Making a small room feel more spacious is an interior design challenge many homeowners face. With some clever tricks and tips, it’s possible to open up even the tiniest of spaces. Here are some of our favorite mood-boosting strategies for making limited square footage feel expansive and serene.
Use Light Colors
Painting walls, ceilings, and trim in light, neutral colors is one of the easiest ways to visually expand a small room. Lighter shades reflect more light, making the space feel more open and airy. Stick to soft whites, greys, taupes, and beiges rather than bold colors, which can make a petite room feel smaller.
Let the Light In
Proper lighting is key to making a small space feel larger. Flood the room with natural light by installing large windows, skylights, and glass doors. Supplement with plenty of ambient lighting as well as task lighting. Use light colors and reflective surfaces to maximize brightness. Avoid heavy draperies and opt for sheer curtains or blinds.
Choose Multifunctional Furniture
Look for furniture that can serve dual purposes or has built-in storage to maximize functionality in a compact room. Some ideas:
- Sofa bed or futon for a guest room/home office
- Storage ottoman doubling as a coffee table
- A desk that folds up into the wall or has a hidden drawer
- Nightstands with shelves rather than a dresser in a bedroom
This type of flexibility keeps furnishings from feeling bulky or space-hogging.
Skip the Clutter
Be ruthless in editing out clutter that makes a petite space feel chaotic. Have a designated spot for everything and don’t allow piles of stuff to accumulate. Make use of organizational tools like bins, baskets, and closet storage systems. Stick to only the essential, most-used items and find another home for extras.
Mirrors Do Double Duty
Hanging mirrors strategically is an interior design trick that makes rooms appear larger. The reflective quality gives the illusion of additional space, and mirrors also enhance lighting. Place across from windows or in tight corners to open up the room.
Extend the View
Tricks that make a room feel connected to a larger adjacent space also can make it appear more expansive. For example:
- Remove interior doors and replace with curtains or glass French doors.
- Opening up sightlines between rooms, such as between kitchen and dining.
- Matching floor materials in different areas for a seamless flow.
- Repeating colors from one space to another.
Scale Down the Furnishings
Oversized furniture and accessories emphasize limited square footage. Stick to compact, low-profile, and slender pieces. For seating, choose chairs with exposed legs and low armrests. Sturdy furniture with a delicate silhouette takes up minimal visual space. Remember – a room feels larger with breathing room between pieces.
Draw the Eye Upward
Elements that lead the eye upward counteract a small room’s low ceilings. Some options:
- Tall shelving units
- Floor lamps reaching toward the ceiling
- Artwork hung above eye level
- High curtain rods mounted close to the ceiling
- Pendant lighting over tables and kitchen islands
Vertical lines also make rooms feel loftier than horizontal ones.
Adjust the Proportions
If a room’s layout is very boxy or compressed, visually balance it out by adjusting the proportions. Some approaches:
- Section off sitting areas with a tall, narrow bookcase as a room divider.
- Place a long console table behind a small sofa.
- Flank a bed with tall lamps or floor plants.
- Hang narrow drapes that draw the eyes upwards.
Keep Flooring Consistent
Using the same flooring materials throughout a main living area prevents chopping up the space. Extending hardwood from the living room into the dining room makes the whole area feel bigger. Find flooring with subtle color variation and a relatively consistent pattern.
Add Shelving to Walls
Making use of vertical wall space with shelving adds function without taking up precious floor space. Opt for wall-mounted cabinets, floating shelves, and ladder-style tiers. Keep clutter in check so surfaces don’t start to feel cluttered.
Let Window Treatments Puddle
For windows, choose floor-length curtains mounted high, and allow them to generously puddle onto the floor. The extra material adds movement and texture without looking heavy. Avoid bulky valences and opt for sleek curtain rods mounted inside the window frame.
Zone with Area Rugs
Use area rugs to define specific zones within an open concept space rather than one large rug underfoot. The floor visible between groupings makes the whole area look airier. Layer rugs over hardwoods or tiles rather than wall-to-wall carpeting.
Strict No-Clutter Rules
Some final tips for preventing a small space from feeling packed in:
- Declutter surfaces like coffee tables and kitchen counters completely each night. Never leave anything sitting out.
- Don’t allow any piles or stacks of items – papers, clothes, toys etc. Deal with things immediately.
- Store out of season items elsewhere like the basement or attic. Keep only essential decor items out.
- Edit out extra furniture that isn’t used often or is redundant.
- Clean meticulously so clutter doesn’t accumulate in corners.
While small square footage can pose a challenge, it’s quite possible to make a petite room feel open, breezy, and expansive instead of cramped. Strategic design choices like smart lighting, multifunctional furnishings, scaled-down pieces, and drawing the eye upward all contribute to a more spacious mood. Eliminating clutter while exploiting vertical storage space also prevents a room from feeling crowded. With clever solutions like mirrors, sightline tricks, and consistent flooring, even the tiniest home can take on a serene, roomy feel.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I make my small living room feel bigger?
Some tips for small living rooms: Paint walls light colors, use space-saving slim furniture, eliminate clutter, add wall-mounted shelving, use mirrors to reflect light, keep window treatments light weight and floor length, use one small area rug instead of wall-to-wall carpet.
What colors make a small room look bigger?
Light, neutral shades like off-white, beige, light grey, and pale blue make a small room look larger. Avoid bold, saturated colors like navy or maroon which can make a petite space feel cramped.
How can I arrange furniture in a small bedroom?
Use multifunctional furniture in small bedrooms. Opt for beds with hidden storage, slim nightstands with shelves rather than bulky dressers, and a folding desk or wall mounted work station. Reduce visual clutter by hiding extras in closets, under the bed, or in creative storage solutions.
What flooring is best for small spaces?
For small rooms, consistent flooring expanded throughout a main living space makes it feel larger. Hardwoods, engineered floors, and tile work better than carpeting. Keep the color scheme and patterns subtle so the floor doesn’t feel busy.
Should I get big furniture for a small room?
Avoid large, overstuffed pieces. Look for compact, slender silhouettes when choosing seating, beds, desks, shelves and tables. Make sure there is plenty of breathing room around pieces. Multifunctional objects like ottomans with hidden storage help maximize space.
How do you decorate a small entrance area?
Use a tall, narrow console table for dropping keys and mail rather than a bulky entryway table. Add a slim mirror above to visually expand. Install a wall mounted coat rack rather than a large armoire. Use a small entry rug rather than one wall-to-wall. Keep surfaces clutter-free.
Making the most of small square footage presents creative challenges, but with the right solutions – smart lighting, multifunctional furnishings, eliminating clutter, drawing the eye upward, and opening sightlines – it’s entirely possible to give even the tiniest room an expansive, serene mood. Strategic choices lead the eye outward rather than emphasize limitations. With proper design, small spaces can feel welcoming, breezy, and energetic rather than cramped.