If you live in an older home chances are you need ways to make your rooms feel larger. Here are seven easy tips to make your smaller rooms feel larger and more open. I’ve got seven simple tips you can use that work in every room and they aren’t expensive.
These work in a small bedroom, living area or even in a bathroom. If you don’t own your home these are also things that you can do. I hate it when design magazines make suggestions that a real person can’t afford to do.
These are things that everyone can do without moving walls or paying a contractor. These things can even be done in most apartments, with your landlord’s permission.
1. Use Paint Strategically
Did you know that the use of paint can actually make a room look and feel larger? This is the first strategy to create the illusion of a bigger room. I like to use a photo example to show you the difference because a picture speaks a thousand words.
The first rule, is to use lighter colors. Lighter paint on the walls is a great way to open up any space. It doesn’t have to be white, it can be a warm cream, pale grey, sky blue or blush pink. There’s a light shade of any color that you want to use. Light colors make rooms feel larger because the light reflects off the lighter walls.
Dark colors make a room feel cozy and smaller. If this isn’t your goal, stick to light colors. This doesn’t mean your room has to be without color, just use the lightest shade on the Pantone color strip.
2. Furniture Placement To Open a Room
This might seem counterintuitive, but to make a room feel larger don’t put the furniture against the walls. In a living room this means floating the sofa with room behind it. In a bedroom, if you have room for an accent chair or two keep it a few inches away from the walls.
Lining the walls with furniture makes a room feel smaller. The best way to open a room up is to pull the furniture off of the wall. It doesn’t have to be sitting out in the middle, just a little breathing room behind the sofa is enough.
This is the concept of negative space. Negative space is the empty space around and between furniture. By intentionally moving the furniture away from the wall you give the room a more airy feeling. Every room needs negative space to give your eye a break.
This is why realtors come into a home they are getting ready to sell and ask you to take furniture away. Reducing the visual clutter makes the space feel bigger.
3. Furniture Size and Style
We have covered where to place the furniture, but the type of furniture matters as much as where it goes. Nothing makes a room look smaller than cramming it full of small pieces of furniture. But the opposite extreme is not good either. You don’t want a giant sectional that looks like it doesn’t fit in the living room.
This is where proportion comes into play. To make a room feel larger, you want furniture that gives the illusion of more space. Here are a few more concrete examples.
- In a small bedroom, opt for a headboard instead of a headboard/footboard. This takes up less visual space.
- In a dining room don’t get a table that barely fits in the space or one that feels lost in the middle.
- In a living room, get a sofa that allows enough space around it to comfortably walk. If there aren’t room for side tables, don’t try to jam them in.
- In a bedroom if it’s tight use a floating nightstand, which gives the illusion of space because there is more negative space.
Keep the furnishing minimal enough that you can easily walk around the room. Crowded rooms feel smaller. Minimal might not be the right word for your style, I’m not talking about “minimalist style”, I’m suggesting that you only keep the furniture that has a function. Try to limit the number pieces of furniture.
Here’s an example of a dining room where the furnishings are too large.
4. Use Mirrors to Reflect Light
Mirrors aren’t just for the bathroom, they work to make any space feel larger. Have you ever been in a restaurant and you thought that it was twice as big as it is because they hung a giant mirror on one wall? This just happened to me the other day. This just proved that mirrors give the illusion of more space.
You can add a mirror to almost any room, even the dining room. In a living room it can take the place of any art work or hang above the fireplace. The larger the mirror the better. It can visually double your square footage.
5. Get Three Light Sources Minimum
The basic lighting rule of thumb is that every room needs three sources of light. This is even more important in small spaces. The three light sources should be ambient light, task light and accent light.
You might feel like that’s too many lights for your small room. This is how you light up the whole room and not just the middle of the room. Ambient light is general light, like what you get from lights in the ceiling that light the entire space. Task lights are table lamps or floor lamps that you use to add light to something you are trying to see better. Accent lights can be over artwork or on a bookshelf. They give the space a warmer more intimate feeling.
Light makes rooms look larger, you can ask any realtor. That’s why when they are showing a small home they turn on every possible light. (Want tips on adding overhead lighting without wiring?)
6. Make Your Windows Appear Larger With Window Treatments
If you have windows there are two ways to make them look big. One option is to leave them completely uncovered. In a small room the more natural light you can get the better. If the view is decent and it’s not a bedroom, consider no window treatments. You can see that in a few of the photos. It’s one way to get more negative space in the room.
The second option is to make the window appear larger by mounting the curtain rod above the window and outside the window. Hanging curtains high and wide creates an optical illusion that the window behind the curtains is larger than it is.
7. Less is More
The first thing you see in most pictures of small rooms is that less visual clutter makes the room look larger. If your eye has too much to focus on, you need to remove things.
Consider clever ways use built-in storage rather than leaving lots of things out. Keeping all of your stuff put away can make a big difference.
If you don’t believe it, try this 30 minute experiment. Take a photo of one of your smaller spaces without doing anything. Then spend 30 minutes putting everything in the room away. Take a photo of from the exact same angle and compare the two photos. I do this in my kitchen regularly. I don’t know why, but when the countertop is clear it actually makes the room look bigger.
If you want to make a small room look and feel bigger, just remember these seven easy tips: use light paint colors, don’t overstuff the room with furniture and be sure you get things that are the right size for you space. Use mirrors often and everywhere, think of them like another window. More lighting is never a bad thing and if you use curtains, hang them high and wide. Lastly, try to keep clutter to a minimum.
Give these tips a try and let me know what you think in the comments.