How to make a small room look bigger

As a Londoner, I’m very familiar with the “charms” of living in small spaces. From little living rooms to tiny bedrooms I’m used to trying to squeeze as much out of each square foot as possible. However, trying to create a chic space with a subtle “minimalist” style, can be a bit of an oxymoron when all your possessions are busting through the seams. It’s tricky, but it’s doable. It boils down to some clever optical illusions to trick your eyes into focusing on the space rather than the stuff.

Here is my guide of practical solutions to creating space in your small room without needing to take down any walls.

For your furniture

1. Proportions & scale

Choose seating that is proportionate to your room. It doesn’t have to be small - one larger sofa could be better than two smaller ones. In general, less is more so you’re decreasing clutter and framing the space that’s already there. Same principle applies in the bedroom - go for a bed with simple lines and a small headboard, or none at all!

2. Multifunctional

Make your furniture earn its space. Day beds, foldable tables & beds with built in storage are great examples of this. They allow you to keep clutter at bay & ensure you maximise all under-utilised spaces. Nesting tables & stools are great too as extra seating & extendable table surfaces too.

3. Legs

Ensure there is visible space around each piece of furniture & that they are not butted up against the wall or sitting too near the floor. This creates the illusion that there is more space and adds lightness to furniture pieces too.

4. Tonal

Choose pieces of furniture in the same tones as the wall, it will help them blend seamlessly into the surroundings and take up less visual space. Again, if you have the bed tight into a corner of a room, ensure that the bed frame & bedding is in the same tones as the walls so that it doesn't draw attention away from the space.

5. Mirrors & clear furniture

Adding a mirror will trick the eyes into seeing more of the room, creating the illusion of more space. Strategically place a mirror opposite a window to allow it to bounce the natural light around the room, making it feel more open. In the same vein, furniture made of glass or clear perspex keeps clear lines of sight and takes up less visual space.

For your room

1. Undress your windows

Brightening a room will enhance its size, so allow natural daylight into a room with light window dressing. No dressing on windows is best, but if leaving your windows uncovered is not an option, use sheer drapes or drapes of a shade similar to the wall colour. When hanging, make them floor to ceiling drapes to elongate the room. In the bedroom, black out blinds are a better option to curtains, as they are minimal in profile and don't take up valuable floor area.

2. Stripes

An interior designer trick to make a room look bigger is to use stripes. Vertical stripes make the room look longer and taller, while horizontal stripes going across a wall will make the wall appear wider. Depending on the effect you want to achieve, try stripes in varying light tones and shades in your curtains and rugs too.

3. Light paint colours

A classic tip that I'm sure you have all heard before is to paint a room white. This allows the light to bounce around, lifting & opening up the space, while dark tones absorb light & will only make the space smaller. Use the same analogy of the little black dress - black is alway known to make people look slimmer, and in a room it works the same. As such stick to light colour walls, and that doesn’t just mean white. A light grey, beige or taupe will create the same effect too.

4. Make use of the walls

Use walls for storage, from built-in shelving around the bed, to wall hung tv’s and stands. They allow for more storage without taking up floor space. Take your lighting to the wall too. Lights on pivot arms allow you to direct the light all around the space.

5. Keep ceilings clear

Ensure you draw the viewers eyes upwards by not breaking the sight line. Try flush mounts for lights in a room with low ceilings as a low-hanging pendant will encroach on your room space & distract the clear sight.

For your whole home, remember less is more.

Lastly this is a key factor to any small room - less really is more. By having a few key pieces in the room it allows the eye to see the space & voids in the room, rather than clutter. In the bedroom, opt for only essentials; bed, night stand & dresser. For bedding and accessories go with simple clean designs to keep the visual weight light.