"You can gain more surface space by having a console table behind a sofa and a variety of seating, like one sofa and four chairs that are not all the same that can float in a room and even be moved around," says Rybock, "and then use a cocktail table as the anchor in the center of the space." Once you have the furniture in place, Fenimore suggests using textural or colorful artwork to visually fill the room.
This homeowner bucked the “matchy, matchy” rule by placing different end tables and lamps on either side of the sofa in her living room. The mismatch works because, even though one table is a white Asian-inspired look and the other is a black step-like design, both tables are the same height. A sleek brass reading lamp pairs nicely with the simple white table, while a large silver-leaf table lamp fits with the more substantial black table.
For a Gramercy Park apartment, designer Bennett Leifer upholstered a settee in a Sabina Fay Braxton velvet, and chose a pair of carved wood armchairs by de Gournay covered in a Stark velvet. The Empire console is from Lucca Antiques, the cocktail table is by Ebanista, the vintage stool is by Maison Baguès, the Louis XVI secretary was purchased on 1stdibs, the Tabriz rug is antique, and the walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Alexandria Beige.
In the living room of a Manhattan apartment designed by Jamie Drake and Caleb Anderson of Drake/Anderson, the sectional sofas by Avenue Road are covered in a Great Plains mohair, the pair of vintage Gio Ponti armchairs are from Karl Kemp Antiques, the glass cocktail table by Fredrikson Stallard is filled with feathers, the round side table is by Holly Hunt Studio, the lamp on it is by Charles Paris and the custom rug is by Tai Ping.
"The room doesn't get a lot of light, so I decided to make it cozy and turned it into an English-style portrait room, which is ridiculous, but fun," says celebrity chef Alex Hitz. Taking the cozy route in a living room without a ton of natural light is a great solution. And what's cozier than a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf with seating beckoning you to curl up on it? To display your books more creatively, offset them with artwork. In this room, a Peter Rogers portrait of Alex Hitz's close friend, the late Nan Kempner, hangs over the bookshelves to create some contrast.
Decorating a small living room is one thing, but decorating a small New York living room is a task and a half. This tiny abode is an exceptional study in taking advantage of what you have. The exposed brick wall, wood floors and tall, sunny windows were already there when this designer showed up. The only thing it was missing was color, and this darling space is the result. This space is all about contrast with the plain white animal busts on the brick wall and the colorful sofa and armchair complementing the earth tones of the floor and wall.
The fiddle leaf fig tree definitely wins the popularity contest as far as design favorites for indoor trees. And for good reason: They look great with pretty much any interior design scheme, from bohemian to modern spaces like this one designed by Hecker Guthrie. It really freshens up the cooler gray tones of the living room and makes that floral-printed pillow pop even more.
A hand-me-down buffet's original cherry finish felt a little formal for this Arizona ranch home, but with some matte chalk paint, the item took on a more casual look that set the tone for equally laid-back vintage pieces, from the leather luggage (that stores extra blankets) to a coffee table made from an antique mission door. A midcentury turquoise sofa adds a splash of happy color.
Even if you're lacking in square footage and surface space, you can get a lot of mileage out of high ceilings. To take advantage of that vertical space, accentuate tall windows with high curtains and a show-stopping wallpaper. Also, curtains hung well above a window add airiness and height to a small room. Keep the curtain design basic but use extra fabric for fullness.
If your living room has access to a ton of natural light, don't block it out with dark curtains. Let it pour in to make the space feel more airy and open. Even if you don't have large windows and tons of sunlight, choose lighter shades to maximize the light you do have. Semi-sheer shades like the ones in this living room designed by Barrie Benson will help, too.
Adding warmth and creating an inviting atmosphere can be a challenge for square living rooms. When all of your furniture is pushed up against the wall, which leaves seating far away from each other, you can make the space feel cold. But you can also make your square living room feel crowded or awkward if all the furniture is forced into one corner. Instead, float furniture away from the walls.