23 Clever Small Room Ideas to Make a Space Look Bigger

Small room design tricks for decorating, furniture selecting, choosing paint colors, and utilizing function to make a space look bigger. 

Small room design tricks for decorating, furniture selecting, choosing paint colors, and utilizing function to make a space look bigger. 

Even though our 1960 colonial has smaller rooms 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 to make each room trick the eye and look larger than it really is.

If you have smaller spaces in a small home, here is a list of interior designer secrets to create the illusion of more space.

black door and white walls in a small hallway with faux plant, art, and picture light
Door Paint: Benjamin Moore Wrought Iron | Wall Paint: Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace | Picture Frame | Faux Plant | Picture Light

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 a High Contrast Color Scheme

Using very light colors or very dark shades is a great way to give a room depth.

Mid-tone paint 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 open space. (Our paint colors we’ve used are listed here.)

small kitchen with green lower cabinets, white upper cabinets, and white pressed tin backsplash
Lower Cabinet Color: Sherwin Williams Billiard Green | Upper Cabinet Color: Benjamin Moore Simply White

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.

We used navy blue tile as a focal point behind the sink in this tiny bathroom with deep navy blue walls to hide shadows, making the compact space seem wider.

small bathroom ideas with navy blue walls and glossy blue tiles
Wall Color: Benjamin Moore Polo Blue | Light Fixture | Vanity | Mirror | Tile

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.

sage green bedroom with wood dresser, leaning desk, and white boucle desk chair
Wall Color: Sherwin Williams Evergreen Fog | Dresser | Leaning Desk | Chair | Horse Art | Rattan Lamp | Rug

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.

living room with window seat for electronics storage and limewashed fireplace

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.

playroom toy storage chair, sky blue cabinets, and storage coffee table with board games
Wall Color: Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee | Cabinet Color: Romabio Carolina Sky | Tapestry | Coffee Table | Storage Chair | Rug

6 Hang Floor-To-Ceiling Window Treatments

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.

navy blue small dining room with white curtains, Scandinavian rug, and artificial tree
Wall Color: Romabio Blue Ridge Parkway | Rug | Curtains | Chandelier | Artificial Tree | Table | Side Chairs | Upholstered Chairs

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.

small entryway with gold mirror, concrete lamp, and storage chest
Mirror | Lamp | Vase | Artificial Flowers | Black Frame | Gold Frame | Habitat Book

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.)

home office with oversized art made of a shower curtain, navy blue storage cabinet, and work table with rolling chairs
Wall Color: Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace | Oversized Art | Cabinet | Table | Chairs | Rug | Sconces | Pendant Light

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.

living room with white walls, black French doors, and white sofas with a rug and marble topped coffee table
Wall Color: Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee | Sofas | Coffee Table | Fandelier | Lamp | Rug | Faux Flowers | Art | Curtains

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.

home office with white built-in bookshelves and glass front cabinets, futon, rug, and desk against a window
Shelving | Rug | Light Fixture | Chairs | Futon

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.

black bedroom with king sized bed, white mirrored closet doors, and white bedding
Wall Color: Kilz Rebel | Bed (similar) | Rug | Fan | Closet Doors | Swing Arm Lamps

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.)

living room armchair with exposed legs to make a small room look bigger

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.

mirror in a dining room with a dining table reflection

14 Declutter

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.

laundry room with medium blue walls and black and white peel and stick tiles
Wall Color: Sherwin Williams Slate Tile | Floor Tiles | Laundry Art | Roman Shade

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.

white playroom with black French doors and light blue mantel styled with a mirror and bust planter and sunburst light fixture
Wall Color: Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee | Mantel Color: Romabio Carolina Sky | Door Color: Benjamin Moore Wrought Iron | Mirror | Bust Statue | Light Fixture | Art

16. Ditch White Ceilings for Wallpaper

One of the most effective ways to make a small space feel bigger is to take advantage of the 5th wall: the ceiling. Adding wallpaper or a painted pattern on a ceiling creates dimension in the entire room.

media room with wallpapered ceiling

17. Embrace Vertical Stripes

Have you heard the fashion tip before that wearing vertical stripes on your clothing can make you appear taller? The same goes for a living space.

Paint vertical stripes or hang vertical striped wallpaper on your walls to make ceilings seem taller.

In the bedroom below, along with hanging vertical striped wallpaper, we also painted the ceiling the same color as the trim for a more open feel. 

bunk room with vertical stripe wallpaper

18. Make a Cozy Nook

When you need extra space in a dining area for traffic flow, try pushing a banquette against a wall to create a dining nook.

Dining rooms with tight spaces are tricky because they need room for pulling chairs away from the table. Using a banquette doesn’t require as much floor space. 

breakfast nook with marble table and banquette

19. Hang Wall Mounted Shelves

When you need storage in a small bathroom, take advantage of vertical space with shelves for keeping towels and toiletries accessible. To create the illusion of even more space, paint shelves the same color as the wall so they practically blend in.

small bathroom with wall mounted shelves

20. Install Built-Ins

Kick the concept of wall shelves up a notch by installing built in shelves or cabinets. It provides tons of storage in a small space and draws the eye upward to make the room look bigger.

small home office with built in shelves

21. Match Furniture to Walls

A monochromatic color palette can work to your advantage in a small home. When furniture is similar in tone to the wall paint, the room seems more open.

monochromatic living room with white sofas, white walls, and white curtains

22. Use Frameless Clear Shower Doors in Small Bathrooms

Frosted shower doors with frames create the look of a wall between the shower and the rest of the bathroom. By installing a frameless clear glass door, you can see into the shower which makes the room look spacious.

small bathroom with shower and marble tile

23. Glossy Tile

Just like semigloss and gloss sheen paint can make a room look bigger, glossy tile on walls and floors bounces light in a small bathroom to make it appear larger.

small bathroom with subway tile on walls and penny tile on floor

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What patterns make a small room look bigger?

Vertical stripes, plaid, and large repeating patterns create the illusion of a larger room.

What decor makes a room look bigger?

1. Large mirrors
2. Curtains hung at ceiling height
3. Vertical shelves
4. Large area rugs
5. Large wall art

More Small Room Decor Ideas

8 Small Hallway Ideas to Make Your Space Look Bigger

small hallway painted white with runner rug

14 Tricks to Make a Small Bathroom Look Bigger

how to make a small bathroom look bigger

10 Small Bedroom Ideas to Make Your Space Feel Bigger

small bedroom with twin sized beds in front of a window
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15 small room ideas for decorating, furniture selecting, choosing paint colors, and utilizing function to make a space look bigger. 

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31 Comments

  1. My biggest thing for making it look bigger not cluttered comes from my boyfriends parents. When I first went to there house immediately I thought wow did they just move in orbit where is all there stuff ? They had a coffee pot and 1 kitchen utensil holder and a shelf with a ton of chickens on it and that was it (for the kitchen anyway) and so much cointer tops it was weird ! But as my messy habits drive me crazy I tried the nothing on the counter and it worked it was actually easier to find things when not on the counters and was super easy to clean up after cooking and it made my whole house look neat and tidy and before it looked disastrous even with an open floor plan but the kitchen is visible throughout the living areas so i understand why it would make everything else messy looking and small

  2. Paint the room white! We all know of white’s reflective qualities. It opens up a room, making it feel airy and light, calm and serene. Painting the walls and ceiling the same shade of white only enhances this cloud-like effect. And it serves to blur the boundaries between wall and ceiling, causing your eye to travel up, essentially making the ceiling seem higher. Finally, in small spaces that can quickly become cluttered looking, white is a good choice because it simplifies a space and emphasizes the architecture.