15 living room design ideas and examples for apartments

Read McKendree

Sure, there are some standard best practices when it comes to decorating a stylish living room that will work regardless of size and space, but there are a few extra caveats that make decorating a living room in an apartment extra unique. City apartments give “small” a whole new meaning, and they also require more problem solving if the building has certain limitations. So if you live in an apartment and you’re looking for design ideas, tips and advice from the pros, you’re in good hands! We spotlight 15 examples of apartment living rooms from some of our favorite designers to help you maximize your own.

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1

Be strategic with artwork

This living room in Chicago apartments from interior designer Devin Kirk is a masterclass in well-proportioned combinations. The marbled cross section fits nicely into the corner, while the round ottoman slash coffee table gives a softer, less boxy look. And instead of adding a side table or console, which may seem too big here, Kirk opted for a low stool. The eye-catching gallery wall is another nice touch (and hanging it over the decorative millwork visually expands the space).

2

Break the room into zones

David Frazier made his small NYC apartment living room feel formal and polished, despite the limited space. He divided the main space into two distinct zones, one for lounging and visiting, and one for dining and working. The large pendant lamp and antique pieces personalize the building’s more generic bones.

3

Work around building rules

A super light shade of pink applied in a plaster-like finish makes a statement in this small New York City living room designed by Celerie Kemble. The faux finish channels the texture of wallpaper, which she wasn’t allowed to use, according to the rules of the building. This was a great solution.

If you have an extra coat rack in your living room but you don’t need that extra storage space, turn it into a bar. This will help make it more prepared for entertainment and it also adds depth and dimension, especially when painting a contrasting color, as seen in this one by Robert McKinley.

5

Match the sofa with the walls

Devin Kirk painted the walls with Benjamin Moore’s Bird’s Egg to flatter the sofa, a section of Jayson Home redone in a Robert Allen Schiele fabric (which also hangs from the curtains). A jute rug brings texture and dimension without filling the small space with too much color.

Designer Sarah Solis carved a home office into the living room by installing a floating desk in the corner. The other part of the room is dedicated to lounging and visiting.

This small and sexy living room designed by Zia Priven is painted in Farrow Ball’s Stiffkey blue. The stacked coffee tables are sleek and unobtrusive, balancing the plush carpet and opulent cross section.

For a small city apartment, Lisle McKenna used soft, colorful shapes, but didn’t shy away from fun contrasting prints. She also chose a timing bench by the dining table so it could act as an extra seating area for guests or a comfortable place to dine and catch up on emails.

If you live in a city apartment, you probably crave nature every now and then. So why not bring it to your living room every day for a dose of greenery? Designer Elizabeth Cooper placed a lush citrus tree in the corner for an extra pop of life and color, then spread topiaries on the windowsill.

A closed storage room is a godsend in a small living room apartment. In this one, designed by Brooklyn-based company Shapeless Studio, stacked coffee table books animate the room without making it feel cluttered. Everything else is hidden behind closed closet doors.

This simple living room designed by Robert McKinley Studio contains a lot of texture, from the carpet to the shades and the sofa. These casual materials make it feel airy yet fresh and stylish, and while all the furniture is smaller than your average living room stuff, it looks good here.

Use every opportunity you get to add character and homely feel to your apartment living room. In this case, Heidi Caillier created a cozy window seat in the corner.

Don’t let uncomfortable ceiling slopes deter you from an otherwise perfect apartment. With the right approach, you can make it work! Take for example this living room designed by Leane Ford Interiors. The neutral tones and modern shapes make it feel extra cozy.

14

Stay true to your style

“I like the juxtaposition between the traditional space and the modern staircase,” says Eliza Crater of Sister Parish Design. The rich kelly green accent wall and decorative floral curtains help bring some fullness and warmth to otherwise all-white surfaces in her apartment’s living room.

15

Use advanced neutrals

A quirky room tree is a nice surprise in this polished and cosmopolitan living room designed by Shawn Henderson. And instead of a classic white or warm off-white paint color, he opted for a cooler gray neutral. It’s the perfect fit for a pied-a-terre.

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