How to Downsize the Living Room – Moving From House to Studio

Because I’m substantially downsizing, I came up with what the essential pieces might be for each of my living areas; last blog post was the kitchen, today we’re on to the living room. 

First, though, I’ve been thinking about creative ways to have more multipurpose and fewer single-use items.  In the kitchen, for example, choosing Pyrex clear glass mixing bowls means they will also be my serving bowls and can be used in both the microwave and oven.  I even use the smaller one to eat a meal-sized salad, soup, or a nice bowl of rice and beans.  And by simply adding lids, they also make good food storage containers. 

Another idea is to have a kitchen table and desk chairs that are comfortable enough to also serve as extra guest chairs in the living room.  Having a multipurpose bed in the bedroom might mean getting a Murphy bed (wall or cabinet) that serves as a desk when put away.  Or, consider a daybed with a trundle or mattress base with storage underneath.  Almost everything in my small space has more than one function.

Here’s my downsized living room lists…


I’m planning to build in as much as possible.

  • Lighting – Multiple canned ceiling lights on a dimmer.  Only one additional (reading) lamp is needed.
  • Fan – Central ceiling fan with variable speed and reversible.  No additional portable fans are needed.
  • Windows and window coverings—Versatile double-hung windows let in air and light from the top or bottom. The same goes for top-down, bottom-up cellular shades.
  • TV wall mount – Pull out and swivel.  Face multiple directions.
  • Media console – Built-in with doors. Narrow and under the TV wall mount.  It contains and hides a router, modem, DVD player, surge protector, power strip, remotes, and cables.  
  • Narrow floating ledge shelves – Rotate wall art.  Switch out for holidays or seasons.


Sized to the space.  Avoid overstuffed, extra deep, wide armrests, etc.

  • Couch – Loveseat size.  Full size would (barely) fit, but I prefer the extra space.  Converts to a guest bed—lift-up cushion with storage inside for the guest bedding.
  • Chairs (2) – Consider who might be visiting.  Recliner (my mom needs one when she visits).  Swivel rocker (baby rocking and can easily switch facing couch or TV).  
  • Storage ottoman – For swivel rocker.  Extra seat.  Stores throw blankets.
  • Coffee table – This is not the most space-efficient, but my favorite piece of furniture.  An old 1940s blond wood Heywood Wakefield revolving circular one from an estate sale.  Always keep a few of your favorite things if you can!
  • Side tables (2) – Small c-shape. Lightweight and fits under any chair or couch along ends or front.  Right-sized for small desk/laptop or living room eating.
  • TV – Flat screen, so minimal depth.  Changeable downloaded art, so it looks like a painting when not on, or you can stream a YouTube channel like Vintage Art TV. Change for the occasion. With the right electronic extras, it can be used for family photos.
  • Cube storage – Kallax (Ikea) unit.  Since this is a studio apartment, the unit will divide the living and bedroom areas.  Use on either side for books, decor, accessories, and photos.  Fit some with pull-out cubes for clothing.


Let these be the decor and seasonal items.

  • Throw pillows (2) – Switch out seasonal zippered covers.
  • Throw blankets (2) – Neutral or seasonal.    
  • Essential oil diffuser – Oil scents change with the season.
  • Candle stands (3) – Switch out candles seasonally.
  • Wall art – Display on floating ledge shelves.  Rotate seasonally.

Based on my space and needs, these are the items that will fit in my living room.  My entire studio apartment is 544 sq ft and the living area is about 16’x12’. 

The living room is a good place to start decluttering and minimizing because it is (generally) visible to any guests who drop by.  We get a “win” when we feel comfortable letting people into the front door!  And, our living rooms aren’t generally as full as say, the kitchen – another good reason to start here.  If you’re overwhelmed, choosing to just keep the living room (and maybe entry area) uncluttered will bring peace of mind and the experience of having an area “finished.”

Let me know in the comments what your living area is like and what your basic items are.  

More from Rebecca:

I've been working to downsize everything to move into a studio apartment, here's my list of living room essentials and how they function.

About Rebecca Plasters

Hi - Rebecca Plasters here. I'm recently semi-retired having worked as a family nurse practitioner, nurse educator, school nurse, and public health administrator for decades. Yes, nurses have so many options! Minimalism has been calling my name for several years and I'm enjoying the progress I've made. I downsized from about 3000 sq ft and lived in a travel trailer in my barn while I built a 1200 sq ft house on a 27 acre farm. I have now sold the house / farm, moved cross country, and live in a 350 sq ft studio apartment. What an adventure! I've learned so much, found my own minimal style and am loving this simpler life.

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