If you have small rooms in your house or apartment, you know it can be tricky to make them feel comfortable and not crowded. These tips to make a small room look bigger will make it feel like you have more space than you do.
I love looking at interior design magazines, stores, blogs, show houses and pretty much anywhere else I can get design ideas. The one issue I have with most of the beautiful rooms they show…they are all at least twice the size of any room in my house.
Over the years of trying to design my own (much smaller than designer) rooms, I have come up with some tips that I follow to make a small room look bigger. I used a lot of them in my Den/Library makeover (a 10′ x 10′ room)…and I thought these might be useful for some of you as well…
Keep reading to find out how to make a small room look bigger.
Buy Furniture With Legs
One trick for making a room seem larger is to show as much of the floor as possible. Your brain automatically makes the assumption that more floor space means a bigger room…so anything that lets you see more of the floor area works in your favor.
That’s why furniture with taller, uncovered legs is a good idea for a small room. Since you can see under them, more of the floor is visible.
“Leggy” furniture also tends to look less bulky which helps to make the room look less crowded.
Use Lucite or Glass Furniture
Along the same lines as the furniture with legs, using glass or lucite “see through” furniture lets you see more of the floor…which fools your brain into thinking that the furniture isn’t taking up much room.
In the picture above, the glass dining room table top and stainless steel frame both help to make the dining room table appear less “weighty” than a wood table would.
The large light fixture above the table also helps to distract from the small room proportions.
In this living room, the clear nesting tables serve as double-purpose small room furniture.
Because you can see right through the tables, they don’t seem to take up any space at all. And nesting tables are a great way to provide extra table area when it’s needed without taking up a lot of the room when it isn’t.
Install One Floor Covering
Another principle of making a small space seem larger is to keep the number of surface changes to a minimum.
Every time your eye sees a surface change, it has to stop to register the change. That breaks the flow of the room which causes it to appear smaller.
When you use one type of floor covering for the whole floor surface in a room, there is nothing to break up the flow and your brain sees it as a bigger space. This works regardless of whether you have hardwood floors, carpet or an area rug…as long as there is one flooring pattern covering the entire area.
Combine this with the first two tips and you can really increase the visual size of your room!
This room uses the “one-floor covering” principle also but has an area rug that covers the entire floor with an all-over Greek key pattern.
With the “leggy” furniture and mirrors, the area looks much more spacious than it actually is.
Paint the Walls and Ceiling the Same Color
As we saw in the previous tip, removing “stopping points” for your eye helps to expand the perceived room size.
Painting the walls, ceiling and moldings all the same color works on the same principle. It provides a continuous surface and flow so your eye doesn’t stop to register where the wall ends and the ceiling starts.
Contrary to popular belief, this concept works with dark colors as well as light paint colors. In some cases, dark colors actually achieve this better than light colors, because there isn’t much light variation between the flat surfaces and the corners, resulting in even fewer visual “speed bumps”.
Take Advantage of Windows
Lots of windows make a room feel bigger because the view through the window gets included in the room space.
Not all rooms have such dramatic windows as this loft, but make sure the windows you do have are part of the focal point in the room. In this case, the windows are pretty dramatic on their own, but the large silver curved floor lamp duplicates the shape of the windows and makes them even more of a focal point.
In this living room, the whole seating arrangement is set up to have all eyes on the windows…and definitely, helps to expand the space visually!
Add Large Mirrors
Similar to windows, mirrors help to make a small room look bigger by expanding what you see.
If you can also reflect the light from a chandelier or other light fixture in the mirror, you’ll get a double impact…more of a view and more light in the room.
In this tiny bathroom, the large mirror over the sink reflects the scene painted on the hallway wall outside the door.
Having a view from “outside” acts like a window to make the room seem larger.
My mother glued mirrors on to the front of a storage cabinet in her living room where it does double duty. It makes the room look bigger and provides a handy place to keep the vacuum cleaner out of site!
Speaking of built-ins, they are the next way to help make a small room look bigger.
Built-ins such as these bookcases and benches take up less physical floor space than free-standing furniture would. So in this case, you not only get the illusion of more floor space, there actually is more floor space!
When my mother made over her office (a really TINY room), she made this built-in wall unit (from IKEA kitchen cabinets!) which combines multiple “how to make a small room look bigger” tips at one time. It provides the function of a built-in…and also has legs and mirror surfaces. A perfect solution for a small room!
Similar to the built-ins concept, benches are an actual space-saver that are great for small rooms. They provide more seating space than a conventional chair would and take up less floor space. Using a built-in bench on one side of the dining table allows the table to be pushed in closer to the wall.
In my dining “nook”, having 2 benches one on either side of the table gives me enough room to use a larger table (a plus for me since I love to entertain!)
Place Furniture On An Angle
Speaking of physical space arrangements, placing furniture on an angle in the room helps to open up the floor space.
The diagonal line from corner to corner will always be the longest space available in the room.
If you can arrange your furniture along these lines, you will usually end up with more open floor space. People will have more room to move around the room, and it will look larger.
Pulling some of the furniture away from the wall also helps to prevent the “lined up” look that can make the room feel crowded.
Hang Curtains Close to the Ceiling
Hanging curtains close to the ceiling makes the walls and windows look taller. In a small room, increasing the room “volume” by making the ceiling feel higher will also help to make the room feel bigger.
Similarly, in the original version of my master bedroom, the curtains go all the way to the ceiling and expand past the edges of the windows to make the window seem larger.
Repeating the fabric in multiple places around the room also helps to keep the eye moving, which makes the room look larger.
I use this trick in pretty much every room in my house. I think the curtains look better this way even in larger rooms.
Bigger is Better than Smaller
Last but not least…a few larger pieces are better than a lot of little pieces when you are trying to make a room look larger.
This works for artwork, accessories, and furniture. It seems a little counter-intuitive, but having too many little things just makes the room look cluttered and feel claustrophobic.
The same goes with patterns. The large patterned rug in the other half of my mother’s small living room really commands your attention and makes the area feel bigger than it is.
Hopefully, these small space decorating tips will help you get your rooms feeling bigger than they are, too.
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More Small Space Decorating Ideas
- How to fit 5 functions in one small multi-purpose room
- How to make your ceilings look taller
- Small bedroom makeover on a budget
Do you have any other tips to make a small room look bigger? Tell us in the section below.