Design and Decor Our Home

10 Amazing Living Room Ideas Discovered From Our Small Living Room Remodel

This guide is called “10 Amazing Living Room Ideas Discovered From Our Small Living Room Remodel” is all about what we learned when we remodeled our fixer upper house. If you are new to my website, I will give you a brief background on how our remodeling journey started. In the early part of 2020, we bought a fixer upper house. It was a dream come true for me because I really wanted to experience designing my own house and to see the transformation of an old house into a new one. It took our contractor 3 months to renovate the inside of the house and during that time, I was doing what I had been wanting to do which was designing how I wanted every room in the house to look.

In this guide, I will be specifically talking about our living room renovation and I will be sharing tips and ideas that are essential when undertaking a living room remodeling project. I will also share with you the before and after photos of our living room so you will able to see how we transformed our outdated room into a modern design living room. We did all this by just making a few changes.

Before Picture: 10 Decorating Mistake To Avoid

Below are the pictures of the living room before we renovated the space. I will share with you some decorating mistake to avoid accompanied with some living room ideas using the living room before photos.

Decorating Mistake No. 1 – Area Rug Is Too Small

  • The use of an area rug is to add decorative interest such as patterns, colors and textures as well as to give a cozy feeling in a living room. However, in order to achieve that, you need to have the right size area rug for your space or it will make your living room look cheap and everything will look disconnected.

Living Room Ideas:

    • Experts say that area rugs should always be at least 8ft. x 10 ft. (minimum size requirement) unless you have a smaller space. All of your living room furniture legs or at least two front legs should be sitting on the rug but ideally all four should sit on it.
    • My advice is if you really want to have an area rug, first finalize the positioning of all your living room furniture. Once that is finalized, you can determine the correct rug size that you will need to buy. See the illustration below:

Image Source: Pinterest

Living Room Ideas

Decorating Mistake No. 2 – Wall Paint Color Matches with Home Furniture

  • In the picture, the living room looks lifeless and dated because it lacks color contrast.  When you entered into the living room you could definitely feel that it needed some color to make the room more vibrant and a place that you wanted to sit down and relax.  So choose your wall color wisely!

Living Room Ideas:

    • A monochromatic color scheme room means that wall paint and furniture are using one color but in the form of different tones, tints and shades. It may sound simple but it actually needs someone with good interior designing skills to pull it all together. You need to really be good at using different tones and shades of the particular color that you are working with to make your space visually interesting. Experts say that if you want to successfully pull off this monochromatic color scheme you make want to consider hiring a professional interior designer.

Decorating Mistake No. 3 – Short Curtains

  • Short Curtains are a BIG NO! NO! It makes the room look shorter.

Living Room Ideas:

    • Curtains are used to cover windows, I get that! However, you really need to think through the type of curtains that you are planning to use. Curtains will definitely make a huge impact in your living room especially if its the wrong one for your space! Curtains can make your living room look cheap, boring and even simple but the right curtains can add vibrancy and elegance to the space. All of this just by your choice of curtains. So, be very careful when choosing!
    • The rule of thumb is that curtains should be touching the floor. If you want to have a carefree style in your living room allow the curtains to puddle two to three inches longer on the floor. Below are guidelines for hanging curtains that I found on Pinterest.

      Image Source: Pinterest

Decorating Mistake No. 4 –  Furniture And Fixture Sizes Too Big Or Too Small

  • In the above before photo you can see that the space looks empty and at the same time looks crowded. It’s hard to understand how than can happen but as you can see, it is possible. The TV console is too small for the room while the table beside the window looks big or it seems like it does not belong. There are a lot of small pieces and disproportionate furniture making the room look crowded and yet look empty. Would you agree with me?

Living Room Ideas:

    • Before buying any furniture and fixtures, you need to get the dimensions of your space where you plan to place your furniture and fixtures. Once you have that, you can then create a floor plan where you draw or sketch how you want to arrange your furniture. You will also need to keep in mind that your furniture arrangement should create good conversation areas. This is an area where you, your loved ones and your beloved guests can comfortably talk to each other without shouting.
    • Using the correct sizes for furniture and fixtures is important to create a well balanced and intimate living room. There are several online tools that you can you use to help you determine the right size of furniture to buy as well as to help you create the living room of your dreams. Be sure to measure your room first before buying anything to make sure that you will buy the right size furniture for your living room. See my article about Master Bathroom Remodel on how I used an interior design app and how it helped me to utilize the space effectively.

Decorating Mistake No. 5 –  Off Balance Design

  • When you look at the dining room and compare it with the other side of the room, you will notice that there was a lot of furniture in the dining room such as the dining table, book case, dvd storage rack, plants, and a buffet cabinet while on the other side there was a small table and a rocking chair. This made the room look off balance and made the dining area look so busy and crowded.

Living Room Ideas:

    • Avoid putting too much furniture on one side of the room. Furniture and fixtures should be distributed evenly throughout the space in order to keep the room from feeling tilted. The goal here is not having a perfectly symmetrical room but to achieve some sense of balance. Always remember that a good balanced space whether in terms of color, patterns and the  furniture layout will create good visual appeal. For example, if you have a big living room you can put two sofas facing each other and on each side, a pair of chairs and a pair of ottomans to make the space look balanced, see the picture below:Online Home Furniture Shops

Decorating Mistake No. 6-  Showcase Collection Room Style

  • I know it is very tempting to showcase your collections whether its your most beloved quilted art, vases, books, dvd’s, small figurines, etc. However, it makes your living room look cluttered. Too many small things in your space, no matter how expensive they are, will create a busy atmosphere instead of making your living room feel cozy and clean.

Living Room Ideas:

    • A room that looks clean and organized trumps expensive living room accessories everywhere in your living room. Accessories should be grouped together to create a pleasing image.
    • The usage of a decorative tray in your living room will help you to display your favorite small accessories without making your room look cluttered. center piece

Decorating Mistake No. 7 –  Coffee Table Too Small or Too Big

  • In the before photo above, it’s obvious that the coffee table is too small for the space because it’s too far from the fire place. If the coffee table is too small it will make the living room look empty while a coffee table that is too big will make the living room look crowded.

Living Room Ideas:

    • Did you know that there are many rules that you need to know when buying a coffee table? It’s actually more complicated than just choosing the shape and design of the coffee table. Below are some of the key rules when choosing the correct coffee table for your living room:
      • HEIGHT – The coffee table height should be the same height as the cushions on your sofa or one to two inches lower.
      • LENGTH – The coffee table length should be 2/3 the length of your sofa. For example, if you have a 90 inch sofa you would multiple that by 2/3, this would mean you should look for a 60 inch long coffee table ( (90 inches) x (*2/3) = 60 inches).
      • DISTANCE – Experts say that the distance between a sofa and a coffee table should be 12 to 18 inches and between the coffee table and a fireplace or TV stand should be at least 24 to 30 inches so you can have enough room to walk around the space.

FORMULA FOR THE RIGHT WIDTH  COFFEE TABLE = Total Distance between your sofa and TV stand/fire place minus 42 inches.

Image Source: Pinterest

    • CHOOSE A COFFEE TABLE THAT SUIT YOUR NEEDS – If you need to have extra storage space then look for a coffee table that comes with a storage area. Do you like to put your feet on the coffee table when you are in the living room watching your favorite show? An ottoman might be a good option for you as it will provide comfort to your feet because of its padded design.

Living Room Ideas

Decorating Mistake No. 8 – “Everything Should Be Centered” Design Syndrome

  • The pathway going to the door of the back porch could have been done in two ways, it could have been on left side or on the right side of the dining table which would make the traffic flow unclear.  Aside from that, centering the dining table in this case would have only allowed us to use a small dining table because we would need to have ample space on each side which would make the small dining area look even smaller!

Living Room Ideas:

    • There is really nothing wrong with centering the dining table in the room. The traditional way of designing a dining room says that everything should be centered. However, will not hurt if you decide breaking the conventional way of doing things especially if you can use your space efficiently and improve the traffic flow in your home.

Decorating Mistake No. 9 – Poor Lighting

  • The floor lamp and table lamp were the only source of light in the living room which made the room look flat and boring.

Living Room Ideas:

    • Lighting is very important to any room because the right lighting can inspire you to be more productive and more creative. Plus, having multiple light sources in the living room can help you to create more than one ambiance such as making the room feel intimate, warm, bright and vibrant.
    • Layering light is combining different kinds of lights to create different atmospheres in a room. An easy way to do this is to incorporate in your plan the use of overhead lighting on dimmers, table lamps and floor lamps. It will help you to bring your room to life! Below are the 3 main types of lighting that you can use to achieve the perfect room ambiance:
      • Ambient Lighting –  Light source that illuminates the whole room so you can move around without bumping into the furniture (also known as overhead light).
      • Accent Lightning – Light source for esthetic purposes which allows you to highlight a certain part of your room or your precious paintings.
      • Task Lighting –  Light source that you use every time you are performing a task or activities to give you better illumination.

Decorating Mistake No. 10 – Hanging Art The Wrong Way

  • Hanging Art is not just putting a piece of art on any part of your  wall. There are some guidelines to follow when hanging artwork and all this information is readily available at your fingertips. One of the main reasons you should have paintings or artwork is to add colors to your living room making your space more vibrant. However, if you hang it the wrong way, you will defeat its purpose and then the artwork will be transformed from being a focal point to being a distraction in your living room.  To keep this from happening, below are some guidelines that I found on Pinterest that you can follow:

    Image Source: Pinterest

After Photos: 10 Amazing Living Room Ideas Put Into Action

Now this is the fun part, I will show you the after photos of our renovated living room and I will also share how we put into action, the basic living room ideas I shared above. I used the same furniture and fixtures that we bought for our first house just used a different arrangement.

Changes We Made No. 1: Eliminate the Usage of Area Rug and Changed the Flooring

  • I decided not to use an area rug because I preferred to reveal the newly installed laminate flooring. I know area rugs are a “must-have” according to many experts because it adds color as well as softness to a room. However, I felt like I would commit a crime if I covered the beautiful new flooring with a rug.

Living Room Ideas Design Tip:

    • Although most of the experts would say that having area rugs are a “must-have” because the rug can add color, warmth and texture to the space. However, it’s not a crime to break that rule especially if you have a good reason behind it. Besides, you can get color, warmth and texture in many other creative ways. Remember, there is always an exception to the rule, so do not be afraid to explore!

Changes We Made No. 2: Wall Paint Color

  • Monochromatic color scheme is out! We used a gray color in our living room, Stonington Gray HC-170 by Benjamin Moore to be more specific. The use of a gray color is known to make a  living area feel more spacious which was ideal for a small space like ours. For me, the gray painted walls are a perfect match with our transitional interior design living room as it created a sophisticated and timeless look. Aside from that, gray painted walls provide a nice backdrop for any color piece on a living room wall. This makes it easier to add colors and texture to make the space lively and vibrant.

Living Room Ideas Design Tip:

    • If you already have a sofa and you are not planning to buy a new one and you want to change your living room paint color, then choose a paint color that matches or a paint color that goes well with your sofa.

Changes We Made No. 3: Fireplace Makeover

  • I wanted my fireplace to have a simple and clean design. A fireplace that combines a classic and modern look. The best way to achieve that was to incorporate wainscoting above the classic mantel. This was manually crafted by our contractor and then inset with a sleek graphite porcelain field tile. The graphite color of the porcelain tile gives an immediate contemporary look while the classic white wainscoting trim above the mantel created a classic design vibe which fit perfectly with our transitional living room.

Living Room Ideas Design Tip:

    • If you are planning to update your fireplace and you are not sure of what design you would like to have, go to Pinterest and create a board dedicated for a fireplace. Then search for fireplace design ideas and pin every picture of a fireplace that you like into your dedicated Pinterest board. When the time has come to update your fireplace, open your board and find the design that you really want to have. Below is my personal Pinterest board dedicated for a fireplace. This will help you to understand how I came up with my fireplace design.


Living Room Ideas


Living Room Ideas

Changes We Made No. 4 : Short Curtains Out and Roller Shades In.

  • The reason I did not include curtain in my design is that we really have no space for a curtain. According to the “rules of scale”, drapery should be hung over the wall and not over the window. Although there’s ample space beside the window, putting a curtain on it was a bit too much for our living room space. That is only my opinion and personal preference. What we did instead is too add trim around the window which made the window look even wider.
  • I chose roller shades for the window treatments because I like the minimalist style that roller shades added to the space. Just in case my personal preference may change in the future and I want to add a curtain in my living room, roller shades look great with drapery beside them.

Living Room Ideas Design Tip:

    • If you cannot decide whether to use blinds, roller shades or curtains in your windows, consider the following aspects to as a guide to help you make the right decision:
      • Budget
      • Decor Style
      • Your Needs and Preferences
    • Drapes or Curtains – Offers a range of designs, textures, colors and different patterns for your window. This gives you many design style possibilities that you can pull-off from French Country, Mid-Century, Glam, Modern, and many more.
    • Blinds or Roller Shares – These types of shades come in limited prints and colors which cater for certain specific styles. They are also known to reduce the heat throughout the home so you don’t have to blast your central air during summer.

Changes We Made No. 5 : Knocking down the backdoor wall

  • We removed the backdoor wall and replaced it with two sliding glass doors. The reason behind it was to bring the outdoors inside our home and to get as much natural light as possible.
  • If you noticed, there is no more wall separating the kitchen from the dining area making the whole area light, airy and bright. See My Kitchen Remodel That I Personally Designed if you are curious on what we did to transform our 1950s kitchen into a modern design kitchen.

Living Room Ideas Design Tip:

    • If you have a chance to find way to bring the most powerful light into your home, then take that opportunity. It is the most natural way to enjoy the space inside your home as it brings in warmth and makes the room comfortable and cozy.

Living Room Ideas

Changes We Made No. 6: “Not in the Center” Dining Table

  • To effectively use the space in the dining area, I decided to place the narrow side of the rectangular dining table to the end of the kitchen peninsula. By doing this, I gained a lot of space for our buffet cabinet and was able to have a clear pathway going to the door of the back porch.

Living Room Ideas Design Tip:

    • Following the conventional way of doing things is actually a good idea but as I mentioned earlier, there are cases that you may not want to follow the rules to make the most of the space and still make it visually appealing.

Living Room Ideas

Changes We Made No. 7:  Having a Multiple Sources of Light

  • My husband and I made sure that our living room would have multiple sources of light as lighting is very important to make any room feel warm, intimate, bright and cozy. Aside from natural light coming from our window and sliding doors, we added recessed lighting on dimmer switches, a floor lamp and a light fixture above the dining table. Adding these extra lights made the flat and boring living room a thing of the past!

Changes We Made No. 8: “Almost Perfect Size” Furniture and Fixtures

  • Why “almost perfect size”? I must admit our sofas were a little bit bigger than the living space needed. Remember, this is the same furniture we had in our first house. It would have been so impractical for us to get rid of the sofas (sofas that I really like) because they were not cheap plus the sofas are in really good condition. This is also the reason why we pushed our sofas against the walls, where many experts say this is a NO! NO! Again, there is always an exception to every rule and I think this was one of those times.
  • The coffee table, accent chair, TV console, buffet cabinet and dining table are perfectly nestled in their own assigned spaces.

Living Room Ideas Design Tip:

    • I still advocate to buy the right size furniture and fixtures for your living room because size really matters when creating a well balanced and intimate space. There many online tools that you can use to help you determine the perfect size furniture and to create the living room of your dreams, just like what I did. Below is my rendering of our living room using a home interior app. I really recommend it if you are planning to design your dream space. Disclaimer, my rendering was not good because I did not have time to master it before I put it to use.

This is where I got the idea that having a curtain in the living room may be too much or it could be because I just had a poor rendering.

Changes We Made No. 9: Balanced Design

  • As I mentioned earlier, we used the same furniture and fixtures that we had in our first house. To achieve some sense of balance in our living space, I was not able to use two ottomans, two table lamps, one side table and one accent chair. If I had tried to add all of these in our living room it would have looked like a furniture store.

Living Room Ideas Design Tip:

    • Sometimes letting go of things is necessary to create the right ambiance for the right space. However, it will be very tempting to use everything that you have. You may have items that are expensive or that have sentimental value but you need to pick and choose which ones you can use to make your space look peaceful and calm.

Living Room Ideas

Living Room Ideas

Changes We Made No. 10: Hanging Art the Right Way

  • Our painting is centered over the sofa while the picture frames and mirror on the wall beside the fire place look stunning. However, I may have broken some rules when I put them to together on one wall. What I do know is that it looks beautiful to me. It turned the whole wall into a focal point of the living room. Do you agree with me?

Living Room Ideas

I hope after reading this that you learn something that you will able to use in your living room makeover project. Whether just simply changing wall paint color, adding some artwork or totally renovating the whole area, I hope this guide helps you along the way.

Additional Before and After Photos

Below are some additional before and after photos of our living room makeover project:








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