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How to Make a Small Room Look Bigger – 8 Ideas You Can Use!

Continuing on the theme of small space decorating ideas from our previous post, here are 8 more ideas for how to make a small room look bigger. 


Living in a small house can be challenging. It doesn’t have to be one of those crazy tiny homes either. Anything that makes you put on your thinking cap when it comes to space and storage definitely qualifies as a smaller home. But you can make the most of your rooms, regardless of their size. Here are 8 great ideas for how to make a small room look bigger!

how to make a small room look bigger

Our Home Journey

We’ve lived in small and slightly less-small homes over the last 23+ years of our marriage. If you’ve followed our home journey at all, you know that a few years ago – when we started this blog actually – the five of us lived in a 950-square-foot bungalow with no garage and no basement. And the house before that one was only 1050 square feet. 

bungalow dining room

Although we do currently live in a 2000+ square foot house with a basement and a garage (with three teenagers, a dog, out-of-town family that stays over several times a year and a growing work-from-home business), we’ve definitely experienced the small home thing first-hand in the past! And we made the most of it for the years we lived in those lovely little homes. 

How to Make a Small Room Look Bigger

Here are eight ideas that will help your small space look and feel much bigger than it actually is. Try one or try them all. I’d love to hear which ones work for you!

1. Paint with a Light Color

Painting your room in a light color is a tried and true way to make a small room look bigger. That’s because of something called the light reflective value (LRV) of paint.

See, color never stands alone. It’s sort of relative. Light always affects the way colors appear. For example, candle light will make a color appear more yellow than regular daylight will. Even sunlight will change color as the day progresses with morning sunlight appearing more yellow than the sunlight in the middle of the day. This post has loads of easy to understand information about light and paint.

Anyway, the gist is that lighter paint colors will reflect more light, making your space look brighter and therefore larger!

(You can paint a small room a dark color, if that’s your preference, of course. But it will make the room feel cozier and maybe even smaller, rather than larger and more spacious.)

open white dining room with farmhouse table and chairs

2. Add More Lighting

Along with a lighter paint color, adding more lighting can really help to open up a space.

Whether you can actually add more natural light by way of installing more windows, or if you just have to add brighter bulbs to your existing lighting, either will help make a small room look bigger. 

Consider adding pot lights, a new chandelier or even led bulbs to current light fixtures for a larger-feeling space, like we did when we moved to our current home. (Before we lived here, the dining room only had four can lights and no chandelier.) 

3. Decorate with Mirrors

Akin to painting with a lighter color, decorating with mirrors is a great way to make a space look larger because mirror bounce light around a room.

You can hang an entire wall of mirrors – antique framed ones are lovely grouped together – or strategically place one or two in a room. Maybe a large round one over a fireplace mantel or a full-length version leaned against a wall (attached appropriately for safety, of course).

Mirrors bounce light around, adding to that light reflective value in a space, therefore making it seem larger. 

4. Install Unified Flooring

When we moved into one of our houses, we made a point of installing new laminate flooring throughout the house, when it was time to replace the old flooring. And even though that home was only 1350 square feet (including the finished basement), it felt much more spacious because our eyes were fooled into thinking the space went on and on because the flooring was carried from room to room. 

continuous flooring for larger appearance

5. Use Double Duty Storage Pieces

We’ve talked about this idea before. Ottomans that open for small item storage, window seats that add organization room and additional seating, chests as coffee tables for stowing out of use blankets and other items. Double duty pieces make a huge difference in how a small space looks and functions. 

6. Employ Horizontal or Vertical Lines

Just like the unified flooring tip above, using horizontal or vertical lines in a space also makes a small room look bigger.

Lines and stripes draw your eye along them, so things appear longer or taller than they really are when there are lines and stripes present. You could use wallpaper, stencils or paint on walls to visually stretch them in this way. Even shiplap or beadboard are great for this! 

Living Room New Shiplap Fireplace

7. Hang Curtains High

Once again, drawing the eye up is the purpose of this trick.

By hanging curtains high and wide, you can make both a room and the windows seem bigger. Plus, if the curtains aren’t crowding the window, you are actually letting in more light, which adds even more of a spacious appearance too! 

8. Use Smaller Furniture Pieces

Using pieces that are too large is actually one of the largest decorating mistakes people make when they’re downsizing or decorating a smallish space.

One large-scale item in a small room can add drama and a great designer look to your room. But if you have all oversized furniture crammed into a small space, it’s going to feel smaller than it needs to. 

Using smaller, appropriately-sized furniture pieces, on the other hand, can make a room feel spacious, even when it’s on the smaller side. 

If you’re in a small home, look for “apartment sized” couches, chairs and coffee tables. You can still find a great variety, but you won’t have to worry about cramming it all in!

make a small room look larger

So, there are 8 ideas for how to make a small space look bigger. I’ve personally used all of these at one house and one time or another over the years and found that each one can make a huge difference in how big our home looks and feels. 

Have you tried any of these methods for how to make a small room look bigger?

I'd love it if you'd share:

home made lovely book on table with get it now text button

I'd love to chat with you in the comments!

Comments

  1. Pamela Martin says

    This is probably the most helpful and informative blog post I have ever read. Great work, and thank you.
    *Smiles*

  2. Bettie Paul says

    2000 sq ft. to me – that’s a castle. I live in 1000. I put a size 14 into a size 4 when we downsized. Retaining many large favored pieces and very large. My mind said deal with it and my heart said you can do it, so I did. It is all in the placement and thinking. I like demanding pieces and not delicate. Wanting my guest to feel comfortable and cozy instead of a showroom atmosphere. My doormat say Welcome not Go Away! We have it all just not the sq footage.

    • Shannon Acheson says

      Hi Bettie,

      Yes, I did mention that this is our largest house…but I also mentioned that for twenty years before we lived here, our previous homes were much smaller.

      The one comment and frustration I hear again and again is that people feel their homes are too cluttered. And I am often asked “how do I make my small home feel larger?”

      The tips in this post are meant to help you make a small space seem larger.

      But I’m also ALWAYS saying that it’s your home, so you can do with it what you wish! Which it sounds like is exactly what you’ve done! ☺️

      xo, Shannon
      PS Our front doors say “hello, welcome” and we have a very cozy, non-showroom home. 💕

  3. Lori says

    Since I divorced 30 years ago, I’ve lived in rental houses because I don’t want the hassle of dealing with repairs myself. I moved into an 816-sq-ft house in 2016, downsizing from almost 1400-sq-ft when I went from a town of 40k to a city of 500k, but I got a huge yard. I have a single-car garage and no basement, and there is a single bathroom just large enough to accommodate a 3-top. Ranch style and THREE bedrooms in these 816 sq ft. Obviously, my king-sized bed (which I refuse to give up) is a tight fit, and I had to sell the gorgeous dining room table that sat ten (although I also refused to give up the hutch). Best room hands down: the living room, tiny though it might be. It’s an L-shaped living/dining/kitchen combo, and you enter the living room from the front steps and from the garage. But, I have an apartment-sized sofa, two wing chairs, and two stepladder bookcases on either side of the sofa. There are also a gorgeous floor lamp and a couple of candle stands behind the chairs – all this more or less on one side of the room. On the opposite wall – just the other side of the nice-sized walkway is a huge 3-pc bookcase/desk unit/storage unit that was built in the early 1960s (before we needed room for a TV and couldn’t possibly call this an entertainment center). You would not believe the amount of things I’ve stored there. And, I have an enormous collection of books, so the best part of this arrangement is that it feels like a book nook at Barnes & Noble. My biggest problem is that I don’t have anyplace to set “stuff” anymore. Plants, Christmas lanterns, knick-knacks. No coffee table…don’t have room for it. And, my clothes fill all three bedroom closets (one BR is a guest room, the other a sewing room). It’s quite difficult to downsize, and not all of us will get there successfully. I sew and currently have a Christmas tree skirt and stockings, Easter pillow covers, a blanket for my grandson, winter bathrobes for 20+/- students at one of our inner-city schools, drapes for a grandson’s room, and two Harry Potter bed quilts in the works. Did I mention two long-haired black cats who leave fur everywhere?! Some days I’m successful living within my small space, many days I fail, but every single day I remind myself that my attitude goes a long way toward my success.

Student love

I found my style and was able to bring our small space together by creating a cozy and inviting home...

Danae C.

I loved the lesson on color theory, and also THAT YOU TOLD US EXACTLY WHAT ORDER TO DECORATE IN!

Erica L.

My ah-ha moment was when I realized how much time and money we have spent in the past couple of...

Cheryl P.

I love your easy process to determine my style. I've also learned that my style has changed over the years and seasons...

Sheryl R.

Your explanation of paint colors was the light bulb moment for me! Your explanation would have saved us from painting...

Pat Jensen