The last thing that you want after a long day is to get home and feel like you’re living in a space where the walls are caving in on you. Small spaces can be tricky. They can be cluttered, cramped, and overwhelming.
I’ve been there. I get it.
But it doesn’t have to be this. That’s the reason I’m writing this article. I’m going to help you transform your small space so that it looks bigger, more welcoming, and, overall, more pleasant.
You work hard, so you deserve a space that makes you feel at home.
Here are a few things that you can do to make your small space look bigger:
1. Paint your walls a light color
Lighter colors are great for making a space seem more open. They reflect light, giving the illusion that your space is bigger than it actually is.
In my experience, white is the best color for walls. I painted my current walls, white, a few months ago, and it truly made my space feel huge. Let me just say, as someone that loves real estate, there’s a reason that almost every realtor paints a house white when they’re trying to sell it. It makes the house look bigger and it looks clean.
Of course, some people don’t like the look of a white wall. But you’ve got many different options to choose from. Light blue or grey is a popular option as of late, but any light neutral will work really well.
Luckily, it doesn’t take a whole lot to paint a house.
I painted my room in a day for less than $40 and I used premium paint.
So go ahead, go to your nearby Home Depot or Lowe’s and grab a bucket and a brush. Trust me, it’ll be well worth it.
On the plus side, nothing gets rid of smells faster than a fresh coat of paint.
2. Invest in bigger furniture
It may seem counterintuitive, but investing in bigger furniture is actually a great idea if you have a small space.
If you have a bunch of pieces of tiny furniture, it basically makes you feel cramped. Don’t get it? If you have a bunch of tiny chairs, everything feels tiny.
Of course, don’t overdo it and buy like 10,000 pieces of giant furniture that take up all of your space. But a few pieces here and there, like a couch or a coffee table, can really make a statement and make your small space feel more put together and bigger.
If you’re not really sure where to buy furniture or you’re not willing to spend a fortune, I personally recommend thrift shops.
You can find a lot of quality pieces for a really low price on Craigslist or at flea markets or at even Goodwill.
3. Use breezy fabrics
Fabrics that look light and airy, don’t weigh us down visually. They’re associated with being “free” and make space feel more welcoming. There’s a reason that a lot of designers use sheer or light-colored curtains. It’s great for making a room seem bigger because they’re not as distracting as traditional, heavy curtains.
4. Hang a mirror on your wall
Ever think of why almost every gym has a giant wall of mirrors? It serves two reasons, people like to look at themselves and analyze their form, but most importantly, it gives the illusion that we’re in a bigger space than we actually are.
Now, I’m not saying go out and buy a mirror and cover your entire walls. That’s a little excessive, but a singular mirror or a few placed around your house in strategic places is a great idea.
The great thing about mirrors is that you can get them in practically any location that sells furniture or home decor. I’ve seen a lot of beautiful ones at thrift stores, but you can buy them new at locations like Walmart or Target.
5. Invest in better lighting
The most common mistake that people make is that they install a single overhead light fixture and call it a day. Unfortunately, this creates a single focal point which is a terrible idea, visually.
What you want to do is spread out the light sources in your room. Think of why hotel rooms always have a bunch of fancy lamps everywhere. It’s for this purpose. It’s all psychological.
The great thing is: you’ve got a lot of options.
You could get a bunch of lamps or install recessed lighting. Or you can get a cool artsy light fixture with a bunch of different bulbs to spread out.
Of course, natural lighting is the best so if you can get away with just opening your windows, go for it. If you really want to go all out, invest in a sky light.
6. Buy low profile furniture
In a small space, low profile furniture will make your space seem taller. This is a common design trick used by popular designers around the world. Not only does it make your space seem bigger, but it also adds a bit of elegance because it shows thought in your design.
Here are some pieces of furniture to trade out: your bed, coffee table, or nightstands.
Of course, everything in your room should have a low profile, or else it’ll look kind of weird.
7. Minimize your belongings
If you’re not particularly attached to your stuff, the easiest way to make a room look bigger is to get rid of what you own. Let’s be honest, most of us own things that we don’t need or care for. There’s a reason why minimalism is popular right now.
Everywhere around the world, people are realizing that they just own way too much stuff and that it’s taking control of their lives.
They have to manage what they own, organize it, clean it. It’s a lot to handle. And they’re sick of it.
A few years ago, before minimalism ever became a widespread social movement, I looked at my room and wondered why I spent so much time maintaining stuff that I didn’t use. It wasn’t making me happy and felt like a chore.
As a result, I decided to get rid of everything that I didn’t use or love. It was the best decision my high school self ever made and it’s something that I’ve carried into my adult life now, even years later.
Here are my favorite sources on minimalism: The Minimalists, Marie Kondo, and Matt D’Avella.
Decluttering is pretty easy once you get the hang of it. And you’ll feel great once you get rid of any visual clutter. Keep only what you need, use, and love.
Trust me, you won’t miss a thing.
8. Keep your floors clear
Now, I couldn’t keep stuff on my floor, even if I wanted to. I have a dog that loves to run away with my socks, clothes, and blankets any chance she gets. I’m lucky — my dog has trained me.
A great way to make your room seem bigger is by keeping stuff off of your floors.
When you keep things on your floor it creates a mental barrier. It makes you feel like you’re closed in and have less space than you actually do. Never let anything pile up on the floor. Pick up your socks shoes, clothes, and garbage the first chance you get.
Or get a puppy. It might have the same effect.
9. Use less patterns
Some people love patterns too much. To the point where it’s overwhelming. I’m personally not a huge fan of going all out with a bunch of patterns. But, I can recognize that a few carefully curated ones can really elevate a design and take it to the next level.
A wonderful compromise between having too many patterns and having none is: texture. Texture on your pillows, for example, adds an elegant, artistic element. It doesn’t clutter up visual space and make your room seem cramped like a hundred different patterns would.
10. Move furniture away from walls
I had my couch against my wall for years before I ever realized how cramped it made my house and living room seem.
One day, I read up that moving furniture away from your walls opens up your space and makes it seem bigger. It seemed a little strange, but I tried it.
It was a great decision because it made me feel like I had more space to move around, like I wasn’t fixed or anchored to a specific location.
11. Utilize hidden storage
The more clutter that you have out of the open, the smaller your space will look. Clutter distracts the eye, making you feel more cramped.
Therefore I recommend hiding all of your unsightly clutter. Storage bins under your bed are a great example. They’re easy to grab at a moment’s notice and a whole lot can fit under there.
An ottoman with storage inside never ceases to blow my mind.
12. Invest in multi-functional furniture
I have a couch that doubles as a pull-out bed. It saves me the trouble of having to maintain a guest room and I love it. In the case of an emergency and a family or friend needs to stay at my house, I’ve got a couch bed ready to go in minutes.
Functional furniture is the best thing that you can do in a small space because it really makes your home more efficient. For example, I’ve seen a lot of tiny home builders put storage under their stairs.
This is amazing because they’re utilizing empty space that otherwise wouldn’t have been used!
13. Hang floor-to-ceiling curtains
Hanging floor-t0-ceiling curtains draws the eye upward, emphasizing vertical space in an elegant manner. It’s no wonder that tons of designers use this trick when designing small spaces.
For best results use a light-colored, breezy fabric for your curtains.
14. Invest in clear or transparent furniture
I’d only really recommend this in moderation. After all, if everything in your house is transparent, it’s going to look a bit strange visually. But a few transparent pieces here and there can really elevate your space.
Clear pieces, made of glass, acrylic, or lucite, don’t take up visual space. As a result, they can add valuable surface area without making your space seem smaller.
My favorite place for transparent tables is next to couches, serving as side tables. I also really love to use them as “catch-all” tables (those that you can find in the entryway of a home, where you put your keys and such).
15. Hang your TV
Hanging up your TV frees up space on your dresser or console, making your space look less cluttered and bigger. But, your TV doesn’t have to be an eyesore in the first place.
Just recently, I was watching a house tour on YouTube and I saw this TV that looks like an art piece when you turn it off. I mean, look at it. It’s pretty amazing.
16. Install crown molding
Crown molding is an easy way to make a room seem bigger. It draws the eye upward, which emphasizes the vertical space of the room.
It’s also relatively easy to install. You can do it in a day yourself with the right materials and a basic understanding of what you need to do. Here’s how to install crown molding.
17. Stick to a few colors
When designing a small space, sticking to a few colors can really do your space justice. Using fewer colors makes everything look more cohesive, intentional, and visually and mentally calming.
Neutral colors work best. Think light browns, greys, blues, and whites. You can go fully monochromatic if you’re into that. If not, add a few, well thought out pops of color here and there to really make your small space look designer.
I personally love using reds, yellows, and blues as an accent color in more neutral designs.
18. Use furniture with exposed legs
Psychologically, when you can see under your furniture, such as a table or couch, it makes space feel bigger. It gives the illusion that the space is more open because you can see the item from the front and whatever is behind it.
If you’ve got bulky furniture, it’ll feel more imposing and overwhelming.
Luckily, this is a pretty easy fix. You can add legs to furniture that you already have. Or you can buy a new relatively high-quality piece, that already comes with legs, at a thrift store or online.
19. Utilize furniture with diagonal legs
Chairs and tables with diagonal legs create visual interest. In design, diagonal lines give the illusion of “movement” because they draw the eye from side to side. Think of it this way: traditional homes are designed with strong vertical (the walls) and horizontal elements (the roof and floor).
Diagonal lines draw attention away from this, so if your space is small, this can really be a blessing.
20. Go open-concept
Going open concept is when you open up the floor plan of your house, for example, by tearing down walls or getting rid of doors. Essentially, you’re working towards opening up your space so that it looks bigger.
I personally love open floor plans and have for a long time. Sometimes having a designated room for each activity just doesn’t make sense. Why have a dining room if you never use it?
Open floor plans have become mainstream in recent years for a lot of reasons. They’re a good way to make a small space seem bigger and can encourage you to use your space more efficiently.
21. Invest in a clear shower curtain
Traditional shower curtains close off space, making small bathrooms seem even smaller than they are. Clear shower curtains work in pretty much the same way that transparent furniture does.
It clears up visual space.
Because you don’t have a giant piece of fabric or plastic blocking your view, the room feels bigger.
This is a huge plus when you’re actually taking a shower because you won’t feel so cramped. It’s similar to having a window. For example, if you’re trapped in a box, you’ll feel way better if you have a window to look out of.
22. Use stripes
Vertical stripes are a great way to make a room feel taller because it draws the eye upward. Think of how wearing vertical stripes can make a person look skinnier.
Horizontal stripes can also work in much of the same manner, making your room seem wider and, therefore, bigger.
Luckily, stripes are pretty easy to implement.
Vertical or horizontal paneling on your works is easy to install and adds visual interest to your place. If you’re looking for a quicker option, you can even paint stripes on the wall yourself.
You just need some good ol’ painter’s tape to section off the wall into stripes and paint in between them. Of course, don’t go overboard. Tiny stripes might be a little too overwhelming from afar. A few big ones across your wall will definitely help though.
An even easier method? Head on over to Target, Walmart, or your local design store. Then, look for striped pillows, blankets, or throws.
You can even find a lot of great pieces on Amazon, which is one of my favorite places to shop because it’s so quick.
23. Match furniture to your wall color
Matching your furniture or curtains to your wall color kind of makes your room seem bigger. For example, a grey couch matched to a grey wall doesn’t it doesn’t look as imposing because they “blend” together.
On the other hand, a bright orange couch against a neon green wall is, visually, a lot more stressful and can make your space seem smaller.
24. Organize shelves by color
Organizing your shelves by color makes your space look more elegant and well thought out. There’s a reason that grouping colors together makes a real impact on how a room is perceived.
Think of a normal bookshelf with the colors all mixed together. The individual spines of the book vie for attention. Every color stands out, but ever so slightly.
But, when you group 10 blue books together, the brain interprets those books as one. Because they have one thing in common; they’re all blue. This is visually more pleasing and makes your space feel less cramped.
25. Use bigger statement pieces
Again, it may seem counterintuitive, but using the bigger statement pieces can actually make a small room seem ampler. Here’s an example: when you have a giant framed piece of art on your wall, it becomes a focal point for your room.
However, when you have a bunch of tiny framed pictures, it makes your space seem cluttered and visitors don’t really have a set place to look.
Of course, don’t go all out and cover your entire walls in giant pieces of art. This will have an adverse effect, but a few big pieces work exceptionally well.
Think of one nice, larger vase instead of hundreds of smaller not-as-nice ones. That even sounds better.
I’ve always decorated my house like this and I love it. By only choosing a few select pieces, I’m forced to only put up what I really love. It also makes my space looks refined. It’s a win-win.
When living in a small space, you don’t have to feel like you’re living in one. These space-saving tips have been tried and tested, designed to make you feel like you’re living in a mansion.
Okay, maybe not a mansion, but you get the idea.
If you’d like any more space-saving tricks, head on over to the decorating section of my blog. I’ve dedicated a lot of my time to finding the best solutions for small space living.
See ya soon!