If you live in a studio apartment or smaller-than-average house, you might be faced with the interior design challenge of creating a dining room and living room in one. Small spaces, however, often create opportunities to design cohesive, cozy interiors that are both chic and smart. Read on for our small living room ideas and how to incorporate a dining area, too.
Creating a cohesive space is more complex than choosing a color palette and décor style, especially in small apartments where flow is of utmost importance. Before you begin, think about the arrangement of your furniture and how you plan to most use the space. For example, if you love entertaining, you may prioritize your dining area. If home is where you rest and recharge, a plush living room will likely take center stage.
Traditionally, rectangular spaces can be divided into thirds, with two-thirds accounting for living room furniture and one-third for a dining table and chairs. If space allows, divide the room by floating a sofa near its center, with the sofa back facing the dining area. This creates a sort of barrier between your dining and living room furniture. If you wish to keep the floor plan open, your sofa or sectional can be placed against the wall – just be sure to use other decorative elements to create definition.
Square spaces typically require dining furniture to co-mingle with living room pieces. In most situations, a love seat and TV stand can be balanced out by a small dining set in the same room. If possible, find a dining room table that is easy to move and can be pushed up against the wall to use as a desk or console.
When your living space has multiple uses, it’s important to find furniture that works twice as hard. Open floor plans are often short on storage space, too, so look for pieces that optimize the room’s potential by creating space for odds and ends. We recommend the following, but the options don’t end here – a little creativity can go a long way in re-purposing furniture you already have at home.
TV Stands with Storage
If a television is part of your living room blueprint, opt for a TV stand with storage and use it wisely. Tuck away electronics, games, reading materials, and pet toys. A bedroom dresser or chest can also be used in place of a traditional TV stand, and their deep drawers make excellent storage for throw blankets and spare pillows.
If the back of your sofa faces the dining room, place a console table behind the sofa to transition between the two areas. A strategically placed console table provides space to display décor, but can also be used as sideboard when hosting dinner guests. If you need storage for plates, serveware, and linens, use an actual sideboard or credenza instead.
If you have space for a rectangular dining table, opt for a storage bench in place of two dining chairs. It’s a sensible way to create temporary storage and super chic way to dress up your seating.
Bar furniture is a smart addition to combined living and dining rooms because it creates a place to eat without taking up a lot of floor space. Try placing a narrow bar table behind the sofa or a round two-top elsewhere in the room.
When it comes to small spaces, décor can do much more than add a splash of color and personality to your room. When used strategically, everything from area rugs to pendant lights are important elements when distinguishing one space from another, especially in the absence of walls or large pieces of furniture.
Area rugs are a simple way to add definition to your space. If you use a large rug, its perimeter can be used as a sort of outline for your living room furniture. On the flip side, a smaller accent rug, such as a faux cowhide, can be placed under a coffee table to create a playful focal point.
Artwork and other wall-mounted decor, such as mirrors or floating shelves, are another way to distinguish areas within an open floor plan. When it doubt, think big. Oversized wall art can actually make a room feel much larger. In addition, artwork is a fun way to carry a common theme or aesthetic from your living area into your dining space.
A bold pendant light above your table and chairs is perhaps the most foolproof way to establish your dining area. It creates a focal point to design around, not unlike an accent rug in the living room.
Remember, storage is key with open concept layouts, so use multi-use furniture to your advantage. Once you’ve worked through the logistics and decided on key decor elements you can lean into the fun of decorating and creating a modern space that’s big on style no matter how small.
You Might Also Be Interested In …
- Follow our 4 Tips for Choosing Living Room Furniture for Small Spaces.
- Explore Dining Table Ideas for Small Spaces.
- Update your space with Ideas & Solutions for a Small Living Room.