In this post: Many of us are stuck with small rooms in our homes. Fortunately, there are tons of tricks to make a small room look bigger. Check out these 30+ solutions that can make your 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 more than 30 great ideas for how to make a small room look bigger!
How do I make my small home work for me/my family?
Perhaps you’re in your first tiny little apartment (yay you!). Or maybe you’ve just downsized to a small bungalow after your kids moved out (hugs for you empty nester momma). Maybe you live in a downtown loft or a tiny cottage at the beach (lucky duck!). No matter what your reason, a small space is where you call home. And as such, you need plenty of small space decorating ideas!
Our Home Journey
One of my favorite old country songs is Little Houses by Doug Stone. Some of the lyrics are:
“…love grows best in little houses,
With fewer walls to separate,
Where you eat and sleep so close together.
You can’t help but communicate,
Oh, and if we had more room between us, think of all we’d miss.
Love grows best, in houses just like this.”
It’s been so true for our family in the past.
We’ve lived in small and slightly less-small homes over the last 23+ years of our marriage.
Our little houses were the perfect place for us.
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.
Although we do currently live in a 2000+ square foot house with a basement and a garage (with three teenagers/young adults, 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 more than 30 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!
Clear Out the Clutter
Clutter in your home is anything that takes away from your enjoyment or use of your home. In contrast, decluttering is removing unnecessary things to make room for the things you genuinely love and want to keep in your home.
Clutter also contributes to making any size spaces look and feel smaller than they actually are.
So to help your small space feel larger, you need to clear out the clutter. Here’s how to declutter the house.
Use only what you love
The number one thing to remember when you live in a small space is to use only what you love. Eliminate everything else.
Seriously you’ve just gotta get over keeping all the things.
This is really and truly the easiest way to make a small space work for you.
In a small house, there is no room for large collections. But you can still have what you really love if you edit well. You can also rotate your favorite pieces if you have a place to store them when not in use.
Create a focal point
“A focal point is one of the most essential decorating components in a room because it is the center of attention around which everything revolves. It’s the first thing that catches your eye when you walk into a room and gives the space its “wow” factor. The focal point not only helps set the tone and mood for a space, but it’s also the natural starting point of a room’s design.” [The Casa Collective]
Every time you walk into a room, your eye is automatically drawn to the room’s focal point.
The focal point can be a:
- fireplace and mantel
- view/picture window
- built-in cabinets or shelves
- entertainment unit
Essentially you want to draw your eye into the room with a focal point. This will help the room to seem larger as well.
Chooser Soft, Light Hues
While dark moody colors can add drama and coziness to a space, if your goal is to make your room appear larger, you should stick to lighter colors.
What color makes a small room look bigger?
Soft tones of white, off-white, cream, blues, and greens all work to make a small room feel larger.
Use a Neutral Color Scheme
Choosing a color scheme for your home is an essential step in your decorating. If you want to make the most of a small space, keep your color palette light and neutral.
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, candlelight 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.)
Create flow through flooring
Creating unified flooring throughout your home or room, makes the space appear to flow more and therefore seem larger than it is. You can do this in a couple of ways…
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.
Add a large area rug
If you can’t or don’t want to replace the flooring in your home, you can make a small room feel larger by laying a large area rug down over the whole space. For more about selecting area rugs see this post.
Take the doors off
Remove any useless doors in the main living spaces for more flow. Really. If you live in an older home this may be especially true. If the door doesn’t need to be there for privacy, just remove it and store it to create a more open feel. Even in our larger home, we switched out badly placed bathroom and laundry room doors with barn doors to create more space.
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 and draw your eye around the room and up to the ceilings.
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!
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 lamps, either will help make a small room look bigger.
Consider adding pot lights, a new chandelier, changing the shades, or even adding 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.)
Decorate with Mirrors
Akin to painting with a lighter color, decorating with mirrors is a great way to make a space look larger because mirrors 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.
Utilize Glass and Lucite
Another furniture option is to include glass or lucite pieces because they’re transparent or translucent and you can see the rest of the space through them.
Don’t Block The Light
Emphasize and increase natural light by leaving the window bare or following these window covering tips.
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!
Choose light and airy drapes
If your curtains are sheer (or sheer-ish) they will provide the illusion of more space because you can see the window frame and adjacent walls through them.
Light and airy drapery also feels lighter than heavier fabrics and thus makes a room feel more spacious.
Choosing the right furniture is also important in making a small room feel larger than it is.
Keep most furniture pieces in proportion
Be careful of scale.
You can go big with one or two items in a small room – which I love to do and can actually make a small space look larger and more elegant.
But do not go to the store and buy a matchy-matchy set (couch, loveseat, and chair) that is all oversized if you have little room. It’s just not right and it won’t flow right or look right. Trust me on this one.
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!
Rearrange the furniture
Rearrange your furniture to make the best use of space. It’s amazing what a well-arranged room can do for actual and perceived space in a home. Just put some felt feet on that furniture and slide it around the room until you like what you see!
Use Double-Duty Storage Furniture Pieces
This is another brilliant way to make the most of your square footage. Choose ottomans and coffee tables that also house storage. If you’ve no guest room and frequently entertain overnight visitors, choose a sofa bed or pull-out sofa. Keep folding tray tables around for extra eating or game surfaces. We have a pullout in the basement for family visitors and a coffee table that houses the extra feather pillow top mattress. And no you don’t have to buy the ugly stuff from a big box store! Think outside the box, so to speak.
Choose Furniture With Visible Legs
By choosing to forego skirts on chairs and sofas, you give the illusion of more space because you can see through or under the furniture.
Plus some furniture legs can be quite a lovely addition to the decor in a room.
Keep the Upholstery Plain
If you avoid wild or bold patterns on your furniture and coordinate them well with the wall and floor color, the upholstered pieces will blend seamlessly and create a soothing expanse in your room.
Keep a low profile
Another way to choose furniture that works well in small spaces is to choose low-profile pieces. This will help to keep the visual flow in a room and make it look less full.
Get your furniture away from the walls
If there’s space, try arranging your furniture in a way that brings it away from the walls a bit. While you may think an arrangement where all the pieces are lining the walls of a room looks larger, it does not. Nor is it very appealing.
Try to scootch things in a little. Or arrange at least one piece at an angle.
For more ideas, see this post about arranging furniture.
You can also go vertical and make use of the space you do have…on the walls. Install shelving, cupboards, gallery walls, etc. to keep the floor space clear. We’ve used DIY shelves, open cabinets, cheap idea ledges, and so many other options to make use of wall space.
Incorporate large-scale art
While you may think that keeping the art small is a good choice in a small space, the opposite it actually true.
If you hang large wall art it will actually make the room feel more expansive and larger.
Think outside the box
To create the appearance of more space, hide your storage. Use unconventional containers to corral items: a blanket box becomes a filing cabinet in a bedroom; baskets stowed under end tables hold books and blankets; built-in banquette seating like at our old house can store out of season décor or extra bedding.
Maximize closet space
Add an additional rod to your closet to store more clothes and off-season jackets in any closet space you do have.
Install additional shelves in your closet or pantry to hold more items out of sight. Turn an extra closet into a pantry if your kitchen is tiny. Add an armoire to replace the closet if needed.
Decorate with restraint
Instead of displaying a hundred and one tchotchkes (which just looks cluttered and chaotic), create vignettes from a few of your favorite pieces and choose your accents with purpose.
So, there are 30+ 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?