15 Ideas to Make a Small Room Look Bigger
Small rooms are cozy and efficient, but can often feel cramped and difficult to keep organized. Luckily there are many ways to make a small room look bigger. Here are 15 clever small room ideas and tricks of the eye that can be easily incorporated into any small room.
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Small Room Ideas: Choose a Light Color Scheme
Dark colors are a no-no in small rooms. As suggested, lighter color palettes cast the illusion of a larger area. Dark color schemes, although trendy and design-friendly, are best used in larger areas. When dark color schemes are used in smaller rooms, it can create a suffocating feeling as though the walls are closing in on what is already a space-challenged room.
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Small Room Ideas: Furniture with Legs Showing
Opting for furniture with legs showing opens up a small space. Compared to large furniture pieces that rest directly on the floor without legs showing, which can appear too big and bulky for a small space, furniture with legs showing draws the eye upward and creates the illusion of more light and space in a small room.
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Small Room Ideas: Sheer Window Treatments
Stay away from window treatments that are bulky, heavy, and ornate. They may look pretty but drapes, valances, cornices, and curtains made of heavy material subdue too much natural light. Use the window(s) in a small room to bring light into every corner. Along with light-colored walls, the sunlight will make the room seem larger. Consider slatted window blinds, very sheer lace curtains, or, bamboo shades. Slatted blinds provide privacy when closed and bamboo shades offer semi-privacy when closed (but also allow sun to filter through the woven material).
Or, if there’s a certain type of curtain you like, there are plenty of ways to maneuver curtains to make any room look bigger.
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Small Room Ideas: Create an Illusion
Work your magic with mirrors. They are an ideal accessory for making a room appear larger. Mirrors can be installed on sliding closet doors or as a covering for an entire wall (preferably near a window). Mirrors serve two beneficial purposes: First, images, accessories, wall hangings, furniture, and light from lamps or recessed lighting will be reflected into the room. Second, during the day as natural sunlight pours in through the window(s), it reflects off the mirrors making the room brighter and lighter.
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Small Room Ideas: Color-Coordinate Shelves
Store items with like colors on open shelves. This helps to keep a small room looking organized and neat rather than cluttered. It also helps to space out items on open shelves and use them for display as well as storage. Here’s our list of ideas for organizing a small living room.
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Small Room Ideas: Add Stripes
Stripes—both vertical and horizontal—can create the illusion of more space. Vertical stripes help to draw the eye upward and horizontal stripes help to make a room seem wider. Be sure to select colors that go with the rest of your finishes and fabrics in the room. Click here to learn the best tips for using painter's tape.
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Small Room Ideas: Incorporate Multifunctional Furniture
To utilize the space in a small room to its maximum potential, decorate with furniture that can serve a dual purpose such as a sofa with pullout storage space, an ottoman that opens for extra storage, or a steamer trunk that can also double as a coffee or end table. Furniture that can be downsized is a great way to create space, too. Remove the leaf from a dining room table until it's needed, replace a full-size recliner with a medium-sized chair and footstool, or replace a traditional bed with a pullout sofa or a daybed that can also serve as a sofa.
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Small Room Ideas: Utilize the Ceiling
Create an illusion of your small room being much larger than it is by installing a band of small molding, about a foot down from the ceiling around the entire room. Paint the ceiling above the molding a color different from the wall area below the molding. Keep in mind the suggestion about using lighter color paint. In this case, the ceiling could be white or cream with the walls a lovely pastel like pale yellow or blue.
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Ditch the Clutter
Learning how to make a small room look bigger starts with the clutter. Too much clutter overpowers the square foot and will make the room look smaller. The adage less is more, holds true when there's too much stuff taking up precious space. A quick way to make room is spending the day decluttering. Do this by reducing the number of decorative accessories, knick knacks, artificial plants and flowers, or any other items you have on display that serve no purpose. Reducing the clutter has a positive impact on the visual size of the room.
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Small Room Ideas: Light-Colored Flooring
As with color schemes, choosing a light-colored flooring can create the illusion of a larger space. If you don't have the option of replacing dark wood floors or carpet, use light-colored rugs to cover as much of the area as possible. Whether you use area rugs or able to install new flooring, choose colors that will complement the wall paint. Check out these tricks to make your home décor look more expensive than it actually is.
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Small Room Ideas: Monochromatic Color
Choose a paint scheme using one color with varying shades and/or textures. Choose pale colors such as ivory, cream, white, pale blue, or yellow and light grey. Lighter colors give the appearance of being open and airy. You can use a few dark accessories, such as a sofa throw, pillows or vase to highlight the light-colored walls and accentuate the texture without posing a negative effect.
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Small Room Ideas: Built-In Storage Cabinet
Sometimes the only thing lacking in a bathroom is storage space. When there's no extra floor space, consider a built-in cabinet that utilizes the open space within the walls. You (or a contractor) can build this useful cabinet with the detailed instructions presented here, along with two other bathroom storage projects.
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Small Room Ideas: Clear Furniture
Opt for see-through furniture, such as a glass coffee table or clear acrylic desk. Clear furniture helps to make a small room feel more open while still proving a useful surface and a unique design element. This is a great tip for how to make a small living room look bigger.
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The Family Handyman
Small Room Ideas: Floor-to-Ceiling Bookcase
A floor-to-ceiling bookcase shows off a small room's height while adding a lot of space-saving vertical storage. Click here to get detailed plans for building this Greek Revival-style wood bookcase.
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Small Room Ideas: Plain Upholstery
Choose plain, solid-color upholstery instead of pieces with busy patterns for how to make a small living room look bigger. This will help a small space feel more open and less chaotic. Plain upholstery also preserves the clean lines of furniture pieces, making a room feel neat and orderly.
Originally Published: July 23, 2019