How To Turn Your Small Living Room Into A Cozy Nook For The Holidays

Even the tiniest spaces can lean into tip-top Tinseltown vibes.

by Jessica Goodman
A small living room decorated and cozy for the holidays

When you live in a small apartment where your main living space also functions as your kitchen, dining room, office, guest room, and gym, it can be tough to find ways to make it feel cozy and festive when the holidays roll around. But just because you aren’t living in a suburban McMansion doesn’t mean you have to give up on feeling that holiday cheer.

Employing a few simple strategies can help take even the smallest home to tip-top Tinseltown territory without leaning into ugly holiday sweater cheesiness (though, if that’s your vibe, do you!). Ahead, five surefire ways to make your small living room a snug and cheerful space to spend the holidays.

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Choose one area to be your centerpiece.

It’s so easy to go overboard on decor in your living room, but Sarah Jacobson, a home decor expert, advises to pick one section to go all-out in and leave the rest somewhat neutral. “That way, it doesn’t feel like holiday threw up all over your space,” she says. “I generally choose the vintage dresser I use as a media console.” To make that piece of furniture festive, she tops the dresser with “tiny tinsel trees, a small sparkly garland, and three adorable tiny little birdies bedecked in winter gear.” If you’re following her lead, add an on-theme runner to your tabletop before placing your decor on it. That will tie the whole look together.

Go all out on candles.

“Scent is such a powerful sensory element, and there’s nothing cozier than the flicker of a flame, especially come evening,” Jacobson says. “I love the way scent signifies a new season, and burn warm, autumnal scents as soon as the temps drop below 60.” Get in the festive mood by setting out a pine-scented candle and some themed matches, which can help get your living room into holiday mode without being too kitschy.

Pick out a few special throw pillows and blankets.

“Throw pillows are a great way to add a pop of holiday style without breaking the bank, and everyone from small biz to big box retailers have seasonal options to choose from,” Jacobson says. Instead of opting for loud pillows with prints of Santa or a snowman, check out options that come in textures like velvet, faux fur, thick knits, or shag, which will give your living room a cozy, elevated feel. You can always go for classic holiday colors — red and green or blue and white — but choosing neutrals can help you achieve a winter wonderland feel, too.

Set up a holiday drink/snack station.

What’s more festive than hot chocolate, peppermint, and gingerbread? Grab a few of your favorite holiday drink or snack add-ons and keep them in a little area of your living room — on your bar cart or a tray on your coffee table. For example, arrange a bunch of plastic-wrapped edible hot chocolate stirrers in a cute clear glass next to a holiday themed-mug or set out a glass bowl full of peppermint bark squares. Bonus points for selecting items with adorable packaging, which help decorate the space without being too overwhelming.

Get your TV in on the action.

If your TV is the centerpiece of your living room, you can use it as an artistic focal point this winter. “For those that happen to own a TV with art mode, seasonal backgrounds are a great way to ‘decorate’ without spending much at all,” Jacobson says. “I buy digital art on Etsy, upload it to my Samsung Frame app, et voila! New ‘art’ for less than $5.” Even without a TV that has art mode, you can queue up a yule log video on Netflix or YouTube to help achieve that cozy atmosphere, especially if you don’t have a working fireplace.


Sarah Jacobson, a home decor expert