How to make small spaces look bigger?

Often I have been asked on how to optimize spaces in small apartments.  Here are a few ideas:

1.  Unclutter your space

Stay tidy and organized

Stay tidy and organized

This is almost always the number one rule.  Remember when you first step into your beautiful renovated home?  Having too much things in a small room will make the space feel more cramp.  Keep your room tidy and organized as a clutter room equals a smaller room.  For example, stay clutter free by storing items aways in cabinets and drawers instead of leaving them on table and bench top.  Limit the number of accessories to avoid the cluttered feeling.


2.  Natural light

Natural light opens interior space

Natural light opens up the interior

Let as much natural light as possible into a room as it opens up the interior and make it looks larger.  Use sheer draperies, or are pulled back, to allow guests to look through your windows, bringing more light in and creating an impression of the outside view as an extension of your home.  If you do not have a lot of natural light, you can add some creative lighting effects.  Recessed spot lighting is visually appealing and is perfect for a small space.


3.  Pocket doors

Pocket door saves space

Pocket door saves space

Removing as many doors as possible or use pocket doors to increase the sense of space.  Unlike a standard hinged door that requires 10 to 14 square feet of floor space to swing open, pocket door takes up little more space than the thickness of the door.  As the pocket door slides open, a table, chair, desk or other furniture pieces can be placed beside the doorway without interfering with the door’s operation.


4.  Raised legs furniture

Sofa with legs to create open space

Sofa with legs to create open space

Avoid bulky-looking furniture, such as beds with thick headboard or sofa with wide armrests.  Furniture on raised legs creates a sense of light and open space as opposed to pieces that sit on the floor.


5.  Magic mirror

Mirrored cabinet door in a hallway.

Mirrored cabinet door in a hallway

Some  people likes mirror, some people doesn’t.  Mirrors reflect both natural and artificial light to make a room brighter, more colourful and appear larger.  Use an oversized full-length mirror against a key wall in a room, and mirrored cabinet doors in bedrooms or hallways.  The effect tends to work best when you can take the mirrors from floor to ceiling and wall to wall.


6.  Multi-function furniture

Coffee table with hidden storage

Coffee table with hidden storage

Use sofa beds, coffee table with hidden storage, and beds with drawers for storage.


7.  Light colours

Light colour living room

Light colour living room

Use light colours or neutrals throughout; as they are space expanders and make a room look bigger and brighter.  Light colored walls are more reflective making a space feel open and airy, providing a neutral background for furniture and artwork.  A light-colored flooring such as light oak or a light-colored carpet will make the room appear brighter and more open.  The same applies to the ceiling – use a light color or white to “open up” the space above.


8.  Use a monochromatic colour scheme

Monochromatic colour scheme

Monochromatic colour scheme

Making use of different shades, patterns and textures of the same colour scheme will increase the feel of the space.  For example, from light brown to dark brown, creating a large, unified look.


9.  Keep furniture plain and simple

Plain and simple bedroom

Plain and simple bedroom

In keeping further the unified effect, avoid unnecessary details such as intricate moldings or raffles in curtains and furniture.  Using plain color fabrics on big elements such as draperies, furniture and rugs makes them unify with the room, thus creating an expanded effect.  If printed fabric is your choice, use the ones with smaller, fine prints.


10.  From ceiling to floor curtain

Ceiling to floor curtain

Ceiling-to-floor curtain

Hanging the curtain one length down from the ceiling down to the floor, instead of mid way covering the window area only will visually pushes the ceiling upward.  This trick also works for floor to ceiling, wall to wall bookcases.


11.  Replace bathtub with shower

Eliminate bathtub to gain more floor space

Eliminate bathtub to gain more floor space

If you seldom use the bathtub, it could be an unnecessary feature in the bathroom.  It can be a big, bulky and awkward shape that takes up a great deal of space for no reason.  Instead of a separate shower and bathtub, eliminate the bathtub to gain more floor space in the bathroom.


12.  Open plan

Open plan living

Open plan living

Open plan living not only presents an opportunity to bring life, light and air into the property but it also increases the amount of available space.  By knocking down dividing walls between a living room and bedroom, or kitchen and living room, you could create an amazing open plan living area.  Without the confines of additional walls, you will be able to fit more things in between the two rooms and the increased space will make it feel like you are living in a much bigger property.


13.  Visual balance of a room

Glass or lucite item

Glass or lucite item keep the appearance of an open and free space

The visual balance of a room is also important. Having an oversized sofa or too much furniture will make the room look smaller and decrease the appearance of space.  A glass or lucite item, whether it is a dining, coffee or end table, will keep the appearance of an open and free space.

14.  See-through space

Clear glass

Clear glass shower doors will make the bathroom feel more spacious

By using materials that you can see through, anything beyond will appear farther away.  For example, use a clear frameless glass shower door instead of an opaque glass shower door as the eyes can see all the way – an extra three feet – to the wall at the back of the shower.


15.  Lines

Horizontal and vertical lines

Lines can visually stretch the room sideways and upwards

Last but not least, horizontal and vertical lines can visually stretch the room sideways and upwards.  Using horizontal wall panels or vertical floor planks can produce these lines in a subtle way.  Be careful not to go overboard on stripes that separate the walls or flooring into pieces.



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