My house may not be the smallest on the block, but it’s also not what one would call roomy, either. The layout is a bit weird, with rooms that don’t leave much wall space for more than the basics. I am always trying new things to make it feel airy and bigger. Check out some of my favorite tips. Don’t worry, none of them will tell you to knock down walls or anything too crazy!
You know what drives me nuts? When I see a post about how to make a small room feel bigger, only to discover that their idea of a “small room” is actually big enough to fit half of my house into! I live in the real world of small rooms, where a “large” bedroom fits a queen-sized bed, two dressers, and a tiny shelf stuffed into the corner. Where a living room is just big enough for a sofa, love seat, and a TV stand, and where my table takes up like 95% of my dining room.
So, when I say that I’m sharing tips on how to make a small room feel bigger, I mean an ACTUAL small room, not a McMansion-sized “small” room!
How to Make a Small Room Feel Bigger
It’s amazing what a little light can do to make a small room feel bigger! From paint to windows to actual lighting, there are many ways to “lighten up” without spending a fortune. Starting from easiest to most time-consuming, try these tips:
1. Let the sun shine in
I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of bright sunlight streaming in my face when I’m working or watching TV. Definitely not when I’m sleeping! I prefer nighttime and darkness. Once a goth girl, always a goth girl, I guess. However, those goth-tendencies do nothing to make a tiny room feel bigger! I’m learning to embrace the sunlight by opening up my curtains during the day.
2. Fake it
Most of my rooms are dark, even with the curtains open. I kind of live in a bowl of trees, so sunlight is at a premium. I used to think that flooding the room with overhead lights was the way to go, but then I watched a few design shows and found that several small lamps are better. Overhead lighting casts shadows, while clusters of lights around the room kind of draw your eyes all over the place, making you think you’re in a bigger room.
3. Paint your walls a light color.
If you can paint your walls, start there. You don’t have to go with plain white walls, there are plenty of pale colors that will work just as well. The key is to choose something that will mesh well with the rest of your decor and create a unified look. Try using a color scheme generator to come up with a good combo.
4. Use light wallpaper to create an accent wall
While you’ll want to paint 3 of your walls a nice, light, neutral color, feel free to go a little crazy with the 4th wall! Choose a light-colored yet intriguing wallpaper pattern to really add dimension to a tiny room. I love the marble wallpaper from Wallsauce.com. Heads up: you can save 10% off this and other fab photo wallpapers with the code: PRETTYOPINIONATED
5. This rule applies to furniture, too!
Speaking of lightening up, stick to light colors for your larger furniture. If, like me, you can’t really afford to go out and replace your dark-colored sofa, make use of slipcovers. I love them because I can change the look of a room instantly just by switching out my slipcovers!
Whether you’re looking for more storage space or trying to add a bit more fun to a small room, don’t forget to look up!
6. Give your ceiling a makeover
I’ve seen some differing opinions on what you should do with your ceiling in a small room. Some say painting it dark tricks the eye into looking up. Others say stick with the same light colors as your walls. I say forget both and go with a real eye-popping solution: wallpaper! From a starry sky to endless clouds, the idea is to give the sensation of sitting in the great outdoors. I really like wallpaper above as a ceiling paper! It reminds me of clouds, but without making you feel like cherubs are spying on you as you sleep.
7. Paint just your trim
If you’re saving your wallpaper budget for a stunning accent wall, then it’s okay to just stick to the neutral colors. Instead, paint the trim around your ceiling a different color to draw the eye up. Some say to go slightly lighter, others say slightly darker. I say do whatever you prefer.
8. Move your bed up!
I cannot even begin to tell you how much bigger my son’s tiny room looks since we switched from a standard bed to a loft bed (link takes you to the one we have). Not only does he have a lot more free space since we moved a bunch of stuff under the loft, but it just feels bigger overall.
I know this picture is awful, but it gives you an idea of what I mean. I took it on my old phone just to show friends and family. Alas, his room is a minor disaster area right now, so I’m not about to go in there and take a better one! Ignore the messy TV stand, we’ve since replaced it with something a little more put-together.
Of course, a loft bed isn’t really feasible for those of us with ginormous queen-sized beds. Instead of elevating your floor miles off the ground, consider risers to give it a small boost. One word of advice, though: keep the area beneath it clean. Clutter makes a room look small. If you need that storage space, then go with a vertically striped bed skirt to reclaim some of that “big room vibe.”
9. Shelving around the top of your wall
Anything that gets people looking up also helps make a small room feel bigger, including shelving around the top of your wall. Keep it simple, though, and don’t load it up with knick knacks. I love the idea of putting color-coded books up there! You can easily make your own book covers to achieve the look.
Or, even better, use your leftover wallpaper to make book covers that blend into their surroundings! Check out this tutorial on how to make book covers:
10. Get rid of the crown molding
I know I said to paint the trim a different color above, but getting rid of it altogether is a great way to make a room look taller, according to HomeEdit. I’ve never been a fan of crown molding to begin with, to be honest. Our house doesn’t have any, and it definitely makes the ceilings feel a little less like they’re caving in on us!
Pare Down & Double Up
In a small room, less is definitely more! Try these tips!
11. Get rid of ALL the excess junk
A small room is not the place to store all that random stuff that you’ve accumulated, so get it out of there. You don’t have to turn it into the visual equivalent of a jail cell, but remove anything that doesn’t make sense for the room.
12. Don’t break the flow
I have this sickness where I feel like every bit of empty wall needs a shelf, table, or something else to fully make use of a room. I will try to cram as much stuff as humanely possible into a room, then complain that it looks cramped. Don’t be me. Don’t feel like you need to line every vertical surface with furniture. Leave some empty, open spaces!
Likewise, don’t crowd the middle of a room with coffee tables, storage chests, or anything else. We haven’t had a coffee table since Jake was a toddler because my mom was terrified he’d fall and smash his head on it. We use folding TV trays instead to hold our TV snacks and drinks.
13. Break away from the wall!
Just about every home decor magazine will tell you to stop pushing your furniture up against the wall. Instead, leave a couple of inches of empty space to create kind of an unbroken flow of air throughout the room. My living room is simply too small to give up even those few inches of space, but if you have a little wiggle room, give it a try!
14. Choose pieces that do double duty
Need some storage space in your living room? Get an ottoman with hidden storage! Got a tiny bedroom? Use built-in bookshelves (of faux built-ins) as a headboard and a nightstand.
15. Create an optical illusion
Trick the eye into thinking your room is MUCH bigger than it really is by creating an accent mural wall with an outdoors scene from Wallsauce.com. Even the tiniest room can benefit from just one wall covered in stunning photo wallpaper! Don’t you just love this lake scene?
Or how about this stunning lazy river scene?
Wallsauce.com has some incredible scenes that won’t just make your room feel bigger, but will also soothe your tired soul after a long day. You can even upload your own photo to create your own totally original wallpaper.