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Six Affordable Ways to Make a Room Feel Bigger Than It Really Is

Apr 19, 2021

A room with two sofas, a bookshelf, and a hutch

In many home makeover TV shows, making a room bigger starts by hiring a celebrity renovator who takes a sledgehammer to a wall to completely reconfigure the space. In real life, if you’re like most people, you don’t have that option — physically (especially if you live in an apartment) or financially. Yet sometimes there are those certain small rooms or spaces in our homes that we wish we could make bigger.

The good news is you can — just maybe not in the ways you’d expect, and certainly none that require a sledgehammer. There are lots of affordable ways and practical tips that can make your small space feel way bigger. And it’s actually pretty simple to do.

Minimize to Maximize

There is one overall strategy to keep in mind when taking on this project: To achieve the maximum effect of having a room look larger than it is, you have to minimize what’s actually in the room. Here are six ways to get there that you can implement easily, regardless of your budget.

1.     Clean Up and Declutter

 A space can feel more cramped than it needs to be due to extra clutter, so sometimes one of the simplest ways to make the room feel bigger is just to tidy up. Organizing, applying a sense of order, and even donating or getting rid of things that make your space feel cluttered and unproductive will open up the space almost instantaneously.

We know this is often easier said than done. Cleaning up is one thing; decluttering and removing something of sentimental value is another. One way to help you keep your focus on the “bigger” picture is to take inventory of your room and make sure that every piece has a purpose. Let a few things remain that you absolutely can’t bear to move but, on the whole, aim for keeping mostly essential items for a minimalist look and feel.

 2.     Let Mirrors Create a “Larger” Illusion

Mirrors are not just meant for bathroom and vanity areas. When it comes to decorating a small room, an oversized framed mirror can be such an eye-catching interior focal point (and not only because you’ll catch your own eye in it). Look for mirrors you can hang on the wall or lean against the wall for amazing style as well as function.

What’s more, even better than being eye-catching — they’re eye-fooling. Did you know that using mirrors is often a strategic move deployed by some of the world's greatest interior designers? Because of a mirror’s reflective nature, it gives extra depth and elongation to a room (almost like an optical illusion) to give the impression that there’s more space.

 3.     Incorporate Soft, Light Colors

Choosing the right colors for a small room is important for many reasons, including creating a certain vibe, enhancing a certain interior aesthetic and — yes, you guessed it — making a room feel bigger. The trick is to select hues that are softer and lighter, which can do wonders in creating the illusion of spaciousness. Not only that, but lighter colors naturally make a room seem more airy, cheerful and bright.

If neutrals like light beige and white aren’t in your preferred color scheme, blues and greens can also achieve this effect quite well. Or why not both? Pair neutrals with pastels or a pop of bright color, hence creating the desired illusion. To learn how to pick specific colors that go well together, take a look at our other recommendations for finding that spot-on shade for all the rooms throughout your home.  

4.     Select Light-Colored Furniture Pieces and Textiles

The same strategy of choosing light-colored paint also applies when you’re picking out furniture pieces and textiles for the room. Selecting lighter, cooler and more airy colors to be your primary color scheme in your space is key because they allow more light to pass through and create a minimalist vibe, instantaneously making a room feel bigger.

Don’t worry, you can still add pops of color in smaller accessories, like throw pillows or candles. Again, keep the number of pieces and the patterns on them to a minimum (avoiding ruffles, fringe and other unnecessary detailing) in the interest of keeping the room from looking cluttered.

5.     Let There Be Lots of Light

Whether it's natural or artificial lighting, use it to your advantage! Light can play a huge role in helping add depth to your room, giving off the illusion that there’s more room than what really exists. If your room is full of long, heavy curtains, open them to expose the windows as much as possible and let the light of the outdoors into the space.

While using natural light is always preferable, you may be working with a room that doesn’t have many (or any) windows. In that case, consider adding more lamps or installing lighting features (e.g., track lighting or recessed lighting) to achieve this same effect.

6.     Bigger but Fewer Furniture Pieces

It might seem contradictory to add bigger furniture to your space if your goal is to make it feel larger, but it’s a tried-and-true trick. As we said in Tip #1, having many smaller pieces can make a room feel cluttered and disorganized. Conversely, a few large, simple pieces of furniture or accessories can help the room appear more streamlined, calmer and more color-blocked. If you need to buy a piece of furniture to make this happen, be sure and take measurements so you don’t run the risk of getting something that’s too big. Check out our tips for buying the right size couch for any space.

An added bonus: Our flexible lease-to-own* alternative to furniture financing makes getting the furniture you want simple and affordable, so you can stay in line with your budget for this project as well. And it’s as close as your favorite furniture store, no matter where you live.

Now for the Fun Part: Go Experiment

The goal is to remember that it’s all about how big or small a space feels. So even a room with smaller dimensions can feel quite large by playing a few spatial tricks on the eye. It may take trying one, some or all of these tips to see what works, but in the end we’re sure you’ll end up with a lighter, brighter space you’ll love.