How to Make a Large Space Feel Homey

Showcase interior family room with breakfast nook
Breaking a large space into separate areas can make a large space seem cozier. Adding a darker wall and ceiling color to this room would enhance its hominess even more.­
­iStockphoto/Ann Marie Kurtz

­You're moving into a new, much bigger house. In fact, you're more than doubling your living space. Suddenly, you realize you don't have nearly enough furniture to make your spacious new abode feel as comfortable and cozy as your tin­y two-bedroom bungalow did. Well, you're not alone. Compared to decades past, Americans tend to demand a higher quality of life than they used to. Accordingly, houses have gotten bigger and more spacious to meet that demand. Therefore, plenty of homeowners have experienced this same situation, wondering what they'll do to make their new house feel like a home.

There's no need to start second-guessing your purchase and developing buyer's remorse. There are plenty of tricks and tips you can follow to make even the biggest rooms feel homey. And almost all the tips you'll read about here are easy enough for even a first time do-it-yourselfer.


­Making your large room look homey is all about décor -- furnishings and accessories -- and visual tricks you can use to create an illusion of a smaller, more intimate space. Dark, deep colors absorb light and tend to make a room look warmer and smaller -- especially if you finish the job by changing your ceiling from white to a darker shade of paint [source: Lynch]. With larger rooms, you're no longer restricted to small-scale furnishings, so go ahead and consider purchasing the sectional sofa, oversized armchair and chunky armoire you've been wanting. They'll not only provide some of the comfort and storage you're looking for, but they'll take up a decent amount of space.

As you read on, you'll see that you don't have to go to great lengths to keep your gigantic living room from looking like a sparsely furnished museum lobby. There are plenty of things you can do to make your large room feel warm and inviting.

Check out the next page for some specific tips to help you make any large space seem homey.


Homey Decorating Tips

If you've read our article "How to Make a Small Room Seem Big," then you might have an idea of some ways to make a large room feel cozy -- just by doing the opposite of what we recommend in that article. For example, to make a small room seem bigger, you want to use light-colored paint. So to make a large room seem less spacious, use dark colors. Warm, deep, dark walls absorb light and can make a room feel smaller. If you choose wallpaper, use the same principles. Pick something with large patterns of dark colors. You may even want to try using fabric to cover your walls. With fabric, you can get the benefit of darker shades while also incorporating plush textures, which can enhance the hominess of a room even more. And as mentioned before, don't forget the ceiling. Painting it a darker color helps enclose the space even more -- especially in rooms that have particularly high ceilings. A light-colored ceiling will contrast with dark walls, drawing your eye upward, emphasizing the size of the room. A darker ceiling will give the illusion that the ceiling is lower, immediately making the room feel smaller and more intimate. And don't reserve the dark colors for your walls -- carry those tones throughout the room in your furniture and accessories too.

Speaking of furniture, it's important to consider scale. The living room furniture that fit perfectly in your bungalow will probably be too small for your new larger living room. You can always use the old stuff in a den or home office. For your new bigger space, go for large, even oversized furniture. But big furniture isn't the only solution. Break your large space into sections. You can do this by putting furniture groupings in different areas and using rugs to create separate visuals. For example, you can face a sectional or couch/loveseat combo and coffee table toward the fireplace or TV. Use a large rug to delineate this space. Then set a few chairs off to the side to create a spot for chatting, playing board games and reading away from the TV area. Again, use a large rug to set off this space. You can also use bookcases or screens to delineate smaller spaces within a large room. Or, if a little construction is in your budget, try building a few half walls, some pass-through bookcases that form a sort of doorway or put up some pillars to mark off different areas of a room.


Once you have the walls and furniture set, it's time to consider accessories. In general, stick with warm, dark colored accents. Try to include textured materials, like velvet or faux fur, which are great for throw pillows. Don't be afraid to go dramatic with your colors and patterns as these things will all pull the focus toward them instead of the vast room. Go for bold, dramatic window dressings. They'll not only eat up some of your wall space but they'll help absorb light. Of course, you will need some light, but try to pick the coziest options. For example, light from sources such as floor or table lamps provides a warmer option than bright overhead light fixtures. Avoid hanging too many mirrors. These reflect light better than anything does and will only accentuate your room's size. What you do want to hang, though, are large pieces of artwork such as paintings and tapestries -- especially pieces that incorporate dark, warm colors. And finally, small accessories or plants will get lost in a big space. Instead, look for large accessories and plants that complement the size of the room and the scale of the furnishings within it [sources: Essortment, Lowes, Lynch]

For more information on working with you large space, be sure to check out the links on the next page.


Make Large Spaces Homey: Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • Census. "Median and Average Square Feet of Floor Area in New One-Family Houses Completed by Location." (Accessed 03/01/2009).
  • Essortment. "10 ways to make a large room cozy." (Accessed 03/01/2009)
  • Garrity, Mary Carol. "Some tips for making large rooms warm, cozy." The Post and Courier. November 16, 2008. (Accessed 03/01/2009)
  • Lambert, N.M. "Home Decorating: Create a Perfectly Casual, Cozy Living Room." Associated Content. August 6, 2007. (Accessed 03/01/2009)
  • Lowes. "Make a Cavernous Room Cozy." (Accessed 03/01/2009)
  • Lynch, Sarah. "77 Habits of Highly Creative Interior Decorators." Google Books. 2005. (Accessed 03/01/2009)
  • Walsh, Michael. "Spacious guise: Big rooms can be made cozy." The San Diego Union Tribune. November 5, 2006. (Accessed 03/01/2009)