small, but stylish

Smalll living room furniture layout

One of the great things about small living rooms is it doesn’t take a lot to make a big impact. Once your furniture is in place, just a few well-chosen artworks and accessories will bring the space to life, add interest, and let your personality shine through.

Art Attack
Incorporating artwork into a small living room or den is easier than you think, even if you don’t have a lot of wall space. Just as we talked about in a previous blog post, size and scale are important factors when choosing pieces to adorn the walls.

One common mistake that people make when decorating a small space is choosing artwork that is TOO small. It’s understandable; they don’t want to overwhelm the space, but they end up picking pieces that get lost or seem awkward surrounded by all that empty wall.

When choosing a piece of art for over the sofa, a good rule of thumb is to select a piece that’s two-thirds the length of the furniture. If you are selecting two or more pieces that go together, the total width of the grouping should fall into that magic two-thirds ratio. Remember to space multiple works no more than a couple inches apart, so they don’t look disconnected.

If you already have art that isn't working because it's too small, you can make it part of a larger group or a gallery wall to create more impact. To create some cohesion between the pieces in your grouping, re-frame them in similar toned frames or center your collection around a theme.

For an eclectic look, incorporate found objects, decorative tiles, and even fashion accessories into your art grouping. Remember, it’s all about giving your space some personality. Once you have all of your pieces, lay them out on the floor and play with the arrangement until you have something that’s pleasing to the eye. THEN you can start driving nails. (TIP: If you need help with your layout, search gallery wall on Pinterest.)

Another option is to place your smaller work of art in a much larger frame with a wide, neutral mat. By choosing a thin frame, you will visually expand the overall size of the art without taking away from the artwork itself. And don’t be afraid to frame mounted canvasses! A good framing store can help you select a frame and mat size and type that works with your art.

Pillow Fight
Just like the art on the wall, toss pillows and throws add pops of colour and personality to your room. By nature, they’re also the easiest to change up, so don’t be afraid to swap them out whenever you get bored or seasonally; light and breezy in the summer, warm and cozy in the winter.

The most natural place for soft accessories is the sofa, so start there. (Unless you are a die-hard minimalist, this is non-negotiable. Empty sofas are sad sofas.) Since things look better in uneven-numbered groups, you’ll want to pick three pillows for your small sofa or five for your large. Tip: If your sofa is a loose cushion type with three back cushions, you can get away with an even number of toss pillows because they add up to an uneven number.

If you’re nervous about mixing patterns or colours, choose pillows that relate to each other in some way—color, texture, theme, etc. But don’t sweat it too hard. Even a theme like “menswear-inspired fabrics” or “global mish-mash” can be a look. Don’t be afraid to add pillows with a little shimmer, too. Sequins, fabrics with a subtle sparkle, and metallic stitching are all on-trend and can really wake up a small space.

Along with toss pillows, throws are a must-have functional accessory for adding comfort and style to your living space. Draped over the corner of a sofa or armchair, or neatly folded at the end of a bench, a cuddly throw softens the look of the room and is always there when you need a little warmth.

The good news is, no matter your décor, or the colour and pattern of your furniture, there is a throw for you—from soft and subtle to luxe faux fur. If you have a boldly patterned sofa or chair, look for a throw in a solid colour or with a subtle texture; if your furniture is a neutral pattern or a solid colour, the sky’s the limit!

Shelf Yourself
Decorative objects and mementos add so much personality to a space, but they can take over if you’re not careful. Along with a one-in, one-out rule, shelving is your best way to keep all of those special little items in check. You’ll also find that when your items are grouped together, they’re much more impactful than having single pieces scattered throughout the room.

A tall display cabinet with a small footprint, like the Bolanburg, serves as a beautiful backdrop for decorative objects, without taking up too much room in your small space. With three roomy shelves, there’s plenty of display space for ornaments, framed pictures, and books, and the open lattice sides give it a light, airy look. As well, two deep drawers provide much-needed storage for items that you’d like to keep handy, but out of sight.

If floor space is at a premium, decorative wall shelves provide display space for small objects while leaving the area below open for furniture or permanent fixtures like radiators and heating grates. The Elea wall shelf in black metal has an open back and sides for a cool, industrial vibe. Although just 24 inches wide, its four wooden shelves provide eight full feet of display space. To keep things fresh, change up the objects frequently, adding souvenirs from your adventures, found objects, and cute succulents or air plants.

We’d love to see how you style your small space. Tag @DufresneStyle on Instagram and show us how you accessorize your home to let your personality shine.