The Connolly Agency

Making a Small Room Feel Larger

Making a Small Room Feel Larger

Even larger rooms can feel small if they’re full of clutter. Consider ways to expand the space visually, including using the right color choice.

Small, open space living space with kitchen, dining and sitting area.
Small, open space living space with kitchen, dining and sitting area.

NEW YORK – Whether you live in a city apartment or a suburban house, chances are good that there are some small spaces in your home. Filling those areas can be a challenge.

1. Elongate with curtains

Choosing the right curtains for your space can have its advantages. Long curtains help draw the eyes upward in a small room, creating the illusion that the space is bigger.

The high-ceiling illusion can make your room look much more grand and spacious.

2. Use area rugs

Even a small room can be multipurpose, but many people make the mistake of not separating the areas, leaving them looking chaotic and messy. Rugs are a great tool for breaking up small spaces, creating mini spaces in each room.

This will help the room to feel bigger and more usable rather than messy and uncomfortable.

3. Use pairs

It might seem funny that having two of something instead of one can help make a room feel bigger and less cluttered, but it’s true.

A matching pair of lamps, chairs, or mirrors creates symmetry, which helps to balance the room. When a room is balanced, it naturally feels more open and spacious.

4. Clear clutter

Clearing clutter may sound like an obvious way to make small rooms feel more open, but some items may be cluttering your room that you may not realize. Clutter is not just piles of mail or magazines on the coffee table. It can also be in the form of knick-knacks, extra blankets, or too much artwork.

Focusing on a more minimalist look will help to make your room feel less cramped.

5. Try open shelves

Incorporating open shelves into your room will allow you to display some of your special items and make the room feel larger.

Using shelves without barriers allows you to see farther into the room and makes everything feel more open. Just be sure not to clutter up your shelves!

6. Utilize mirrors

Mirrors come in handy to create the illusion of a bigger room by using reflected light to trick the mind into thinking the space is bigger than it is. You can strategically place lamps near mirrors or place mirrors near windows to utilize natural light for this effect.

Mirrors can also elevate a room’s appearance, making it look more visually appealing with an air of elegance.

7. Get creative with flexible seating

Hosting in a small space can be challenging. That’s why flexible seating, like floor pillows, can enhance guests’ experience without disrupting the room’s feng shui.

Floor pillows can easily be stowed in an ottoman, on a couch, or in the room’s corners until you need to set them out. They not only take up less space, but they also make the room more versatile.

8. Choose low seating

Furniture can bog down a small space because of its bulk, making it look crowded and uninviting. Nobody wants to feel squished while trying to relax!

A little trick of the eye is to use low-seating furniture, making the room feel more spacious because more open space is visible.

9. Paint the walls white

White paint is notorious for being used to reflect light. That’s why it’s a great choice for a small room to make it feel bigger, amplifying natural and unnatural lighting.

Paired with mirrors and a few south-facing windows, white walls can take a room from tiny to spacious.

10. Make your items multipurpose

Having an item with more than one purpose is a smart choice for tiny spaces.

Whether it’s a couch that lifts for storage or a pillow that also works for flexible seating, multipurpose items can lead to less unnecessary stuff in a room, making for a clearer space.

11. Buy some plants

Plants can enhance the overall aesthetic of a room and create more oxygen for you to breathe. But they can also help make the room feel bigger and more open.

That’s because live plants help to soften the edges of a space, making it feel more organic and natural and less urban and rigid.

12. Have visible furniture legs

Choosing furniture with visible legs is similar to choosing low-seating furniture; it gives the eye more visible space.

The more visible space the eye can see, the more open the space feels. It may be a visual illusion, but it works!

13. Avoid small items

Although you would think a tiny room needs tiny items, many small items make a room feel overwhelmingly cluttered. To avoid this cluttered feel, buying items with a purpose is essential.

Fewer items that are larger and have purpose prove to be better suited for a small space.

14. Keep pathways clear

Keeping the pathways of your room clear may seem like obvious advice, but what we think is clear may not feel clear. Even if you have nothing on the floor that’s not supposed to be there, such as clothes, magazines, or floor pillows, other items may be interfering with the clean lines of your room.

To avoid cluttering pathways, make sure furniture is lined up with each other and out of pathways so that walking around the room is seamless.

15. Choose a chair over a couch

Opting for chairs rather than a couch is a great way to minimize the space you’re using while still providing your guests with a space to sit. Chairs can make a room look more spacious because more space is visible.

They also offer more versatility when it comes to positioning, so choosing a spot that creates a flawless flow throughout your space is easier.

16. Add fewer, but brighter, items

Using fewer items in your room that are brighter is a strategy you can utilize to make your room feel bigger.

Bright colors can maximize light reflection, and choosing only a few bright pieces will help minimize the space’s clutter. As a bonus, when items look intentional and cohesive, it makes the space more harmonious.

17. Install barn doors

The barn door trend has been around for a while because of its rustic style. However, they’re also space-saving. Doors, like barn doors that don’t swing open, leave more room to push items toward the walls of a room, opening up the center of the space.

They’re ideal for smaller rooms where every inch matters.

18. Strategically display artwork

Artwork doesn’t always make a room look busy. Sometimes, it works to streamline and elongate it. Placing artwork above the centerline of the wall can help draw eyes upwards, making the room feel taller.

Big and bold pieces of art should be used as a focal point on a wall that gets lots of light because it can help illuminate the space and make the room feel more expansive.

19. Play with lighting

Lighting in a room can make the dimensions look bigger by highlighting certain areas. Lighting also helps to break up areas of the room if it’s multipurpose, which can ultimately make the small space seem bigger.

For example, hanging a light over a small dining table in one part of the room and using end table lamps in another part of the room next to a couch or chair can help separate the space into two.

20. Use refreshing colors

The colors you choose for your space have a direct impact on how open it feels. Choosing neutral tones and soft blues, pinks, yellows, and greens can help reflect more light than darker, bolder colors.

Not only do they make the room feel bigger, but they also make it feel calmer and more tranquil.

21. Throw out your sectional

Although sectionals are a good way to fit everyone on the couch, they are also bulky and take up a lot of space, which can make a room feel tight.

Instead of a sectional, opt for a small loveseat and some chairs to break up the space and show more open space while still having enough seating for your guests.

22. Pick a coffee table with storage

A cluttered coffee table in your living room can be a total turn-off and make your space look smaller. So instead of piling magazines and coasters on top of the table, try a coffee table that doubles as storage so you can easily hide them.

This storage system is also great for blankets and pillows, depending on how much space you have to fill.

23. Smooth your walls

Having smooth walls rather than textured in your space can help make the space feel more open. Textured walls tend to cast shadows and break up the space.

Smooth walls, however, can make a room feel more open and flow seamlessly.

24. Be consistent with your finishings

Finishings are just as crucial as that sofa, vase, or bookshelf in a room. Keeping consistent with finishings, such as flooring and materials, will make the space feel cohesive and intentional rather than random and unexplainable.

A coherent space always feels bigger and more open because it’s more harmonious.

25. Stick with your colors

Along with being consistent with finishings, consistency with color is also essential to making a room that feels bigger than it is. That doesn’t mean if you use blue, you have to stick with blue.


Excerpted from Florida Realtors, The Voice for Real Estate in Florida. Originally published May 9, 2024.

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