Property: 10 ways to make a small room feel bigger

property Digitally generated warm and cozy affordable Scandinavian style home interior (living room) design.The scene was rendered with photorealistic shaders and lighting in Autodesk® 3ds Max 2020 with V-Ray Next with some post-production added.
Property: You can use some simple tricks to make a space seem bigger than it is. Photo: Getty

You might not be able to increase a room’s square footage, but you can use some simple tricks to make a space seem bigger than it is.

From colour palettes to furniture tricks, we asked six interiors experts for their go-to advice on making a small room look larger.

Visible furniture legs

It might seem a small and insignificant thing but exposing the legs on your furniture will automatically make a room feel larger.

“Buy sofas and armchairs with visible legs rather than with long ‘skirts’ in order to get a sense of more floor space,” says Anders Olsson, interior design consultant at Draker Lettings.

Computer at table in apartment. Bright modern room with furniture. Interior of home office.
The more floor you can see, the larger the space feels.

Steph Briggs, co-founder of La Di Da Interiors, agrees: "If you’re looking to change it up with your furniture then choose pieces that are on legs, the longer the better. This shows more of the floor, brings in light and therefore gives the feeling of more space.

“This works in any room: in the bathroom, avoid pedestals and hang the sink and toilet from the walls; in the bedroom choose a bed with legs; in the hallway a slimline console table with fine legs; in the sitting room, sofas and chairs with legs and a glass coffee table, will all maximise space."

Swap curtains for blinds

While curtains are a stalwart of window dressing, they aren’t the best at making a house feel spacious.

“Although curtains are great for keeping the heat in our rooms, they can also close a room up and make it look smaller,” says Jenny Shu, interiors expert at Rezigo.

“Opt instead for neat blinds which will help to keep your room in perspective. If you absolutely, positively must have curtains, try hanging the rail on the ceiling rather than at the top of the window to create the illusion of height.”

Neat blinds will help to keep your room in perspective, according to interiors expert Jenny Shu. Photo: Getty
Neat blinds will help to keep your room in perspective, according to interiors expert Jenny Shu. Photo: Getty

Large works of art

A little-known tip when it comes to space maximisation is hanging large pieces of artwork on your walls.

This changes your perspective and tricks you into thinking the room goes beyond its boundaries.

“Use big pieces of artwork, specifically photographs of large-scale landscapes,” says Lucy Breton from StudioBreton. “This introduces another field of vision and just gives us something else to focus on, extending the room.”

Using shelving to cover the entirety of single wall can allow you to create a very functional wall in a small space that facilitates storage, work, and provides a visually interesting display says expert Cameron Johnson. Photo: Getty
Using shelving to cover the entirety of single wall can allow you to create a very functional wall in a small space that facilitates storage, work, and provides a visually interesting display says expert Cameron Johnson. Photo: Getty

Built-in shelving

While stand-alone bookcases and furniture are lovely, they don’t use space very efficiently and can clog up and clutter a room.

If you’re working with a small area, it’s worth investing in some built-in storage instead.

“Using bookcases or a combination of bookcases, shelving, desks, and tables, covering the entirety of single wall, can allow you to create a very functional wall in a small space that facilitates storage, work, and provides a visually interesting display,” says Cameron Johnson, founder of Nickson Living.

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Air space

Talking of wall space, you should think carefully about how you can maximise this and the ceiling too — known as air space in the industry.

“In a small space, you should consider using all wall space, and this includes the ceiling. Ceiling-mounted bike racks, shelving systems, televisions, and room dividers are all elements that can help take advantage of the air space in a room while also preserving limited floorspace for other elements such as tables, chairs, sofas, etc,” says Johnson.

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 3 - Alex Sundt, of the University of California, Berkeley, puts up a murphy bed so he can move the wall to the right up against it to create more space in the living room of the home that will be competing in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon on October 3, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. The moveable wall runs on 5 tracks that allow the home owner to create more space in the living room or more space in the bedroom. All the furniture is against the wall or goes into the wall such as the bed.  The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is a collegiate competition made up of 10 contests that challenge student teams to design and build full-size, solar-powered houses. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends design excellence and smart energy production with innovation, market potential, and energy and water efficiency. The Solar Decathlon 2017 is being held adjacent to the 61st & Peña station on the University of Colorado A line commuter train. The exhibition opens to the public on Oct. 5.  (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Murphy Beds are hinged at one end so they can be stored vertically against a wall or inside a cabinet. Photo: Helen H Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty

Murphy systems

Murphy beds, which are hinged at one end so they can be stored vertically against a wall or inside a cabinet, are a popular way of transforming a living room into a bedroom and doubling up on space.

They have been around for over a century but are now being innovated so that they aren’t just beds.

“Murphy beds have come a long way and some systems include a table or desk setup that can be seamlessly transformed into a queen size bed, allowing any room to serve as both an office and guest suite,” says Johnson.

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Smaller furniture

Too much big furniture in a room will make it feel cramped and claustrophobic.

“Avoid large statement pieces and instead opt for more variety in smaller objects,” says Breton. “Swap your two- seater sofa for two small armchairs. A chest of drawers for a console table. This will help the eye move around the room and create little pathways rather than blocking your line of vision.”

Mirrors

Dining room interior with wooden chairs and table and mirror on the wall. Render image.
Adding mirrors accentuates the natural light in the space and tricks the mind into seeing the space as going beyond the mirrors says expert Manuela Hamilford. Photo: Getty

Mirrors have been used for hundreds of years to make rooms seem bigger but there are modern ways of configuring them to maximise their impact.

“Adding mirrors either on the wall, or inset into joinery is a simple way to make a space feel bigger. The reflections accentuate the natural light in the space and trick the mind into seeing the space as going beyond the mirrors,” says Manuela Hamilford of Hamilford Design.

“Groupings of small mirrors throughout a room can help with the illusion of space while looking classy,” says Shu. “If, however, you prefer a more dramatic look, placing one large statement mirror on a wall can be really effective.”

Blend wall and furniture colours

The colour you choose for a room can have a huge impact on how big it looks; it’s well known that neutral colours maximise the perceived size of a room.

“Choose lighter shades for your walls and stick to one shade throughout to create the illusion of space. Creams, whites and pale greys can be particularly effective in making a room feel bigger,” says Shu.

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But if you blend the colour of your furniture, even if it’s dark, to the walls, a room can also look bigger.

"To visually increase space, choose furniture that colour matches or tones with the walls. This makes it visually blend in and therefore makes it feel more spacious,” says Briggs.

“This works well with a neutral palette but also with a dark interior too. If you already have the perfect furniture, then commission a furniture artist to paint it for you or, if you’re handy with a paint brush, then have a go yourself.”

Remove doors

There’s a reason open-plan living is so popular: it’s an efficient use of space and makes a room seem bigger.

“Removing the doors in your home can give it an airy and spacious feeling as well as improve the flow of the property,” says Shu. “While this works well for a living room and kitchen, we wouldn't, however, recommend trying this in the bathroom!”

Read more: Home renovation: 10 dos & don’ts of a new bathroom

If you don’t (or can’t) remove the doors of your home, increase the height of them instead.

“Taller doors always make a room feel larger and grander. They allow natural light to flow between rooms and draw the line of sight out of the room and beyond,” says Hamilford.

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