In this post: Are you saving all your guest rooms for a rare full house? Consider using these small sitting room ideas to repurpose one of those bedrooms. ⇒
I thought long and hard before giving up a bedroom.
Well, of course I did. Who wouldn’t?
I had made a huge deal about ensuring we got enough bedrooms when we selected our townhouse, eager to entertain and host guests. I was adamant that downsizing wouldn’t mean giving up on that aspect of our lives. In fact, I wanted to host visitors even more now than when we were bringing up our family.
I had visions of having our children come to stay, and eventually bringing their own children with them. Maybe they would include in-laws, too? And of course I’d want everyone to come at the same time.
We’d need all those bedrooms!
And yet, four bedrooms and several years later, very rarely are they all full. Indeed, maybe only once?
I haven’t given up on that full house of guests, and I expect that someday I may wish I had that extra room with the plush queen bed, but right now, other needs felt more pressing.
Why Create a Sitting Room
I did agonize over this for a while. But finally I took the plunge, and here’s my why.
If you live in a newer home with an open floor plan, you likely enjoy that inviting flow that integrates spaces and joins everything together. But have you ever tried to watch a different movie or streaming show than someone in an adjoining room? Have you been able to concentrate on work or read a book while someone’s playing music you don’t particularly love in the next room?
To be sure, we do have separate rooms in our home, including a distinct family room in addition to the living room, but they all open to the hallway via expansive doorways that are more opening than wall. Apart from the office, there’s no door to close.
I started to crave my own space and wrestled with the concept for quite some time. How ridiculous it was that in a house full of TVs, I really couldn’t find a space to watch my favorite shows in the evening. I didn’t want to sit in bed and watch, nor at a desk or table. I wanted a proper sitting room.
Why Repurpose a Spare Bedroom?
My biggest conflict was that it seemed logical to set up a new TV in the living room, a room that gets precious little use, and finally give it a reason-to-be. But if hubby was watching a game in the family room, we’d be competing to blast the TVs to drown each other’s entertainment out. The open floor plan precluded this being a workable solution, while the lack of wall space presented challenges to the layout.
I also thought about putting a large comfy chair in the corner of the study, a space that has a door and already had a TV. But there was really no room and it didn’t seem relaxing to peer over the desk at the TV across the room.
So I kept coming back to the idea of taking one of the bedrooms upstairs and converting it into my sitting room. Not a corner of another space. Not an out of the way spot. Not an open or adjoining room.
A full-on proper sitting room. With a TV. And a door.
My ‘she-cave’ of sorts.
Essentials for a Small Sitting Room
Once the decision was made, the hardest part was actually getting rid of the bed. This was a lovely guest room that had been updated several times. It had started as the room my parents stayed in when they visited our home and was decorated to please my mom’s taste. Later, I added a desk for a dual use office/bedroom when hubby took over the downstairs office to work from home and over time I modernized the decor.
But if I was really going to make this a sitting room, the bed simply had to go. We finally bit the bullet and packed it up. With the bed gone, I was now emotionally over the concept of giving up a bedroom and committed to making it a well functioning sitting room. I could look at the space honestly and determine what I wanted.
Before I worried about style, I addressed what the room should include, and how it should be laid out. Central, of course, were two key items. A comfortable sofa opposite an entertainment unit for a TV. Between them would be a coffee table and flanking the sofa I would place end tables. For a small space, this was all that was needed. It was the quintessential layout for a living space and that’s what I was going for.
Choosing the Furniture
With the layout and pieces I needed outlined, next up was searching for the actual items. I attacked this part of the project one piece at a time, slowly building to the final look of the room.
I didn’t really need to think about design style. I know my style and what I’ve been gravitating toward lately. It would be light and neutral, rustic but updated, with pretty vintage accents. Maybe a bit more modern than the rest of the house, but very much in keeping with the existing tone. The walls were already neutral (BM China White) and the carpet, as well.
I opted for a lovely but simple natural sofa and then turned my attention to the entertainment unit. This was the most important piece, as it was the focal point of the room. I wanted it to include book shelves and cabinets so that it would comprise more than just a TV on the wall. My hope was for a warm and inviting space that would house many of my interests and felt a bookcase would deliver on that promise. After much searching, I found an off-white unit that was just the right size, and now I was off to the races.
Filling in the rest of the pieces was easy. I selected a rugged light wood coffee table with drawers (you can never have too much storage!) and waited for the items to be delivered before proceeding any further.
Personalizing the Space
It was at about this time that I made an important decision that made me glad I had worked on this in stages. With only the three pieces in the room, I was able to see that it would be possible to keep my desk there. Instead of two end tables, I could place the desk on one side of the sofa and get a smaller table for the other side. This was the icing on the cake, as now the room could continue to function as my office.
So now it was time to add some personality. I styled the bookcase first, using family photos and art books, and a few decorative objects. I left the desk as it was with its vintage vases and pitchers, and spent quite a bit of time on the coffee table. I struggled a little at first, having added too much color with the book selection, but fine tuned it to a neutral vignette.
Finally, I put a great deal of time into selecting the artwork for over the sofa, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.
The last corner to be addressed was the end table to the right of the couch and I wound up incorporating a table I already owned. It had been in this spot several years ago in an early iteration of the guest room. Back it went and it was perfect. I ordered a charming reading lamp, plus a storage bench for beneath the window to gain an extra bit of seating in the room.
(You can find all the items in the resource list below and as it was all recently purchased, they’re mostly the actual items, with very few substitutes.)
I can’t tell you how often I use this space and I’m certain I made the right decision. It has actually changed the way I relax and enjoy my evenings, leaving me free to choose what I want to indulge in, rather than defaulting to what anyone else in the house might be doing.
Will I ever regret not having the extra bed? I’m sure there will be a time when that happens. But if and when it does, we can get an air mattress for a temporary stay and meanwhile I can enjoy my she-cave!
Summary of Tips for a Small Sitting Room
- Assess Your Needs:
- Determine the primary purpose of the sitting room (e.g., reading, relaxation, entertainment) to guide your design choices.
- Clear the Room:
- Remove existing furniture and decor to start with a clean slate.
- Choose a Color Palette:
- Select a calming and inviting color scheme that suits your style and promotes relaxation.
- Furniture Selection:
- Invest in comfortable seating options like sofas, armchairs, and ottomans.
- Consider space-saving furniture for smaller rooms, such as foldable or modular pieces.
- Incorporate a mix of ambient, task, and accent lighting to create a cozy atmosphere.
- Add floor lamps, table lamps, and wall sconces as needed.
- Storage Solutions:
- Install shelves, cabinets, or built-in storage to keep the room clutter-free.
- Use stylish storage solutions to maintain a neat appearance.
- Opt for soft, plush rugs or carpeting for added comfort.
- If you prefer hard flooring, use area rugs to define the sitting area.
- Window Treatments:
- Choose curtains or blinds that provide privacy while allowing natural light to filter in.
- Consider blackout curtains for movie or TV viewing.
- Decor and Accessories:
- Personalize the space with decorative pillows, throws, and artwork.
- Incorporate plants, candles, or other decorative elements to enhance the ambiance.
- Entertainment Center:
- If desired, add a TV, sound system, or bookshelves for entertainment and media storage.
- Layout Planning:
- Arrange furniture to promote conversation and a comfortable flow within the room.
- Create cozy seating arrangements with coffee tables or side tables.
- Personal Touches:
- Include personal mementos, family photos, or heirlooms to make the room feel inviting and unique.
- Multi-Functional Options:
- Consider a sleeper sofa or convertible furniture if the room may occasionally serve as a guest bedroom.
- Textiles and Fabrics:
- Use soft and inviting textiles for upholstery and draperies.
- Mix textures and patterns to add depth and visual interest.
- Maintain Flexibility:
- Keep the room versatile by choosing furniture and decor that can be easily rearranged.
- Organization and Storage:
- Implement storage solutions like shelves, cabinets, or built-ins to keep the room organized.
- Use storage ottomans or benches for hidden storage.
- Final Touches:
- Add finishing touches such as a coffee table, side tables, and a well-chosen area rug.
- Ensure that the room serves its intended purpose effectively, whether it’s for relaxation, socializing, or reading.
- Budget Considerations:
- Set a budget and prioritize spending on key items while looking for budget-friendly alternatives for others.
- Personalize and Enjoy:
- Make the sitting room a reflection of your personality and preferences, and take pleasure in using the space for relaxation and entertainment.
More Sitting Room Decor
To get the look, click on the items below for direct links to the products. Where actual items were no longer available, I’ve provided similar options. If an item is out of stock but may be restocked, I left it on the list.
(This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.)