Top tips and clever ways to make small spaces look bigger.
If extending the floor space of your rooms isn’t a realistic option for renovation in your home, we understand: it’s a big job and not always possible. But there are ways for you to make small rooms look bigger – read on for our top tips and get creating some clever optical illusions!
Dark colours can make walls seem more enclosed than they actually are, so sticking to a light, bright and simple colour theme for smaller rooms is usually the best design choice. Sticking to varied tones of the same colour can help create a cohesive flow through a space. Instead of zoning a room traditionally and choosing different pattern or design for each area, keep zones a similar shade of the same colour. For studio spaces, this can work wonders and doesn’t need to restrict your use of colour; but just does so appropriately.
Even if your walls aren’t the lightest or brightest, keeping your fixtures and fittings white can really ‘pop’ a space. White woodwork and skirting boards give a clean, polished feel, and a white ceiling helps create elevation. Dark wood furniture can pop against a bright backdrop but if put against darker or patterned walls, will feel too cluttered.
It should go without saying that you don’t want to make a small room feel cluttered, and bold patterned textiles – be that an upholstered armchair, sofa, or removable cushions and throws – can really shrink space. Instead, you can make an interesting aesthetic by using different textures of textiles. Think fur, ribbed, teddy bear and fleece; all extra cosy and without drawing the eye in too hard.
It’s often assumed that you can just put a mirror on the wall of any small room to make it seem bigger, but the placement of mirrors is key in extending the illusion of space. Mirrors reflecting on windows provide additional light but they don’t necessarily need to be straight on; the reflection of the brightness that brings may be enough. Experiment with different placements to find what works best, and don’t be afraid to take inspiration from hotels, restaurants and pubs – they often use mirrored illusions to create the effect of a busier, bustlier environment than they actually have!
Rooms often feel smaller and more enclosed at night when light conditions are darker; particularly if they benefit from lots of natural light during the daytime. Layering lights can help avoid the apparent space shrinking in the evenings. If an overhead light is dimmable it can be layered with lamps and wall lights for both direct highlights (ie. for reading) and indirect (just for general atmosphere). Wall lights that direct spotlight vertically up and down give the illusion of a taller space.
Large pieces of chunky furniture take up more floor space than thinner ones and only serve to make a room feel more cluttered. ‘Lighter’ furniture with tapered legs and thin frames takes up considerably less room and looks much more curated, too. Furniture with glass panels supply further space visuals. Avoid anything oversized or too dark and ensure that your sofa works for the space and not against it.
Most minimalist options for decorating to make a room look larger involve the use of neutral tones but if this isn’t your cup of tea, you don’t need to stick to all bare hues. Instead, use detailing on pieces to create interest such as curves, buttons or fluting, or introduce colour accents through additional chairs or textiles. Opting for a bright or patterned sofa will overpower a room but an armchair in a similar tone but bold design will work to complement it.
Don’t underestimate the power of windows and their coverings. Even when the drapes or curtains are closed and natural light isn’t able to flow through, the shutters or textiles drawn across them should be of a bright and preferably un-patterned hue. Shutters usually work best when painted white and curtains pale; and ensure the latter are of an appropriate size. Where curtains are so long they bunch on the floor this often gives the impression of them wearing the window rather than the other way around and simply makes it look as though you weren’t able to buy the right size. When in doubt: hem!
Clutter always shrinks space and so even if you’re a fan of decorative ornamentation or the off shelf feature, it’s important to not have everything out at once. Investing in smart storage that hides items away without taking up too much obvious room can really help to minimalise the appearance of your ‘stuff’. Think hollow stools, sofas with storage units and even benches and cabinets with room for storage. It can be tempting to just pop loads of shelves up to put everything out on but don’t go too OTT – this will only serve to close the walls in if they become too busy.
Bold tiles are very much in fashion at the moment, but flooring designs can draw the eye down and away from the airiness of a room. White or at least bright pale floors make spaces appear bigger and if you do wish to add in some detail, pick a small patterned rug to put in the middle. Glossy finish floors reflect light throughout but avoid the same finish on the ceiling above, as this will only serve to reflect imperfections into the space.
Vertical stripes on a wall can make it look taller and horizontally on a narrow wall can widen it. Stripes, when painted or papered on to a wall don’t necessarily need to be bold and can remain subtle, as well as on curtains, textiles and furniture. They also don’t need to be too wide – play around with different effects to find which you prefer.
Small spaces need not limit your interior design options. As with anything creative you can experiment and use some trickery of the eye to transform space. Think smart and outside of the box; your home will thank you for it.
If you need some inspiration or clever suggestions of ways to work with a small space, get in touch with our Refresh Renovations specialists today for a free no obligation chat.
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