If you’re lacking space, you need to pull out every trick in the book to make your room appear larger. The best way to start is with your wall colour, and while white is the obvious choice, it isn’t the only option. From bold and dark to light and bright, these are the best colours for a small space.
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COLOUR OPTIONS THAT WILL MAKE SMALL ROOMS LOOK BIGGER
Colour has the unique ability to transform any room, and with the right selection, you can set the perfect tone for your space. Here are some colour combinations that make a small room feel much more open.
White is a small space go-to, since it opens everything up and keeps it feeling bright, but pure white might feel too stark for your style. Stick with a warmer shade to help your room feel more inviting.
Neutral never goes out of style. This is for everyone who doesn’t want basic white but isn’t ready to incorporate bold colour into their space.
This misty teal feels beachy, but it’s also classic. Creamy neutral décor, like this mirror, table, and chair, pops against it. That contrast is the key to making a tiny space feel dynamic.
A soft shade of blush pink can brighten up a small room and make it feel cheery and light—and it looks wonderful at sunset hour. This hue works best in a room with more natural light and is well complemented with light warm neutral tones like beige, sand, and ivory. Paint the ceiling in the same hue for an enveloping feel.
Play up the cozy factor of a tiny room with a rich, deep brown. This shade, with a hint of grey, creates intimacy in the small sitting space.
If you don’t have a source of natural light in a room, a dark charcoal black can make the room feel more intimate rather than stuffy if you use it as a complementary colour to a lighter main colour scheme. Pair it with more modern, sophisticated light colours, such as light blues, purples, whites, and lighter greens, and you’ll get a grand open space.
A crispy white has the perfect clean feel to it, emitting a sense of calm throughout the room. White also has the right level of softness to be considered cozy. This is especially true if you pair it with beautiful wooden flooring and a bright décor. Mix in some other colours in the furnishing and plants to make the whole room feel more alive.
A great alternative to white paint colour is a light cool grey, which can feel fresh and bright without the starkness of pure white. Cool colours feel fresher and brighter than warm ones, so it helps visually create the appearance of more space. Use this colour in a room with moderate amounts of light to give the space a cozy but expansive feel.
Dark blue has the transformative power to make a statement. Small rooms are often the best place to make an impact. Richer tones on one wall with lighter, bright tones open the space in the room. It feels moody and bold, which distracts from the lack of space.
A darker grey tone for small rooms looks minimalistic and modern. Regardless of whether you have casual or fancy furnishings, you will be able to make the room look crisp and clean. This is because dark grey is a great twist against the more traditional white or simple beige colours. The dark grey will definitely make your room look elegant and sophisticated.
In rooms with little natural light, a deep navy hue can create an impression of depth and make a space feel dramatic and stately. When painting your walls in a navy colour, it also helps to keep large furniture like sofas in the same hue to blur the lines between the edges of the room and making it feel larger. This also makes it a great choice for rooms with cabinetry like kitchens and libraries.
Earthly Ochre is a deep, warm colour that creates a calm environment. The light tan colours with sunlight streaming through open windows increase the dimensions of the room. It makes space look more inviting simply by indulging in warmer tones that please the eye.
Light green is an amazing vibrant colour that pairs well with white to create a more open. It can add a nice modern touch to a room, making the whole room look more inviting and calmer. This colour works great for living rooms since this is the main space for your guests to relax.
A taupe wall is a brilliant solution for small rooms, as it falls in the lighter end of the colour scheme and offers a more colourful solution to tans and whites (two colour options most used when trying to make a small room appear bigger). Taupe is a light, relaxing colour that improves the mood of a space while adding a splash of colour.
For those who aren’t willing to go entirely white but still want a light neutral paint colour for their room, a light taupe or greige can make a space feel large and elegant. This rich tone has the potential to make a room look expensive, so use it in a space with little architectural detailing to give it stature. When using this colour, it helps to keep other furnishings white in the room to help give the space a light and airy feel.
Off-white paint is such a simple, clean colour, making it easier to work with. The soft colour makes space look more inviting and open. The room also begins to feel larger if you contrast it with natural greenery and vibrant colours. It works well in spaces where you generally want to relax or have fun like living rooms since they look more inviting with an off-white colour scheme.
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Pale blue has the gentle quality of making a space feel open and light. It looks beautiful when the light filters in through sheer curtains and produces a soothing quality in the room. When paired with other light colours, like pale pink and white, it sets a calming tone to any room. This is one colour that can make a room feel bigger. It works best for internal rooms like bedrooms or baby rooms.
Wild, loud colours, like purple, might be better in small spaces. Could you imagine how in-your-face this shade would be all over a giant living room? By limiting it to an entryway, you still get a pop of colour without overwhelming your house.
Choose a light mossy green with a hint of grey in it for space with large windows. In the summer, it’ll blend with the foliage. When it’s too cold to deal in the winter, it’ll remind you that spring is on the way.
Sea Green is a really popular colour since it has a very minimalistic vibe to it. It pairs well with wooden furniture and décor since the whole room looks earthy. This sets a nice mood to the room and can be soothing for just anyone. If you decorate with other earthy tones and textures, you will notice how the colour can freshen up the room in no time at all.
Conversely, in a room with little to no natural light, white may not be the way to go. Instead, a dark hue like charcoal or black will give the space an intimate feel while giving it an appearance of grandeur—especially if the ceiling and trim are also painted in the same hue.
This shade of yellow is perfect for your kiddos, because it’s colourful and fun but doesn’t look too juvenile. Read: You won’t need to close off their space from the rest of your house.
Other tips on how to make your room look bigger
Bare the Floor
Breaking up your floor space with small area rugs is a sure way to make a small room look even smaller. Whatever your flooring choice, if you want your room to look larger, think wall to wall. That doesn’t only mean carpet―bare hardwood or laminate floors with a slightly glossy finish are also excellent for visually opening a space. If you want to use an area rug, choose one large enough to fill nearly the entire room. You’ll gain more visual space, plus add a touch of warm coziness for your bare feet.
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Careful With Pattern
A small room doesn’t mean you are limited to tiny prints or no pattern at all. But if you want your small room to look more spacious, it’s best to limit large prints to small accents, such as throw pillows, sheets or lampshades. Use solids or small-scale patterns on your comforter, window coverings, and upholstered furniture. Maintain the cohesiveness by choosing patterns with the same palette, or at least a few colours in common. This also helps to fool the eye into seeing a space bigger than it really is.
Colour It Clear
Just as a window expands a room by allowing the eye to travel beyond its confines, clear glass or Plexiglas furniture opens up space by eliminating visual weight in front of the walls. You wouldn’t want a clear bed or dresser, but a see-through bedside table, chair, or vanity work perfectly in the small bedroom and look very contemporary. If that isn’t your style, consider a metal-framed piece with a glass top instead.
The right drapes work double-duty to open up a small space. First, choose drapes the same colour as your walls, or just a little bit darker. Second, hang them up high, with the rod just an inch or two below the ceiling line, and the fabric is hanging to the floor. The lack of colour contrast with the wall makes the room look wider, while the long curtains make the ceiling look higher. It’s a double win for a small room.
As we saw with mirrors, it’s all about tricking the eye. Curtains stop the eye from taking in the view outside, even if they don’t cover the whole window. And drapes and curtains add more “stuff” to the room. Eliminating them keeps the space simple. If you want privacy, consider shutters or lightweight mesh or cloth blinds. Or if curtains are a must for you, use a bar that extends far beyond the window frame, so you can fully expose the window.
Ditto rugs. Cast your eye over all the small spaces in this article. Note how few have rugs or, if they do, how simple and minimal they are.
Forego fussy extras, however, such as valances, scarfs, or excessively ruffled or gathered curtains. Too much fabric closes in the space.
You’ve probably always heard that a small room needs white walls to open up space. While it’s true that white does give an airy, open appearance, it’s also true that dark colours visually recede, making something that’s dark look further away than it really is. Take advantage of that colour wizardry by painting your walls a medium-to-dark shade of a cool colour like indigo blue, hunter green or charcoal grey. If you don’t want that much drama, paint just one wall in your favourite dark shade. Not only will your room appear a little bit larger; cool colours are restful and help you fall asleep.
Forget the Footboard
While every bed needs a headboard of some sort to balance the large horizontal surface of the mattress, footboards or benches at the bottom of the bed are optional. If your bedroom is very small, and especially if there is little space between the end of the mattress and the wall, skip the footboard. Instead, match your bed skirt to your comforter, or use a bedspread that drapes to the floor. An unbroken line of fabric keeps the eyes moving, making your room look a little bigger.
Let There Be Light
A dim room feels claustrophobic. Dispel the darkness with good lighting; even in a small bedroom, you need at least two sources of light. At a minimum, you’ll need a bedside lamp and a floor lamp across the room. If you have ceiling lighting as well, that’s even better. Want to save more space? Then instead of bedside lamps, install wall sconces just above and to the side of your bed.
Lighting is a key element in opening up space.
Allowing natural light inside the room opens up the interior and makes it look larger. If you do not have a lot of natural light, you can add some creative effects using lighting fixtures. You will be amazed at how this small addition can make a big difference. If you have access to natural light, bringing it into your home through large windows will instantly connect the room with the outdoors, no longer limiting your space. Use sheer window coverings, or pull them back completely, to allow more light in. If the view is bad, put plants or flowers near the windows and use lamps to brighten the space.
Maximize your furniture arrangement.
Sometimes furniture can take up a lot of space. To avoid that, use multi-functional furniture, such as a chest that can be used as a coffee table, a sofa bed or a bed with drawers for storage underneath. Use an expandable dining table, folding tables and nesting tables, which can be tucked away when you don’t need them. Place larger pieces of furniture against the walls to maximize the open space. Scale your furniture to fit the size of the room, and don’t block pathways. If furniture and accessories block the view into a room, it will look cramped. By moving furniture out and away from walkways, you’ll open up space and make it feel larger. At least some of the furniture should be the same colour as the walls. Even bigger items such as armoires and chests will begin to blend in, expanding the room. The longest straight line in any room is the diagonal. When you place your furniture at an angle, it leads the eye along with the longer distance rather than the shorter wall. As a bonus, you often get some additional storage space behind the piece in the corner. Tall furniture can make the ceiling seem lower than it is. Make sure there is plenty of space between your furniture, too. Choose a sofa and chairs with open arms and exposed legs. This allows light to filter under the furniture, making the room appear airier. Glass tables also will help to maintain the appearance of open space.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
You can’t beat the eye-fooling qualities of a mirror for visually enlarging a small room. And you need at least one large or full-length mirror in the bedroom anyway, or how will you know if those shoes complement that outfit? Hang a large mirror over your dresser, or install full-size mirrors on your closet doors. You can also take advantage of the light-bouncing, space-enlarging qualities of the mirror by choosing a mirrored nightstand or small bedside table.
Mirrors can make your room look larger. Use a focal point and angle your mirrors toward it to give the illusion of depth. Mirrors also reflect both natural and artificial light to make a room brighter during the day and night. They bounce light deep into the room, making it appear larger. Placing a mirror near a window to reflect the outdoors is especially effective. Mirrors on the walls and glass tabletops will give your room a more open feel. You can also use mirrored cabinet doors to make spaces feel larger.
Small spaces are all about editing. The more pieces, possessions, and patterns you have in a room, the more cluttered it will feel. Avoid too many knick-knacks or at least group them, so they read as an installation. Ditto with art; concentrate your framed pieces on one or two walls. Avoid busy patterns and overwhelming colours. Or, if you absolutely must have that William Morris–esque wallpaper, consider placing it on one accent wall. Same with colour, try painting just one wall or a door and stick to a single shade. Now is not the time to embrace the whole spectrum.
The bottom line is you need to have discipline with yourself (actually, this concept applies to all spaces) and intentional about everything that goes into the room. If you go for the wallpaper accent wall, then keep the rest of the room simple. If you need that huge oil painting in your living room, try having it be the only art in the room.