How to Make Small Rooms Look Bigger

Widespread speculation has it that interest rates may increase in 2022. With that in mind, frugal homebuyers might start considering smaller, more affordable spaces to call their own.

Even if your new home’s square footage might not drop jaws, it doesn’t mean you have to feel cramped. There are numerous tricks to make a smaller space feel bigger. Here are some tips you can try.

23 Tips on How to Make a Small Space Seem Bigger

Sometimes we find a home that we just love; it’s near perfection (to us), but it’s just too small. It could have all the features we want and be in the perfect location but can feel cramped.

The complaint about size is a common one, and unless you’re thinking about expanding, there usually isn’t much you can do to change the actual size of the space, but there’s plenty you can do to make it seem bigger.

1. Cut the Clutter – on the walls, shelves, floor, everywhere

A simple, free and transformative change you can make is to unclutter your living space. Take a Saturday afternoon and remove items that you no longer use or just feel comfortable ditching.

As Coco Chanel advised, “Look in the mirror and take at least one thing off after getting dressed and before you leave the house.

Apply this process to your house as a whole. Surely anyone could survey his belongings and find at least one thing to donate, sell or kick to the curb.

Decrease the number of decorations you display by increasing the size of the few that remain. Sabrina Soto, of Target department stores, uses a common piece of fruit for quick measurement. “Decorative accents that are smaller than a cantaloupe cramp a room.” If you limit yourself to only a few larger decorative pieces, you will find that your space feels less cluttered than a room filled with small trinkets.

2. Natural Light

Depending on your home’s layout and location, you may have some natural light to tap into that may help make the smallest spaces feel open and airy.

If you have heavy drapes blocking that golden gift from the heavens, consider ripping those drapes down and adding some light, neutral-colored window coverings.

Matching your curtain’s color to your wall color helps make rooms feel larger by helping the curtains blend into the background.

Sheer curtains let the most light through, but offer little to no privacy at night. Consider where your windows are located and if you need to worry about who can see in at night before going with sheer curtains.

3. Mirrors

Help break up a space by adding a few mirrors that trick the mind into thinking there’s additional depth to the room. Mirrors are also handy for bouncing natural light around a room.

If your space has limited natural light, you can to increase the effect of the sun’s rays by bouncing that light from one side of the room to the other with a few mirrors. Just be sure not to direct the light into your guest’s eye line.

  • Storage Furniture
    When dealing with limited square footage in a room, consider making your furniture pull double duty. Couches that have shelves or drawers below the seat or an ottoman that includes storage under the foot rest are both great spaces you can use to increase storage without adding to the visible clutter in a room.
  • Closeable Lid Storage
    If you have an abundance of items to store, consider using closed storage containers. Depending on how the container looks, you may feel at home leaving it out in plain sight. Some closed storage containers allow easy stacking if you have room in a closet.
  • Under Bed Storage
    Maximize your under bed storage with containers that use the full vertical space allowed by your bedframe.

4. Paint the walls the right color

Light colors on the walls make a room seem bigger while dark colors make a room feel smaller.

5. Choose furniture wisely

Buy chairs that are stackable or foldable, tables that attach to walls with hinges, and love seats or small couches instead of their full or oversized counterparts.

You’ll have to sacrifice a little for small space, but there’s a lot you can do to work with your small space. Choose furniture that can also double as storage space, like ottomans or coffee tables that have extra shelves or storage space inside of them.

6. Use rugs strategically

One or two rugs go a long way. Make sure that a large portion of your floor is exposed, and go for light colored rugs.

7. Make the most out of shelving

Use long shelves to make a room seem longer, and use that space as your mantle. But remember to give some air to all of your shelves and keep some space free.

Just because a room is small doesn’t mean that it has to feel small. Using these tricks, you can make any small room feel like the size you need.

8. Bright, cool wall colors

Bold wall colors have become popular, but if you are dealing with fewer square feet, consider bright neutral colors that help bounce natural light to increase the perceived space.

Warm colors advance where cool colors recede. Paul Anater at says, “Green is the first cool color of the color wheel.

In green, the tendency for colors to advance stops and they begin to recede. By recede I mean that cool colors expand a room or a space.”

9. Light countertops and cabinets

Dark wood cabinets and dark countertops instantly make a space feel claustrophobic. Painting cabinets a bright, neutral color helps open the space.

Ripping out dark countertops and replacing them with something brighter may make the kitchen feel light and airy.

10. Arrange furniture to make the room seem bigger

Have as much furniture up against the wall as possible and avoid much furniture in the middle. The room is small enough, you don’t want to create obstacles for walking.

11. Leaning ladder shelves

Even when there aren’t any books on a bookshelf, it tends to make a small space feel that much smaller. One solution that offers shelved storage for books and trinkets, and doesn’t look like a large box, is a leaning ladder bookshelf.

This option provides an adequate amount of storage while keeping the wall clearly visible through the slats of each shelf. The overall aesthetic feels lighter and helps keep a space feeling open.

12. Same goes for decorations

Too many knick knacks make space seem cluttered and small. Keep your decorations minimal, and avoid a bunch of small pieces. Instead, opt for a few big ones.

13. Divide and conquer

Consider creating a room within a room to increase perceived space. A room’s furniture placement can often absorb extraneous space making larger spaces feel smaller.

Consider dividers or shifting seating into clusters to make the room look bigger.

14. Decrease amount, but increase size of each piece of furniture

Similar to Soto’s cantaloupe rule for trinkets, fill your space with one larger couch instead of a love seat and two floating chairs, and you may find your space feels larger.

Even though the furniture may have a larger footprint, there’s less clutter and thus more perceived space.

15. Ditch the ceiling light fixtures

Lighting a room with a single, omnidirectional light source on the ceiling will make any room seem smaller. If you have a small space, consider using multiple lower-wattage light sources around the room to accent the space.

You can also try to emphasize your ceiling – Anything that will make you look up will make your ceiling seem higher. But apply the paint color principle to this rule. Emphasizing your ceiling by painting it black will make your room seem shorter.

16. Lighting is key

Don’t just rely on one source of light. Have a few less powerful sources of light around the room so that your eyes move around and don’t fixate on one spot in the room.

17. Ditch the curtains

Curtains can make a room feel a lot smaller and seem like they take up a whole lot of space.

18. Couches with exposed legs

Not only do couches with exposed legs look daintier and somehow smaller, the space under the couch can be used for storage while still being accessible to you. Couches with dust ruffles, on the other hand, inherently look bigger and clunkier.

19. Keep it clean

Clutter is the quickest way to make a room feel smaller. Or take it a step further and embrace a minimalist lifestyle. The less stuff you have, the less stuff you have to clean up and the more free space you have.

20. Use negative space wisely

Make sure that your floor isn’t completely covered by furniture. If that means forgoing a piece of furniture like a coffee table, it might be a sacrifice you’ll have to make.

21. Organize cleverly

Instead of a bookcase on the floor, you can hang shelves. And the closer you hang them to the ceiling, the more space you’ll have. Also utilize the inward facing side of your closet doors. There’s plenty you can hang there.

22. Stick with stripes

If you like stripes, consider using them in your decorating. You can try a striped rug or a striped wall to elongate the room. Make sure that the stripes run parallel to the longest walls in the room. Otherwise you risk truncating the space.

23. Go Vertical

When square footage is at a premium, consider a shelving unit that goes floor to ceiling, or even a shelf mounted near the ceiling.

Keeping things higher helps emphasize the vertical space and makes a room seem larger. This also helps keep clutter away from the main living space and commonly used surfaces such as the coffee table.


Your space can feel welcoming no matter how much square footage you have. With a few quick tweaks to your space’s layout and furniture choices, you may notice the room feels larger. Consider trying a few of these tips next time you feel squeezed into a tight living space.

Leave a Comment