Decor & Design FYI

How to Make Small Spaces Seem Bigger

Congratulations, recent grads! You've taken your final exam and are about to jump head first into post-college life. Only it's hard to think about your bright future when you are stuck living in a tiny apartment that might be only marginally bigger than that dorm room you just left. You could use a few ideas from our Get More for Less in Your College Dorm blog post, but now that you've entered the "real world", you may need to take things up a notch with some even more inventive solutions.

When decorating small spaces, there are two important factors that help them seem bigger – lighting and color scheme. As any photographer will tell you, lighting is an essential part to setting any shoot. The same can be said when decorating a small space. Letting natural light into a room will help to open up the space. To increase natural light, avoid decorating with ruffles or heavy window treatments by using simple-panelled draperies or shades instead.

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Image via Fresh Home
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Image via Mascheroni Construction

While the idea of decorating with dark hues or bold, striking colors may seem appealing, it tends to make spaces feel smaller. Light and pale colors such as white, creams, blues, and light greys, can make a room appear airy and open. While dark colors absorb light, light and brightly colored walls reflect light, which in turn maximizes the effect created by natural light. If possible paint wall trim and moldings in a lighter color than your walls. Doing so, helps make the wall appear further back and gives the illusion that your space is bigger. For an added touch, use light-colored flooring such as a light oak. And if you can't update the flooring, lean on light-colored carpets or rugs to make the space appear brighter and more open.

While lighting and color scheme are the fundamental aspects to making a small space seem bigger, there's still more you can do. While small furniture may be required to fit size-limitations for a room, a haphazard arrangement could make the small space feel even more cramped. In fact, using one prominent furniture piece such as a large couch or a statement armchair can keep the space looking open and uncluttered. Whether you opt to use a large statement piece accented by smaller pieces or use a series of mid-sized pieces, try to make the space seem bigger by:

  • Placing larger pieces of furniture against walls. This will help make spaces appear bigger by keeping walking pathways and floor space clear. In general, if you can see larger areas of floor space, rooms will appear larger. So it's important to scale furniture to the fit the size a room and to avoid blocking walking paths.
  • Consider having some of the furniture pieces match the same colors of the walls. For example, bigger items such as bookshelves, armoires and chests in the same of colors of the walls will help the furniture blend into and widen out the room.
  • Sofas and chairs with open arms and exposed legs create a sense of light and space. Using them in small rooms will allow light to filter under the furniture, making the space seem airy and brighter.
  • Decorating with glass tables and mirrors can also open spaces. While a glass table will create the illusion of airiness, an oversized mirror or a set of smaller ones will reflect light and color and make any small room seem larger.
  • The use of multi-functional furniture, such as a chest that can double as a coffee table or a bed with built-in storage, will help prevent your space from feeling or looking cluttered. A cluttered room will naturally make a room feel much smaller than it really is.
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    Image via House to Home

With help from these smart tips and tricks, your small space can feel as if it's doubled or even tripled in size. For additional resources for small homes and apartments, check out our posts on using vertical storage to your advantage and organizational tips for small spaces.

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The Storage Queens

We know a thing or two about moving. Together, we share the best tips in organizing, storage, navigating your city, and more!

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  • This post is truly inspiring. I like your post and everything you share with us is current and very informative, I want to bookmark the page so I can return here from you that you have done a fantastic job …

  • I think the trick is how to get all the clutter into storage so that it’s not out in the open. It’s no secret that clutter immediately causes the room to shrink because of the lack of open space.