How do you make a small room feel spacious? Of all the interior design conundrums, this is the one most homeowners face. Sure, there are the obvious things to try — bringing in natural light, choosing neutral tones and discovering the space-savvy ways of a few strategically placed mirrors — but it’s how you make all these elements work together that is the key to success. With the help of our panel interior stylist Lisa Koehler, we’ve uncovered the most important things you need to consider to bring a spacious feel to a room of petite proportions.
Choose flattering flooring and rugs.
Multiple flooring styles serve to define spaces but can also make a small room feel even smaller. “One type of flooring flowing from one area to the next creates an uninterrupted flow, making it feel as if the rooms are part of one large space,” says Lisa. If you have timber floors, go for wider boards. With tiles, choose a large-format design as the fewer grout lines you see, the more expansive your floor will look.
“A round rug is a great option for small spaces,” adds Lisa. “It’ll create a connection between the furniture pieces without adding another rectangular shape.” If you do go for a traditional rug format, choose a smaller size that highlights the area between your furniture pieces.”
Choose the right wall colors.
It’s well documented that pale shades make a room seem bigger and brighter. Light-colored walls are reflective, which maximizes the effects of natural light in the area. “When it comes to your wall color choices, ensure you have a low contrast between different surfaces,” says Lisa. “As long as the floor and walls are in the same tonal family, the area will feel harmonious and balanced.”
Painting moldings and door trims in a slightly lighter shade than the walls will make the surfaces visually recede and capitalize on the open feel you’ve created, as well.
Pick the right curtains.
Windows obviously let in natural light, but unless you’re living in glorious isolation, most of them need covering at certain times of the day. “Try to keep window drapings the same as the wall color for a seamless look,” says Lisa. Hang curtains high and let them fall all the way to the floor, which gives the illusion of height.
Place your mirrors properly.
Mirrors are the obvious choice to take what sunlight you have and bounce it around the room. “A wall covered in mirror is a classic solution,” says Lisa, “but two or three oversized mirrors resting on the floor will work just as well and are a less permanent option.” Make sure you place a mirror perfectly to reflect a window or view to add bonus light.
Use lighting wisely.
Daylight is one of the most effective ways to create an illusion of space, but what about after dark? For a small area, it’s all about getting the style and visual impact of the light correct. “Select slender floor lamps with the base and shade in the same finish,” says Lisa. Choose floor lamps with a small base so the impact on the floorplan isn’t overwhelming.
Nix unnecessary doors.
Internal doors and cupboard doors can eat into valuable space and, sometimes, removing a door altogether is a great solution — eliminate the swing! If that’s not an option, “sliding doors work really well to give function back to [a space],” says Lisa. Every bit of space counts. Barn doors are beautiful but best when they aren’t in a contrasting material – this will break up the line of vision.
Use more shelves.
Floor-to-ceiling shelving is a great way to give a sense of scale and height to a space as it draws the eye upwards, as well as offering fantastic storage. “You can never have too much storage in a small space,” says Lisa. “Go for a combination of closed and open shelving; if it’s all open, the area will feel cluttered no matter how minimalist your intentions are. But if it’s all closed, you’ll lose the personality.” Consider shelving in unexpected places like the hallway, over a doorway, or under a sofa arm.
Put up eye-catching artwork.
An artwork’s size plays an important role in the overall scale and proportion of a room. It can dominate, but if you have it above your eyeline, it can create a sense of height and space. “I’d consider a combination of sizes and materials with artwork,” says Lisa. Start with your largest piece, then add a cluster of three or four smaller framed pieces, then maybe another selection in a row. If your artwork is being placed above furniture, think about the connection to create a cohesive vignette.
Declutter your space.
As someone once said — or they should have! — one man’s knickknack is another man’s clutter. If your home is already lacking in space, showcasing your collection of inherited figurines isn’t going to help. Decide on a handful of items you really love and pack the rest away. “Placement is important,” says Lisa. “The key is to create a balance between a visual feast of your favourite things and a calm area.”
Instead of cramming all your favorite little things together, rotate them every few weeks so each one is a focus point.
Eliminate clunky furniture and select the right shapes.
Overstuffed couches and clunky pieces have no place in a petite home. Once you’ve eliminated those, here are Lisa’s golden rules:
Sofa: “Pick a sofa on legs so it’s elevated, about four inches off the ground. Low arms will stop it feeling imposing.”
Table: “A round shape works well, as it takes up less space and has no hard corners to interrupt the flow of traffic. Opt for light and reflective tabletops in materials such as marble or glass.”
Chairs: “Avoid seats with legs that splay out, and consider the height of the backs to make sure they don’t clutter the room or block a view.”
Coffee Table: What, no coffee table? “If you want to keep the flow open, both literally and visually, use a selection of side tables instead.”
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Homes to Love.