How To Make a Small Living Room Larger

I’m baaaaaack! And it’s great to be back, dear readers. I have some great stuff planned, I hope you’ll stay tuned for inspiration, motivation and a laugh here and there. In the meantime, hope you have a terrific week. Happy fall!

Living Room Before

Pam, one of my colleagues at the real estate office stopped me one day. “Can you help me with my living room?Β It’s small, and I know I have too much stuff in it. I need help!”

The picture above is Pam’s living room before we started. As you can see, the entertainment center which was probably perfect in her last house completely overwhelmed the room. Your eye simply didn’t know where to go, which can be exhausting.


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Pam and her husband Jim are avid movie-watchers, as you can tell by the shelves with the movies. And, since Jim lives there too, it’s important that both of them like the room and feel comfortable with the changes.

The great thing about the kind of decorating and staging that I do is that it’s a process. One step at a time, we began to edit the room and make tweaks here and there. While Pam really wanted new end tables, I encouraged her to hold off and take it one step at a time.

Sometimes you know when you need to make big changes and major modifications and start from the beginning, but I hate to see someone spend money if they don’t have to.

And if you’re planning to sell your house, this is exactly the kind of things you need to be doing in order to make your house appealing to the majority of buyers, which gives you a better opportunity to get your property sold quicker.

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This is Pam’s entryway. She has some collections which are very meaningful, such as the thimble collection on this wall. Her furniture arrangement really suited the room, and many of her pictures were hung beautifully and in the right place. Her paint color was also perfectly neutral. And, while it’s hidden behind the sofa, her mother’s Duncan Fife dining table sits nicely in her entry way. Honestly, it’s perfect right there.

Her living room needed some editing and ‘tweaking’. So we tweaked. And we shopped. And Pam worked hard de-cluttering.

When you’re in a small space, you have to be very choosey what you put in there. I suggested that Pam edit her things, displaying only her favorites, and also sort through their movies, storing only the ones they watched regularly in the living room. The others could be stored elsewhere in a less accessible location.

For instance, are you storing things in your living room that you rarely ever use? Your living room is valuable real estate!

My Law of Storage is this: if you have a small space, keep only items in that space you use regularly. This Law applies to bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchens, counter tops, whatever. The less you use it, the farther away it can be stored.

For instance, the items stored under my sink are things I use weekly or every couple of weeks. If I use it less often, I store it in the basement. If you utilize this strategy and prioritize your storage, it really helps you keep from cluttering up your space.

Are you with me on this?Β 

One exception to this rule is my KitchenAid mixer which was a gift from my dear friend Peggy. It was her late mother’s, and none of her family had a need for it. I feel honored and blessed to have this. And while I don’t use it very often, it is heavy. So it has a prominent place of honor in a kitchen cabinet. Sometimes carrying things back and forth just isn’t practical, and you have to make an exception.

But for the most part, the Law of Storage is a great way to help you prioritize what you need to keep nearby.

So, back to Pam’s living room.

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The first thing we did was remove literally the largest ‘offender’, the entertainment center, and replaced it with a very nice marble-topped media center purchased at the local furniture store where Jim works.

The shading of the wood is both lighter and dark, and this complements the Duncan Fife table on the opposite side of the room very well. Together, both of these pieces have similar ‘visual weight’, balancing both sides of the room perfectly.

Jim and Pam decided it was the perfect time to upgrade their TV, so their new flat screen looks perfect. It was decided the stereo needed to stay, so we placed it in the corner. Pam had selected her favorite items to display, so we installed the shelves to the left of the TV, and moved her thimble collection from the other side of the room on the other side.

Pam has a beautiful eucalyptus wreath on the wall hanging above the Duncan Fife table. It deserves to be the focal point of that wall, which is why we moved the thimble collection to the other side. Now they’ve become a proud collection worth noticing on their own, and not fighting with anything else for attention. πŸ™‚

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Ah, those shelves. They became the bane of our existence. But through blood, sweat and tears (okay, no blood or tears) Pam and I forever shall remain bonded over those shelves. Let’s just say, “It was a learning experience.” πŸ˜€

We went with black shelves to match Pam’s black lamps; just a few touches of black as accents add visual ‘texture’ and depth to the room. (Be careful when using black..a little Β is perfect, too much is….well, too much.)

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Nothing jazzes up a room that’s a sea of neutrals like a little bit of color. This room didn’t need a lot of in-your-face color. It just needed something subtle.

I think this rug was meant for this living room. It was the last one at Home Depot, it was on clearance, and it’s perfect. It’s just the perfect touch of muted color to ‘anchor’ the room in the center, and it harmonizes with the green eucalyptus wreath.

And, you’ll notice Pam has a new table!

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The oak tables no longer did the room justice, nor were they functional for the changing needs of the room. A smaller room commands furnishings that do double-duty, so we looked for pieces which could accommodate storage.

Off we went to Jim’s furniture store again. These tables coordinate perfectly with both the new media center and the Duncan Fife table. They didn’t come with the baskets, Pam and Jim picked those out separately. But they offer a perfect solution to storing their favorite movies which are easily accessible as well as other favorite collectibles.

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Another thing that made these tables perfect is that the end tables came in two different shapes: one was round, and the other is a smaller version of the leaf-shaped coffee table. This offered the opportunity to place the smaller of the three in a smaller area, such as between the two larger chairs in front of the window.

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Here’s another shot of the rug with the coffee table. The rug was just what the room needed.

Because I’m a half-wit, I forgot my camera for some of the pictures, and had to use my phone. Ooops. So if you notice a difference in the (lack of) skill, that’s why. Yeesh. At least I’m consistent!

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The room now is almost finished, and I’m hearing that both Pam and Jim love it. Their living room has now become a peaceful sanctuary for them, and one they simply love to be in. Pam tells me that, to her surprise, she’s enjoying the peaceful feel of the space so much that she’s on a mission to de-clutter the rest of her house.

You go, girl!

Pam has always wanted a fireplace, so that’s the last item on her list. So if you’re wondering why the blank wall to the right and why the wall hanging is so high…we’re waiting until her fireplace is installed before moving that piece, in order to put as few holes in the wall as possible.

Living Room After

Now, you notice the beauty of the room and the hardwood floors, and the room feels soothing and peaceful…exactly what a hardworking couple need when they come home at the end of the day.

And a bonus? It’s easier to clean! I’ve never heard anyone complain about that before.

I love instant gratification and making people happy! πŸ™‚

As fall arrives and we spend more time indoors, evaluate your space. Do you need to do some editing to fall in love with your house again and to prepare it for more family time? Remember, it doesn’t have to be done overnight. It’s a process.

So take your time, and enjoy your family and the beautiful days of fall. πŸ™‚