You may lament the lack of space if you’re in the process of decorating a small room, but there are plenty of reasons why small is better: small spaces are easier to decorate, easier to keep clean, and easier to organise. These simple tips will help you make a small room look bigger without breaking the bank.
Scale It Down
Furniture for the small space is all about proportions. Suppose a piece brushes up against the room’s boundaries, either up and down or sideways. Then, to create a sense of roominess, always leave a little air in between the sides of your furniture and the walls. (The one exception is a bed; a queen placed between two walls, for instance, creates a cosy sleeping cave.)
Also, avoid heavy, weighty pieces that eat up too much of the usable space in the room. For example, a sleek sofa or chair will give you as much sitting room as its overstuffed cousin but will much less of your room. If you long for a large statement piece (a piece of art or mirror), hang it on the wall. Don’t consume valuable living space by putting it on the floor.
Keep A Low Profile
Furniture that is lower to the ground will create a feeling of openness in a room simply because they leave more space above them. Choose a loft bed or even try placing a mattress directly on the floor in the bedroom. Embrace your inner Mad Men-style with low-to-the-ground midcentury pieces in the living room. Or, if your tastes run more toward the romantic and ornate, 19th-century furniture also has a low profile.
Show A Little Leg With Lithe Furniture.
Again, creating the illusion of more space is about creating a sense of openness and movement. Furniture that is streamlined allows light and air to flow both over and under and around it, so it appears to float in space. Again, think mid century modern pieces, which are both low and leggy. Or consider the perfect piece of soaring furniture: the butterfly chair.
Ditch The Drapes (And Rugs)
As we saw with mirrors, it’s all about tricking the eye. Curtains stop the eye from taking in the view outside, even if they don’t cover the whole window. And drapes and curtains add more “stuff” to the room. Eliminating them keeps the space simple. If you want privacy, consider shutters or lightweight mesh or cloth blinds. Or, if curtains are a must for you, use a bar extending far beyond the window frame to expose the window fully.
Ditto rugs. Cast your eye over all the small spaces in this article. Note how few have rugs or, if they do, how simple and minimal they are.
White It Out
We all know of white’s reflective qualities. It opens up a room, making it feel airy and light, calm and serene. Painting the walls and ceiling the same shade of white only enhances this cloud-like effect. And it serves to blur the boundaries between wall and ceiling, causing your eye to travel up, essentially making the ceiling seem higher. Finally, white is a good choice in small spaces that can quickly become cluttered looking because it simplifies a space and emphasises the architecture.
If you’re worried that an all-white space will feel too cold, pair it with warming elements such as wood, or textured elements, such as a fuzzy wool throw. And remember that you don’t have to choose a stark white.
Emphasise The Vertical
Whether it’s a tall shelf, some vertical shiplap, or the bare hanging bulb we saw in Michaela Scherrer’s bedroom above, employing one element that emphasises the vertical space in the room will increase the sense of openness. It also enhances the feeling of movement and flow.
Emphasise The Horizontal
It all boils down to creating a sense of movement. Like the leggy furniture that creates a sense of dynamism or the mirrors that reflect light and a view into the room, anything that causes your eye to travel around a room intentionally and orderly will make it feel larger. (I say “international and orderly” because a cluttered room with lots of distracting elements will also cause your eye to travel haphazardly.
Clear A Pathway
When dealing with a small room, one naturally wants to maximise the space by pushing all the pieces to the edges. But if this causes you to bump into things, it can enhance a claustrophobic feel. Sometimes it is better to group the furniture on one side of the room so that people can pass through unhindered.
Use Breezy Fabrics
Avoid heavy materials and fabrics that absorb light and weigh your room down. Linen is a perfect example of a lightweight material that will increase the sense of airiness in the room.
Above All, Could You Keep It Simple?
Small spaces are all about editing. The more pieces, possessions, and patterns you have in a room, the more cluttered it will feel. Avoid too many knickknacks or group them, so they read as an installation. Ditto with art; concentrate your framed pieces on one or two walls. Avoid busy patterns and overwhelming colours. Or, if you absolutely must have that William Morris–esque wallpaper, consider placing it on one accent wall. Same with colour, try painting just one wall or a door and stick to a single shade. Now is not the time to embrace the whole spectrum.
The bottom line is you need to be strict with yourself (actually, this concept applies to all spaces) and be intentional about everything that goes into the room. If you go for the wallpaper accent wall, keep the rest of the room simple. If you need that huge oil painting in your living room, try having it be the only art in the room.
Clear The Floors And The Walls
It applies to the floor space between furniture and walls, too. When all your furniture is set against the walls, it outlines the boundaries of your room and highlights how small that space is. In addition, making sure some of your furniture has a little air between the wall creates a better sense of roominess.
Get creative with how you store things and be more critical with what you choose to have out. For example, you can keep it simple by folding blankets into a chest or basket, having a dedicated basket for pet toys, and hanging photos instead of resting them on furniture.
Multi-functional furniture that doubles as storage is a great way to optimise your space. For example, seats, coffee tables and ottomans with hidden storage can help keep blankets, movies, games or clutter off furniture and the floors. You can also install floating shelves to elongate the walls and store things away from the floor.
Install Just One Kind Of Flooring
Use the same flooring throughout a home to make the space look larger and display a cohesive style.
Keep Pathways Open
Avoid placing furniture against the walls to keep pathways clear so you can easily move around and have a clean sightline through the room. In addition, making space around furniture creates a sense of roominess.
Focus On Reflection
Mirrors give the illusion of more space by reflecting light and the view from across the room. Popular locations are near doorways, at the end of hallways or opposite windows.
closeup of bedrooms design with light colours and mirror behind a lamp to make it appear larger
Mirrors can be a great way to reflect light and make a room feel bigger.
Shine A Light
Adding lighting is an easy way to make a small space feel more open and brighter. Recessed lights require no extra space and provide directed light.
Use vertical items, including floating shelves, a floor lamp or vertical shiplap (wood planks), to create a sense of space. Another trick, says Leeds, is to place curtain rods higher and wider: 2 to 3 inches down from the ceiling and 6 to 8 inches beyond the trim on the sides.
Built-in furniture like bookshelves or a Murphy bed is functional, creates space, and adds storage to smaller rooms.
Avoid bulky, dark furniture that can overwhelm a room and make it feel smaller. Furniture that shows some leg to see underneath creates a sense of openness and movement, Bolden says.
Utilise Glass And Lucite
By using materials that you can see through, anything beyond will appear farther away. For example, in a tiny bathroom, get rid of an opaque glass shower enclosure and substitute a clear, frameless one. The room is the same size, but it will look bigger. Now you can see to the wall at the back of the shower––it may only be three extra feet, but the difference it makes is dramatic. You can also use glass or lucite for tabletops. With a sturdy base of wood, stone, or metal, the space around the table will open up the view beyond.
Add Reflective Surfaces
Use a large framed mirror on a wall, or stand an oversized framed mirror against a wall. You’ll get the same room-enlarging effect as a mirrored wall, but with more style. The room and light will be reflected, resulting in a more open feeling. Top a coffee table or side table with a piece of bevelled plate mirror, or purchase a mirrored chest of drawers for a similar effect.
Use a few large, simple pieces of furniture or accessories in place of several smaller pieces, making a small space look cluttered. With open space and large blocks of colour, the room will be calmer and more comfortable.
Keep The Upholstery Plain
Select solid-coloured upholstery for furniture instead of bold plaids, stripes, or prints. Use texture for interest and neutral tones whenever possible.
Stick With Airy, Light Fabrics
Sheer fabrics allow light to pass through window treatments, bed skirts, and table covers. If you want something other than plain colours, find soft floral vines or simple stripes to keep the look simple.
Make Sure Your Furniture Flows
Depending on how you set everything up, a room can seem open and airy or crowded and cramped with the same furniture. Keep larger, heavier pieces along the periphery of the space, so you don’t disrupt the flow. Also, make sure that your furniture doesn’t block windows or entrances and that you leave a clear pathway throughout.
Hang Your Curtains High
No rule says you must install your curtain rod right on top of the window. Instead, give a small room the illusion of more height by installing the rod four to six inches above the window frame, then complement the look with high curtains that extend to the floor.
Bring In The Light
There’s a reason that real estate agents always tell their clients to leave all of the lights on for showings. Dark spaces don’t just feel uninviting—they also feel smaller. So swap out opaque curtains for sheer ones to let in more natural light, put in higher wattage warm light LED bulbs, and add lamps and string lights to areas that could use more brightness.
Build In Your Storage
Built-in bookcases and storage cabinets are a more streamlined approach to your home’s storage needs. They also go a long way toward helping make rooms feel bigger since they bring additional height and texture to your walls. And they’re not as expensive as you think, especially if you’re handy with a drill.
Or Hide Your Storage All Together
Clear up clutter and open up your space by bringing in furniture with its own sneaky built-in storage capabilities. You can find lots of stylish coffee tables, benches, and ottomans that come apart to reveal hidden storage space inside, giving you more bang for your buck when it comes to making the best use of a room.
Raise Your Kitchen Cabinets
Okay, this is a pricey one. But if a pared-down kitchen remodel is in your budget, consider raising your cabinets to increase the apparent height of your kitchen. Raising cabinets—either by upgrading them with taller ones, physically taking them up a few inches, or adding crown moulding to the tops—is one of the quickest ways to make a sizable difference in your kitchen and instantly enlarge the room.
Choose The Right Size Rug
In addition to providing comfort for your feet, rugs also serve as major focal points for establishing the breadth of a room. To make rooms feel bigger, optimise your rugs to suggest more space. For example, opt for one large area rug instead of multiple small rugs in a room and leave about a foot of space between rugs and the walls to create depth.
Put Up Some Mirrors
Mirrors have a similar effect to windows when it comes to helping make rooms feel bigger. They essentially double it in size by reflecting on it, taking a flat space and bringing in-depth dimension. If you’re struggling to get enough natural light in a room, hang a mirror across from a window to reflect that light in from another angle.
Keep Furniture Off The Floor
Large pieces like couches and dressers seem even heavier than resting right on the floor. So go with furniture with legs instead, which creates a visual break for the eye and additional floor space—even if you can’t utilise it.
Paint With Light Colours And Some Smart Pops Of Colours
Paint plays a big role in how you make rooms feel bigger. In general, lighter is the way to go when you want to maximise the appearance of space in a room—think white, beige, light grey, light blue, etc. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun with colour! So please bring in a bold hue without making it seem like the walls are closing in by choosing to go with an accent wall instead of painting a whole room or a colour block where 2/3 of the vertical space of the wall is a vibrant colour, and 1/3 is a light neutral.
Making rooms feel bigger is about having an eye for balance—between light and dark, heavy and airy, and vertical and horizontal. Make rooms feel wider by optimising floor space and taller by optimising your walls. The result is a home that feels a lot bigger than it is and the best use possible of the space you’re working with. And if you ever find yourself lamenting your lack of space, remember that bigger houses aren’t always a better idea.
Picking the right colours, using mirrors and light, and playing with scale can all help to give the appearance of a larger space. By following these professional design tips for making your home seem larger, you can create an illusion to make your guests feel comfortable and at ease.
FAQs About Builders Melbourne
How Do You Make Your House Look Bigger?
- Make sure you have enough natural lighting.
- Use raised sofas and armchairs.
- Go for wall-to-wall bookcases.
- Include mirrors.
- Paint your ceiling with a bright colour.
- Hang Artwork.
- Space It Out.
What Patterns Make Rooms Look Bigger?
Thin stripes give the appearance of stretching; vertical stripes will make a room appear taller and horizontal stripes will make a room look wider. Consider applying striped wallpaper to not only create an illusion of more space but to create a simplistic feature wall.
Do Small Or Large Patterns Make A Room Look Bigger?
Patterns often feel more special than solid colours in a small space.
Do Round Rugs Make A Room Look Bigger?
Rugs or carpets can also help you create the illusion of a larger room. Large area rugs (avoid placing several small rugs) can make your place look more prominent. They should be within 12 inches of the walls on all sides.
What Colour Makes A Bathroom Look Bigger?
According to basic design principles, light colours such as white, crème, pastel blue, grey or yellow will visually expand a room, while dark colours such as a deep red, green or brown will make a room feel smaller.