Problem #3: Furnishings Are Too Big. Small spaces can rarely handle large sectional sofas, large side chairs, or even large artwork. A smaller scale room demands smaller scaled furnishings. Solutions: Start with your most essential piece of living room furniture – your sofa. Look for a sofa in a solid neutral color with clean arms and a low back. In small spaces, you may prefer to use a loveseat instead of a full-sized sofa. With your chairs, choose small slipper chairs or other armless alternatives with a low back. If you already own a sofa but discover that it is too big for your small space, don't fret. I encourage renters and first-time homeowners to invest in a sofa that they love because your sofa may last longer than your house. Average homeownership is currently less than 4 years, but a good sofa can last 10 years or longer. Just keep other furniture simple and small.
Too much symmetry and your living room may feel more like a place of formality – which is fine if that's what you're going for. But for most, the living room is where you should feel comfortable kicking your feet up in your PJs. Using angles to arrange your furniture asymmetrically can help to make the room feel easier on the eyes, and not so rigid as you glance around the room. Leaving a little room between different items of furniture (and space between furniture and walls) will give more of an illusion of space, rather than squeezing everything together. You might be able to “fit more in” but you do this at the risk of making the space feel cramped which in turns make the room look smaller. Empty space contributes to the illusion of more space.
If you have an open plan dining area in your living room (as many new homes do), ensure about 4ft distance between the table and the wall, or the dining space will feel cramped and lessen the dining experience. If you want to unify the different components of different spaces in an open plan living room, such as the dining area or reading nook, you can use area rugs to almost create “wall-free” rooms within the large room. Experiment! Move things around, measure them, look at your room from all angles and picture it from an aerial point of view for an idea on available floor space. What's important is that it's comfortable and feels like home. Having the bookcase there allowed me to display some family photos and a few more decorative items that would otherwise just be stored in a box. It also works well because there's no back on the bookcase which allows the light to shine through and not close in the space. Of course I would love to have something that fit exactly and looked more built in but this is just a rental for the year and I'm all about making things work and look nice, even if it's only temporary.
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