June 18, 2024
10 Simple Design Tricks to Make a Small Room Bigger

When it comes to the spaces in your home, bigger isn’t always better. Small spaces are easier to clean and often more affordable. However, they can sometimes feel a bit too cozy. Fortunately, there are simple and affordable tricks-of-the-eye to make a small room look and feel larger.

“Making a room feel bigger simply means making it feel more open and airy, and less crowded,” says Karin Sun, design expert and founder of Crane & Canopy. Having clutter can be overwhelming, while creating a spacious feeling can be calming, says Sun.

Whether you’re a renter or homeowner, these tricks will fit your budget — and your lease terms — and help you make the most of smaller spaces. 

1. Clear the clutter

The simplest and most effective way to make your space look bigger is to tidy it up. 

“Unnecessary clutter can make a room feel small and cramped and make it hard to navigate,” says Marco Bizzley, an interior designer with House Grail

Start by getting rid of things you don’t use. Then, make sure everything else — like paperwork, art supplies or cosmetics — has a designated space that’s hidden away. Finally, take decluttering a step further by emphasizing clean, crisp lines, Bizzley says. That means avoiding table cloths or clothing around your furniture. 

2. Remember that less is more

Boho bedroom bed with a wood headboard.

Try and keep your furniture minimal and go for accents, like a headboard.

Anastasiia Krivenok/Getty Images

One way to make a room feel bigger is to put less furniture in it, says Sun. Skip unnecessary furniture or items that you know will create clutter.

 Consider a small bedroom: Sun recommends using a headboard, which can be a focal point in the room, but skipping the footboard. “It takes up space and is an extremely tempting spot to hang your clothes, bags and laundry, which will only increase clutter,” says Sun. 

3. Keep your furniture in scale

A small room looks best when there’s open space to move around the future. In a bedroom, for example, a centered bed with floor space on both sides will look less cramped than a bed pushed against the wall. 

Because of this, you should skip oversized furniture and opt for pieces that are sleek, which doesn’t have to mean boring. 

“You can choose sofas with beautiful details, such as curves, buttons, or fluting,” Bizzley says. “This adds character to small spaces without overpowering the space.”

4. Get low

Neutral living room with a gray couch and plants.

Keep your furniture low to create more free space above.

FollowTheFlow/Getty Images

When you’re choosing furniture, opt for pieces that sit low to the ground but have open space beneath them. 

“Furniture that’s lower to the ground creates a feeling of openness simply because it leaves more space above it,” says Bizzley. “Showing the legs of furniture gives the illusion of openness because it lets the light and air flow over it, around it, and under it.”

5. Choose light and neutral colors

Whether you’re picking paint, choosing a bedspread or selecting furniture, focus on light, pastel and neutral colors. 

“Light and bright colors reflect the natural light opening your small space, while dark colors absorb the light, creating a tighter, cozier feel,” Sun says. 

6. Make it multifunctional

Close up of a bed frame with drawers

Beds with drawer space serve a purpose without taking up more space.

Thapakorn Rujipak/Getty Images

In a small space, every item should have more than one job. “It’s especially important to set yourself up for success with plenty of storage from the get go,” says Sun. 

Find a

bed frame

that has drawers for your clothes, a sideboard that has file drawers for your important paperwork, or an ottoman that has storage for blankets. These items will free up more space in the room and are convenient as well. 

7. Keep the floor clear and utilize vertical space

Instead of basing all your furniture and decor on the floor, “consider how you can use wall space and think upwards,” says Sun.

Rather than a bulky book case, opt for streamlined shelves; mount your T.V. on the wall instead of placing it on a table; and use hanging lights, not floor lamps.  

“Filling up your vertical space truly makes a difference when it comes to getting everything you require in a small room,” says Sun. 

8. Keep busy prints to a minimum

Couch with bright decorative pillows.

Use a majority of solid prints, then use accents like pillows to add color and pattern.

ben-bryant/Getty Images

While funky patterns can be fun, they can be overwhelming in a small space.  

“We all love a bold, vibrant print, but it usually makes a small room appear more cramped,” Sun says. 

Instead of selecting curtains or a chair with a loud fabric, choose a solid print. Then, use a throw pillow or blanket to add a pop of pizzazz. 

9. Use mirrors

A large mirror hung will make your room feel bigger and brighter. 

“Mirrors reflect light and images, making a small room look larger, especially if they’re placed in the right spots,” says Bizzley. 

Place the mirror at eye height so that it reflects a light source, whether that’s natural light from a window or the light from a lamp. 

10. Hang your curtains high

Person hanging curtains.

Hang your curtains higher above your window to create an illusion.

Valeriy_G/Getty Images

Rather than hanging your curtain rod right above a window, secure it higher up on the wall. Then, use drapes that reach nearly to the floor.  

“Attaching the rod close to the ceiling makes the wall look bigger, expanding the whole room,” says Bizzley.

Insider’s takeaway

When you’re decorating a small room you should focus on light colors, optimizing natural light using mirrors, and keeping the space clutter-free. With those techniques in place, you’ll likely find that your small space feels more inviting.  

“Making a room feel bigger makes it feel less cramped, lowers anxiety, and makes the room appear calmer and cleaner,” says Bizzley.