Whether you’re a student in a dorm or just maybe living in an over-priced apartment in a metropolitan area, you know the struggle with how to make a small room look bigger is oh-so-real. From bedrooms that are barely big enough to accommodate a bed, to living rooms that have to house a dining area, a home office, and a TV, fitting everything you need into a small space isn’t an easy job. That said, there are plenty of easy solutions that will help make your small space look more inviting, progressively multi-functional, and utterly chic, all at the same time.
Here are 10 such ways to make your loom bigger:
1. Scale it down
Furniture for the small space is all about proportions. Simply put, if a piece brushes up against the boundaries of the room, either up and down or sideways, it’s too large. To create a sense of spaciousness, always leave a little air in between the sides of your furniture and the walls. (The one exception is a bed; a queen placed between two walls, for instance, creates a comfortable sleeping cave.)
Also avoid heavy, weighty pieces that eat up too much of the usable space in the room. For instance, a sleek sofa or chair will give you as much sitting room as its overstuffed cousin but will take up much less of your room. If you want a large, statement piece (a piece of art or mirror), hang it on the wall. Don’t devour valuable living space by putting it on the floor.
2. Keep a low profile
Furniture that is lower to the ground will create an idea of openness in a room simply by the fact that they leave more space above them. In the bedroom, select a loft bed or even try placing a mattress directly on the floor.
3. Show a little leg with lithe furnishings
Again, creating the illusion of more space is all about creating a sense of openness and movement. Furniture that is streamlined allows light and air to circulate not just over but also under and around it so that it appears to float in space. Again, think mid-century modern pieces, which are both low and leggy. Or take an example of the perfect piece of soaring furniture: the butterfly chair.
4. Add reflective surfaces
Any discussion of small spaces needs to include the idea of using mirrors to create a greater sense of openness. Not only do they reflect light, but they also reflect the view, thereby tricking the eye into perceiving more space.
5. Ditch the drapes (and rugs)
As we saw with mirrors, it’s all about tricking the eye. Curtains resist the eye from taking in the view outside, even if they don’t cover the whole window. Rugs and curtains just add more “stuff” to the room. Eliminating them keeps the space simple. If you want privacy, choose shutters or lightweight mesh or cloth blinds. Or if curtains are a must for you, use a bar that extends far beyond the window, so you can fully expose the window.
6. White it out
We all know of white’s reflective qualities. It opens up a room, making it feel airy and light, calm, and serene. Painting the walls and ceiling the same shade of white only enhances this cloud-like effect. And it serves to blur the boundaries between wall and ceiling, causing your eye to travel up, essentially making the ceiling seem higher. Finally, in small spaces that can quickly become cluttered looking, white is a good choice because it simplifies a space and emphasizes the architecture. (That’s why architects love it so much).
If you’re concerned that an all-white space will feel too cold, then pair it with warming elements such as wood, or textured elements, such as a shaggy wool throw.
7. Emphasize the vertical
Whether it’s a tall shelf, some vertical shiplap, or the bare hanging bulb we saw in Michaela Scherrer’s bedroom above, employing one element that emphasizes the vertical space in the room will increase the sense of openness. It also enhances the feeling of movement and flow.
8. Emphasize the horizontal
It all boils down to creating a sense of movement. Like the leggy furniture that initiates a sense of dynamism or the mirrors that reflect light and a view into the room, anything that causes your eye to travel around a room in an intentional and orderly fashion will make it feel larger.
9. Clear a pathway
When dealing with a small room, one wants to maximize the space by pushing all the pieces to the edges. But if this causes you to bump into things, it can enhance a claustrophobic feel. Sometimes it is better to assemble the furniture on one side of the room, so people can pass through unhindered.
10. Use breezy fabrics
If possible, avoid hefty materials and fabrics that absorb light and weigh your room down. Linen is a perfect example of a lightweight material that will escalate the sense of airiness in the room.
Small spaces are all about editing. The more pieces, possessions, and patterns you have in a space, the more cluttered it will feel. Avoid too many knick knacks or at least group them so they look like an installation. Similarly, with art; concentrate your framed pieces on one or two walls. Avoid busy patterns and overwhelming colors. Or, if you absolutely must have that William Morris’s style wallpaper, consider placing it on one feature wall. Same with color, try painting just one wall or a door and stick to one shade. Now is not the time to embrace the whole spectrum.