How to Make a Tiny Space Look Bigger
With a few expert tricks, a small room can feel open and airy
If I’ve learned anything from living in New York City, it’s this: You can never walk too fast; you will eventually think paying $7 for a box of cereal is normal; and you can do some amazing things with a small space.
The secret to that last one, of course, is to trick the eye into thinking you’ve got more square footage than you do. You don’t have to be David Copperfield to pull it off, but you do need to be brutal about what stays in the room. Tight spaces work best when all the stuff in them helps give a feeling of spaciousness. Here are some ways to get started.
Choose double-duty pieces. My first apartment in Manhattan was only slightly larger than a shoebox, so I came to appreciate workhorses that served more than one purpose. For instance, my nightstand doubled as a place to stash books and, when guests came over, a spot to sit. Using only multi-purpose pieces doubled my storage and kept me from cramming my space.
Move away from the walls. This trick won’t cost you a dime and is a breeze to do. Just move your bed or sofa away from the wall by several inches or more, says celebrity nursery decorator Sherri Blum, CID, of Jack and Jill Interiors.“You create a shadow on the wall behind the furniture, creating the illusion of depth, which makes the room feel larger.” Also, try floating or angling the major pieces in a room.
Embrace color. Small spaces need lots of character, and color is a great way to inject some visual excitement. Thinking about a darker shade? Consider painting just an accent wall or at least choosing a cooler hue, says Blum. “Cool colors tend to recede, creating an illusion of depth.”
Let there be light. To keep a tiny room from feeling like a cave, Blum suggests hanging a beautiful ceiling pendant or chandelier and adding task lighting near desks and other nooks. Hang a mirror where it can reflect the window or light fixture, and use sheer, airy curtain panels to let in as much natural light as possible. To fake a high ceiling, hang the curtain rod a few inches from the ceiling and use floor-length panels.
Go big. Leave the collage of family photos for your reading nook and instead hang one large, higher-quality piece of art on a focal wall. It’ll add grandeur to a diminutive space, Blum says.
Go vertical. Make like a New York City skyscraper and use whatever vertical wall space you have for storage, says Blum. It’ll draw the eye upward and free up the floor space. Win win.