Tips for Making a Room Look Bigger
When done well, small living spaces can feel like cozy, zen-like retreats. But often when you have to cram all your worldly possessions into one tiny space, the results can feel cramped, claustrophobic, and anything but restful. Achieving the former instead of the latter takes some conscious effort.
The good news is that the key to successful small-space living might be easier than you think. It all boils down to tricking the eye into perceiving more space by employing three simple concepts: scale, light, and movement. Here are a few tips for making a room look bigger:
1. Scale it down
Furniture for the small space is all about proportions. Simply put, if a piece brushes up against the boundaries of the room, either up and down or sideways, it’s too large. 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 cozy 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 take up much less of your room. If you long for a large, statement piece, hang it on the wall (a piece of art and mirror). Don’t consume valuable living space by putting it on the floor.
2. Keep a low profile
Furniture that is lower to the ground will create a feeling of openness in a room simply by the fact that they leave more space above them. In the bedroom, choose a loft bed or even try placing a mattress directly on the floor. In the living room, embrace your inner Mad Men style with low-to-the-ground midcentury pieces. Or, if your tastes run more toward the romantic and ornate, 19th-century furniture also has a low profile.
3. 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 celling, causing your eye to travel up, essentially making the ceiling seem higher. Finally, in small spaces that can quickly become cluttered looking, white is a good choice because it simplifies a space and emphasizes the architecture. (That’s why architects love it so much. See 10 Easy Pieces: Architect’s White Paint Picks.)
If you’re worried that an all-white space will feel too cold, then pair it with warming elements like wood, or textured elements, such as a shaggy wool throw. And remember that you don’t have choose a stark white.
4. Above all, 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 at least 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 colors. Or, if you absolutely must have that William Morris-esque wallpaper, consider placing it on one accent wall. Same with color, 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 intentional about everything that goes into the room. If you go for the wallpaper accent wall, then 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.