How to Make Small Rooms Look and Feel Bigger

We’ve all been there before – a tiny space where we have to live or work. It may be an apartment, a dorm room, or even a garage. It seems that the smaller the room, the harder it is to decorate and make it feel larger. Worry no more! In this article, I’ll show you how to make a small room feel bigger using a variety of tips and tricks. These include common practices in interior design, psychological tricks, and even a cantaloupe – yes, a cantaloupe!

Furniture Styles & Placement

1. Object Placement is Key

Where you put furniture can make a world of difference. This may seem counterintuitive, but if you place furniture a few inches away from the walls, it actually makes a small room feel larger. You can also, place taller items (plants, lamps, shelves) in the corners so your eye is drawn all the way across the room.

Make living room feel bigger

2. Clever Use of Furniture

We often resort to using standard furniture, no matter the size of our apartment or home. A regular ol’ chair, a basic coffee table, the list goes on. Choose creative furniture instead that frees up space; like a stool vs. desk chair, glass furniture vs. wood furniture, and hanging shelves vs. bookshelf.

Choose a stool that fits completely under your furniture.

small room feel bigger stool under desk

Use glass furniture that keeps your line of sight long, making your room appear and feel larger because your vision isn’t blocked.

small room feel bigger glass coffee table

3. Create a Faux L-Couch

Instead of placing your ottoman in the center of your room, try placing it directly next to your couch to create an L-couch. More relaxation for you and more room in your room!

small room feel bigger faux Lcouch

4. Show Off Your Short Legs

The lower the furniture, the taller the walls appear. Also consider using furniture with exposed legs – show your legs off! This refers again to keeping your line of sight as long as possible. Rooms psychologically feel larger if we can see further away (this is why glass furniture is ideal).

small room feel bigger short exposed legs

5. Multi-Purpose Items

Utilize multi-purpose items, such as a bench with drawers, a vanity that doubles as a desk, a coffee table with a hidden compartment, or an ottoman with storage. Why have multiple items when you can have one item that does multiple things?!

small room feel bigger multi purpose vanity desk

Illusions of Space

6. Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall

One of the most common techniques to give the illusion that a space is larger than it actually is, is to place mirrors in a strategic manner. There are multiple strategies when it comes to mirrors: create an accent wall with a mirror to practically double the appearance of a room; hang multiple mirrors all around your tiny space so it reflects maximum light; or sliding mirror doors.

small room feel bigger mirrors in small space
Photo: Shutterfly

7. Light colors can make a small space look huge

Light and bright is the way to go. Dark colors in your space absorb the natural light and creates a cramped feeling. With lighter colors, light reflects and expands. So think of using white or cream for your fabrics, paint, wallpaper, and decor. The brighter it is, the bigger it’ll feel.

Put it to the test: which one looks bigger to you?

8. Keep spaces open

Keep doors or curtains open (or go wild and completely remove them!) so you are able to see more, therefore making the space feel larger. In your bathroom, use a clear shower curtain or keep the curtain open when not in use. In your kitchen, consider removing the pantry door or use exposed shelves so everything is wide open (this also creates more motivation to stay organized!).

small room feel bigger clear shower curtain
small room feel bigger exposed kitchen cabinets

9. Stripes In Every Direction

We know this trick with our clothes: wear vertical stripes to appear taller. The same goes for our rooms! Think of using vertical stripes for more length or horizontal stripes for more width. Stripes are a nice addition on rugs, paint, or curtains.

small room feel bigger floor stripes

Get creative with patterns to make the room feel as if it’s not actually a box.

small room feel bigger diagonal stripes

10. Vertical storage space

Find shelves that reach your ceiling. By storing items toward the ceiling, this appears to elongate the wall. Also, instead of hanging your curtains directly above your windows, place them directly under your ceiling.

small room feel bigger tall bookshelves
Photo: Janis Nicolay

Interior Design Tips

11. Ditch the Gallery Wall

Gallery walls are a popular trend, but to create a feeling of more space, it’s actually better to use one large art piece (or mirror). A gallery wall has many small pieces that constrict your room. The bigger the picture, the bigger the room appears. Just like magic!

Let’s have another test: which one feels larger?

12. Use a transparent room divider

Another simple way to make a small space feel larger, is to turn it into TWO spaces! Use light curtains, shelves or even a row pf plants to create separate areas and make your room feel double in size.

small room feel bigger two rooms in one

13. Bare Windows and Floors

It’s hard to imagine windows with no curtains, or a hardwood floor with no rugs. Well, use the image below to expand your imagination a bit. Curtains and rugs can optically compartmentalize your space; so consider leaving your windows and floors bare to avoid creating separate sections.

small room feel bigger bare windows floors
Photo: @almostmakesperfect

14. The Cantaloupe Rule

When in doubt, follow the Cantaloupe Rule! This was coined by Target’s Home Style expert, Sabrina Soto. She believes that if a decor item is smaller than a cantaloupe, it is considered clutter. Instead of a bunch of little pieces, opt for one or two larger statement pieces. Use this trick with all your knick-knacks, then have a nice melon snack afterward!

small room feel bigger cantaloupe rule

Summing up

And there you have it! No more excuses to feel cramped in your small spaces. Here’s the thing about these tricks – creating a larger space isn’t just a literal process. It’s also mental. Many of these tricks are just that: tricks — psychologically making us believe our space is larger.

There is nothing wrong with a tiny, cozy space – but we all know that bigger is truly better. Let us know what tips and tricks work the best for you!