How to Make a Small Room Seem Big

Keeping accessories to a minimum and cutting down on clutter can help make a small space seem bigger than it is.­ See more pictures of home design.
Keeping accessories to a minimum and cutting down on clutter can help make a small space seem bigger than it is.­ See more pictures of home design.
iStockphoto/Brian Pamphilon

­So you finally have your own place. You can't wait to move in and get settled. Next week you'll order a new living room set, an­d your mom decided to give you the great hutch you've always admired. Then may­be you can think about what else to do with the rest of your space.

But then again … it sure is filling up fast. Was it this small when you signed the lease?


Moving and settling into a new home can be a daunting task. It certainly doesn't make it any easier when you can barely get your things through the door. But don't despair; you're not alone in your struggle for space efficiency. Space can be a hot commodity - especially in densely populated urban areas. There have been many before you who have tackled the issue of making the most of a small space. As such, there are several helpful solutions you may want to try.

If time, money and room weren't an issue, the easiest thing to do would be just to add on more space. But for most of us, that's simply not an option. Luckily, there ar­e simpler solutions out there. There are plenty of ways to make your small rooms look spacious.

­In most cases, you can give the illusion of having space with minimal effort. For example, lightly colored wall paint can make a room appear larger. Wide floorboards and striped rugs can also give the illusion of space. As you continue reading, you'll see there are plenty of other small factors like these that play up a small space.

So before you bring in the construction crew or start shopping for a bigger home, head over to the next page for some specific tips on how to help make your small room look big. You might just be surprised at how much potential that tiny bedroom or living room has!


Space-Enhancing Decoration Tips

Space-enhancing decoration tips can be broken down into a few basic categories: colors, furnishings, storage and clutter.

As we've already mentioned paint color can go a long way in making a space seem roomier.


You should choose a light or bright paint for your wall color. Dark colors tend to make rooms appear smaller, so avoid these and stick to the lightest shades possible. Go for lavender instead of a deep violet or go for something called mist over something called azure. Adding a light or white trim can also help create the illusion of more space. And if your ceilings are low, simply paint them white or choose a shade lighter than your wall color.

The furnishings and accessories that you choose can definitely impact how large or small your room will feel. You've probably already heard that mirrors can add a lot of depth to a room. This is true -- they're great for creating an optical illusion of more space, especially if you place a mirror or two across from windows or in other areas of the room that receive a lot of natural light. However, don't overdo it. Avoid putting too many things on the walls. Too many posters, picture frames, decorations -- even mirrors -- can make it feel like the walls are closing in. As for other accessories, leave windows uncovered, or use sheer, light window treatments and curtains. Also, instead of space-consuming table and floor lamps, try mounting lights and light sconces on the wall.

As for furniture, it's a good idea to consider scale. In a small bedroom, ditch the king for a queen or the queen for a double, if possible. For a small living room, look for scaled-down furniture, avoiding large, overstuffed pieces. If a bedroom is doing double duty -- maybe it's moonlighting as an office -- consider a daybed, sleeper-style chair or sofa or maybe even a Murphy bed (it looks like a closet or an armoire, but a bed folds out of it). Look for multipurpose furniture. Your grandmother's cedar chest or your grandfather's steamer trunk could make a great coffee table or bench, providing great storage at the same time.

And speaking of storage, don't let any space go unused. You can toss a table skirt over end tables, or find baskets that will slide under them, and your stored knick-knacks are out of sight. Invest in an entertainment center that will house not only your TV and other electronics, but your CD and DVD collection as well. If the unit also has some room for collectibles and books, that's even better because it will cut down on the clutter. Cleared tabletops and de-cluttered floors can make a room seem much larger than one strewn with your belongings. Keep your walkways designated and clear. Move furniture against the wall and allow for direct paths through the room, especially if it's a high-traffic area [sources: Alicie, Better Homes and Gardens, Kat].

You may think you need a lot of space for all your possessions, but by using some of the tips from above, you can maximize your room's potential.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Links

  • Alicie, Suzanne. "How to Make Your Small Living Room Seem Larger. Associated Content. January 12, 2009. (Accessed 02/21/2009)
  • Better Homes and Gardens. "Making Small Rooms Seem Big." BHG Real Estate. (Accessed 02/20/2009)
  • Kat. "How to Make a Small Room Look Big." (Accessed 02/21/2009)
  • Real Simple. "Space Saving Tips and Tricks." (Accessed 02/22/2009),21861,1209655-1209657-1,00.html