How to Make a Room Feel Bigger Than it is
While small rooms can be intimate, cosy, and strong on the ‘Hygge’, most of us tend to aspire to larger living spaces. We browse online at houses we can’t afford, imagining what we would do with a gigantic master bedroom or a vast kitchen, and then trip over the cat in our 12×10 space and curse our misfortune. But a small room, with the right treatment, can be transformed. Here are five interior design considerations that can make a room feel bigger than it is.
Typically, there will be some natural light to play with, most rooms have a window and we need to maximise this, not just by keeping it unobstructed and clean but by making the light travel as far as we can. Keep the window sill clear and as dressing try either curtains on a pole (that can draw fully past the window) or a blind in the recess if you prefer to keep the wall around the window clear. Floor to ceiling, light coloured curtains will also make your room look taller. A strategically placed mirror on the wall next to the window will reflect the light into the room and then subtly mirrored or high sheen furniture will further bounce the light around.
In terms of other lighting, if your ceiling isn’t high, opt for ceiling down-lights rather than a pendant that will make it feel lower. For a dead space corner, why not consider keeping the floor clear of a standing lamp by hanging a deliberately lower pendant over a piece of furniture?
Whether in a large or small room, a single colour or slight variations of one can trick the eye into losing track of where the boundaries of the room are. This is especially good for low ceilings. When we don’t notice where things stop and start, we subconsciously aren’t aware of the limitations in a smaller area, so steer clear of feature woodwork outlining things and try and get it all to blend into one. Abigail Ahern (the Queen of dark interiors) goes one step further and suggests that if a room is painted so dark that you can’t see into the corners, you won’t be able to see how big (or small) the room is!
Often overlooked, the floor plays a huge role in a small room. If you have the option, a hard finish floor, whether wood or tiles (check out our blog post on tiles trends), will work in your favour acoustically, amplifying sounds to give an impression of space where carpet would deaden it. A visual trick with hard flooring is to go large – wider planks or larger floor tiles give a greater impression of space and floor area. Even the way you lay them can be tweaked to your advantage, with a diagonal pattern making it more difficult for us to gauge the size visually, than a vertical or horizontal placement.
A large centrally positioned rug with floor space around it will make a room appear larger, or better still, a contrasting second rug, either overlapping the first or under a piece of furniture defining another area of the room, will make your little room instantly feel bigger. Don’t go too busy on the design but a rug pattern with a small repeat can encourage the eye to follow it across your enormous new floor!
The thing people often get wrong with furniture is making the most of their space by trying to fit as much as possible in it. Before you buy anything new, consider what you actually need. And then consider a smaller version of it. Do you really need a 3-seater sofa when a 2-seater might look amazing? Vintage, mid-century and Nordic inspired furniture is often slightly smaller with cleaner lines, and on legs – an important feature to consider, as we want to see as much of the floor as possible. Lifting pieces off the floor, and away from the walls a little, gives a better illusion of space and allows clearance for a well-placed rug or some artwork on the wall.
You’ve got to get smart with your storage, so look into discreet, multi-purpose items with hidden storage options when you’re choosing a coffee table, for example. Secondly, remember, anything that draws the eye upwards helps to create a feeling of space, so rather than a floor-standing bookshelf (helping us keep as few items on the floor as possible), think about a high-level alternative at the top of a wall, for a change. Then, when you have your shelves, the biggest offender in a small space, is clutter. We all love accessories, but clutter will negate all your hard work so far. So, retain some deliberate space on those shelves; go for carefully chosen statement pieces rather than quantity; and steer clear of the gallery-effect wall with your photographs and pictures, opting for a single large piece of art instead.