With a few designer tricks, even the tiniest of rooms can look warm, inviting and spacious. Color selection, increased natural light and creative furniture placement are just a few of the ways to transform the vibe of small spaces from cramped to capacious.
1. A Play on Paint Color
Paint color has a major impact on the feel of the room. Some say all white feels the most spacious and that dark colors make the space feel more congested and small, but that’s not always the case:
- One bright accent wall in a room of otherwise light or white walls can make the space feel a bit larger while giving it some personality. Choose one of the narrower walls for an accent wall to achieve this effect.
- Make a narrow room look wider by painting the two narrowest walls (opposite one another) in a brighter or darker color than the others.
If white isn’t your idea of a pretty wall color, come up with a color plan based on a favorite room theme, such as “beach house” or “industrial chic.” Think of a main color or two that suit this theme, and then think of a cool or neutral version of these shades for the main wall colors in the room. Why? Cool and neutral shades recede or don’t draw the eye in, while bright, bold colors look like they’re moving toward you, which makes the room appear even smaller. Save the bright shades for decorative accents.
2. Bring in the Light
Sunlight, or at least some version of daylight seeping in from outdoors, instantly makes a space feel more inviting and less heavy, therefore making it seem more spacious.
- Open the curtains or blinds and replace heavy light-blocking window coverings with those that allow light in, such as white sheer window panels. If blackout shades are a must in your room – after all, some of us do sleep unconventional hours or at least like to sleep beyond the crack of dawn – you can still pair them with sheers, using the sheers during your non-dreamland daytime hours.
- Open curtains in other spaces in your home as well; depending upon the layout, at least some of the natural light from other rooms and hallways can make its way into the room you’re working on.
- If privacy is a concern during daylight hours, add translucent privacy film to windows where needed, such as on clear bathroom windows or an apartment bedroom window facing the window of another unit. This film operates by static cling, just like window clings, so you can install it even in a rental home and peel it away when no longer needed. The film comes in numerous varieties – even stained glass – so you can find a solution that suits the room’s style without sacrificing light or privacy.
- Add large mirrors at opposite ends of a room to maximize light and the look of space. You’ve seen those “infinity” mirrors that show a view that goes on and on; two mirrors opposite one another can make the apparent size of the room go on and on, too. A mirror opposite a window can also increase the amount of light in a room, making it feel more spacious.
Pro Tip: If there aren’t enough light fixtures to make the room look comfortably bright after dark, add a floor lamp or table lamps to brighten up the darkest areas.
3. Fun with Multi-Functional Furniture
Tiny homes are trendy enough to fill the pages of Instagram and slews of Pinterest boards. Borrow tricks from those with the tiniest of abodes by using multi-functional furniture:
- An arm chair doubles as a bookcase.
- A flat-topped trunk does triple-duty as storage a area, coffee table or seat, when necessary.
- Stack vintage hard-sided suitcases as a makeshift nightstand with extra clothing storage inside when your bedroom lacks closet space.
Some companies specialize in thinking through small-space options – one even makes a Murphy-style bed that folds up into a wall unit. When the bed is tucked away, a table can be pulled down, offering a clever way to maximize space for single-room dwellings.
4. Advantageous Furniture Arrangements
Furniture placement is another way to optimize the appearance of space, no matter how small the room.
- Set large pieces against walls and keep all the entryways unblocked – stepping around furniture makes the room feel more cluttered. Keep furniture and other objects out of the natural flow of foot traffic for the same reason.
- Arrange some pieces on an angle instead of jamming them against the wall in a corner; the angle will make the space seem more inviting.
- Choose furniture that has exposed, rather than covered or skirted, legs to allow maximum light to flow beneath.
- Work with what you have, playing with several different arrangements until you find one that feels the most spacious and airy to you, based on the shapes and sizes of your furnishings.
- Getting rid of furniture, clutter and items that do not enhance the space is one of the best ways to make the room feel more expansive, and it doesn’t cost a dime.
5. Flooring Tricks to Fool the Eye
Color choice for the floor affects the look of the room as much as the color on the walls.
- Choose a light, neutral floor color when decorating, whether you’re installing a hardwood floor or a new carpet. If the floor is dark and you aren’t able to change it, such as in a rental, add a light-colored throw rug or area rug to enhance the cozy, inviting atmosphere.
- Plank flooring of any sort makes a room appear longer, much like vertical stripes make fabric or clothing appear longer.
- Continuous flooring that goes beyond the room also makes the space appear larger. Whenever possible, keep the same flooring for the entire line of sight. Flooring that’s vastly different from one room to the next looks disjointed and makes each space look smaller, since the eyes are drawn to the boundaries of each floor selection. As the old saying states, “go with the flow.” Visual flow from one room to the next tricks the eye into thinking the space as a whole is larger than it is. Flow on!