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How to Make Small Rooms Look Larger

Recent reports from new home builders make it clear that the average size of a new home is smaller than it was a few years ago. Buyers are beginning to embrace the concept of the “big-enough” home. If you have embraced this trend and have chosen to make do with reduced square footage, here are some suggestions on how to make these smaller rooms look larger and function effectively:

  • Choose furniture wisely. While small furniture takes up less space and makes a room feel more open, it may not be as comfortable as larger pieces. The solution may be to make do with fewer larger pieces.
  • Let in as much natural light as possible. Natural light makes rooms seem airier, so take steps to add natural light. Adding a skylight will capture light and make a room appear larger. When choosing your window treatments, remember that curtains block light – the less you cover, the more natural light can flood into your home. Choose a sheer fabric, or chose blinds and shades that expose the entire window when drawn. If you need privacy, consider replacing a window with glass blocks, which provide privacy while allowing light in.
  • Avoid straight lines. Round tables, rugs and pillows, and sofas and chairs with curves, help small rooms feel less boxy.
  • Organize your collectibles. Removing all the knick-knacks from a small room will make it appear more spacious, but also more sterile and less homey. Instead, edit your collectibles carefully and display them in just one or two places, not scattered throughout the whole room. A group of similar items, or different objects of the same color, creates a visual destination in a room and avoids a sense of stifling clutter.
  • Use tables made of clear materials. Clear surfaces such as glass or Lucite give the impression of openness while delivering function.

  • Choose contrasting colors to visually expand small rooms. In the past, interior designers have suggested that painting everything white. But today, while they still like white for cabinets and ceilings, they are suggesting that you add a warm contrasting color that will cast a glow to the room. A different approach to making a room appear larger is to paint the walls and ceiling the same shade, so the eye doesn’t stop at the ceiling line.
  • Strategic use of lighting. Lamps placed at different heights will brighten a small room and make it seem larger.
  • Use floating shelves instead of cabinets. These provide useful storage, but look airy and chic.
  • Determine your priorities. Make rooms fit your needs and lifestyle. If having a desk is more important than having a dining table, you can eat at the kitchen counter or coffee table.