Simple Design Tips to Make Your Small Room Look Larger

There are many simple ways to create the illusion of space by rearranging your furniture and adding strategic lighting.

By Bea Elle


Let’s face it. Few of us have homes where every room is as large as we’d like it to be. If the living room is comfy and spacious, it’s often at the expense of the kitchen or foyer. Even if each room in your house is the perfect size, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. If you are feeling a little glum about the size of your home or looking for ways to impress a crowd party guests, here are many simple ways to create the illusion of space by rearranging your furniture and adding strategic lighting. 




Get Rid of Bulky Antiques

Get rid of it. Yes, you love Aunt Irma’s old armoire, but it takes up valuable space and really doesn’t go with your décor. Bulky furniture will always make a small room seem crowded. Furnish your room with steam-lined tables and futons instead. Consider ways you can use walls and ceilings to support some of the decorations you want in the room. Mount shelves to hold books and collectibles or try mounting your television on the wall to optimize the space it takes up.  Big, bulky furniture has its place, but if space is your main concern settle for smaller pieces and more open floor. 


Living room with armoire


Spread Out Your Furniture

Feng Shui can be a great guide to design, but it isn’t the best advice to follow in your small rooms. The philosophy dictates all furniture should rest against the wall to enhance the flow of energy in the space. However, if your room feels cramped, pull the furniture away from the walls. This will keep the room open and prevents guests from gravitating toward the corners of the room. Arranging the furniture as though your room were large creates the illusion that the room is actually big. 


Compact condo


Furnish the Room to Scale

If your room still feels cramped after you rearrange it, it may be time to consider some new furniture. Take the measurements of the room and use them to buy furniture scaled precisely to fit the room, or use a virtual home design application to preview what your room may look like with new furniture. This move is especially recommended if you do not want to spend time re-inventing pieces and eye-balling everything you own to see if it makes the room look the size you want. The only drawback is if you move, you’ll be stuck with pieces designed for a specific space.


Bright living room


Use Natural Light

Natural sunlight can make a room seem much larger than it actually is and gives the illusion of space. If your room doesn’t have many windows, you can make a big difference by adding one or two such as a skylight. Putting in new windows isn’t a difficult renovation, but it does require experience and installation time. Only try this step if you’re prepared for the cost and the work. If you want more natural light without the hassle of a renovation, substitute shutters for your heavy drapes. The lightweight plastic will let in more light and contribute the open airy feel you want in your room.




Use Low Furniture

Furniture that sits low to the ground will give the illusion of extra space because you can see the whole room instead of having boundaries made by large pieces of furniture. You can help the illusion along by leaving them plain and empty. When trying to arrange a spacious room, the focus usually jumps to finding more floor space. Don’t forget the powerful effect of high walls and vast ceilings. If you trick people into thinking the ceiling is a few feet higher than it actually is, they’ll walk around as if the whole room were spacious.  


Modern living room


Keep It Simple

Each of these steps should help you achieve this ultimate goal and desired look. The best way to make a small room look bigger is to pare down the furniture, let more light through the windows, and allow for as much open space as possible.


Simple living room


Perhaps the real reason we suffer from overcrowded rooms isn’t that our rooms are small, but that we fill our rooms with too much stuff. Carefully consider what's essential and remove the excess!


Images used with permission, courtesy of and

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