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What makes rooms look smaller?

20 Ways to Make Your Small Space Feel Bigger

I f you’re not blessed with an excess of square footage, decorating—and making your space feel truly livable—can be a challenge. The shortage often results in focusing on the practical instead of the pretty, which is less than ideal if you’re a design-lover like us. Fortunately we’ve got an abundance of visual tricks and product picks to magically expand the look and feel of your space. Read on, and get ready to live large.

Photo by David Land.

Photo by Aubrie Pick.

Photo by Lesley Unruh.

For Furniture…

Less is more. Opting for fewer, larger pieces over a bunch of smaller items will make your space feel bigger and less cluttered. For example, choose a sectional instead of a sofa and set of chairs to maximize a petite living room.

Go high. Bring bookcases (and kitchen cabinets!) all the way to the ceiling to lead the eye up and fake the appearance of a taller space.

Try furnishings with legs. Sofas and chairs with legs create a more open feel than pieces that sit directly on the ground or those with skirted bases.

Think clearly. Transparent materials, such as glass and Lucite, take up less visual space in a room. We love them in the form of a glass coffee table or an acrylic chair.

Shop all furniture →

Photo by Lesley Unruh.

Photo by Tony Vu.

For Art and Mirrors…

Use mirrors everywhere. T hey’ll bounce light around the room, making it feel more spacious.

Opt for oversize. Large-scale art makes a room feel more grand in scale.

Hang art high. If you have tall ceilings, take your gallery wall all the way up to emphasize the height.

Shop all art and mirrors →

Photo by Erica George-Dines.

Photo by Lesley Unruh.

For Paint, Curtains, and Wallpaper…

Fake it with drapery. Make your ceilings appear taller and your windows look larger by hanging your curtain rod close to the ceiling and extending it wider than the window.

Paint or wallpaper the ceiling to draw the eye up—and to add a fabulous dash of color or pattern without sacrificing space.

Let the light in. Darkness makes spaces feel smaller, so try gauzy curtains to maximize sunlight.

Shop wallpaper →

Photo by Lesley Unruh.

For Rugs….

Choose the right size. Nothing makes a space feel smaller than a too-tiny rug. Check out our guide here to get it right.

Use light colors. Darker rugs absorb light, while lighter tones reflect it, creating an overall sense of spaciousness.

Shop all rugs →

Photo by Lesley Unruh.

Photo by Lesley Unruh.

For Lighting…

Install sconces, which add brightness without taking up valuable surface space.

Watch your proportions. In most cases, a low-hanging pendant will make your space feel smaller and more cramped. Choose a fixture that feels light and draws the eye up.

Try flush mounts. They’ll bring in light from above while keeping sight lines clear.

Bring in floor lamps to add height and combat dark corners.

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Photo by Lesley Unruh.

Photo by Lesley Unruh.

For Pattern and Color…

Elongate with stripes. A striped runner can make a narrow kitchen appear wider, and vertically striped wallpaper adds a sense of height.

Stay in neutral. This is not to say bold hues don’t belong in small spaces—if that’s your look, then don’t let us stop you! Just know that rooms with busier palettes tend to feel more cramped, whereas those in neutral tones allow more visual breathing room.

Try tone-on-tone. Choose furniture in a similar color to the walls; it will blend in and take up less visual space.

Opt for small-scale patterns to create balance and make the room feel proportional to the size of the print.

Shop furnishings for small spaces →


Written By Elizabeth Wieck

What Colors Make a Room Look Bigger?What Colors Make a Room Look Bigger

In general, light colors make a room look bigger. Light-colored walls and ceilings reflect light, which makes a room seem open and airy, while dark colors absorb light and make a room look smaller.

Cool colors like white, off-white, light gray, light green and light blue are good soft tones to make a room look brighter and more inviting. Another trick is to paint your moldings a lighter color than your walls. This creates the optical illusion of making your walls seem like they’re farther back than they actually are, creating a feeling of more space. Likewise, an all-white room blurs the boundaries between the walls and ceiling, making the ceiling seem higher.

Other Ways to Make a Room Look Bigger

In addition to choosing the right colors, there are other tricks you can use to make rooms look more spacious, such as:

  • Using smaller, lighter furniture. To create a sense of space, always choose furniture that can be situated away from the walls. Avoid heavy-looking furniture and opt for sleek profiles.
  • Using low-profile furniture. Furniture that’s “short” and closer to the floor will create a sense of openness in the room.
  • Using leggy furniture. Select chairs, tables, and couches with visible legs that allow light and air to flow through.
  • Using mirrors. They reflect light and also reflect a view of the room, creating an optical illusion of extra space.
  • Avoiding drapes. Or, if you do have drapes, keep them open to visually extend the room to the outdoors.
  • Avoiding rugs. They break up a room and make it appear smaller.
  • Creating pathways. Group your furniture on one side of the room so that there’s a large pathway to pass through without restrictions.

Home Remodeling Ideas to Increase Space

Frey Construction has a team of experts ready to help you remodel your Spring Green, WI, home so that it’s more spacious and functional. Contact us today to learn more.

«[I chose to contract with you] because I knew you were a reputable company. Very polite workers! Worked until dark to get the job done in a timely manner. Will Meylor was terrific to work with. He answered all my questions, took my calls, and made this process easy for me. Keep him he’s a real asset.»

«We chose Frey Construction because of the quality and longevity of materials used, reputation, and integrity. Great craftsmanship and quality. “Great communication throughout the entire process-from design to completion!»

«We chose Frey Construction because we have seen their quality work and cleanliness around town. They do a great job. Plenty of contact numbers for any possible problems that could arise. Kept informed of plans throughout the process.»

13 Ways You’re Actually Making Your Space Looker Smaller

Housing is expensive. So it totally makes sense that young people are living in tight quarters. But if you’re curious how to open up your space without upsetting your landlord by knocking down a wall, it can be helpful to know some design principles to get started. There are easy ways to make a room look bigger that are pretty much foolproof.

Interior design can feel like a far-fetched, unattainable world. But you don’t need to hire someone to make your space look like it came out of an aspirational Instagram feed. What you need is to take advice from some of the greats, streamlining your space and tapping into it’s full potential.

Working with light and color doesn’t have to mean getting rid of your stuff, either. Experts agree that making your room look bigger has more to do with where you put things than what you actually fill the room with.

Making a small space seem bigger is a practice in minimalism. It may seem contradictory, but less really is more in this case. So get out your paintbrush, dig out your toolkit, and see where the design inspiration takes you. It’ll feel good when guests arrive and are immediately impressed with the place. First, you just have to cut down on the things that are getting in your way.

Here are 13 things you didn’t realize are making your space look smaller.


Not Getting Creative With Lighting

When you think about decorating your room to make it look bigger, you likely immediately think about furniture and wall color. Those two are important, yes, but you may be surprised that your lighting choices might be one of the biggest obstacles you’re facing to having your place look as spacey as possible.

«The ambiance is everything when enlarging the perspective of a smaller space, and light is at the very core of that,» Shawn Breyer, Owner of Breyer Home Buyers, tells Bustle. «If artificial lights are needed to compensate for lack of lighting, work in layers in varying heights. Ceiling lamps, table lamps, and floor lamps should give you the light that you need, especially when combined with natural lighting.» Of course, natural light is optimal, but playing with levels and types of indoor lighting can help open up your room in a multi-dimensional way.


Being Too Cluttered

You may love all those little tchotchkes and fun decor items you pick up from thrift stores and clearance sales, but more isn’t merrier when it comes to opening up the space in your home.

You may not realize it, but design flourishes can become visual clutter. «Cluttered surfaces makes spaces seem smaller because it takes some of the focus off the space itself and onto the stuff that is filling it up,» Annie Draddy, professional organizer and co-founder of Henry & Higby, tells Bustle. Being more choosy about what items you decorate your home with, and organizing the essentials so that they aren’t in plain view, can help make your room feel all that much larger.


Not Utilizing Vertical Space

Just like making sure your lighting is of varying height, you should be making sure your decor is using vertical space effectively as well. You may not realize that keeping everything at eye level is creating an illusion of a smaller space, however, no matter how low your ceilings are.

First, move things off the floor if possible. «Not utilizing vertical space can make your space seem smaller because it weighs everything down,» Draddy says. «Try getting books, bikes and other items up and off the floor to give the illusion of more space.» Next, move your wallhangings up an inch or two. «Shelves, decorations, all that stuff, hang it higher than normal,» interior and furniture designer John Linden tells Bustle. «This helps to draw the eye upward toward the ceiling. In a way, it also literally adds more space.» You can’t add inches to your ceiling, but you can pull things up and away from the average heigh to create the illusion of a bigger room.


Painting Your Room A Dark Color

Kim Gordon Design

If your walls are a dark color, the space is likely immediately closed up. You may be achieving a cozy feeling, but you likely aren’t letting your room achieve the potential of looking as big as possible.

«When you’re trying to make a room look bigger than it really is, the best thing you can do is to paint the room a light color,» Linden says. «White paint will make your room look way bigger.» If you live in a rental or cannot paint your walls, removable wallpapers like the ones you can buy from Chasing Paper are a great option for opening up your space in just one step.


Not Using Mirrors Strategically

The Indigo Tribe | Designer: Tricia Beanum

For a lot of people, a mirror is a practical thing, not necessarily a design element. But keeping your mirrors in the corner or away from light may be closing up your room.

«I use mirrors and shiny metal accessories that reflect and bounce light further into a space,» Rachel Preston Prinz, founding director of Archinia and Architecture for EveryBody, tells Bustle. A great hack for making the room seem bigger is putting a mirror across from a window. If that’s not possible, putting different mirrors on opposing sides of the room can help.


Hanging Your Curtains At The Wrong Height

It’s possible you’ve never thought about how your curtains make your room look before, but curtains are a major component when it comes to making your room look larger, experts say. If you have your curtains too low, everything looks smaller.

«Curtains can make a space feel smaller when hung the wrong way,» Beckee Wheelock, designer and owner of The Indigo Tribe, a freelance design and custom textile store, tells Bustle. «To open up a tiny room, hang curtains all the way up to the top of the ceiling (not just above the window line) and extend them out on each side of the window to create width.» The mirror across from the window trick comes in handy here too, reflecting light and creating depth and balance.


Having Too Many Colors In One Room

Kim Gordon Design

Having a bunch of colors can add a splash of personality, but it can also be a design element making your room seem way smaller than it is. If you want to open things up, having a coordinated color scheme can help.

«Small rooms can get overwhelming and busy very quickly, so doing a very monochromatic look from paint to furnishings to accents and art can help create a cohesion to the space that allows the eyes to settle,» Wheelock says. Another option, if you can’t control the overall color scheme, is adding a solid color to the ceiling to create depth. «Adding color or even wallpaper on the ceiling makes your eyes go up and not settle on the busy real estate at lower eye level,» Kim Gordon, designer and founder of Kim Gordon Designs, tells Bustle. If you have the option, though, you likely want to keep things as monochromatic as possible.


Having Too Many Small Pieces Of Furniture

You may be inclined to think that a small room calls for small furniture. Design experts say that’s the wrong idea. You should go for fewer, bigger pieces, rather than a bunch of small ones.

«When a space is tiny, the instinct is often to buy smaller furnishings to match, however often the opposite is true,» Wheelock says. «Instead of filling a small living room with a few small chairs, opt for a large sofa that fills the space and keep other furnishings and decor to a minimum.» Larger pieces may seem counterintuitive, but they’ll help open up your space. This is an important concept for your wall hangings, too. «Same goes for art,» Gordon says. «Choose a large statement artwork on your long walls — save the gallery for a hallway.» A big sofa is just as good for seating as multiple small chairs, and a large piece of art is as eye-catching as a bunch of small photos.


Having A Clashing Rug

Rugs can be super cute, and they’re even convenient foot warmers when the winter months creep in, but if you’re looking to open up your room, having too many rugs, or multicolored rugs, might be an issue.

«Floors often get overlooked but using the same floor material throughout the entire space and having as much off the floor as possible will always look larger,» Gordon says. «[. ] Rugs make us all happy as they delineate a space, but if it’s off your color scheme or the wrong scale it can close up a room.» Keeping things as simple as possible, visually, will open things up more.


Putting Too Much Furniture In Your Traffic Areas

You may not realize it, but any furniture or clutter in the spaces that you and your guests are trying to walk through is immediately going to close up your space.

To counter this, try to keep in mind your traffic areas. «Keep those areas clear so you don’t have to hip surf around furniture to get to the door,» Gordon says. «Blocking the traffic zone will not only annoy you but will block the eye as soon as you walk in.» Even if your living space is small, opening up a walking area will make the space both more accessible and more visually appealing.


Chairs And Couches Where You Can’t See The Legs

Buying furniture in terms of cost and convenience makes sense. But your couches and chairs with coverings that touch the ground may actually be closing up your room visually.

«Furniture should generally have a low back and you should see the legs (not an over stuffed chair or couch that has a slipcover so it looks like a block),» Gordon says. Being able to see the legs of your furniture can help make less of your room look cluttered, and leaves a bit more open space.


Putting Your Furniture Against The Wall

If you’ve been trying to maximize the amount of space in your room, you may have pushed all your furniture towards the wall to leave as much open area as possible. This, however, isn’t as good idea as it seems, according to experts.

«Resist the urge to push the furniture against a wall,» Gordon says. «Try to give space around every piece so light and air creates [space].» Moving your furniture even just an inch or two from the wall is helpful in making sure that your design pieces interact with the space in the most visually effective way.


Having Too Many Open Bookcases

Storage is a major issue to overcome when you’re designing a living space with small square-footage. Even bookcases, however, can become an issue when it comes to closing up your space aesthetically. Your guests don’t need to see every book you’ve read, and covering at least some of them can draw the eye back towards open space, rather than clutter.

«Open bookcases will look busy and crowded,» Gordon says. «Try a piece that has doors so you can hide all your busy junk.» You can still read all your favorite books, but keeping them in a case that works with your room’s color scheme and keeps things from being too busy visually will help make your room seem much bigger.

Transforming your space so that it looks bigger does not mean having to do a total home makeover. Learning what things you didn’t realize are making your space look smaller can help you, instead, make little changes that will affect how you feel in a room. No matter your living situation, you deserve to not feel cramped in the space you call home.

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