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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?

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My aha moment!

I found my style and was able to bring our small space together for our family of 8! My aha moment was when you talked about undertones! That was the moment when I could bring everything together.

Danae C.

Falling in love with our home again

My ah-ha moment was when I realized I was going about things all the wrong way. I loved the house but it didn't feel like home. BUT now because of your course...I am falling in love with our home all over again.

Cheryl P.

Thank you for your direction and inspiration!

You have been very helpful in just identifying my style and what I like! Thank you for your direction and inspiration!

Dawn G.

Decorating is not as complicated as it once seemed!

I love your easy process to determine my style. I've also learned that my style has changed over the years and seasons of my life and that decorating properly/successfully is NOT as complicated as it once seemed!!!

Sheryl R.

Lightbulb moment!

Your explanation of paint colors was the light bulb moment for me! I am enjoying your teaching.  Thanks!

Pat J.

Filled me with the confidence I need

Oh Shannon, thank you, thank you thank you!!  I wish I could download you and take you with me, but your Decor Staples Checklist has definitely given me the guidance and filled me with the confidence I need!

Zee V.

Love this idea!

Orbs are such a great decor item to add to a space. Staining the hoops really gives them a vintage feel. Thanks for the inspiration.

Suzanne

I love your instructions!

LMAO!! I love your How Not to Paint Cabinet instructions! It made me laugh with good humor! Kudos for sharing your lessons learned!!

Tom H.

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I'm so done with Haphazard Decor! (Yes, I think I just made that "style" up). Thank you for your style quiz!

Christen

So Accurate!

I thought the quiz was so accurate, I want my friends to do it. I feel I like such a mix of things and the quiz described them all so well!

Lisa G.

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xo, Shannon