Do you have that one room that always feels cramped? Smaller rooms aren’t just hard to navigate, they’re difficult to decorate and seem to clutter up in a matter of minutes without the right arrangement in place; whether you live in an apartment or a house on the smaller end of the square foot spectrum; making a small space look larger is an art that you would do well to master. Here are some simple tips and tricks to make those tiny rooms look bigger without knocking down any walls.
Open Things Up with the Right Paint
The color of a room makes a huge difference in how its size is perceived. Designers across the globe laud the benefits of dark and highly saturated color schemes to make a room look more daring and unique, but these are the enemies of small spaces. There’s nothing wrong with having some dark blue throw pillows or a black ottoman, but The Nest reports that paler hues and shades on the walls help keep a room feeling open and airy.
White is the standby for this particular palette, but don’t let that hold your creativity back. Colors like blue and green work well in soft pastels, and light neutrals like gray and tan are excellent choices to work with the colors of your furniture. Accent walls also help with spatial perception when they’re done right: painting three walls white and one a pale sandy color not only keeps the colors within your airy palette, but the contrast actually makes the room itself look larger all around.
Use Mirrors to Double Your Space
You probably already know that putting a mirror on the wall makes a room look larger, but there are better ways to utilize this optical illusion that just mounting a mirror and calling it done. The mirrors used should be fairly large, a minimum of 12 by 36 inches; these are easily obtained in most department stores under the guise of “full body” mirrors. While these mirrors are designed to be positioned vertically, there’s no rule saying that’s the only option. Mounting a rectangular mirror horizontally can make it appear to take up more space, or match up better with other objects on the wall, so don’t be afraid to experiment a bit and figure out which orientation works best for your room.
Mirrors should be placed strategically in any of the following positions to really capitalize on the manipulation of spatial perception:
- The back of the door, vertically, makes a small room feel open even when the door is closed.
- Behind furniture, horizontally, allows peripheral vision to perceive space beyond the wall—even when it isn’t there!
- Opposite a door or window, in either orientation, creates the illusion of a second window in an interior room, adding to that open, spacious feeling.
- According to This Old House, while one mirror in any of these positions is enough to add space to a cramped room, using two is even better. In rooms without windows, such as interior sitting rooms and studios, these mirrors can be placed facing one another to create the illusion of twice the space, better lighting, or even open windows.
Use a Trick of the Light
BuzzFeed Life recommends ditching overhead lights altogether, since most top-down fixtures are harsh and cause “hot spots” where light congregates in a single spot on the wall or floor; standard top-down lighting also makes the ceiling appear lower, which makes a small room even more claustrophobia-inducing. One way to do away with these problems is to opt strictly for lamps designed at eye level and below, layering light with multiple fixtures, but this can clutter up a small room to the point that it looks smaller than the overhead light made it appear before you went to work.
The real trick, however, isn’t to give up on illumination from above entirely. Instead, you should use lower overhead solutions; high quality hanging lamps from sellers such as Lumens offer focused top-down lighting that is easily adjustable, ambient, and eliminates the low ceiling perception almost instantly.
Another option when it comes to lighting tricks is to utilize the mirrors from the previous tip; by placing a mirror behind desk lamp (or, alternately, putting a standing lamp in front of a mirror), light is reflected back into the room instead of shining harshly against the wall. This makes sure every particle of light works to its fullest potential, and helps your mirrors do their job in keeping the room look open.
There are countless other ways to make your tiniest room look more spacious than ever, but these three are easily achieved even on a tight budget. One bucket of paint, two mirrors and two lamps later that cramped room may feel more open than your living room!