Is your house feeling painfully small? Don’t start packing up just yet. With just a few simple changes (don’t worry, no renovations necessary), you can visually expand each room and find space you didn’t even know you had in the first place.
When square footage is limited, emphasizing vertical lines can make your home feel much bigger. That means taking advantage of the oft-disused space between your head and the ceiling. Hang full length floor-skimming curtains just under ceiling height, preferably in a color that’s close to that of your walls for the illusion of a larger, more open space. Build in full-height bookshelves to make your ceilings seem higher and multiply your storage space. Just remember to stick to books, decorative storage boxes, and a few carefully chosen display objects to keep things from feeling cluttered.
By the same logic, choosing furniture with a relatively low profile will help stretch your rooms vertically. Midcentury modern pieces are often just the right size for this purpose.
While platform beds and low-lying furniture create the illusion of more space, the opposite effect can occur if you use too many heavy, bulky items that take up all your available floor space. At least half of the furniture in your space should have legs to create a sense of airiness.
It may seem counterintuitive, but fewer, larger objects in a room make a stronger visual impact and make the space feel more open than a whole lot of small items. A sofa is often a better choice than a grouping of individual chairs, for instance. By the same token, hanging a single piece of oversized art creates the perception that there’s room to spare. Plus, since you’re buying less, it allows you to focus on higher impact, higher quality pieces. Just make sure the scale doesn’t go so far in the wrong direction that the furniture feels crammed into the room.
Find Your Light
Arranging furniture around windows can make a room feel less claustrophobic, even if the view isn’t great. Hang sheer, breezy, light-colored curtains to allow maximum transmission of daylight without sacrificing privacy or accidentally gazing into your neighbor’s house. You should also avoid placing heavy objects right in front of the windows.
Clear Things Up
Materials like glass, acrylic, crystal, and lucite, like the base of this bed, allow the eye to travel through the room without interruption, which plays a major role in how we perceive the size of a space.
Check Your Reflection
Sure, we know logically that we can’t step through a mirror, but our brains don’t always register reflective surfaces that way, especially in passing. It’s an old trick, but using mirrors to visually expand a room really does work.
Multifunctional furniture is a no-brainer when you’re trying to make the most of a small space. An ottoman that doubles as a coffee table, a coffee table that can be used as a bench for company, a bed with storage hidden underneath, a desk that pulls out into a dining table, and other convertible furniture designs can free up a lot of crucial floor space.
Control Your Colors
Just like too much clutter, an unrestrained color scheme feels chaotic in a small space. That doesn’t mean your home has to feel sterile or be devoid of color (not everyone wants a home that feels like a “minimalist monastery” a la Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, after all). Select a palette of complementary colors that includes a couple light hues for an airy feel, along with a couple accent ones, and mix up the textures and materials to optimize visual interest.
Keep It Simple
Use closed storage whenever possible to keep unnecessary distractions out of sight, avoid unnecessary ornamentation, and make sure there’s a clear path through each and every room. Simplicity doesn’t have to equate to minimalism or a lack of personality. The ultimate trick is learning how to tweak your own space so your uniqueness and character shine through.