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Interior Design & Decor

How To: Make a Small Room Look Bigger

How To: Make a Small Room Look Bigger

The key to successful small-space living isn’t to move, but to trick the eye into the illusion that your cozy, comfortable home is bigger than it really is. To do this, you need to use techniques that help trick the eye into perceiving more space. The good news is that implementing these techniques isn’t hard and shouldn't break the bank. Here are 10 tips to help you make your small room look bigger.

Tip #1: Combine light colors with dark colors

Believe it or not, the best way to open up the look and feel of a room is to combine light colors with dark colors. That’s because light or dark colors add depth to a room, while mid- or medium shades can make a room appear smaller. Match a bright white couch with a feature wall painted deep blue and the contrast creates depth and the illusion of a larger space.

Tip #2: Hang floor-to-ceiling curtains

Fashionistas know that stiletto heels add height and stature — and the same applies to long curtains in a smaller room. By hanging long curtains that start just below the ceiling and sweep all the way down to the floor is the home decor equivalent of putting stiletto heels on a room.

Tip #3: Ditch the textiles

When creating the illusion of more space in a small room, you need to concentrate on methods that can help trick the eye. While adding long, draping curtains is one option, another is to ditch the drapes altogether. Curtains stop the eye from taking in the view from outside and add more ‘stuff’ (and more visual interruption) to a room. By eliminating drapes, you simplify the space in your room. The same applies to rugs. Add a rug and you visually define a space, and in a smaller space that may mean reducing the open, airy feeling you want. Remove the rug and you stop the definition of the room and help create a more open, blended space.

Tip #4: Choose larger decor pieces

If you clutter up walls and shelves with lots of small knick-knacks, this will make a room look smaller. Instead, consider using larger decor pieces and limiting the number to no more than five. Remember, a room needs to breathe and smaller rooms need more breathing room to give the illusion of more space.

If you plan to add wall art, select one large piece rather than a few smaller images. Again, remind yourself that it’s perfectly acceptable to leave some walls blank — to give the other art pieces space to breathe.

Tip #5: Avoid large or oversized furniture

When furnishing a small space, it’s all about proportions. To create a sense of roominess, always leave a little air between the sides of your furniture and the walls. To achieve this, make sure you buy smaller-scale furniture and avoid the oversized and overstuffed armchairs.

Tip #6: Bring in more light

Have you ever noticed how much bigger a bright room looks? To help a smaller room look larger consider adding stronger or more light sources. LED lights are great for getting loads of light into a room, but strategically placed table and floor lamps also work. A good trick if you are using floor lamps is to get a directional shade that can be positioned upwards to bounce the light off the white ceiling, which diffuses bright light and illuminates a larger area of the room.

Tip #7: Choose lower-profile or streamlined furniture

To create the illusion of space, you need to select furniture that appears more open and spacious. Two good strategies to accomplish this: choose low-profile pieces as well as streamlined furniture.

Couches or headboards that do not rise high above eye-level, as well as furniture that sits lower to the ground, help create a feeling of more openness. Two good styles that reflect this lower-profile are mid-century and 19th-century furniture.

On the other hand, streamlined furniture allows light and air to flow over, under and around it — some pieces even appear to float in space. A good style that encapsulates this is mid-century modern where pieces are both low and leggy. If this isn’t your style, look for pieces of furniture that show leg or offer space below to see rugs or flooring.

Tip #8: Add light with mirrors

Any plan to open up the feeling of small spaces needs to include the use of mirrors. Adding mirrors helps create a greater sense of openness. Not only does a mirror reflect light, but if positioned right, they also have a good view (think garden or green space or outdoor light) and this also helps to trick the eye into perceiving that the room has more space.

Tip #9: Emphasise the vertical (ceiling to floor) line

To help make a small room appear larger, add or emphasize the vertical. Add a tall shelf or some vertical shiplap on the walls; even the right light fixture, such as a long, single, intricate bulb, can help emphasize the long, lean lines in a room.

Tip #10: Keep it simple

Shop around and you’ll find dozens of tips about home decor and small space living, but the final and perhaps most important tip is to keep it clear and breezy. Small spaces are all about editing — cutting out the extra pieces, extra knick-knacks and extra patterns in a room. This includes artwork. The more cluttered a space is, the smaller it appears since there’s so much stuff to visually take in. Be strict with yourself and ask the hard questions: is that important to you? If not, ditch it.


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