Less Than Meets the Eye: How to Transform a Small Room to Look Larger

If you’re stuck in smaller rooms for now, there are a ton of interior design tricks to help make the space look bigger. Use these tips to expand your space.

By Hannah Anderson

 

Whether you’re first starting out in an apartment or if you’ve lived in your home for years, small rooms happen to everyone. If you can’t afford or don’t have the option of expanding the room, but you just can’t get over the sense of claustrophobia your small room creates, what can you do? 

 

There's a simple solution. Trick yourself into seeing a larger room! No mental exercises or hypnosis is required. Instead, incorporate the various properties of light within the décor, and arrange of your room to expand its presence and add space. These tricks don’t require painting — just simple arrangement and rearrangement to achieve the balance of space and function you’re longing for in your spaces.

 

Fool Your Eyes

Appearances may not be everything, but when you’re working with limited space, they can affect the entire picture. Reflections can define a room’s presence, and can be easily manipulated to alter the way a room is perceived. Mirrors are the quickest way to make a room appear larger because they create reflections that appear to create more light and space. Reflections can make a room look both wider and taller. This technique is used in tight restaurant spaces and snug apartments around the world. 

 

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The best way to capture these reflections is by using mirrors or mirror-finished furniture as key decorating pieces. You don’t want to use mirrors wall-to-wall. Not only does it overwhelm, but the illusion starts to break down with too many reflections. For a simple touch, lean an oversized full-length mirror against a focus wall or hang multiple mirrors salon-style to create a statement wall. Try various shapes and frames to keep the mirrors from looking too formal, and incorporate the colors and themes of your room to keep the look cohesive.

 

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Disappearing Act

Making the lines and textures of your furniture disappear helps to add the illusion of space to a room. Glass tables or Lucite chairs, for instance, don’t “stop” the reflection of light like wooden tables or hard plastic chairs would. The eye follows the light through translucent materials, fooling your eyes and your brain into thinking there’s more open space in a room than there actually is. Let in as much natural light as possible to maximize the effect, and as for the mirrors, don’t overdo it.

 

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An acrylic or glass coffee table is the perfect touch for a living area. (Acrylic AKA acrylic glass has several trade name, including Plexiglas, Acrylite, Lucite, and Perspex.) Glass or crystal bowls or pitchers help open up your kitchen, especially if you have a window that maximizes the light they reflect. You can use mirrored trays or glass lamps in any room to achieve a dazzling and spacious look.

 

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Leave Some Space

Leaving open space may seem counterintuitive. After all, aren’t you reading this because you don’t have enough space?  But leaving space around your furniture can lend the appearance of more space. Angling your bed, for example, makes your eyes travel a longer distance to take in the whole bed, giving you the feeling of a longer or wider room. You can also create a “floating sofa” by adding a skinny console table behind it. The contrast of your couch with the thin lines of the table creates a sense of breathing room, which makes your space seem even larger.

 

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The empty space technique can also apply to your lighting. Instead of using overhead light fixtures, add several lighting elements in a small room. An overhead light draws the eye to a single spot, comparing the rest of the room to that spot and shrinking it. Using multiple light fixtures tricks your brain into stretching the room larger to accommodate the various light sources. For an even stronger effect, stagger the heights of your light fixtures to give the illusion of a taller room. A floor lamp, a lamp on the side table, and a sconce can all make it seem much larger.

 

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As long as you keep these techniques in mind, small rooms can have big impacts. Even simple fixes can change your perceptions, and ultimately make your home feel more welcoming.