Sofa ideas for small living rooms – 16 looks for tiny or awkwardly-shaped lounges

·13 min read
 Grey modular corner sofa in small white living room
Grey modular corner sofa in small white living room

Considering sofa ideas for small living rooms takes a little more thought than choosing a sofa for a standard-sized space. Finding a sofa that will fit the dimensions of the room is the first challenge but it is important to pay careful consideration to the sofa design, colour and model as well.

When thinking about small living room ideas remember that the sofa will be the biggest piece of furniture and will heavily dictate the style of the room. There is no space for a sofa to hide or be disguised, so it pays to give it plenty of attention and employ a few clever design tricks to create a stylish scheme.

'For any living room, large or small, the sofa is a key item. There are styles and sizes to suit all spaces and although a sofa can be a big investment, it’s an item that will likely get the most use and that will hopefully be with you for the longest time,' says Charlie Marshall, Founder at Loaf.

If you have the space a large sofa with slim line arms or even no arms will make a small room look grander, without dwarfing the space. However, for a tiny, awkwardly shaped living room a smaller 'loveseat' or snuggler sofa might compliment the space more than a classic three-seater.

There are a number of schools of interior design thought around decorating a small room than will apply to sofa ideas for small living rooms. For example, choosing a sofa that blends into the paint ideas will make a room look bigger. On the opposite side of the coin, a bold patterned sofa is a smart way to introduce a splash of colour without cluttering the space.

Smart sofa ideas for small living rooms and tight spaces

In case you hadn't noticed, the British living room is shrinking. Research shows that living rooms in new build homes are nearly a third smaller than equivalent homes built in the 1970s. And with rising house prices, 18 per cent of the UK population now lives in privately rented accommodation, according to 2021 figures.

So, whether it’s families, couples or roommates, there is demand on living rooms to be more than just a place to relax in; these multi-use rooms double up as office or study space, dining area or play room.

1. Be strategic with the position of your sofa

Grey sofa in small living room
Grey sofa in small living room

A common living room seating arrangement idea is to avoid pushing furniture against the wall to prevent a room from looking smaller. However, in a small living room, this deceptive trick is best avoided when choosing how to arrange furniture in a small living room as it can cut down on the already small amount of usable space in the room.

‘You want to try and maximise the space as much as possible and you can do this by keeping furniture against the walls,' explains Charlie Marshall at Loaf. 'However, you don't need to do this in the corners of the room where you can have an armchair pulled away from the wall at an angle which will make the space feel more welcoming.’

2. Make your space work harder with a multi-tasking sofa

Grey modular corner sofa in small white living room
Grey modular corner sofa in small white living room

'Multifunctional furniture is the key to unlocking the potential of a small room. From storage sofas to footstools, minimising the number of pieces of furniture you need and maximising the opportunity to stow possessions you don’t use every day will mean you have more space to enjoy,' explains Gisela Lancaster, Buying Manager at Sofology.

Consider whether your living room could benefit from extra living room storage ideas, or a sofa bed. Modular sofas are also brilliant multi-tasking sofas as they can be configured to suit the exact space of the room, but can easily be moved around for occasions when you need more space.

3. Go as large as possible

Pink sofa in white living room
Pink sofa in white living room

It might sound counter-intuitive, but in a small living room, it can often pay to think big when it comes to a sofa. While it might seem tempting to opt for two small sofas or a mix of a small sofa or armchair, it is worth considering opting for a single larger sofa.

'One large sofa will make a room feel much less cluttered than several pieces of furniture,' points out Gisela Lancaster at Sofology. However, this does come with some caveats. If you do go big, make sure you pick a design that will complement a small space, not dwarf it.

4. Create a cosy sanctuary with dark tones

Navy blue velvet sofa in blue living room
Navy blue velvet sofa in blue living room

While white and bright sofas can help make a small space living room look bigger, if you have a north-facing room consider leaning into a dark palette.

'Embrace a smaller space and create a luxe, cosseting scheme by pairing deep, pigmented colours from the floor to the ceiling with rich tonal or complimentary fabrics,' suggests Gisela Lancaster at Sofology.

'Velvets work particularly well for this design direction. Perfect for north-facing rooms where you are already battling against a lack of bright light, embrace the opportunity rather than fighting against it and create your own cosy sanctuary.'

5. Cosy up with tactile fabrics

Grey velvet sofa in white living room
Grey velvet sofa in white living room

Small living rooms have an asset above all over living rooms - the size makes them the perfect spot for cosy living room ideas. So when choosing a sofa idea for small living rooms remember that comfort should be key.

'Consider is how the sofa is utilised,' explains  Elizabeth Sladen, Head of Buying (Indoor Furniture) at MADE.com. 'For those who like movie marathons, comfort is the top priority, fabrics like velvet, boucle and brushed cotton will add a luxurious touch to the space as well as being durable and cosy.

6. Lift things up with sofa legs

Blue sofa in pink living room
Blue sofa in pink living room

In a small space it is easy to forget about the available verticle space, sofa legs are a great way to capitalise on this.

'Picking a sofa with legs will trick the eye to see more floor, making the room appear larger,' says  Elizabeth Sladen at MADE.com. 'The Henrietta combines all these notions, making it a great contender for small space.'

Gisela at Sofology agrees that sofa legs are a must in a small space, and recommends opting for elegant, tapered legs.

7. Avoid chunky sofa arms

White living room with white wall cladding grey upholstered sofa abstract grey artwork and plush grey rug, with grey scandi sofas and wooden coffee table
White living room with white wall cladding grey upholstered sofa abstract grey artwork and plush grey rug, with grey scandi sofas and wooden coffee table

Scandi-style sofas are refined, stylish and perfect for a small living room sofa ideas. This north European aesthetic represents the ideal approach for a tiny space.

Shades of grey and white keep things fresh and open, and the lack of chunky sofa arms will buy you precious space.

8. Make a corner sofa the star

A low ceiling cottage living room with green velvet corner sofa, pink armchair with matching footstool around a woodburner fireplace
A low ceiling cottage living room with green velvet corner sofa, pink armchair with matching footstool around a woodburner fireplace

We'll call this the 'go big or go home' approach to sofa ideas for small living rooms. Get everyone seated with one piece of furniture, courtesy of a corner sofa.

It will create an intimate seating area, which can be further cosied up with an armchair or two to complete the 'circle'. This should be centred around a feature – a small living room fireplace idea, or the TV, if you must...

9. Build a sofa under the window

A neutral living room with a wooden window seat with green leaf pattern cushions in bay window, with a black marble coffee table in the centre of the room
A neutral living room with a wooden window seat with green leaf pattern cushions in bay window, with a black marble coffee table in the centre of the room

When you can't find the right sofa fit for an awkwardly shaped space, going bespoke is your best option. And it needn't be expensive. A local carpenter should be able to build the bones of a built-in sofa seat, and made-to-fit seat pads are another affordable commission.

Adding drawers beneath will provide precious living room storage ideas for your small space.

10. Switch sofas for armchairs

White love seat in white living room
White love seat in white living room

Why struggle to squeeze in one sofa, when you could provide more comfortable seating for a trio with three armchairs? Arranging the living room seating around a chest or coffee table will encourage conversation. You can have some real fun here, picking the best armchairs in different styles and colours.

Do try and and have a design thread common to them all, however, or you'll risk your living room looking like a furniture showroom. This could either be a colour palette – say, differentiations shades of blue. Or it could be the style of your chairs – curvy and classic, upholstered mid century, or square and modern.

11. Place a classic loveseat in a bay window

blue loveseat situated in the alcove of a bay window, with a blue coffee table one side and a blue floor lamp the other side
blue loveseat situated in the alcove of a bay window, with a blue coffee table one side and a blue floor lamp the other side

‘Love seats are the ideal bay window idea. They'll also work in an alcove, or any space that won't take a standard two-seater sofa,' says Aissa Gonzalez, product development and buying manager at Sofa.com. ‘Most of ours are between 110cm and 135cm wide, though we do go up to 162cm wide.'

Giving you move space than an armchair, this type of sofa ideas for small living rooms will trick the eye into making the area look bigger than it actually is.

12. Go for a sofa or love seat that's deeper not wider

a pink loveseat sofa with pink, cream and blue cusions, in a living room with an open wooden display unit against the wall
a pink loveseat sofa with pink, cream and blue cusions, in a living room with an open wooden display unit against the wall

You might not have the space in your room to go wide, but you can still create a luxurious seating experience by going deep. ‘A love seat is the ultimate type of sofa ideas for small living rooms for when it comes to chilling out,' says Charlie Marshall at Loaf.

‘We make ours extra deep so there's plenty of room to sink back and relax. Add to the mix a comfy feather-filled seat cushion and plump scatter cushions and you've got something that is cosy and incredibly inviting.'

'The looser weave of the vintage linen cover adds to the laid-back look; the fabric is popped through a press several times to give a light and beautifully uneven colour that works brilliantly with this relaxed feel.'

13. Perfect your proportions

Yellow velvet sofa in a white living room
Yellow velvet sofa in a white living room

It isn't just the sofa size that matters – the shape plays a part, too, and you may find you can seat more people than expected. A large piece of furniture such as a sofa has the potential to overwhelm a small space, so it's important to take this into account when browsing for one.

Opting for a more compact size with a fixed back instead of cushions and small arms will create a neat, clean outline, giving the illusion of space and order.

14. Make the most of details

light grey living room with wooden floor, with a fire burning in the fireplace to the left and an elegant light purple sofa with cushions and a throw draped over it
light grey living room with wooden floor, with a fire burning in the fireplace to the left and an elegant light purple sofa with cushions and a throw draped over it

Paying attention to the smaller details such as hand-tied buttons turns a sofa into something extra special. ‘This design gives a nod to tradition but in a fresh and elegant way,' says Ideal Home's Amy Cutmore.

‘The buttoned detailing brings a sense of heritage which, combined with the petit curvy shape and the fabric's neutral hue, makes it a welcoming addition to a modern country living room that's short on space.'

15. Remember, small can still be statement

living room with white walls and wooden floor, with a white, pink, green and red floral sofa with matching footstool and curtains
living room with white walls and wooden floor, with a white, pink, green and red floral sofa with matching footstool and curtains

‘I love the impact a bold floral print can make in a room,' says Megan Holloway of Sofa Workshop. ‘The right print can add pops of colour to a neutral colour scheme or create drama against a dark wall.'

'Large-scale prints can really make a statement on sofa ideas for small living rooms, but they're not for everyone. If you prefer a more subtle approach, use them on a smaller piece of furniture such as this compact sofa or go for a small-scale pattern in tonal shades as an alternative to a plain fabric.'

16. Stay light and bright in white

grey and yellow living room with white couches, grey nested coffee tables, photo frames on the wall and a black and brown display unit
grey and yellow living room with white couches, grey nested coffee tables, photo frames on the wall and a black and brown display unit

We all know a white living room idea is the go-to colour scheme for small spaces. So if you're after sofa ideas for small living rooms, logic would dictate that a white sofa is ideal. And it can be – though we'd recommend to maximise the effect that you combine with white walls so everything blends together, bright and light.

With this set up, you can then layer in the colour. This yellow and grey combo is soft and uplifting. Pick terracottas and greens for something more warming and earthy. Or teals and blues for a refreshing feel. Reds and blues will take you into classic nautical territory. Or you could bring in blacks for a stronger monochrome scheme.

'Traditionally, light and bright has been the most popular way to create an illusion of space. White or light walls provide a blank canvas so you can either opt for light-coloured upholstery for a relaxed minimalist aesthetic where the furniture sinks back into the room, or use your sofa as an accent piece to deliver a secondary colour,' says Gisela at Sofology.

Which sofa is best for a small living room?

There are three main styles of sofa ideas for small living rooms:

1. The love seat

a green living room with two different green pattern sofas with a black coffee table
a green living room with two different green pattern sofas with a black coffee table

As the name suggests, the loveseat is made for sharing for two. But it's also the ultimate relaxing destination for one. Due to its compact style – a love seat is typically 30-40cm shorter than a two-seater sofa – love seats offer a good opportunity to experiment with pattern or bold colour.

2. The modular sofa

neutral colour living room with wooden floor, light grey sofa with matching footstool and grey rug, with plants either side of the sofa
neutral colour living room with wooden floor, light grey sofa with matching footstool and grey rug, with plants either side of the sofa

Modular sofas are a great option for renters, since they can be broken up into different configurations depending on the space available. So if you relocate to a home where the sitting room is smaller or a quirky shape, you're more likely to be able to arrange its modules to suit the space.

3. Click-clack sofa

pink sofa bed in a grey living room with a brown, blue, grey and white sideboard to the left of the image
pink sofa bed in a grey living room with a brown, blue, grey and white sideboard to the left of the image

Often doubling as a sofa bed, a click-clack sofa generally has no arms. This doesn't just safe on space to the side of the sofa, it also lets you sit on the sofa with legs to the side as well as the front.

This might allow you to squeeze more people onto it. Or at the very least, make it easier to manoeuvre off the sofa when you need to.

How do I choose a sofa for a small living room?

As we mentioned before the most crucial part about picking sofa ideas for a small living room is getting the size right.

'Sofas often appear smaller in showrooms, so before settling on a style, measure your room, including doorways and any stairs that the sofa might need to travel through or up,' says Gisela at Sofology.

'Then sketch a scaled floor plan with the other items of furniture, to see what size sofa you can comfortably accommodate. Once you have the measurements, you can narrow down your choice of sofa styles. A good tip in an empty room is to lay down newspapers to help you visualise the footprint the sofa will use.'

If you don't have the time or space to mark out the sofa on the floor, Elizabeth Sladen at Made.com points out that whether a sofa will fit through the door easily is a good indicator of how it will look in the space. 'When it comes to choosing a sofa for a smaller space, first think about the entrance to the room and whether it will fit through the door. Whilst this may sound obvious, if it does not fit cleanly through the door it is most likely going to engulf the room.'