Don’t Make This Common Small-Space Furniture Mistake

published Apr 4, 2018
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(Image credit: Melanie Rieders)

When furnishing a small space, it would seem to make sense to pick pieces that are small. After all, you don’t want to overwhelm the room with bulky, oversize furniture. But there’s one big exception: the sofa. In most living rooms, the sofa is the biggest piece of furniture, and the biggest design statement, and a larger sofa (that still fits comfortably in the room, of course) can help to visually expand the boundaries of the space.

A big sofa says—see, this room really isn’t that small!—and shows you that, too. Plus it’s more comfy for lounging. Pairing your big sofa with smaller accessory pieces will ensure that the room doesn’t feel cramped or overwhelming. Let’s check out a few examples.

Above: In the living room of this small Brooklyn apartment, a full-sized sofa draws the eye through the space. Keeping the other objects (and colors) in the room light ensures that the room is balanced and doesn’t feel overfull.

(Image credit: Louis David Photography)

In a bit of an extreme example of this principle at work, Brooklyn homeowners Michelle and Brad actually remodeled their apartment to fit a sectional sofa that was accidentally ordered too big. The result is a living room that’s just big enough for the sofa, but still feels both cozy and expansive simultaneously. The straight forward color scheme helps as well.

(Image credit: Nasozi Kakembo)

In this apartment spotted on Dwell, the sofa is almost as wide as the living room itself. The larger piece helps to draw the eye to the boundaries of the space, while the lighter chairs and the coffee table balance out the look.

(Image credit: Hannah Puechmarin)

There’s not a lot of room in this petite living room from One Kings Lane, but a settee that stretches the length of the space helps to make up for it. The two slipper chairs it’s paired with are delicate enough not to overwhelm the small space, and the backs are low enough that they don’t block the TV behind.

(Image credit: Liz Calka)

In this small living room from Savvy Home, a capacious sofa makes the most of the space available (and provides extra seating for friends). The other pieces in the room are small and delicate enough to balance out the sofa, while the upholstered bench serves as both coffee table and extra seating, in a pinch.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

The living room of this small New York apartment has quite a few oversize items. The sofa gives the room a sense of spaciousness, while the large oil portraits and the fig tree help to draw the eye up, accenting the room’s generous height. Choosing a sofa the same color as the wall keeps this larger piece from feeling too heavy.

(Image credit: Brian and Nicki Rohloff)

This small bedroom turned lounge, spotted in a stylish North Carolina home, might be my favorite example. Although the room isn’t very large, the three sectional sofas grouped together make it feel comfy and capacious—and ensure there’s plenty of room for friends.