7 Tricks to Make Your Small Space Feel Bigger

By: Charlotte Beach

April 1, 2017

The candy bar industry has expertly spun “small” into “fun-sized,” but when it comes to rooms and interiors, the rules of Hershey’s and KitKats don’t always apply. While bigger isn’t necessarily always better, more often than not we are trying to make the rooms in our homes look and feel as big as possible. With this in mind, we’ve assembled a trusty trove of tricks to help turn your claustrophobic chamber into a spacious oasis. After all, your living room might not be king-sized, but it can still have a delicious design.


Use Reflective Materials

Employing mirror décor is Create Space 101. Whether in the form of a gallery wall of hanging mirrors, one large floor mirror, or even mirrored furniture, interior designers have long been relying on mirrors’ ability to reflect light and space to make rooms roomier. Lucite is another material to consider in this pursuit of spaciousness since it is similarly reflective and takes up minimal visual area.

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Paint Strategically

Don’t slather your walls with any old paint color willy-nilly. Eccentric might look good on your great aunt, but in a small room stick to streamlined neutrals instead. Walls painted lighter hues reflect light and feel airy. Then if you’re feeling ambitious, consider painting your ceiling a bright fun color to make it look higher and the room seem taller.

Elongate the Legs

Showing a little leg isn’t just a fashion tip anymore. Opt for raised furniture with legs that elevate items a few inches from the ground. “The little bit of negative space will help to keep your small apartment from feeling like it’s filled from wall to wall with furniture,” designer Kimberly Winthrop says. Conversely, furniture that squats flat on the floor can look clunky, heavy, and overbearing.

Illuminate Illusions

Space is a matter of perception, so a key element of making a room look bigger is tricking the eye. Designer James Tabb will often install a high floating shelf close to the ceiling along the perimeter of the room to draw the eye upward. “By accessorizing with books, accessories or other collectables,” he says. “It creates an effect similar to crown molding.” Another tactic is incorporating multiple light sources throughout the room to make the eye dance. Designer Megan Opel suggests “ditching table and floor lamps in favor of wall-mounted, plug-in, or hardwired sconces.”

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Rely on Rugs

Place multiple area rugs thoughtfully around a room to separate it into smaller sections. Laurel Startzel says, “Area rugs are a great way to define spaces and you can buy them in just about any size under the sun.” Or if you’re a staunch one-big-rug kinda’ gal, look for one that’s striped to help elongate the space.

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Make it Multipurpose

A tiny room simply can’t handle a ton of furniture, so get double-duty from the items that do fit. A single console table is a good substitute for multiple end tables, for instance. Also certain types of seating like stools, poofs, and ottomans can serve as tables in a pinch. “An ottoman can have hidden storage and be a place to put up your feet,” says Kimberly. “By adding a tray, it can also serve as a coffee table, providing an extra surface to place a drink when hosting friends.”

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Dare to Go Drapeless

As long as you don’t mind the exposure and your house isn’t too close to your semi-creepy next door neighbor, leaving your windows without treatments will really open up the space. Natural light will flood in, and the exposed outdoors will add depth to your room. But if you don’t feel comfortable without that drape-induced privacy, try light and airy curtains layered over blinds. Or hang drapes higher to make ceilings appear higher.

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