Making a small room feel bigger is not difficult and hiding clutter is the number one way to make it happen. But finding storage in your home can be a real challenge if you have limited space. We’ve all been there… You have to have that new set of dishes you found on sale, or those shoes that were just calling your name. The problem is once you get them home where do you put them?
It doesn’t take long for your home to feel smaller and smaller with every purchase you make. And if you are already starting with a small space, you’ll have even a harder time finding storage. So how do you live in a small space without it looking small? I’ve come up with 10 ideas to help you get control of the clutter, find every inch of storage space you have, and in turn, how to make a small room feel bigger.
1. Reduce the clutter and purge
The number one most important thing you can do is to purge things you don’t need! I know you really want that new purse, but do you need to hold on to the other 20 you already have? Go through your belongings and donate or get rid of at least one for every new purchase you make. Preferably more than that… at least until you are able to get your items under control.
You can buy new toys for the kids, but you must learn to clean out toys they no longer use, that are broken, or have missing pieces. I personally would do this when they are not home. Not to be mean, but you’re aware of what items are favorites and which ones haven’t seen the light of day for a while. Believe me, you don’t want to do this with them because every item you pull out, they will want! If you feel too guilty about doing this, then put the items in a box, out of sight, for a couple of weeks, and see if they miss them. If they don’t ask for them, they go. Out of sight, out of mind.
For more detailed information on how to get rid of your “stuff” read my post “How to Declutter”
2. Hide as much as you can to visually make the space feel bigger
Once you have purged your belongings you will need to find places for what’s left. One way to make your space feel bigger is to hide as much as possible out of sight. Lots of small items in your view will make your room look and feel even smaller than it is. This is one reason that real estate stagers remove a lot of the clients belongings. It just makes the space feel bigger and brighter.
Below are some great ideas to hide clutter. Visually, by putting items behind a curtain, or in a closet, will make the space feel so much bigger. Try some of these ideas for a quick and inexpensive fix.
3. How to make a small room feel bigger…use multi-purpose furniture
Using furniture that can do double duty does a few things for your small space. First, whenever you can use one piece for multiple uses, you will save actual floor space in the room. Second, like I’ll explain below, using fewer pieces will visually make the space feel bigger.
Using a multi-use coffee table like the first picture below, gives you three purposes in one. First, it functions as an ottoman to put your feet up or for extra seating, second, as a lift up table for eating or working, and third, for extra storage, all in one small space!
The bedroom unit also has many functional aspects in one small space. A bed, a study space, a bookcase, and storage drawers. All of these items only take up the space of one bed! That’s a huge space-saving piece of furniture that would work wonders in a small bedroom!
The third photo is one of my favorites. Don’t have the room for a side table? Just add one to the arm of your sofa! Genius!
As you can see by using furniture pieces that offer double, or triple duty, can save you much-needed floor space and still provide lots of additional, hidden storage.
4. Get things off the floor
The goal for this tip is to be able to see as much of the floor as possible. When you have lots of things hanging around on the floor it makes the space feel cluttered. For an example, lets say you have a desk in your office or den. You have a trash can, cords, some books, and maybe your computer deck under the desk. It would look busy and messy. So instead, what if you moved the trash can out of sight, taped up the cords to the bottom of the desk, put the books on your bookcase, and moved the computer deck into a cabinet. Huge difference!
5. Use a few larger pieces and less smaller ones
Ever notice when you visit an elderly person’s house, (that is full of knickknacks and pretty much everything they ever purchased), how cluttered and dark it looks? The biggest reason is for this is because of the sheer volume of the items in the room. I’m not judging. My parents, as well as many other people from our older generation, held onto everything they could simply because of the times. But, imagine if they rotated items in the room instead of having everything they owned out all at once.
By choosing to use a few large pieces of furniture and larger accessories, rather than a bunch of smaller pieces, will dramatically change how big the room looks and feels. Look at the examples below. Both rooms are approximately the same size, but look at the difference in how big they feel.
6. Use the walls
Because you have a small space, using the walls will free up limited floor space. And we already talked about how freeing up floor space is a good way to make the space feel larger. Try these ideas and use some of the available wall space you have.
- Instead of having a long dresser in your bedroom, use a taller, thinner one instead. You have the same amount of storage space but less floor space used.
- Hang your television on the wall over the fireplace instead of having a separate entertainment center on the floor.
- Instead of having a lot of items on your kitchen counter how about installing a wall shelf to hold some of it?
Just remember, you don’t want to fill up your walls with lots of “stuff”. Use only what you need and what looks good. Put the rest behind doors, cabinets, drawers etc. You don’t want your space looking like your grandparents do you? 😉
7. How to keep the little things from making your space look smaller
Inevitably you will have some small items that need to stay visible. But you can arrange them in a way that will not make your room look cluttered. The first idea would be to corral similar items together in a basket or bin. I would use this idea for items that maybe shouldn’t be on display, but you still need accessible, like the remote control or paperwork on your desk.
When you are accessorizing with smaller items that you want to display, you will also want to corral these. By placing these items on a tray, or on top of a book, it will give the illusion that the grouping is one large item, rather than a bunch of smaller ones. Refer back to item number 6. This is the same principle on a smaller scale.
Imagine the items in the image below just scattered on a table. It wouldn’t make sense and would just look cluttered. By grouping them on the tray it gives the illusion that it is one larger display.
Keep like items together
Another idea is to keep like items together. By displaying a set of something, or a group of items that are the same color, or theme, will again make the items feel like one. Books are a great example because you can have an entire wall of books neatly lined up on a shelf but it doesn’t feel cluttered. Imagine that same shelf with a plant, 6 random knickknacks, some books, a bunch of framed photos, etc. Not the same effect for the same space.
I was literally picturing my parents home while coming up with that list of items. My dad is famous for not using this rule. If there is a blank space somewhere in the room, he finds something to put there. Whether it’s his baseball hat collection hanging on the wall by the kitchen table, or the photo of a cat that he found at the thrift store. He got that photo because there was a blank space on the wall in the living room that needed something. LOL He doesn’t even have a cat! There is literally not one space left in his home without something on it. The decorator and OCD in me is freaking out…but I love you Dad. 🙂
9. Use a monochromatic color scheme
Just like a lot of physical items can make a room look smaller, so can a lot of different colors. When you use different colors in a room, whether it’s on your walls or with your furniture and accessories, it forces your eye to move from one color to another. This creates a sense of chaos in the room. Don’t get me wrong. You want to add different colors and textures to a room to create some interest, but when you are working with a small space it is best to stick to one color.
A monochromatic color scheme doesn’t mean you have to use all neutral colors. What it means is that you want to keep whatever colors you do choose in the same hue. Hue is the color, such as blue or yellow. So by choosing just one color you will allow the eye to rest in the room instead of being overloaded with different things to focus on. But you will want to add interest by using different values, or shades of that color. That being said, in the case of small spaces, using lighter colors will help to make the space feel bigger. But it’s usually the lack of light, rather than the size of the room that makes using a darker color difficult.
Learn more about choosing colors for your room in my post “How to choose the right color the first time.”
If you choose a monochromatic color scheme, you will also want to keep busy patterns to a minimum. But incorporating lots of different textures will help to keep the room from looking dull and boring. In the photo below they used pattern in the pillows and an accent chair, but kept those patterns neutral like the rest of the room.
9. Use the right mix of lighting
Like I mentioned above, a lack of light in a room can make a space feel small. This is why using a dark colors in a room can make a room look small. It’s the lack of light.
So, if your room lacks sufficient natural light, you will need to add some artificial light. There are 3 kinds of lighting. Task, general, and accent lighting can dramatically change how a small a room feels when used together.
First make sure the room has a good general lighting source such as recessed can lights, a chandelier, or other ceiling mounted fixture.
Then you will want to add task lighting. Task lighting will be any light source used for improving tasks like working at a desk, watching tv, reading, or eating. Lamps are probably the most used task light.
Then lastly is accent lighting. Accent lighting is lighting that is used to accent a feature in a room such as a fireplace, artwork, or up lighting on a plant to name a few. This type of lighting is what will give the room dimension and interest. Just think of a spotlight on the star of the show. It makes you focus on them.
Using a mix of all of these lighting types is how to make a small room feel bigger.
10. Look at tiny homes and campers for inspiration
If you really want to know how to make a small room feel bigger than look at tiny homes. Builders of tiny homes and mobile trailers are geniuses when it comes to finding storage in the smallest of spaces. They use every nook and cranny to the fullest to make sure that every square foot is usable space. They also figured out how to hide these spaces to make the space feel at big as possible.
Some areas they often utilize are under the bed, beneath benches in the kitchen, under the sofa, above windows, and built-ins anywhere there is an unused area. You can incorporate these ideas into your small space as well.
Don’t think that just because you live in a small space, that it has to feel small. Incorporate as many of these suggestions as you can and your small room will be feeling bigger in no time at all.