Nine ways to make a small room feel bigger

Decorating a small room doesn't have to be a challenge! Here's how to make your small room feel spacious

‘The tea chest was a total bargain at £9 from Facebook Marketplace, although a little boy has scratched ‘girls smell’ onto the back!’

Whether you’re a seasoned decor enthusiast or an interiors novice, decorating a small room can often feel a like a bit of a daunting task.

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Whilst larger rooms seem to provide us with endless opportunities to express our personal style, injecting life into a small space without overwhelming it can prove a headache, and the endless list of compact room dos and don’ts can feel limiting and intimidating.

Home makeover: 'We’ve proved that small is beautiful!'

The good news is that with the right care and planning, you don’t actually have to compromise your own personal style when it comes to decorating a small room.

In fact, anyone can use three key elements – light, scale and movement – to trick the eye and create the impression that a small space is bigger than it actually is, without losing that all-important personality!

Interested? Read on to discover our expert tips on small room decoration!

How to make a small room feel bigger

Choose low profile furniture

Whether you’re dealing with a bedroom, living room or dining room, opting for furniture that’s close to the ground is a tried and tested way of making your space feel more open. As low profile furniture naturally leaves you with a bigger space above your furniture, this tricks the eye into thinking the room is larger than it is… it’s all about proportions!

Home makeover: 'We’ve proved that small is beautiful!'
With clever storage solutions and streamlined furniture, Niamh O’Carroll has turned a dated garage conversion into a stunning bijoux apartment

If you’re working with a small bedroom, for example, a space-saving loft or pallet bed will still provide you with as much sleeping space as a huge sleigh bed would, but they won’t overwhelm the room.

When it comes to the living room, keep an eye out for mid-century or Victorian pieces of furniture – these are ideal for small spaces as they have naturally low profiles, but they’ll also add a sense of sophisticated style.

Use feature mirrors

If you want to make your home feel lighter, brighter and bigger, introducing a few mirrors into your space is a tried, trusted and cost efficient way of making any room feel more open.

Not only will mirrors reflect natural light and ensure your room stays brighter throughout the day, but if you add a focal point to your room and angle a mirror towards it, this will create the illusion of depth.

Home makeover: 'I need a sense of calm in my home'
Laura has mixed luxury with vintage finds in the bathroom. Her mirror is a charity shop buy

For a personalised touch, try adding a your own macrame wall hanging to one of your walls and angling a feature mirror (here’s how to make your own sunburst mirror) towards it. This will trick your eye into perceiving more space whilst simultaneously adding character to your room.

Choose white paint

Dark décor can transform small rooms into sumptuous jewels while pastel décor can turn a small room into a soothing sanctuary, so never be afraid to be bold with colour when it comes to a small space.

However, if your main aim is to make your small space feel bigger, white paint is a great option due to its reflective qualities – it’ll instantly open up a room and help to create a light and airy feeling.

With white walls, the master bedroom has a calm feel to it, but
With white walls, the small master bedroom has an open and calm feel to it, but Sandra couldn’t resist introducing some pops of pink to the space with blush-coloured pillows and throws

To create the illusion of more space, try painting both your walls and ceiling in the same tone and finish of white. This will blur the connection between the two, causing your eyes to travel up and perceive the ceiling as higher.

If you do choose to opt for white paint, make sure you pair it with warming elements like a wool throw, earth-toned decor or cottagecore-inspired accessories to avoid a room that feels too cold.

Dress your windows carefully

Dressing your windows can be tricky when it comes to small spaces, but there are actually a number of expert tricks that’ll stop your space from feeling enclosed, no matter its size.

Shutters or window film make a great addition to a small room as they’ll allow a huge amount of light in whilst still providing privacy. If you feel like your window needs dressing further, you can always drape sheer voile around the top of it to add texture.

To make better use of available space, Tomasz built a cupboard that doubles as a dining seat in the bay window. The shutters were bought second-hand and, unlike curtains, keep the room from feeling crowded
To make better use of available space, Tomasz built a cupboard that doubles as a dining seat in the bay window. The shutters were bought second-hand and, unlike curtains, keep the room from feeling crowded

If you’d prefer curtains, a great way to ensure you’re making the most of your space is to pick curtains that are the same colour as the wall. By choosing a cohesive palette, your curtains will just feel like an extension of the walls and create the illusion that the room is bigger than it is.

To further enhance the feeling of space, make sure you choose a curtain pole that allows you to pull your curtains right back when they’re open, as blocking too much of the natural light will immediately make your space feel smaller.

Move furniture away from the walls

It might seem counterintuitive, but positioning your furniture away from the walls will actually help to make a space feel larger.

Pushing your furniture up against the walls might seem like it’ll make a room feel more open, but leaving even a small gap actually creates the illusion that there is more space to work with than there actually is. It’ll give your living area a more intimate and balanced vibe.

‘This is one of my favourite rooms and I love the sofas in here. They’re from Loaf and our dog Jenson is banned from going on them! This room is really calming so I come in here with a cuppa to relax after work. The big mirror from Anthropologie is one of my favourite buys’
Ellie has contrasted white walls with a low feature sofa to maximise the feeling of space in her home

Likewise, when arranging your furniture, it’s important not to push it into the corners of a room or position it too close to a door as this will make a space feel crowded. Think of how you use the space, and always leave enough room to move through the space freely. If it still feels crowded, consider getting rid of one piece of furniture, and as a finishing touch, make sure you leave furniture ends oriented towards the door.

Furniture, sofas and chairs that are raised from the floor on legs also create a sense of light and space.

Use clear accent furniture

Transparent furniture is an incredibly stylish feature regardless of the size of your room, but it’s a particularly great design option when you’re working with a cramped space.

Home makeover: 'Every room of our house is special and unique'
Terian has mixed clear dining chairs with white ones to increase the feeling of space in her dining room

Similar to sheer curtains, clear accent chairs or a glass-topped tables will allow light to bounce around your small space freely, thus making it feel larger than if you were to fill it with heavy, dark wood furniture.

Style open shelving carefully

If you’re working with a small kitchen, swapping large, wall-mounted units for beautifully curated open shelving will instantly open up your space.

When you’re not working with a kitchen, the same logic applies – replace large dressers or cabinets for floating shelves in a living room or bedroom for a more open, airy feel.

Kate’s picture-perfect kitchen has open shelving and a handy larder for storage. The open shelving gives plenty of opportunity to show off her collection of kitchenware, from mugs and plates to potted houseplants
Kate’s picture-perfect kitchen has open shelving and a handy larder for storage. The open shelving gives plenty of opportunity to show off her collection of kitchenware, from mugs and plates to potted houseplants

When styling up your shelving, just remember that too much clutter can make a small space look even tinier, so it’s worth leaving plenty of space between trinkets and display items!

Choose clever storage

Storage solutions might not be the first thing that come to mind when you think about making a small space look larger, but if you want to keep clutter at bay, efficient storage is a must.

A few cleverly placed seagrass storage baskets, for example, will soften the look of a living room while simultaneously providing you with somewhere to store blankets, magazines or other bits and bobs that would otherwise leave your space looking cluttered. Decorative hooks will have the same impact in the kitchen and provide you with somewhere to store tea towels and aprons and in small bathrooms, interesting towel storage can be the difference between a cluttered, untidy looking bathroom or a serene, hotel-style space.

Natural textures add a relaxed, boho feel, with plant pots in woven materials and seagrass and bamboo baskets. Adding plants has helped breathe life into the scheme and also adds a pop of colour
Natural textures add a relaxed, boho feel to Laurie’s room, with plant pots in woven materials and seagrass and bamboo baskets. Adding plants has helped breathe life into the scheme and also adds a pop of colour

Although small hallways can be tricky to contend with, clever coat storage is vital if you want your home to make a good first impression.

Whether you opt for leaning coat rails, storage benches or hidden mirror storage, having somewhere to keep your clothes, shoes and accessories will ultimately stop it gathering into mountains over banisters, thus creating the illusion of more room.

Home makeover: 'We’ve proved that small is beautiful!'
Using every millimetre of space makes a huge difference in cutting down on clutter in this small home. Here, Niamh has created an attractive spot for coats and shoes very simply with wire baskets from H&M Home and hooks from TK Maxx.

You can find storage in the most unlikely of places. Have an old footstool? Why not replace it for one with storage inside?

There is bound to be an area in your house that you are not making the most out of – look around alcoves and bay windows to find those hidden pockets of space.

Home makeover: 'We’ve proved that small is beautiful!'
Niamh has made the most of the area under the stairs – it houses a fridge and freezer, pull-out pantry units and practical drawers. On the side facing the garden, open shelving and a broom cupboard provide further storage.

Alcoves are usually brilliant areas for storing CDs, DVDs and books. That extra room under a bay window is great for placing furniture, providing extra space in the rest of the room. That area under the stairs is one area that can be used cunningly; you may think you can only store a phone or some coats under there but, use that space wisely and you could store cupboards, boxes or even have a mini office under there.

Wall décor

When working with small spaces it can be all too tempting to take a minimalist approach and leave walls as clear as possible. Contrary to popular belief, however, adding some interesting wall décor, wall hangings, or even a feature wall, can give your space a more balanced feel and actually open it up.

Monochrome artwork, like the wall hanging from La Redoute and print from Alice In Scandiland, work well against the dark walls while a geo cushion from La Redoute adds warmth and pattern. ‘I’m always chopping and changing cushions and wall hangings,’ says Louise
Monochrome artwork, like the wall hanging from La Redoute and print from Alice In Scandiland, work well against the dark walls in Louise’s bedroom

As long as you think about scale and choose prints or décor that will look right in the room proportionally, they’re unlikely to overwhelm your space.

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If you’re still unsure, why not start out small? This personalised initial wall art is made using a glass picture frame, so it’ll reflect light around the room whilst still adding some personality into your interior.