With ever-shrinking home sizes in Australia, living rooms can start to feel a little cramped and stuffy.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian home sizes are at a 22-year low.
This is partly due to the rise in house prices, which has pushed more people towards smaller spaces and apartments.
Small families and millennials still want to live close to their work, cafes, shopping centres, and restaurants. As such, they are willing to compromise on living space for proximity to these desired amenities.
But a small living room shouldn’t cramp your style; you can design your living area to appear bigger and more inviting.
All it takes is a bit of creativity.
Here are a few simple do’s and don’ts to help transform your small living area into a comfortable and stylish space.
The Do’s of Renovating a Small Living Area
1. DO Make the Light Work for You
As the name suggests, the living area is for living! So bring some life to your space by letting the natural light flow in through the windows.
Natural light will make your living area feel more airy, open and spacious than it really is.
Make use of windows to flood your space with light; don’t block it out with dark drapes or curtains. Instead, opt for light or semi-sheer curtains.
It’s not just about natural lighting; artificial lighting fixtures also have a role to play.
Choose fixtures that can attach to the walls or hang from above to save on the limited floor space.
If your living area is larger than 6×6 feet, consider multiple light sources for better lighting. Place the fixtures diagonally in the living area to cancel out any shadows.
2. DO Have Fun with Scale
First, understand that there’s a big difference between clutter and a well-curated collection for a dramatic design.
Embrace differences of scale and don’t be afraid to make a big statement in a small space.
Perhaps an over-the-top chandelier is what you need to elevate your small living area and give it some pizazz.
You can also play around with a large rug in a bold pattern to make the room feel bigger. Large rugs don’t break up the floor, thus anchoring the space and giving you a staple design piece to design the rest of the room around.
3. DO Use Multipurpose Furnishings
The secret to renovating a small living area is storage and function. The more versatile your furniture, the more space you can save.
Get to know some of these furniture pieces, and consider incorporating them into your design:
- Loveseat – this is a compact sofa made for two. It’s perfect for small living areas because it won’t take up too much space. Go for a pullout model that can accommodate overnight guests.
- Armoire – an armoire is a tall stylish cabinet originally used as a wardrobe. Repurpose a secondhand armoire to hide your bar or your games and books.
- Slipper chair – this is an armless chair, perfect as an accent in your living area. They are very adaptable and will fit into different room styles, depending on the upholstery.
- End side table – this is a chair-arm height table that stands beside seating to hold lamps and beverages. Go for an end side table with an interesting design and storage for maximum function.
- Sofa table – this is a tall and narrow table, ideal for holding reading lamps or to use as a console table. They can provide extra storage and also serve as a sideboard table if your living room doubles as your dining area.
4. DO Reimagine the Coffee Table
Coffee tables are an absolute essential for any living room. But traditional coffee tables can be a little bland and may take up too much space. Get creative with your coffee table to get the most function out of it.
For instance, you could use an ottoman in place of a traditional coffee table. Get one with storage underneath to make better use of your small living area.
You can top it with a tray to hold your flowers and books to give it a more traditional feel or use it as extra seating.
5. DO Maintain a Tight Colour Palette
Colour plays a critical role in the look and feel of your living area. Brighter colours make the room feel open and spacious, while darker shades can make it feel small and cosy.
However, this is not to say that you can’t have fun with colour. You can incorporate anything from pretty pastels to vivid brights. But to prevent your living room from looking chaotic, stick to a tight colour palette.
When the physical distance between spaces is minimal, a gradual colour change is more effective at maintaining openness.
If you opt for multiple colours, keep the trim and mouldings a uniform colour to maintain a unifying thread throughout the room. You can also use darker shades on the walls to create a sophisticated backdrop for bold and colourful artwork and furniture.
Contact an expert interior designer to get a free quote and to help establish a suitable colour palette for your living area and how to implement it.
The Don’ts of Renovating a Small Living Space
6. DON’T Overdress the Window
Generally, the rule of thumb is less is more.
Uncluttered windows open up the living area and show off the architecture of the room. Go for simple drape shades to provide privacy without crowding your living room.
You can also use the drapes to create the illusion of a taller or wider window. To make the window look taller, simply hang the drapes just below the ceiling.
To make the window look wider, extend the drapes beyond the window frame. Use fabrics that match the walls to enhance this effect and make the room look larger.
7. DON’T Compromise on Safety
This might seem pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many home improvement accident victims visit the emergency room daily.
Observe all the necessary safety precautions when renovating your living area. And when in doubt, contact a certified tradesperson from a reliable source like Service Seeking Australia to get the job done right.
Safety precautions will not only save you time and money but could also save you from a painful visit to the hospital.
8. DON’T Overlook Building Codes and Regulations
Not all construction or remodelling within your home is fair game. Confirm your local building codes and statutes before starting any renovations.
Local regulations vary from region to region, so don’t take anything for granted. You don’t want to have to undo all your hard work or risk lowering the value of your home.
Contact a certified building inspector for a quote to make sure that everything is above board. An inspection is critical if your renovations touch on any of the electrical or structural components of the room.
9. DON’T Rule out Built-Ins
Built-in fixtures are yet another secret to remodelling a small living area. Don’t pass up an opportunity to incorporate some inbuilt storage into your space.
For instance, you can transform that odd bump-out at your window into a window seat and incorporate some storage underneath.
You can also build some shelves and storage around a wall in your living area and create a little nook for a small settee to add extra seating.
10. DON’T Rush the Process
Time is a valuable resource; don’t underestimate it in any renovation project.
Your weekend remodelling project will probably last a little longer than the weekend, and that’s perfectly fine!
Countless hours go into any successful renovation. How long the remodel will take is largely dependent on your skill level and experience, and whether or not you have assistance.
Take this into consideration when working out your schedule and factor in an extra day or two, just in case.
Alternatively, you could hire the services of a professional home renovations expert, who will get the job done faster than you could.
Renovating a small living area can feel like an impossible task. When working with a small space, it can be hard to figure out what you should or shouldn’t do.
But with these simple tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating your dream living area.
Get several free quotations from different tradespeople for comparison and to ensure the best value for your money.