15 Design Tips to Make a Small Space Feel Bigger

15 Design Tips to Make a Small Space Feel Bigger

Do you feel cramped in your living space? Don’t despair. Small spaces offer advantages for decorating and cleaning.

The 15 tips below will help you make the most of a smaller space.

1. Clear the clutter

Clear the clutter

Before you change your decor, you need to start with a clean slate. Clear out the clutter in your space to broaden your perspective. Remember, less is more. Get rid of magazines you no longer read and remove items you do not use regularly. Donate items to charitable organizations or give them to people who can use them.

A space without clutter reduces stress and makes decorating a joy. According to one study conducted at the University of California, cleaner spaces elevated study participants’ moods, while cluttered living areas made participants feel more depressed. Clean up the clutter and your little space will turn into a happy home.

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2. Open up your living space.

Open up your living space

Open your living space further by moving furnishings that block the view or impede movement. Place tall furnishings along the wall and add shorter pieces—such as an ottoman, low table, or armless chair—in open areas.

3. Select softer and paler paints.

Select softer and paler paints

When decorating a smaller space, you need to remember two basic rules:

  • Dark and warm colors give a space a cozy feel.
  • Light and cool colors open up space and make it feel airy.

To produce the optimum effect, choose gentler tones of blue, green, tan, ivory, or beige in your decorating scheme.
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4. Use one paint color on the walls.

Use one paint color on the walls

You don’t need to build an addition onto your living space if you know the art of using colors to visually increase a room’s size. When you use lighter paints to decorate a smaller area, your eyes travel around the room, giving it a feeling of spaciousness.

Using different colors causes the eyes to stop at the point of the color change and can make the small size of the room more obvious. By using a single paint color, however, the boundaries disappear, opening up the living space.

By understanding this concept, you can even use darker colors. While a deep color on a wall paired with white or light-colored trim outlines the boundaries in a space, dark-colored trim (painted the same hue or a deeper shade) removes perceived boundaries. The eyes do not see the borders, so the space looks continuous and bigger overall.

5. Paint adjoining rooms the same hue.

Paint adjoining rooms the same hue

In a small home, try to paint the walls in adjoining rooms the same color. This keeps the eyes moving from one room to the next, causing the space to look larger.

Eyesores such as heating or air conditioning vents may also be noticeable in a small space. Paint them the same color as the wall for a blending effect. Doing so will make them stand out less.

6. Choose neutrals for the living room.

Choose neutrals for the living room

Painting a living room in white increases brightness, causing the walls, visually, to move away from you, opening up the space. Bright white, however, may be too stark. If so, you can opt for a calming sand, beige, ivory, or cream instead of plain white.

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7. Paint the bathroom a gentle rose or tan.

Paint the bathroom a gentle rose or tan

Using a soft color in a bathroom relaxes the environment, especially when you choose hues such as soft rose, ivory, or tan. If your bathroom does not receive much natural light, try painting the walls a pale yellow to replicate sunlight.

8. Add an accent wall in the kitchen.

Add an accent wall in the kitchen

An accent wall in the kitchen adds pizazz next to soft white or cream-colored walls. Try a soft yellow or orange tone, but avoid bright colors, which minimize a space. Choose a vibrant but less intense color, such as kumquat or pumpkin. If you prefer a gentler selection, select pale blue or tan.

9. Choose blue or gray-green for the bedroom.

Choose blue or gray-green for the bedroom

The bedroom can appear bigger and more relaxing when you paint walls in blue tones, like the sky or sea. The National Sleep Foundation says that people sleep better in blue rooms, so this can elevate the bedroom’s status as the sanctuary of the home.

You can also choose a light gray-green to open up a bedroom if you don’t care for blue. Pale yellow works well, too, as it causes the walls to recede optically, bringing more attention to the furnishings and decor.

10. Paint the ceiling white.

Paint the ceiling white

Make white your paint choice for the ceiling. It will open up all the rooms of your home, visually adding height to a smaller living area.

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11. Let in the natural light.

Let in the natural light

Any room looks larger if it receives a lot of light. Get rid of heavy drapes and open up the windows to light up a space. Install recessed lighting or track lighting to increase nighttime brightness.

12. Use Lucite and glass.

Use Lucite and glass

When you use transparent materials for furnishings—such as Lucite or glass—anything beyond the see-through material will appear farther from you.

For instance, you can open up a small bathroom by installing a clear and frameless shower enclosure. While the room’s size will not change, the bathroom will look notably larger. By making this slight change, you can see back an extra 3 or 4 feet. It’s one minor difference that looks dramatic.

In other rooms, add glass or Lucite tabletops with a metal, stone, or wood base to further add to the spacious feeling.

13. Add surfaces that reflect.

Add surfaces that reflect

Install a large framed mirror on a wall to add style and produce a room-enlarging effect. You can also open up a room by adding a small beveled plate mirror to a coffee table or side table.

14. Choose a few larger and simpler furnishings.

Choose a few larger and simpler furnishings

Choose just a few large, basic pieces of furniture instead of many small pieces. Your space will look more proportional and less cluttered, conveying relaxation and comfort. Review some sofas designed for small spaces by visiting the Home of Cozy site.

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15. Select solid fabric colors over prints.

15 Design Tips to Make a Small Space Feel Bigger

In a small room, select solid-colored fabrics for your upholstery instead of bold prints. Try using textured fabrics in neutral tones. Sheer fabrics for window treatments, table covers, and bed skirts work well in a small space, too. If you want to decorate with something other than a plain color, choose a simple stripe instead.

Your small space can feel larger and more luxurious with a few small tweaks. Splash on some paint, rethink your furnishings, and enjoy the comfort these changes bring.

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Jenna Salter worked as a Customer Care Specialist in the direct-to-consumer furniture market for several years. Last year, Jenna decided to quit her job and start a furniture review blog as an attempt to help people remove the mystery from online furniture buying. Read more >>