Owning a home

How to make small spaces feel bigger

4 min read

How we feel in our homes has a lot to do with scale and proportion. These elements lie at the foundation of every successful space, and when executed well create the most balanced, comfortable and harmonious areas of the home. To avoid feelings of being cramped and uncomfortable in small spaces, some compromises may need to be made when it comes to decorating, but with the right colour, space planning, and some strategic furniture buying you’ll be able to create a home that displays both functional and aesthetic appeal. I’ve put together my top tips, including a few clever tricks that make interiors seem bigger and more spacious than they are.

Furniture Selection

As with any space, it’s important to ensure that the furniture is scaled to the size of the room. When you want to increase the feeling of spaciousness, using smaller furniture seems like an obvious choice, but in many cases this can make the problem infinitely worse. Having oversized sofas or too much furniture will make the room look smaller, but you shouldn’t shrink everything too much in the process. I recommend fewer but larger pieces of multi-functional furniture rather than more small pieces as this helps to the make the space feel larger and less cluttered. Folding and stacking pieces of furniture and furniture on wheels that can be pushed out of the way when not in use work well to create more space when needed.

Traffic flow is also an essential concept for any well-designed room. The ability to move around a space freely and comfortably is important, so avoid blocking walking pathways. Pay close attention to how the room appears visually. To prevent the room from looking cramped, avoid blocking the view into a room and to open spaces.

How to Make Small Spaces Feel Bigger image2Declutter and Store

To avoid making your small space feel cramped, keep everything tidy and organised. Be ruthless in disposing of items you no long love or use, and create space-saving storage wherever possible. Keeping items neatly arranged and out of sight will do wonders for creating a more orderly and open space. Even though your space may be small in terms of square footage on the floor plan, you should have some vertical space to work with, especially if you are lucky enough to have high ceilings. Use this space for both decoration and storage, without creating a big footprint. I like to combine the two by using stylish wall hooks or simple shelving.

Colour tips

Colour palettes and styling techniques can influence how we see a room. As a general rule, light colours make a room look bigger, brighter, and more inviting whereas dark colours absorb light, making a room look smaller. The reflective nature of both light and brightly coloured walls help maximize the effect created by natural light, making a space feel open and airy. If your room is small with a low ceiling, use a paint colour that is a couple of shades lighter than the wall colour to visually raise the ceiling, creating a more spacious-looking room. Another tip is to paint your wall trim and moldings in a lighter colour than your walls. This trick makes the walls appear further back, and your room appear bigger. Where possible, link adjacent spaces with the same colour and flooring, as this will make the rooms look bigger. 

Let the light in 

Allow as much natural light as possible into your space to open up the interior and make it look larger. Make sure window coverings are sheer, or are pulled back, to bring more light in. If you do not have a lot of natural light, lighting elements like table or standing lamps can help too.

Use restraint

When it comes to styling the room, take a pared-back approach where possible. If there is too much going on, with a mix of elements all fighting for attention, the room can feel busy and overcrowded. Regardless of the room you are styling, I recommend creating a focal point, and making that the hero piece of the room. Arrange the furniture so that the focus is drawn to that area and keep the number of homewares and accessories in the room to a minimum, to avoid clutter. With things neatly arranged and out of sight, the space that is in view will feel orderly and open. Also try to keep the floor as clear as possible, to maintain a sense of spaciousness. Taking out large rugs will create the illusion of more floor space.

Walls and finishing touches 

Using mirrors to make small spaces feel bigger is well-known strategy, and one that works well in most rooms. A large-scale artwork can work in a similar way, and in some cases will be better in a small space than covering up your wall with a group of pictures. Providing the colour palette works well with its surroundings, the artwork will create a well-defined focal point of the room and sense of depth. When choosing finishing touches with a ‘less is more’ approach do so with the aim of creating visual interest, as this will also make the space feel less claustrophobic. Layer a neutral palette with your favourite colour accents, geometric fabrics and lots of textural elements to create a warm and visually stimulating space.

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