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40 Ways to Make a Small Room Feel Larger

Round wall feature mirror from John Lewis

Sahara mirror from John Lewis

Are you fed up with small rooms that seem cramped and cluttered, or find yourself wishing a room was larger? If you’re keen to make better use of the space you have available and use small rooms to the best of their ability, re-decorating may be the answer.

By applying a few basic decorating tips and tricks, you can make a small room seem larger and more spacious than it really is.

Here are 40 practical ways to make a small room in your home feel larger. Many of the tips are simple, inexpensive and relatively easy to achieve, so you’ve got no excuses for neglecting a small room ever again!

1. Remove all clutter from the room. This is not simply a matter of keeping it clean, but decorating it so that there is plenty of open space in the room. Avoid filling the shelves and limit the number of accessories and knick-knacks that you display to a few special objects (you can always rotate them and change them regularly if you wish).

2. Keep the decor simple. Patterns, prints, furniture, and other elements should be kept as simple as possible. Busy patterns and prints will make things seem more cluttered, which makes the room feel smaller.

3. Use light colours. Colour can be the most important tool available to help create a look of space. Lighter colours will make the walls appear farther away, while dark colours will make the walls appear closer. If you are looking at fabrics or wallpaper, make sure that you pick one that has a lighter background instead of one with a dark background.

4. Use cool colours instead of warm ones. Cool colours like blue and green will make spaces seem bigger because they recede and make your eyes think that they are farther away. Warm colours like red and orange will do the opposite. They advance and seem closer, which is why warning signs are always red, yellow, or orange.

5. Use a monochromatic colour scheme. A monochromatic colour scheme does not mean a boring room where everything is the same colour. Variety is created by using different shades and textures throughout the room.

6. Avoid contrasting colours. Colours that blend create the appearance of a larger space. Having a brightly coloured element can overwhelm a room and make everything else seem smaller in comparison.

7. Paint the trim and moulding a shade lighter than the walls. This is actually a 3D effect that fools your eye into thinking that the wall is further back. Lighter objects appear closer than shadowed objects. By making the wall a darker shade of the trim, your eye will think that the wall is shadowed and must be farther away than the trim.

8. Paint the floor the same colour as the ceiling. As the ceiling is usually lighter than the walls, it is another way to make the walls seem shadowed and further away.

9. Avoid using area rugs. They will break up the room into sections and make it seem smaller. If you feel that rugs are needed, choose ones that are the same colour as the floor.

10. Choose oversized tiles. This suggestion goes along with keeping patterns simple. Larger tiles will minimize the pattern on the floor. Choosing rectified porcelain tiles is also a good idea because they can be placed closer together, which will minimize any grout lines. Rectified porcelain tiles have a more consistent size to them than regular porcelain tiles.

11. Lay tiles diagonally. Diagonal tiles will lead the eye away and makes the space appear larger.

12. Use the same flooring in adjacent rooms. This will help give continuity to the space.

13. Add light to the room. Dark corners fade out and shrink the room. Lighter rooms naturally feel larger. If you bring more light into the room, it will feel more spacious.

14. Add a reflective ceiling. Reflective surfaces such as mirrors and tin will add light to a room and brighten it up.

15. Use high-gloss paint on the ceiling. High-gloss paint will reflect any available light resulting in a more spacious feeling to the room.

16. Add a skylight. A skylight will add about five times more light than a window.

17. Use sconce lights and torchiere (also known as torchère or torchier) lamps. These will bounce light off the ceiling and illuminate them. Ceilings are one of the first elements to go dark at night, which will make the room seem to close down on you.

18. Change your ceiling fixtures. Most standard ceiling fixtures cast harsh light that will add shadows. Make sure your fixtures do not hang down too far, which will make the ceiling feel closer.

19. Create a lid effect by carrying your ceiling colour down onto the walls about twelve inches. This gives the illusion that the ceiling is higher than it really is.

20. Paint clouds or a similar type of mural on the wall or ceiling. It is a great way to make them seem to disappear and works well in small children’s rooms or a nursery.

21. Add a vertical-striped pattern to the walls. This does not always have to be done with wallpaper. Painting will give you a better result because you can widen the stripes, which will lessen the pattern, and use different shades of the same colour, which will lessen the contrast.

22. Install crown molding over the windows and doors - it will give the illusion that they are taller.

23. Use molding or wallpaper borders to frame the ceiling. This technique does not always have to be on the walls. You can also apply them directly to the ceiling, which will make the walls seem taller.

24. Add a few wall mirrors. Strategically place the mirrors next to lights and across from windows so they can reflect the light.

25. Hang your pictures two or three inches above eye level. This will draw the eye upward.

26. Use vertical pictures and stack artwork higher on the wall to add a sense of height to the room. Find pictures that incorporate vertical elements into them such as lighthouses, trees, buildings, etc.

27. Use horizontal pictures to widen a narrow wall. If the room is rectangular, place a couple of pictures that incorporate horizontal elements on the narrow walls to widen the wall. Beach and mountain scenes are good at doing this. For maximum effect, use more than one.

28. Replace multiple pictures with one larger one. This goes back to keeping things simple and avoiding contrast. If you must use multiple pictures, make sure they have similar frames and use frames that are the same colour or a similar colour as the wall.

29. Minimize curtains by choosing lighter fabrics that do not contrast with the walls. Filmy, gauzy fabrics will allow more natural light into the room and ensure that the curtains do not break up the room. If possible, try not using any curtains at all or choosing ones that have a vertically striped fabric.

30. Hang the curtains higher on the wall to create the illusion of a higher ceiling. You could also add a colourful valance to help bring the eye upward.

31. Choose furniture that has clean and simple lines. Modern or contemporary furniture is usually better than Victorian-style furniture because it has a simpler design.

32. Avoid oversized or over-stuffed furniture. The furniture should be in scale with the room and not overwhelm it.

33. Pick furniture that has exposed legs and open arms. They allow the light to filter underneath making the entire room brighter. In addition, the room seems larger when there is more floor space visible.

34. Use a few larger pieces of furniture instead of several smaller pieces. For example, have a sofa and one chair instead of a love seat and two chairs.

35. Choose furniture that is multi-functional. They will allow you to have fewer pieces in the room and generally make better use of space.

36. Place large furniture at an angle. It might seem contradictory, but placing the furniture at an angle will draw the eye diagonally across the room, which is the longest distance in the room. It also frees up more wall space and you can use the space behind it to hide clutter.

37. Use glass tables and cover existing tabletops with glass. A glass table has a more open feel to it. Covering existing wood tabletops with glass will also help reflect light while protecting the wooden surface.

38. Arrange furniture against the wall in order to create more open space. You should also avoid blocking views from windows and doors whenever possible.

39. Make good use of vertical space by choosing taller pieces for storage. Taller bookcases and cabinets will draw the eye upward. It also provides you ample storage without taking up valuable floor space.

40. Do not use open shelves to store your electronic equipment. Purchase an entertainment unit that has doors to hide your television and stereo. This will help the space look tidier and reduce the clutter.

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