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coastal living room with soft grey sofa and sheer curtains

Best Types of Furniture for Small Spaces and Apartments

There’s nothing like the buzz of moving into a new apartment or unit. That is, until you realise that all of your current furniture is too big for it. Buzz officially killed.

The remedy for this, of course, is to buy some new stuff for your humble abode.

But before you hit the stores, you gotta take in some of my designer pearls of wisdom. Because the only thing worse than a space with oversized furniture in it is spending cash on new stuff that also doesn’t work. That’s when you crack out the Kleenex, red wine, and listen to some Adele.

So stop, look, and listen to the following tips on the best types of furniture for small spaces. I’m talking apartments, units, and town houses. (but these pointers could also apply to smaller rooms in houses too).

white coastal living room with white fabric sofa and white leather ottoman
Look to furniture with thin legs, and ensure it’s raised off the ground.

1. Furniture for a Small Living Room

The living room is the hub of the home if you ask me. I spend more time in it that I do the kitchen, let’s be honest. So for me, furniture in this room of your apartment or unit is the most crucial of all to get right. Below I’ll pop some pointers for you on the types of furniture to gravitate toward in this small space…

The Sofa

This is an obvious and necessary starting point, so we’ll begin here. The first thing you want to ensure is that the sofa has a small profile; thin legs, a low back and not too deep (less than 80cm depth).

The arms of the sofa are best kept lower and not too chunky. If your room is so small that you won’t even fit a coffee table, have the arm of the sofa be wide enough that you can use it to sit a drink on (with a coaster, of course!).

Keeping the above in mind will ensure that the sofa is not overly imposing in the space.

Also ensure the sofa is a block colour (no patterns), and that it is raised off the ground. Sofas that go all the way to the floor feel heavier and more dominant. Always think about air flow going under and around the furniture.

Lastly, have your sofa in a smooth fabric. Heavy weaves or aged leather are a bad idea as they draw the eye in too much. More help on sofa shopping is in this post.

Black Metallic Side Table from Retrojan
These side tables from Retrojan tick all the boxes.

Coffee and Side Tables

When it comes to the coffee and side tables in a small living room, a round option is always a safe bet. Squares and rectangles not only feel harder and more imposing, but in a small space you’re more likely to run into them all the time (and bruises are not cute).

Also think about the colour of the table and what it’s made from. In a small living room, a glass table is always going to make the space feel less cluttered, but light timbers also work.

You can introduce a black table (as seen above) but ensure you don’t replicate the black across the room too much. Pair a black side table with a timber coffee table and you’re on the right track.

As with the sofa, keep the coffee and side table legs thin. And lastly, ensure the height of the coffee table sits below the height of the sofa (the base part you sit on).

The Rug and Artwork

I always say that a room should have one focal point (in some cases, two). But in a small room its wise to have one design moment that catches the eye. The best place to do this is through an artwork or a rug.

With your rug, opt for a small size rug (like a 160 x 200cm) and either have the two front legs of the sofa sit just over it, or not at all. Never tuck a rug completely under a sofa in a small space. It only makes the space feel even tinier.

If the room is really cramped, it can benefit from a round rug or cowhide option. The fluid lines in both these rug styles soften the space and don’t feel to visually sharp.

Regarding your art choices, don’t feel like you have to have yours blend into the background or be boring. You can choose abstract art like this in a bold colour, but just ensure it is the one moment (focal point) in the space and let the other elements support it, not compete with it.

black metal bed with round white bedside table and pattern cushion
A metal bed like this one is a good option for a small room too.

2. Furniture for a Small Bedroom

Out of all the types of furniture for small spaces, selections in the bedroom are pretty important too. And sadly, it’s often the zone that people tend to over-stuff. By the time you’ve chosen a bed, popped a mattress on top, then layered on oodles of bedding, the whole room can feel more cramped than a boxing day sale. Here’s what to keep in mind…

The Bed

Your dreams of a high, tufted headboard are sadly going to have to be parked for now, because a headboard is a terrible idea in a small bedroom.

If you choose to purchase a bed frame that comes with a small headboard attached (which is OK), ensure it’s simple in design. No bells and whistles. A smooth fabric with no buttons, tufting, ruffles or similar is your friend.

Also ensure you don’t choose too big a bed for your room. You may dream of wanting a king size bed, but if you have to push it against a wall to fit it in, it’s not worth it. You want to allow a bedside table on either side of the bed, so do choose your bed size accordingly.

An ensemble bed is often better in a small room because its profile is smaller. There’s no additional bulk courtesy of a bed frame.

If you’re against an ensemble, choose a bed that’s fairly low to the ground. A tall bed with a thick mattress on it is a bad idea. If you have to climb up into it, it’s going to make the room feel really cramped.

LUUM Simply Side Table alternative bedside table ideas on the life creative
This LUUM side table is perfect for a small bedroom.

The Bedside Tables

You have the option to go round or square with your bedside tables depending on which option is more your style. Sure, the round will provide a little more sense of space, but square options can work too.

The bigger issue to focus on is the visual bulk of the bedside tables, not if they’re round or square. Again, you want a sense of air flowing through the furniture. So rather than an option that is three drawers all the way to the ground, choose something with one draw and nothing underneath.

You also want to look to options with thin legs as they will be less imposing. On top of the bedside, don’t over-style. A simple round lampshade or pendant light will suffice.

Think outside the box with bedsides too, like fixing shelves to the wall. Alternative bedside table ideas are in this post if you need.

Artworks and Window Treatments

Similarly to what I mentioned in the living room, you can choose colourful art for a small bedroom. My advice is to place a louder or moody artwork like this one over the bed and let that be the one moment. Then pull colours from that artwork and feature them in accessories like cushions or a throw.

Try to keep the base colour of the room still quite calm and serene. A white wall with a yellow artwork is fine. Some yellow cushions on the bed to make the space cohesive is also fine. But don’t go beyond that, or the space will feel too colourful and inturn, too chaotic.

Lastly, avoid artworks with thick, ornate frames. They jut out too far into the room and weight the entire space down.

Regarding window treatments, steer clear of heavy curtains in a small bedroom. A light roller blind or venetian is a nice option and doesn’t dominate the space.

small round glass top dining table with metal chair and faux fur throw
Glass-top tables always make a room feel larger and more open.

3. Furniture for a Small Dining Room

Many small spaces like apartments don’t even have room for a dining table. You either have to be very clever about how you squeeze one in, or come to terms with the fact that dinner in front of the tele is your new normal (trust me, I have a dining table and eat in front of the TV most nights, so it’s not all bad). Here are some additional points…

Dining Table

If you’re still reading on, you’ll probably have predicted that I’m going to say a round table is the best type of furniture for a small space. And you’ll probably have also predicted that I’m going to suggest a table with a small profile.

To that, add the fact that it needs thin legs. What it’s made out of is entirely up to your taste, but as with a coffee table, a lighter option (or a glass top) is definitely going to help the room feel more open.

Darker, heavy woods (especially aged, battered or industrial options) can often weigh the room down significantly, so I’d veer toward something light, bright and contemporary.

small dark brown dining table against wall with timber dining chairs and pendant hanging above
Look to dining chairs that allow air to flow through them.

Dining Chairs

There are many chair options that’ll work wonders in a small dining room, so you’ll have fun with the selection process here.

The main piece of advice I can give you is to avoid chairs with high backs. Not only because visually they’re quite imposing, but a small round table with tall chairs at it is a bad look proportionally.

Something that fully tucks under the table is the your best bet. Avoid options with arms that’ll hit the table top and have to sit a fair way out from it.

What the chair is made out of is entirely up to you. Ghost chairs are great because they’re transparent, but even a fabric option is a nice idea here.

If you need more advice on shopping for dining chairs, my guide is here for you.


Your kitchen bench might have just a little amount of space for one or two stools. If so, you’re in luck, because there are so many stools with small or slimline profiles on the market (like these ones).

A mesh stool is a good idea, once again because it allows for a sense of air flow. A tolix stool, which has an industrial feel, is a safe bet also. Anything not too tall, wide or imposing is what you want to look out for.

Bear in mind; you don’t spend hours sitting on a stool, so you can pick how it looks over how it functions if you need to.

And if you have a small kitchen on your hands and want it to look amazing, check out this post on how to make a small kitchen look great.

black round wall hooks in entryway with grey coat

Did this Post Help?

Did this article on the best types of furniture for small spaces give you everything you need to hit the stores and shop with confidence? I certainly hope so!

Drop me a comment below if you have any additional questions. Or, if you know some winning types of furniture for small spaces based on your own experience, I’d love for you to share that too!

Happy shopping and styling,

Images in this post have been taken from Pinterest. Hero image via Taubmans.


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Chris Carroll

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He’s also spent time on TV, on Channel 10’s Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you’d like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

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3 Responses

  1. Hi Chris, love your suggestions regarding small spaces. I have a brand new upstairs apartment addition with a hampton style decor. I need to buy all new living room furniture and wall art but need to start with a couch. Can you tell me where to purchase the cream colored one in tge above photo? Thank you. Elisa

    1. Hi Elisa, not sure where that particular couch is from. It’s similar to others I’ve seen though, I’m sure you’ll find something like it if you look for Hampton’s sofas

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I’m interior designer Chris Carroll, and at TLC Interiors we’re all about helping you create an amazing home without breaking the bank. It’s affordable designer style at its best, and we make the whole process easy and fun for clients & readers alike!

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