Are you feeling cramped in your living space? Are you tired of feeling that you must wait for a financial windfall to make your space into an inviting, spacious-feeling environment? For all of you impatient small-home dwellers, we’ve come up with ten “do it now” tips that can make your space look and feel larger without breaking the bank. Here are ten ways to make any space feel bigger.
1. Change your Colors
When it comes to painting, there are several strategies you can employ to visually expand your space. The most common approach is to choose a light-reflecting soft tone for your walls, such as off-white, cool gray or even blue or green. In addition, by painting your trim, moldings, and doors a lighter color than your walls, you help the architectural boundaries recede, and the room can feel more spacious.
Another approach is to paint the ceiling the same color as the walls. This draws your eye upward and gives the feel of a larger room with higher ceilings. If you employ this technique, you may also want to consider painting the trim the same color but using a different sheen with more gloss than your wall/ceiling color.
Expanding your space visually doesn’t mean you have to use soft, light colors all the time. Dark colors, such as deep charcoal or navy, create depth and grandeur. If your room has low natural light, dark walls can appear to recede, and the space will feel more dramatic.
2. Edit your Furniture
For a spacious feel, your view into the room should flow without jarring stops and starts. The furniture arrangement should have taller pieces along the walls, such as high-backed chairs, allowing lower profile pieces to float in the room’s interior.
In a small space, it is often wise to reduce the number of pieces of furniture and choose a larger statement piece that commands the attention of the room. This is an example of the “less is more” approach, and explains why even in a smaller bedroom, a large king bed can appear appropriately sized without overpowering the room.
Upholstery choices can influence the feel of the size of the room. Choose solid fabrics in similar colors as your walls but vary the texture to provide depth and visual interest. If you are already committed to highly patterned furniture, accent it with a solid rug, chairs or throw pillows to calm down the visual activity. Upholstered pieces with exposed legs also are good choices for making your room appear larger since they do not block light from underneath.
Occasional pieces in glass, acrylic or Lucite can be added to your room without a significant investment to replace a bulky coffee table or end table, serving a functional purpose while appearing almost invisible.
When possible, choose pieces that can be used in different ways, such as rolling ottomans that can serve as seats or items that provide hidden storage. This will reduce the number of furniture pieces you need in a room and create more space.
3. Improve the Lighting
To use lighting to make your room feel more spacious, be sure to spread the light around the room. Don’t rely on just one overhead fixture but include floor and table lamps in your design. Wall lamps or sconces are also a nice visual accent, as they are often designed to cast the light both upwards and downwards, which creates an even greater light reflection in the room. Small floor-based accent light fixtures for the corners of your room can also help.
Consider using glass as your lamp base, or clear glass shades for your pendants to gain light without visual distraction. Lamps with square shades are often useful for small spaces, too. Choosing lampshades in the same tone as your wall color or your upholstery also works well.
A room-centered statement lighting ceiling fixture can also work to make your room feel larger, as it will draw the eye upwards and make your ceilings feel higher. Capitalize on the built-in lighting when you can and upgrade the fixtures, you'll be surprised how much new lighting can make a small room look way bigger.
Reducing the number of small objects and knickknacks in a room is a great way to expand your space. Use some of those multi-purpose pieces of furniture to store (and hide) smaller objects, corral throws and extra pillows in baskets and give your room an increased level of organization to create the illusion of more space. Having fewer larger accessories in a room creates a feeling of spaciousness rather than having numerous smaller objects scattered throughout.
Getting rid of clutter such as magazines, unread mail and haphazard objects all contribute to creating a greater sense of space. Find a place to gather things such as keys, purses, backpacks in an organized way, and practice finding a permanent place for routinely used items such as the TV remote, phone chargers and your iPad.
5. Curate your Accessories
A great way to create the illusion of a larger room is to intentionally create negative space in your room so that a few decorative objects you genuinely love are showcased. Sometimes we burden our rooms with items we have collected over the years, and the beauty of the individual item is unintentionally diminished. Instead, consider selecting a few (larger) items and arrange in sets of 3 or 5 and change them out seasonally for a curated look.
If you’ve recently combined households or you and your live-in partner have wildly opposite styles, consider separating different types or styles of accessories, so they are not in the same room. It’s visually jarring and creates a smaller feel when the room’s accessories are not in keeping with the overall theme or tone of the room. Instead, put your sports memorabilia accessories in one room and the travel mementos in another. Bookcases and shelving are great for storage, but be mindful of how you fill them.
6. Work with the Vertical
Whether your room has soaring ceilings or not, you can still gain an illusion of increased spaciousness by playing up the vertical in the room. Consider using light-colored or lightweight fabrics on windows for floor to ceiling drapes. Hang the rod well above the window frame and allow the curtains to “break” a half-inch on the floor or barely touch the floor.
If drapes are not to your liking, choosing semi-transparent blinds that are in the same tone as your wall color or window frames can work to invite light in the room without blocking any of the windows.
Pay attention to the opportunity to create vertical lighting paths using sconces, floor lamps or torchieres. Not all lighting choices need to be downward focused or task-oriented
You may be lucky and already have ceilings with beams or molding details that create architectural interest. If so, be sure to highlight them in some way through the choice of mirrors, lighting and paint colors.
7. Reconsider Rugs
Rugs add color, texture, and warmth to a room. They also serve as a terrific way to define seating areas in a larger space. However, if your space is small, consider removing your area rug completely so that the floor space is one continuous element for the illusion of more square footage. You can also create the same impact by choosing a large rug that extends within a foot of each wall. Both approaches create an uninterrupted visual extension of your room.
Another trick with rugs for making a small space seem larger is to utilize a rug with stripes to visually elongate the space. You can also choose rugs that are solid, pale tones or in the same color as the walls and furniture, which will also serve to create an illusion of a larger room.
Related: Our 7 Favorite Rugs From Rugs USA
8. Go Big with Art
If your room is on the small side, forgo the gallery wall of smaller pieces, and instead consider a large-scale piece of art. If you’ve had this thought before, but were concerned about the cost of custom framing something large, check out the Ribba frame at Ikea which comes in a variety of sizes, including a 24” x 35” poster-sized frame.
As an alternative to original art, check out Pinterest for ideas about printing large pieces such as engineering prints for a very cost-effective price point at your local office supply store, as well as some creative ideas for painting your own masterpieces.
Don’t neglect to use your lighting to highlight your piece of art!
9. Add a Mirror
When you use mirrors in a small room, the most important thing to consider is what the mirror reflects. Consider placing your mirror where it will reflect the room’s focal point to create more depth. By placing your mirror where it will reflect the outdoors (natural light) or any of your lighting fixtures, you are increasing the light source in the room, which also makes your room look larger.
A tall mirror propped against the wall draws your eye upwards and around the room, making the space feel light and bright. A vertically oriented mirror works well placed on the floor or even propped on the mantle.
Also, consider mirrored furniture as accent pieces in your room to visually expand your space. You can add mirrors to the doors of cabinets or backs of bookshelves to create additional light-reflecting areas.
10. Clear the Pathways
Having room to maneuver around furnishings, doorways and stairways is an important trick for making your room appear larger. If you must turn sideways or step carefully between furnishings to avoid stubbing your toes, then that’s a sign that the pathways through your room are too narrow.
Use the concept of negative space here too and evaluate the distance between your pieces of furniture and consider whether making more room between furniture pieces creates greater spaciousness.
Leave a little extra “air” between your pieces of furniture and the walls. Push the coffee table a few more inches away from your couch. Make sure you can walk to the next room without impediment.
Enjoy your space!
It’s fun to consider new ways to use your existing belongings or purchase a modest update and create an environment that feels larger, especially when the changes don’t require remodeling or major expenditures.
After months of working at home, keeping the kids at home and staying in instead of dining out, we all deserve an environment that feels welcoming, restful, and spacious. You'd be surprised what a difference a few tweaks can make to give a small space an open feel.
You might also be interested in: Redecorating Your Living Room [High And Low End Options]