Making the most of what you have is a skill that can serve one well in just about every area of their life, from finances, to cooking, to vacation, and more. And it’s especially true when it comes to home decorating. You can find someone with an enormous, gorgeous home, but they’ve filled it with clutter and bulky furniture, so the space just feels wasted. Meanwhile, you may find some of the most charming, most welcoming, and most uplifting homes actually aren’t that big. But what the homeowners lacked in square footage, they made up for in imagination and a little creativity. Feeling like you have room to move around in your home, and really maximizing the space, can improve your mood. You don’t need to be limited by the size of your home. Big ideas + a small space = a welcoming place. If you get specific about how you’ll utilize every corner of your home and what you really need there (and don’t), then you can have a small home that feels spacious. We spoke to Leneiva Head who is a realtor with extensive interior design experience about how to make a small space look bigger. She had some excellent tips.
Let in natural light
Letting as much natural light into a space as possible will immediately make it look bigger. Open the curtains. Open the blinds. Head says that you shouldn’t have any bulky pieces of furniture blocking windows, obstructing their light. From a landscaping standpoint, you may consider trimming or removing large trees that are blocking major windows.
When natural light is absent
Some rooms don’t have windows, or have very small and/or limited windows. In that case, Head suggests being particular about the types of light bulbs you use. She recommends sunlight light bulbs which, as their name suggests, mimic the sun’s rays. If not those, at least get bright bulbs – but not harsh, fluorescent ones.
Mirrors give the illusion of a larger space, something you may have experienced when in a bar or restaurant that you believed was twice its size, due to one wall being lined with mirrors. Mirrors also maximize light — “They capture and reflect light,” says Head. So putting one across from a window can be helpful, or putting one where there is no window.
Choose the right paint colors
Opt for brighter, lighter paint colors. “The darker the color, the smaller the room feels. The lighter the shades, the more spacious a room feels,” says Head. There have been interesting studies on how the colors inside and outside of structures affect one’s moods – one finding that a pink room can even reduce aggression. The same study found that the color yellow is associated with playfulness and a happy mood, so it could be a good, light paint choice for a small room.
Avoid bulky furniture
Head is a fan of exposed floor space, stating, “Furniture needs to be placed such that you have visible floor space and the ability to walk around.” Bulky furniture, she warns, robs you of walking space. “Maybe instead of a huge sofa, you get a love seat and a side chair.” If you want other ways to increase floor space, consider some of our storage tips based on Tiny House living.
Use area rugs properly
Though one’s instinct may be to put two couches, the exact length of an area rug, on two sides of said area rug, that’s actually a cardinal mistake in maximizing floor space. Head notes, “If you use an area rug, make sure the furniture is still spaced out enough so it’s not corner to corner to corner on the rug. Leave some of the rug exposed. Let it free float. Don’t marry furniture to it.”
Guest rooms can be convertible
If you have a second bedroom and you love to host, then your instinct may be to put a bed in there. But what of all of the days and hours you have no guests? That second, unused bed takes up quite a bit of space. As an alternative to a full-size bed, Head suggests, “In a guestroom, get an ottoman that opens up into a full bed. During the day you can chill on the ottoman. If someone stays over, you extend it into a bed.”
Consider collapsible tables
This is another smart tip for those who love to host, but don’t have the space accommodate full-size furniture, all of the time. Head recommends collapsible or foldable tables. Some have wings that can be folded up or down as needed. When one side is down, you can push the table against a wall, and use it as a desk.
Re-stain or re-do counters and cabinets
Head spoke a bit about upgrades to a kitchen that can instantly improve its appearance and recommended re-staining cabinets that look tired, or redoing burnt, stained countertops. When choosing a new color for these areas, opt for white. It will instantly brighten up the space, making it look larger. Dark counters and cabinets make a kitchen look smaller.