With a few simple design ideas, you can make that little space feel much larger
It’s possible that your living area is smaller than you’d like…but it doesn’t have to look that way. You may use many relatively simple design ideas to fool the eye into experiencing a greater sense of space. These principles revolve around the concepts of size, light, and movement.
While it’s tempting to focus on the disadvantages of smaller rooms, don’t overlook the benefits: there’s less vacant wall space to decorate, less to clean, and the compact area will likely deter you from storing needless goods (aka developing clutter). Here’s how to make the most of those cramped quarters by making them appear larger than they actually are.
.You knew it was going to happen, right? The first step in generating the perception of extra space is to make room for it. Every room-enlarging endeavor (that isn’t a renovation) must start with a thorough, deliberate decluttering. This entails removing bulky or unneeded items, leaving free space on open shelves rather than filling every square inch with books, picture frames, flowers, and knickknacks, and tucking all non-essential items out of sight (even additional blankets and that tenth throw cushion). If it isn’t contributing to the room’s sensation of spaciousness, move it or get rid of it.
Keep furniture proportional to the room
Downsizing the furniture in a room, ensuring sure no piece is too massive or bulky for the area, is one of the simplest methods to make it appear larger. Any furniture that reaches the room’s edges is too large and should be replaced. Allowing space between the sides of your furniture and the walls will give the impression of space and airflow. Sorry, La-Z-Boy fans—sleek, minimalist designs are preferable to anything with cushy, overstuffed cushions. Additionally, arrange furniture so that none of the room’s main light sources are blocked.
Choose “leggy” furniture and light fixtures
Select exposed-leg chairs and tables, as well as streamlined lamp fixtures with slender arms and few bulbs, to create a sensation of light, airy movement. Furniture and fixtures with slender frames and visible legs create a sense of air circulation and can appear to float in open areas. These optics deceive the eye and mind into believing there is more space. Consider wrought iron, as well as transparent materials like glass and lucite, for added effect.
Keep furniture and wall accents low
Keep furniture and wall accessories close to the ground to give the impression of more vertical space. Ottomans, low tables, and Mad Men-style couches come to mind. Consider pieces from the mid-century modern and nineteenth-century periods, which are typically lower to the ground. You may go without an elevated bed frame and just put your mattress and box spring on the floor, or you can upgrade your sleeping experience with a loft bed. (While this goes against the “keep it low” suggestion, it accomplishes the main purpose of maximizing vertical space.)
When it comes to art, break the rule of hanging wall accents at eye level and instead hang them lower and closer to the furniture, leaving free space above. It is preferable to decorate with fewer, larger accents rather than numerous smaller ones, which can make a space appear congested.
When it comes to making a room appear larger, the power of white cannot be underestimated. Its reflecting properties amplify light, instantly making a space appear brighter and airier. According to Remodelista, painting the walls and ceiling white “serves to blur the borders between wall and ceiling, leading your eye to travel up, therefore making the ceiling appear higher.”
Don’t be concerned about the place appearing overly sterile. Accent colors and textures like grained wood, antiques, woven baskets, soft tan leather, sheepskin rugs, greenery, and warm metals like brass or brushed gold can easily liven and warm up a space.
Incorporate vertical lines
Emphasizing ceiling height might draw the focus away from a modest room’s size. To attract the eye up, up, and away from any concerns about the room’s small size, use tall shelves, vertical shiplap, beadboard, lined wallpaper, board-and-batten wainscoting, or single hanging bulbs.
One word: Mirrors
Mirrors are one of the most valuable tools in any interior designer’s arsenal, particularly when it comes to making tiny spaces appear larger. Mirrors should be carefully placed around your rooms to reflect light and the view from your windows, making the mirror appear to be another window. (Mirrors placed opposite windows and at the end of short hallways frequently create the most visual space.) Instead of enormous, heavy standing mirrors that take up valuable floor space, use wall mirrors, mirrored chests, and accent trays.
Leave windows and floors bare
This means no — or very few — draperies, curtains, or rugs. Curtains add another (long) thing for the eye to take in, making windows appear smaller and cluttering the space. They also obstruct light and the view, which is unavoidable. If you do decide to use curtains, choose a sheer, lightweight version with a pole that goes beyond the windows so that they can rest completely to the side of the window when open.
Exposed floorboards also reflect light, making the room appear larger. While a rug-free house may not be for you, think about lowering the number, thickness, color, or complexity of designs on your rugs.
Choose light fabrics (and colors)
Heavy textiles like velvet, wool, flannel, tweed, suede, and faux-fur can make a room appear smaller than it is. For a lighter, airier feel, choose materials made of cotton or linen. (If you choose a thicker cloth, choose a light color.) Brown, black, and dark blues should be avoided in favor of brighter neutrals to which you can add pops of color.
Create a clear walking path
It’s only natural to want to place your furniture in the middle of a room to give it symmetry. When working in a small space, however, focus on building a clear, open path across the space so it doesn’t appear to be an obstacle course or a one-way ticket to falling flat on your face. Make sure there is no furniture in the way of the natural route. Taller items should be placed against the walls, while shorter elements should take up the majority of the area. You’ll not only look better, but you’ll also trip less.
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