Make It Spacious: How to Maximize a Small Room
September 17, 2021
Even though there may not be much you can do about the size of your actual room, sometimes the way the room is designed can make it seem larger. Turns out, there are a number of ways to make a room feel bigger that don’t involve adding more square footage. In fact, sometimes the easiest way to make a room look bigger is to simply change how it looks. There are things you can do to create the illusion of more square footage — from paint color, to light fixtures, mirrors and so much more.
Whatever the situation, there are a few interior design ideas you can use to breathe new life into a smaller space and transform it into something larger than life.
1. Work With Lighter Colors and a Neutral Palette
It’s no secret that a lighter color scheme makes a room appear larger. Consider painting your walls a lighter color to help balance out the space, and then adding a pop of color with an accent wall to give the room a sense of depth.
Lighter and softer tones also make spaces seem more spacious, open and airy (whereas darker and warmer colors make a space feel more intimate).
Bonus: Perhaps stick to a color scheme with soft tones, such as off-white, taupe, blues and greens. Color contrast tends to break up a space, making it appear even smaller than it actually is. Matching furniture to the wall color, for example, can make the room appear larger and less jarring as well. (The same holds true for fabrics and upholstery. Neutral colors and plain designs encourage light to pass through.)
2. Maximize Natural Light (Or Utilize Artificial Light)
Regardless of the size or purpose of your room, there is one essential element that can drastically improve curb appeal and make the interior of any room feel bigger: natural light. Allowing an ample amount of natural light into your home (through large windows) will instantly make your rooms seem bigger and brighter, creating a sense of connectedness between the interior and exterior. Using sheer window coverings, or even pulling them back completely, will bring in the most natural light possible if your windows aren’t very large.
However, if you aren’t lucky enough to have a generous amount of natural light in your rooms (like many of us), don’t be discouraged. Through lighting fixtures and other artificial lighting, you can add light to your home in many creative ways. Just remember to keep your room well-lit.
3. Mirrors and Other Reflective Objects
You’ve heard this one before. One of the easiest and most effective is to use mirrors — the king of optical illusions — which reflect light and create more depth. Mirrors can also help you create a focal point for each room and “frame” some areas as opposed to letting them blend together. When deciding where to place them, remember that light bounces off of them effectively, so be sure to place them near a window or in a location where they reflect light.
Reflective surfaces on furniture such as cabinet doors and tabletops can also increase the effect. Tread carefully, though, as too many reflective components may make your design look gaudy and unattractive.
4. Furniture Placements and Positioning
When shopping for furniture, try to pick pieces that have more of an “open” feel, such as modular sofas with open arms or space beneath. The use of multi-functional furniture — beds with drawers, fold-out tables, etc. — can also help maximize actual space.
In other instances, a solution is rearranging the furniture that is already present in that room to create the illusion that it’s bigger than what it really is. Create more open space by placing and arranging furniture smartly (try angling your accent chair rather than pushing it against a corner), and make sure pathways are unobstructed. Sometimes less is more, so you may want to select fewer big statement pieces rather than many small ones.
Arguably the easiest solution of all (or not, depending on who you ask): Marie Kondo it up!
The best way to make a room feel bigger without ripping the walls out is by cleaning clutter. If you want to make a small room appear bigger, get your stuff out of it! When furniture, decorations, and other objects are tight against each other or set up directly in the way, that space will feel cramped.
With small rooms, storage is a must. Feel free to select a few decorative pieces to display on shelves and coffee tables. Otherwise, store it away from plain sight. And unless it “sparks joy,” perhaps it’s time to toss it!