9 Tips To Make a Small Room Feel Bigger

Tips for Creating a Beautiful Home

9 Tips To Make a Small Room Feel Bigger

From my first apartment to my current home, I’ve always found ways to make a room feel larger, and I’m sharing some of the strategies I’ve used over the years! These tips work for long narrow rooms, tiny rooms, or even rooms that are huge, but just don’t feel quite right. Here are my most effective ways to get rid of that lack of space feel.

My previous (very narrow) family room with corner fireplace

Draw The Eye Far with a Focal Point

Arrange furniture to ensure clear sight lines to the next room and to any windows. If the view of windows or doors becomes obstructed, it will make the room feel more enclosed. For example, if you have an open entryway from the living room to dining room, keep furniture a few feet away from those entrances.

Clear sightline into the next room. Photo via Emily Henderson.

You can also draw the eye far by making the main focal point of the room (a fireplace or console table) the farthest from the entrance. In this home remodel by Jean Stoffer, the living room next to the kitchen is actually pretty small! But with the direct sightline to the tall fireplace, the room feels elongated.

via Jean Stoffer

Draw The Eye Up with with Vertical Lines

This can be done in many ways. Let’s start with the easiest: a large painting or a gallery wall that nearly reaches the ceiling will draw the eye up, while keeping a warm home feel, and adding character.

If you’re willing to do a little DIY, you can utilize ceiling paint, vertical shiplap, or wallpaper with vertical stripes to draw the eye up and create an illusion of height. In my recent living room renovation, the vertical shiplap is an important feature to draw attention to the (already tall) ceilings. This shows off the vertical space and makes the room feel even bigger. 

Hang Window Treatments High and Wide

This is an important one! These days minimalist window treatments are more common, and keeping windows open and simple gives a sense of openness. However, if you love curtains like I do, you’ll need to follow a few guidelines to keep that feeling of space.

​Simple Curtain Hanging Guidelines:

  • Curtain rods should be just below the crown molding, or 1-3 inches below the ceiling if there is no molding.
  • Curtain rod brackets should be mounted about 4-6 inches away from the window on each side.
  • Curtains should always touch the floor unless above a countertop, sink, tub, etc.

For more window treatment design tips, check out my guide here.

Wide curtains make this living room wall look even longer (via Jenna Sue Design Co.)

Use a Clever Paint Color Scheme

This isn’t as simple as “white walls make a room feel bigger”, although I do love white walls. A light paint color can certainly expand a room, but did you know that dark colors can also create an optical illusion of space if used strategically?

Depending on which wall needs “expanding”, dark accent walls or ceiling can make a space look larger.

Above, we see a lighter color on the ceiling combined with darker walls. This helps the room feel taller. Or, you can use dark shades of paint for an accent wall at the farthest end of the room to make the room feel wider, as in the example below.

Use Mirrors 

Large, decorative wall and floor mirrors can create an illusion of more space. Mirrors do this in two ways: First, they will actually reflect the natural light around the room, helping create an airer feel.

Second, if the mirror is large enough it can look like a window into another (non-existent) room. Ever noticed that feature in restaurants and bars? A mirror behind the bar is meant to look like a window into the next room, and if you’re not looking close enough, you may think it really is!

Decorating with reflective surfaces is one of the best ways to highlight open space. Plus, you’ll bring more character in with a nice statement piece mirror!

Don’t Forget Traffic Flow!

Here is a fun challenge: Imagine your house or apartment is a model home for a day. How would visitors walk through your home? Create plenty of space for people to meander around the furniture. Don’t allow any tight spaces. Arrange your furniture pieces in ways that give the room an open feel. You may have to play around with this a bit until you find what maximizes your square footage.

via Crazy Wonderful Blog

This living space by Shelley from Crazy Wonderful Blog is small with high ceilings. It doesn’t look cramped due to the clear pathway from the entrance throughout the room, and ample floor space in front of the fireplace (also note the large mirror!)

Choose Furniture Scale Wisely

​Big furniture in a small room or small furniture in a large room can depress the space. If I had to choose between the two, I’d pick big furniture in a small room. But if you have the luxury of starting from scratch with a room remodel, remember these quick tips:

  • Height – Lower furniture can make ceilings feel taller. Just be sure the accompanying furniture it also low. For example, nightstands not taller than beds, coffee tables not taller than sofas.
  • Depth – Console tables and side tables can still serve their purpose at 12” deep or less. Choose sofas with narrow arms and backs, so most of its depth is dedicated to actual seating.
  • Width – Width is the last thing you should sacrifice in your furniture. You’ll want to seat the most people possible, but still keep scale balanced. I’d choose pieces with more width and less depth where possible.

Use Hidden Storage to Hide Clutter

  • Multi-use furniture: Ottomans and coffee tables can double as storage. Ottomans for toy storage anyone?
  • Choose side tables or a coffee table with shelves if you have a lot of books or frames to display.
  • Using built-ins are a great way to gain extra space against clutter. But adding built-ins is not always the best option since they will encroach on your floor space. So, for smaller spaces, be sure it makes sense to sacrifice that extra foot or so!

Go BIG with Your Area Rug

o   Use up to a 9 x 12 rug if the space allows, leaving only a couple of feet between the area rug and wall (unless it’s open concept space).

o   For living rooms, only the front feet of the furniture should be placed on the rug.

o   Lighter-colored area rugs will also help brighten and open up the space!

A larger area rug in my modest-sized primary bedroom.

Create Sections

If your room happens to already be large, but still doesn’t feel quite right (i.e. the furniture is too small for the space) divide it into sections.

In a bedroom, this could include a reading nook or a workspace. In a living room, you can create a “conversation area” or a in a living room). This creates smaller sections, but the open plan area will feel bigger. Plus, it will be more attractive and functional!

Whether too cramped, too cluttered, or even too big, any room can make you feel at home with a few inexpensive changes. You just need to know where to start. I hope this helps!

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