While the go-to trick might be to cover your walls with mirrors, try these lesser-known designer ideas to leave your space feeling wide open.
By Sarah Fogle
Perhaps your minimal lifestyle has led you to a small living space, or you’re on a tight, I-can-only-afford-a-studio budget. Maybe you just have that one cramped room you don’t know what to do with. In any case, there are a multitude of ways to create the illusion of spaciousness through decor. While the go-to trick might be to cover your walls with mirrors, try these lesser-known designer ideas to leave your space feeling wide open.
Painting your walls, molding and window trim in the same neutral shade will allow for a smooth line of vision from floor to ceiling, eliminating any choppiness. Similarly, using multiple shades of one color for your furniture, throw pillows and other decorative pieces will create cohesion throughout the room and give the illusion of space.
To get rid of superfluous furniture and clutter, incorporate extra storage in every possible aspect of the room. Invest in a coffee table that opens up to store blankets and magazines. Side tables with drawers or cabinets are a good place to stick remotes and media. When it comes to furniture in a small space, functionality is key—and this includes larger pieces, too.
Bring the Eye Up
Don’t sell your space short by ending the room at the top of your furniture. Take advantage of that wall space! This might mean installing floor to ceiling bookshelves, hanging artwork vertically or placing curtain rods all the way up to the crown molding. Much like in fashion, anything vertical is elongating. Use that philosophy for your home decor.
Open the Space with Tile Flooring
Laying large tile flooring with narrow grout lines tricks the brain into seeing a larger space, adding to the illusion of an open and airy room. Also, consider the placement and pattern during install. Square tiles set at a 45-degree angle or rectangular tiles installed perpendicular to you as you enter the room force the widest part to get noticed first, thus allowing the eye to follow to the back of the room. Go for a light shade if your style is modern and sleek, or explore a simple, dark pattern that will add contrast to a neutral wall.
Avoid choppy sightlines between rooms in your home by considering all the ways you can blend the spaces together. Sticking with the same color story on the walls and continuing the same flooring instantly connects rooms, giving the impression of one large space rather than two or three smaller ones. Laying down a rug between rooms serves a similar purpose without the commitment of a total flooring change.
Give Up Your Window Treatments
While hanging floor-to-ceiling curtains adds to the appearance of vertical lines, skipping out on window coverings completely can dramatically lighten a room by removing excess fabric weighing down the space and allowing for more natural light. You’d be surprised how much bigger your windows and walls will feel.
Give Each Piece Breathing Room
An old standby rule is to use small furniture in a small space, but you don’t need to throw out your favorite statement piece just to please the design gods. Oversized furniture can still work as long as it doesn’t have to compete with other bulky items. Try placing furniture at an angle and using pieces that have exposed arms and legs. Both options help to create a sense of air around each piece, making the room feel more spacious.
Even if you want to break every design rule in the book, the key to faking a bigger room in a smaller space is to give in to decluttering—at least where the eye is concerned. Whether you accomplish this by grouping like items together using a single color scheme or actually removing items altogether, each trick is designed to help the eye see the space as a whole and not the tiny details that break it apart.
Sarah Fogle of UglyDucklingHouse.com is a self-professed power tool addict with a passion for all things do-it-yourself and decor.