Little spaces are tricky, but with tiny houses trending, resources to maximize small spaces are growing. If you have a small room you’d like to appear visually larger, there are a few tricks to achieving that effect. Doing just one can make a dramatic difference in the “feel” of the room and make it seem larger in size overall.
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1 – Dark Floors & Rugs
This goes against everything you’ve been told, that small rooms should be as light as possible, right? Yes and no. When the rest of the room is light, a dark floor or large dark rug can be grounding and make little spaces feel taller. It also can make the furnishings stand out, so if you have light furnishings you love, especially with interesting leg detail, try a dark floor. Darker floors also bring visual interest to lucite and glass furnishings, which sometimes disappear into them until the light hits, creating a stunning effect.
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2 – Little Spaces Need Natural Light
Whether you go with a dark or light color scheme, natural light will make little spaces feel bigger. Use window treatments that are as sheer as practical from a privacy standpoint, or go without if it makes sense, and let the light in.
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3 – Floor to Ceiling & Interior Mounted Window Treatments
In small rooms, I ask clients to either go with floor to ceiling window treatments or interior-mounted Roman shades, roller shades, or shutters. In very specific applications (see photo) I’ll go with linen interior-mounted curtains. Floor to ceiling curtains, if you have the floor space, will carry the eye up and make the ceilings feel taller.
Window treatments don’t have to cost a fortune, some of my favorite floor to ceiling options are IKEA Lill ($5 a pair) and IKEA Hilja ($13 a pair and comes in beautiful colors, plus I LOVE the header and the way it gathers). JustBlinds has gorgeous interior-mount window shades, as well. I love bamboo in a traditional application, it makes little spaces feel so luxurious.
4 – Fixtures Close to Ceilings and Walls
Light fixtures that hug close to the ceiling but also make an artistic statement (I prefer metallics or neutral colors in a small room, bright pieces can overwhelm a small space) can draw the eye up and make a room feel larger. Unless the wall fixture is the art feature, I try to have sconces and wall lighting blend in using little contrast. I am obsessed with wire wall fixtures in both historic and contemporary industrial space.
Here are a few affordable options and one more expensive, but truly stunning, brass choice. Lowe’s and Home Depot typically carry several, as well.
5 – Little Spaces Love Monochromatic Color Schemes
It can be helpful to go with one color group in small spaces, adding interest with texture, rather than contrast. Whether you go lighter or darker, stay with warm or cool tones, rather than mixing them.
6 – Low, Large Scale Furnishings Make Little Spaces Live Large
You’ve probably heard oversized furniture can work in small spaces and that’s true, but it takes careful attention to scale. An easier option is to keep things low, so you maximize the amount of wall space between the furniture and ceiling. If you have high ceilings, you can get away with more height but in a shorter room, low is the way to go.
Here are some of my favorites from stores I love.
7 – Dark Accent Walls
Accent walls are polarizing, people seem to either love or hate them. If you’re in camp love, try one dark (not sort of dark – like really dark) wall in small rooms. I try to keep decoration on dark walls minimal a darker in color so it really feels like the wall is receding and maximizes the depth illusion. If you’re renting, grab the look with a large piece of solid art. If the room isn’t symmetric, make a long wall the accent wall. I love this dark green with gold and white accents – perfection.
8 – Little Spaces Maximize the Effect of Clear Furnishings & Accents
Furnishings you can see through are a great way to maximize visual space and to show off a beautiful rug or floor. They’re easy to fit into a contemporary scheme, but I especially love an unexpected clear touch in a traditional room. Soon my office/library will be transformed by a glass desk I can’t wait to share.
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Inspiration pieces for every style and budget –
9 – Declutter
Every “make a room feel bigger” article starts with this tip, but I can’t stress it enough. Find a basket, a box, whatever you can to hold your things, and decorate with what you absolutely love. Open spaces, cohesive containers, and clear corners are your friends when it comes to making a room look larger. IKEA has great deals on every possible storage option and you can order a lot more of their things online now. Check out my Pinterest organization board for ideas to get things together and out of sight.
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Some of my favorite storage styles from the stores I love – and pro-tip, the grey storage boxes are Dollar Tree – $1 each. I’ve officially run out of excuses for not organizing…
10 – Get Things Off the Floors
The more things touching the floor, the longer it takes your eyes to process the room and the smaller it feels. I love huge dining tables and lots of chairs, but for every day, only keep out the chairs you need. Put the others away until needed (or even hang them on the wall for a beautiful traditional display). There are some really lovely folding chairs available, so much more than folding metal chairs of years past. IKEA has some great folding chair and table options.
A lot of the decluttering and lucite pieces above will help with this effort.
11 – Double Little Spaces with Mirrors
It’s a given that mirrors reflect light and multiply space – but where should you hang one? Sometimes, the answer is easy – opposite something you like looking at and/or the natural light source in the room. In a small room, though, more strategy is often needed. Regardless of space, opposite a light source is a natural choice so if you have windows, start there.
You can use a mirror to create balance or definition and architectural detail. In a long, narrow room, position it on the longer wall to widen the space. If your room is small and square with no natural light or view to reflect, position a mirror to reflect a dark accent wall or piece of art. Alternatively, position one opposite a door so it’s the first thing you see and gives depth and detail when you walk in.
Safely propping a large mirror on the floor visually lengthens the room, so that’s a great option if your ceilings aren’t as high as you’d like. If opposite a natural light source, the effect will be multiplied. (Use a stand and furniture anchors for safety.) If you’re on a budget, mirrored tiles are a great option. You can hang them with Command adhesive so they’re removable; do a test on your wall first if damage is a concern).
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Here are some of my favorite mirrors, including several I’m considering for my upcoming downsize.
I’m downsizing from almost 3000 square feet to 1300 soon, so I’m constantly looking for anything that makes space feel larger. I’d love to hear your best tips and to see your before and after photos, tag us with #foodnfabric. I can’t wait to take you along on the decorating journey in the new house, subscribe so you’ll be the first to know.