Today’s homes may be small on space but that doesn’t mean they have to be short on style. Here’s how to make any room seem bigger.
De-clutter and get smart with storage
Clutter will only crowd an already small space, so your first job should be to tidy and remove all non-essentials from the room. Once you’re left with a blank canvas, look at layout – could you remove or rearrange furniture to make the room appear instantly more spacious?
“Neat and tidy rooms always appear bigger, so keep clutter hidden from view as much as possible,” explains interior designer Lisa Lewis. “A bathroom can appear much bigger than it is with the use of a large mirrored cabinet, a walk-in shower, wall-hung sanitary ware and simple complementary finishes.”
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Lisa suggests looking for furniture that doubles as storage, such as coffee tables that store magazines, and divan beds and ottomans - and opting for built-in shelving to maximise space in awkward-shaped rooms like attics. Floor-to-ceiling storage has the advantage of making the room seem higher and can be covered with a sliding door or white curtain in a bedroom.
Choose space-saving furniture
Less is more in a small space - and a few well-chosen pieces that are in proportion to the room work best. Consider what you use on a daily basis. Foldaway furniture, such as extending dining tables, day beds and stackable dining room chairs can be stowed away when you don’t need them.
Corner sofas offer more seating in a compact space while sofas with slim legs are better than designs which cover up more of the floor. “Try to keep the floor as clear as possible,” says Lisa. “The more floor that you can actually see, the bigger the room will appear.”
Furniture with reflective or transparent surfaces, such as glass tables and mirrored cabinets, make a room appear lighter and more spacious. In a small bedroom, give the bed the ‘wow’ factor and fit wall lights and shelves instead of bedside cabinets to free up floor space.
Keep flooring neutral
Dark and patterned carpets make a room seem smaller while plain, neutral carpets complement most colour schemes and create a feeling of space. Depending on its proportions, striped floor coverings can also be used make a small space appear larger.
If you opt for bold design (like the wool Audrey Sunrise carpet shown) rather than neutral stripes, just be sure to limit pattern on wallpaper and furniture.
Colours for small rooms
When it comes to choosing the colour of paint and décor, neutral and toning schemes, like this colour range from Dulux, will create a more streamlined look and give the illusion of more space.
“Dark or strong colours can feel inhibiting in a small space. Paint the walls in a light colour, such as ivory, stone or pale pastels,” suggests colour consultant and interior designer Bernay Laity.
Bernay also suggests painting skirting boards and picture rails the same colour as the wall, to make the room seem instantly taller. Wallpaper with vertical stripes – which is very on trend – will achieve a similar effect.
Décor for compact spaces
Small spaces don’t have to be boring. Inject some colour into a pale backdrop using a bright feature wall or bold piece of furniture.
“One or two strong design statements can make a room seem bigger; choose furniture and accessories with interesting textures, colours and surfaces to add interest or create a wow factor that will detract the eye from its compact size,” says Bernay.
Limit decorative items to one or two focal pieces rather than having several smaller items, which can appear cluttered. Grouping similar items or colours together will also create a streamlined effect and can look stunning against a white backdrop.
Tips for compact kitchens
Dark wooden units can make a kitchen seem closed in, while light, glossy finishes on cupboards, worktops and flooring make a room seem bigger and brighter.
“This kitchen (shown) which has no natural light, is made to feel bright and spacious by using light, reflective surfaces and keeping clutter concealed in cupboards,” says Lisa.
Keep small kitchen appliances under the counter where possible, leaving only the most beautiful items on display – and perhaps turning them into a design feature – and make the most of vertical space by fitting slim, narrow units with glazed doors.
“Opt for neat-but-colourful window blinds or use window film. Remember, the lighter and more streamlined the room is, the bigger it will feel,” says Lisa.
Let the light flood in
If you’re renovating, consider enlarging windows and installing sky lights and patio doors to the garden – to maximise light and create the illusion of a further room outside.
To make the most of existing windows, fit blinds or white shutters, which are more streamlined than curtains. If you need privacy, use window film.
“If you love curtains, choose a colour that matches the wall scheme and hang taller and wider than the windows,” advises Lisa. “This makes the window seem larger and lets in more light when you open them.”
When it comes to lighting, layer different types of light (ceiling, wall, and lamps) and light each corner of the room, spotlighting a focal point, such as a piece of artwork.
Finally, you can’t beat the trick of hanging mirrors to reflect light and create the illusion of space. Hang opposite a window or light source and you’ll increase the effect even more.
What’s your best tip for making a small room seem bigger?
Photo courtesy Crucial Trading