Small Room Ideas to Make a Space Look Bigger
15 small room ideas for decorating, furniture selecting, choosing paint colors, and utilizing function to make a space look bigger.
Even though our 1960 colonial has rooms much smaller than our brand new builder grade house did years ago, I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Because even though the ceilings aren’t nearly as tall (at only 8 feet), there are fewer cabinets, and it is the furthest thing from “open concept” as you can get, we’ve figured out so many small room design ideas to make each room trick the eye and appear to be much larger than it really is.
And then I realized, hey! I haven’t shared any of them!
(UPDATE: You can find more tips from the Simplified Decorating series here.)
Small Room Ideas to Make a Space Look Bigger
If you have spots in your home that you’ve been challenged with, I hope these small room ideas for tricking the eye can help. And if you look at the photos in this post and think, “That is not a small room,” you’ve officially been visually tricked. 😉
1 Choose High Contrast Paint Colors
Use very light colors or very dark colors to give a room depth.
Medium shades can make a room appear smaller, but when you use bright whites and deep dark paint colors, you create contrast, which creates depth and the illusion of a larger space. (Our paint colors we’ve used are listed here.)
2 Dark Colors in Small Rooms With No Windows Create the Illusion of Space
Contrary to popular belief, you actually don’t have to paint a small room white to make it feel bigger.
In a dark, windowless room, painting it a dark color like black or navy blue will create depth.
This is because dark paint colors tend to recede providing the illusion that the wall is further away from you than it really is.
3 Paint Trim the Same Color as the Walls to Make a Small Room Seem Spacious
By painting the trim (or bonus even the ceiling) the same color as the walls, your eyes are immediately deceived into thinking ceilings are taller! Satin sheen especially bounces light to create the illusion of a bigger space.
4 Utilize Hidden Storage
We built this window seat for storing all of our TV components for that reason so that it would double as extra seating when we have company over.
We use lots of baskets for holding chew toys for our dog and blankets. If everything you use can be tucked in a designated spot out of the way, you eliminate clutter and give the appearance of space. Take advantage of vertical storage ideas anywhere possible to maximize square footage.
5 Use Multi-Functional Furniture to Maximize Space in a Small Room
If you desperately need storage but you have small rooms in your house, shop smartly by choosing furniture that serves multiple functions.
Maximize storage space with double duty like having a murphy bed in a home office or a play table with hidden storage in a playroom. Have a shoe storage bench in an entryway.
Think of ways to double the function in a bedroom by using a wall mounted desk that can also serve as a vanity or bedside tables with built-in charging stations.
6 Hang Floor-To-Ceiling Curtains
Hanging long curtains just below the ceiling that sweep all the way down to the floor is like putting stiletto heels on a room. Ceilings instantly look higher.
In a room with 8 ft ceilings, choose 96″ curtains and allow them to slightly puddle or just “kiss” the floor, depending on if you want a romantic or tailored look.
7 Use Few Larger Decor Accents Instead of Many Small Decor Items
Lots of small knick-knacks tend to feel like clutter and make a room look smaller. Use the triangle rule and symmetry when styling vignettes on coffee tables, nightstands, dresser tops, and dining tables and limit decor groupings to 3 or 5 items.
But you don’t need decor accents on every single surface of your home. Let a room “breathe”.
See this post for extra vignette styling tips.
8 Display Large Scale Art
If you have a small room and want to hang wall decor, opt for one large piece of art or a wall accent instead of a gallery wall of smaller items.
If you really want a gallery wall with smaller pieces, limit it to the one wall and go simple large-scale on the other walls in the room.
And it’s okay to leave some walls blank to prevent the room from feeling cluttered and overwhelming. (You can make this large scale art from a shower curtain or make large art using plywood. Keep an eye out at thrift stores for large canvases that you can paint over with your own DIY artwork too.)
9 Balance Your Lighting
Use a few lamps to spread light evenly around the room instead of relying completely on one overhead light.
Having multiple sources of light in a room can make the space feel more expansive. It’s really helpful in rooms that have limited natural light.
10 Define Spaces with Rugs
Area rugs help rooms feel finished and pulled together. But they can also create the illusion of more square footage.
11 Opt for a Large Statement Piece of Furniture
It’s better to have a large sofa and 1 accent chair in a living room than 4 accent chairs. If you can fit a king sized bed in a tiny bedroom with enough space for traffic, go for it (but choose one with a low footboard or no footboard at all).
Our master bedroom is just barely large enough for a king-size bed, but it does make the room feel larger than a queen-size would.
12 Use Furniture with Exposed Legs
Buy furniture with exposed legs to make a space feel more open.
Chairs, sofas, and beds with skirts can feel boxy. But if you opt for furniture with exposed legs, it creates the illusion of extra room. (Here are some of my favorite chairs and beds.)
13 Utilize Mirrors in a Small Room with Limited Light
Place mirrors on dark walls that don’t get much natural light when designing a small space.
Hanging mirrors allows you to bounce light from windows and create the illusion of more square footage.
We try to make a habit of decluttering cabinets, closets, and any other rooms that start feeling too “full” every 6 months (typically around Daylight Savings Time) to prevent our home from being overcrowded.
Even a large room that is cluttered will feel smaller.
15 Use Visually Interesting Light Fixtures
Incorporating ceiling lights with details draws the eye upwards and adds height to a room.
These are some of my favorite chandeliers and flush mounts. Or you can make your own interesting light fixture like this sunburst light made with a mirror frame.
Do you have any other small room ideas you use for making your rooms feel expansive? I’m sure there are plenty more, but those are the ones we usually stick to. And they WORK!
Drop any tips you have in the comments.