Whether you’re a student in a dorm or just maybe living in an over-priced apartment in a metropolitan area, you know the struggle with how to make a small room look bigger is oh-so real. From bedrooms that are barely big enough to fit a bed, to living rooms that have to accommodate a dining area, a home office, and a TV, fitting everything you need into a small space definitely isn’t an easy task. That said, there are plenty of easy solutions which will help make your small space look more inviting, increasingly multi-functional, and utterly chic, all at the same time.
Here, our 25 favorite tips for making a small room look bigger.
1. When adding drapes to a room, make sure they’re the same color as your walls. Sticking to the same color will make your space look bigger. Another trick is to go with sheer drapes.
2. Take advantage of natural light as much as you can, which will open up your space.
3. Opt for sofas and armchairs that are raised on legs, which creates a sense of light and space.
4. De-clutter relentlessly if you live in a small space. If you haven’t used something in a year—or wouldn’t buy it now—get rid of it.
5. Think in a color palette that’s light and neutral, which will expand your space visually.
6. Go for fabrics and rugs in small prints or plain colors. Unified colors will visually expand a small room.
7. Buy multi-functional furniture, such as ottomans, which can be used as both a coffee table and extra seating, all at once.
8. Include mirrors in your space! The reflection will make a room look bigger.
9. There’s an old rule that small furniture in a small space is the way to go, but a few larger pieces of furniture in a small room will often make it look bigger.
10. Consider adding floor-to-ceiling or wall-to-wall bookcases. This trick will expand how high your ceilings look, plus it’s a great way to add storage.
11. Furniture that can be folded, stacked, or wheeled away is your friend. Simply push it out of the way when it’s not in use.
12. Don’t fill up every exposed shelf in a room. Leaving some empty space will give your small space an airy look.
13. Installing either a built-in desk that takes up the entire length of a room or expansive countertops in your kitchen, will create the illusion of a long room.
14. Buy some of your furniture in the same color as your walls, that way it simply blends in and will widen your space.
15. Don’t automatically place your furniture against walls. Sometimes placing a piece at an angle or surrounded by open space, will make a room look bigger.
16. Opt for a dining table that can be made smaller or larger with removable or drop leaves to make the most of the space that you do have.
17. Make your room appear larger by painting the walls, trim, and detailing in different shades of one color, such as off-white.
18. Make your ceiling pop painting it in a bright color, which will drive the eye upward, and create the illusion of high ceilings.
19. Leave your windows uncovered, to create a sense of depth in a small space.
20. Color coordinate your knickknacks and books, which will make your space look streamlined.
21. Consider a striped floor, which will make your room appear like it goes on forever.
22. See-through furniture—like glass tables and lucite chairs—do a great job of fooling the eye into thinking there is more space than there actually is.
23. Instead of overhead fixtures, which draw the eye to one spot, add several lighting elements in a small room.
24. Just because a room is small, doesn’t mean it can’t be dramatic. Big pieces of art can add a heck of a lot of drama to a small space, and make the room seem bigger in the process.
25. Consider buying furniture that will fill an entire room, like a large bed that takes up an entire bedroom, and then building custom shelving around it. Half of the battle of making a small space work is thinking outside of the box.
Originally published March 2014. Updated July 2017.