Just remember to open them up during the day to let light in. When you are shopping for curtains, look for ones that are in the same color family as the wall they are on. This helps maintain a cohesive color palette and helps you avoid excess contrast that could be perceived as clutter.

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Choose Furniture that Fits the Space

Apartment Sized Sofa

If you have a small living room, there may be no way to make the giant sectional sofa you love look great. No matter how hard you try, a piece that is simply too large for the room will almost always make it appear cluttered.  When shopping for new furniture, make sure you have the measurements of the room with you. Bring measurements for existing furniture pieces, too, so you can accurately determine how well a particular piece will (or won’t) fit in the space. If you live in an apartment or have a house with a teeny tiny living room, try an apartment size sofa. They come in several different models and colors, and, while they are small in size, they are big on style!

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Wall Mount Your TV

If you currently have your television sitting on an entertainment stand, wall mounting it can instantly buy you a few extra feet of space. Getting rid of a bulky TV stand frees up a significant amount of space and makes any room look larger. Plus, mounting your TV on the wall looks great!

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Install Crown Molding

living room with Crown Molding

You don’t need a grand formal living room to have crown molding. In fact, it looks amazing even in smaller rooms. As an added bonus, it draws the eye upward. This makes your ceilings appear higher and makes the room as a whole feel larger. Because it draws the eye upward, crown molding can even make it a bit less likely that your visitors will notice all of the clutter in your living room when they stop by unannounced.

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Add Some Built-In Bookcases

Built-in bookcases serve more than one purpose when it comes to making a small living room appear less cluttered. For starters, they give you a place to store things like knickknacks, your kids’ toys, and, of course, books. They do a lot more than just that, though. Since they are built-in, they don’t take up valuable square footage as freestanding bookcases would. When they extend from floor to ceiling, they draw the eye upward and create the illusion of more vertical space. When placing items on your bookshelves, just be sure to do so in a way that doesn’t look too cluttered. Just piling everything on will make your tiny room look and feel even more cramped and disorganized. Use things like baskets to tuck loose odds and ends away out of sight, and keep books and decorative items arranged neatly. Be sure to dust regularly!

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Use Clear Accent Pieces

Modern living room interior

When it comes to things like a coffee table or end tables, choosing pieces that are clear can make the room look larger. Glass-topped tables and Lucite chairs don’t feel as “heavy” visually, and, while they take up just as much space as solid pieces, they can make a room look much larger.

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Keep Patterns in Check

Patterned furniture and rugs add a lot of character to your living room. They show off your personality and style, and they treat spaces that are truly one-of-a-kind. Unfortunately, they can also make a room feel smaller. Large, bold patterns work best in larger spaces. To avoid making a smaller one look cluttered, stick with just a single patterned accent piece instead of mixing and matching several pieces and designs. There is one exception to this rule, though. While most patterns tend to make a space look smaller, stripes can make small rooms appear larger. Adding striped curtains, a striped rug, or even a striped sofa can make your living room look bigger. Just remember to stick with primarily light colors.

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Use Lamps Instead of Overhead Lights

It may seem counterintuitive since lamps take up more space, but they make rooms look larger than overhead lights. Overhead lighting typically creates a single focal point in the room, while floor and table lamps draw the eye throughout the space. This makes it seem larger when you look around. Multiple light sources also make the space brighter, which can help reduce how cluttered it looks.

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Go Easy on the Art and Photos

Small living room with table, couch and television

Whether it’s filled with family photos or high-end artwork, a gallery wall is something that looks great in a large space. In a tiny living room, however, it tends to just look cluttered. Keep clutter to a minimum by hanging just one piece of art or one framed photograph on each wall. A single large piece hung just above eye level looks much nicer than a group of smaller frames, and it is a good way to add an appropriate amount of contrast to a tiny space.

Not displaying family photos can be difficult, though. If you can’t decide on just one to display, consider changing them out regularly so that only one is displayed at a time but is changed regularly. Also, keep in mind that the living room isn’t the only room in your home. Keep the clutter out of this room by creating a gallery in your hallway.

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Invest in Multifunctional Pieces

Multi function furniture

When space is at a premium, you need furniture that serves multiple purposes. Storage ottomans are always a great choice because they provide a place for you to put your feet up, allow you to store items out of sight, and can be used as additional seating in a pinch. If you prefer a coffee table, consider one with built-in storage. Rather than a traditional coffee table or end table, pick up a stylish bench ottoman that adds character and comfort to the space. Of course, you can never go wrong with a sleeper sofa, either, when you are looking for multi-functional furniture pieces for your living room.

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Tidy Up Daily

If your family is like most families, it does not take long for your well-organized living room to start looking and feeling cluttered and cramped. While the right design choices can make a small room look much larger, it will quickly start looking cluttered if you have toys, mail, etc. lying around. Make it a point to spend about 10 to 15 minutes each day picking up and decluttering. To make clean-up easier, make sure that there is a place where everything belongs. Deal with mail as it comes in, throw away magazines when you are done reading them, and encourage the other members of your family to clean up after themselves. It takes some time to establish a routine, but doing so will help you keep even the tiniest living room looking uncluttered.

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Keep It Simple

The more complex your living room design is, the more cluttered the space will look. Keep your floors, walls, and furniture pieces simple to avoid visual clutter. When shopping for tables and chairs, look for ones with thin, simple legs to help open up the space. Choose sofas and other large pieces that are on legs to help create the perception of openness. Add decorative pieces sparingly, and remember that high contrast often reads as clutter.

Embrace a philosophy of “less is more.” Don’t purchase another piece of art unless you plan on using it to replace one of your current pieces. Don’t buy more knickknacks when you are already running out of shelf space. Don’t buy another pillow for the sofa when you already have plenty. The more stuff you add to the space, the more cluttered it is going to look. It’s as simple as that.

Avoiding clutter when you have a tiny living room can be a challenge. However, by being mindful when choosing wall, furniture, and floor colors and avoiding excess “stuff,” you can make even the smallest space feel neat and spacious. At Club Furniture, we have several types of living room furniture in colors and styles to fit any space. Feel free to browse our selection today, and don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!

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