Small space living and how to make it look larger

Small rooms can feel confining and uncomfortable, however certain design concepts fool the eye and make interiors seem much more spacious than what they actually are. In a small space, everything counts. Colour techniques, furniture arranging and smart lighting are just some of the ways to make your room seem larger.


Image credit: Westend61/Getty Images

Use light colours and clever contrasts. In the image above, most of the room is neutral, constituting 60% of the 60-30-10 colour rule we spoke about in a previous blog post. In sharp contrast, the blues on the scatter cushions, throw, rug and mirror frame make up 30% and the last 10% has been balanced out by the wood and woven furniture and decor items. For an optimum effect, select soft tones of off-white, blue and green, and always remember that brighter rooms look bigger and more inviting. It is a generally known fact that light colors make a room look bigger and brighter. Light and bright walls are more reflective, making a space feel open and airy, which helps maximize the effect created by natural light.


Image Credit: Asbe/Getty Images

Lighting is one of the most important key elements in opening up a space. If you have access to natural light, bringing it into your home through large windows will instantly connect the room with the outdoors and will no longer limit your space. Use sheer window coverings, or pull them back completely, to allow more light in. Allowing natural light inside the room opens up the interior and makes it look larger.


If you do not have a lot of natural light, you can add some creative effects using lighting fixtures. You will be amazed at how this small addition can make a big difference. Instead of using a single source of overhead lighting, spread them around in the form of wall sconces, table lamps, up-lights, down-lights and floor lamps. Wall sconces on either side of a fireplace for instance, will make the area seem larger. Use long pendants to emphasize the height of a room.


Image Credit: Maklarhuset

Cut the clutter, and by that we mean putting everything away that causes a small space to appear smaller by having so many things lying around seemingly without a place. Keep your room tidy and organized. There’s nothing that makes a small space feel cramped more than having too much stuff. With things neatly arranged and out of sight, the space will feel orderly and open. A cluttered room equals a smaller room. Don’t cover your walls with a lot of pictures. One large painting works better than a group of small paintings. If there’s too much going on, it can make the room feel busy and crowded.


When decorating a small room, create a focal point — one specific area or feature that will draw the eye. In the dining room, this will probably be the table. In the bedroom, it will most likely be the bed. Make that focal point the star of the room. Arrange the furniture so that focus is drawn to that area, and limit the amount of accessories. Keep the floor as clear as possible. This is one of the most important ways to maintain a sense of spaciousness.


Mirror mirror on the wall .... mirrors can make your space look larger when placed correctly.

Use a focal point and angle your mirrors toward it to give the illusion of depth. Mirrors also reflect both natural and artificial light to make a room feel brighter. They bounce light deep into the room, making it appear larger. Placing a mirror near a window to reflect the outdoors is especially effective. Mirrors on the walls and glass tabletops will give your room a more open feel. You can also use mirrored cabinet doors to make spaces feel larger. Try bouncing light off a mirror, which should be hung adjacent to a window and not on the opposite wall. This will help the window to do it's job by maximising the light.


Image Credit: Matthew Williams for Remodelista

Maximise your furniture arrangement to give you a spacious feeling in your room. Try and ditch both the rugs and the curtains, which stop the eye from taking in the view outside. Foregoing the rug will also open up the expanse of the floor, thereby creating a larger space.


Place your bigger pieces of furniture against the walls to maximize the open space.  Scale your furniture to fit the size of the room, and don’t block pathways. If furniture and accessories block the view into a room, it will look cramped and tiny. By moving furniture out and away from walkways, you will open up the space and make it feel larger. At least some of the furniture should be the same colour as the walls so as not to take up visual space. Bigger items such as cabinets and chests of drawers will blend in, thereby expanding the room.


The longest straight line in any room is the diagonal. When you place your furniture at an angle, it leads the eye along the longer distance rather than the shorter wall. As a bonus, you often get some additional storage space behind the piece in the corner. Because tall furniture can make the ceiling seem lower than it actually is, make sure there is plenty of space between your furniture.  Choose a sofa and chairs with open arms and exposed legs. This allows light to filter under the furniture, making the room appear brighter and lighter. Glass tables will help to maintain the appearance of an open space.


266 views
  • Wix Facebook page
  • Pinterest Social Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon

Contact Kelly on 071 497 7262 or kelly@urbandezign.co.za