Simple Tips to Make a Small Room Look Bigger

Few people are lucky enough to live in 5,000 square foot mansions (that’s a whole lot of floor to vacuum, anyway). If your own home is closer to the national average of 2,600 square feet or less, then there may be a room or two that feels a little cramped in terms of space.

The good news is that you don’t have to spend millions of dollars on gaining square footage in order to enjoy your living space to its full potential. There are a few tricks that designers use all the time to make tiny rooms look bigger and brighter — even if you’re living in a garden level studio apartment. (Hint: garden level is a nice way of saying basement).

Ahead, check out some of the easiest ways to make your space appear larger, even if it’s itty bitty.

1. Paint the ceiling

ultra modern and contemporary bedroom

Add interest to the ceiling. | KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images

Anything you can do to draw the eye upwards will create the illusion of space, so go ahead and pick out a fun paint color for your ceiling or even go wild and add wallpaper. If the thought of painted ceilings gives you a backache, you can achieve a similar effect by hanging shelves or other visual elements up high. Crown molding is a great option that will make your room appear more luxurious, too.

2. Get the right sized furniture

Living room with gallery wall

Fill your small room with a big couch. | Scovad/iStock/Getty Images

A small space means you need tiny furniture, right? Wrong.

If you have a small living room, you’re much better off sticking to one larger-sized sofa than you are cluttering up the room with lots of small chairs. In general, the more items the room has, the more visually chaotic it appears. You’ll need to take measurements to make sure your intended furniture will physically fit in the space, but as long as have enough room to walk and everything isn’t pushed up against the wall, it’s best to go bigger when the room is small.

3. Let the light shine in

Modern living room

It’s all about natural sunlight. | vicnt/iStock/Getty Images

The brighter the room appears, the bigger it will seem. Never block windows with furniture and try to maximize the amount of sunlight wherever you can. For rooms that lack windows, add in floor lamps in dark corners and table lamps on every available surface. There’s almost no such thing as “too much lighting” (as long as it’s not fluorescent).

4. Choose shades over drapes

Modern retro style penthouse living room

Use light-colored curtains — or none at all. | Jovy86/Getty Images

Windows are your biggest asset in a small room. Make the most of the windows you have by resisting the urge to cover them up with heavy drapery. Either skip the window coverings entirely or add roman shades for privacy. If you absolutely must have curtains, opt for white or neutral colors and hang them wider than your windows so they don’t block the light.

5. Eliminate clutter

colorful vase with flower on wood table and sofa in livingroom

The fewer items, the better. | ben-bryant/Getty Images

Clutter is a small room’s worst enemy. Instead of filling your shelves with tiny trinkets, HGTV’s Sabrina Soto recommends following the “cantaloupe rule.” She says, “Decorative accents that are smaller than a cantaloupe cramp a room.” Choose a few large items that won’t clutter up the area.

6. Try a mirror

Brown walls in living room

Hang a mirror above the mantle. | LTuray/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Mirrors or other reflective surfaces help to distribute light around the room, making it appear larger. Hang a mirror directly across from a window to make the most impact. Incorporating mirrored furniture is another sneaky way to increase those light-reflecting properties that small spaces require.

7. Pick solids over prints

Modern living room with gray walls

Patterned pillows only, please. | runna10/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Printed fabrics are trendy, but they can look cluttered in a small space. Stick to neutral, light-colored fabrics for your furniture and textiles whenever you can. If you simply must have pattern in the room, add it in sparingly in the form of throw pillows or other decorative accents.

Read more: The No. 1 Design Mistake Everyone Makes in Their Living Room

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