15 Tricks To Make A Small Room Appear Bigger

Small apartments are practical and give an appealing sense of intimacy, but no one likes to feel cramped and overwhelmed with stuff. Here's how you can trick the eye and make your space seem much bigger than it really is.

Modern interior of small apartment

Some choose to live on limited square footage because they don't want to deal with too much cleaning and maintenance. Others simply have no choice. Whatever your situation, a sense of spaciousness and comfort is always welcome -- and that's what small apartment dwellers are often challenged with.

Small is cute and cozy, but there are a couple of downsides, too. Rooms that lack space tend to be confining by their very nature, and there are still all those personal belongings accumulated over the years and household goods that you have to find place for.

When decorated at random, small living spaces can really feel cluttered, chaotic and cramped, but luckily, there are some easy fixes that you can use to make a small room look more airy.  Color techniques, clever choice of furniture, proper arrangement and some other easy fixes will help you create the illusion of extra space in your home.

Lighten it up

This one is really a no-brainer. Just like with clothes, dark colors make things seem smaller and slimmer, but this is not what we're trying to achieve here. If you want to make a small living area appear bigger than it really is, don't paint the walls chocolate brown or polo blue.

Light colors, on the other hand, are fabulous space expanders. They make the room feel open and airy as they are more reflective and enhance the effect created and by natural light. Some of the colors that will instantly turn a compact interior into a seemingly bigger space are icy blues, creams, pale gray and light greens . Also, lightening up the floor can add to the optical illusion. If you cannot redo flooring, a large are rug is a good alternative that will give your apartment a few extra square inches of space.

Scandinavian style

Forget bold prints

One or two throw pillows with large geometric patterns will not do harm, of course, but too many bold prints in a tiny interior can make the room feel busy and cluttered, especially if they appear on a large surface. If you really want to have a decorative wallpaper, choose small, delicate prints in pastel colors. The same applies to rugs. If you need a strong accent, it is better to make a statement with modern wall art and keep the rest of the room solid. The more unified the elements of décor, the bigger your room will appear.

Use wise contrasts

The fact that it's best to go pale and monochromatic doesn't mean there is no place for contrasts at all. A clever trick used by interior decorators is painting the walls, trim, and molding in different shades of one color, the walls always being slightly darker. If you paint the walls icy blue or beige and have the moldings and trim bright white, the walls will appear further back and thus the room will seem somewhat bigger than in reality. A similar effect can be achieved if you pair a pastel wall with bright white furniture.

Small apartment

It has already been pointed out -- the more unified the décor of a tiny apartment, the greater the illusion of space will be. If you have a kitchen that opens to the living room (or any other adjacent spaces with little or no clear division), link them with the same flooring and wall color. Keeping to one color will give an impression of a larger living area. Also, consider having at least some of the bigger furniture pieces like chests of drawers or armoires the same color as the walls, so they can blend together and visually widen out the room.

Cozy small interior

Let light in

Natural light is an unfailing space expander, so if you have large windows, make full use of them and keep window treatment to minimum. By leaving your windows uncovered and allowing plenty of natural light to flow freely inside the room, you will connect the room with the outdoors and create the illusion of depth. Elaborate window treatments draw too much attention, visually divide the room (they provide undesired contrast) and make it feel enclosed. If you don't want to leave your windows completely bare, use simple sheer panels that blend with the color of the walls or are slightly lighter and keep them pulled back.

Interior of a studio apartment

Use multi-function furniture

This one is not about fooling the eye -- it is about making you space physically less cluttered. Double duty furniture pieces are priceless additions to any apartment, but if you're particularly short on space, make them your holy grail of decorating. A comfy ottoman can transforms into a serving table (and don't forget there's plenty of storage space inside), a wall-hugging console can be opened to create a dining table suitable for many guests, a dresser can pulls its weight as a nightstand, and even what seems to be a desk for office work, can be turned into a twin bed with one easy motion.

Solid Oak Trestle Dining Table
Multifunction Table
Drop Leaf Table

Be transparent

Even furniture pieces that are moderate in size can make a small room feel cramped, but limited square footage doesn't mean you have to live like in a squat, with just a mattress and a camping stove. Acrylic furniture is a great way out if you want to have a fully furnished apartment (with dining chairs, desk chair, console, etc.), but fear that it might make the space look cluttered.

Transparent furniture pieces blend seamlessly with the interior and look as if they weren't there at all. At the same time, they stand out enough to make a powerful style statement and give an instant upgrade to any decorating scheme -- the so-called ghost chairs are one of the most sought after furniture items in the world.

Acrylic furniture

Clear the walkways

Don't get this one wrong. Shoving all pieces of furniture  against the wall and leaving the center empty will not necessarily make a room look bigger -- sometimes a piece looks better when it is surrounded by space or when it is placed at an angle. The point is that nothing should block the view into a room and to open spaces, so large pieces indeed look better against the wall. An oversized sofa in the middle of the room will break up the interior into smaller bits,  automatically making it look cramped and smaller. A rule of thumb: if you can't see the floor, scale down your furniture or try to move it away.

Stretch the walls

The trick with horizontal stripe wallpaper may work as long as the rest of the room décor is plain and sparse, but this is rarely the case in tiny apartments. When paired with a lot of furniture pieces and personal belongings, bold patterns on the walls will make the room feel packed and busy. Instead, consider a wall to wall floor to ceiling bookcase -- it will not only give you plenty of storage options (use single-colored baskets or boxes for unity and leave some of the shelves empty), but also visually expand space by pushing the walls and ceiling out.

Large bookcase

Raise it up

When your living room is particularly small, don't go for bulky furniture with massive armrests and backs. Choose a delicate sofa and chairs with exposed legs, which will make your décor appear less cumbersome. Furniture pieces that are raised on legs and allow light to filter underneath create a sense of lightness and make the space seem airier.

Look up to high storage

Storage always seems to be a problem in small apartments. How to fit all your stuff into compact space without making it feel cluttered or crowded? Taking advantage of unused vertical space is a great way to go. It allows you to free up valuable space on your floor and take things away from eye level, where they can draw too much attention and make the room feel too busy. An added bonus is that high-mounted shelves and storage compartments will make the room appear taller -- just make sure they are in light colors so that they don't provide too much contrast and cut the walls.

High storage

Embrace minimalism

An impressive wall gallery or a collection of antique vases is sure a thing to take pride in, but if you're short on space, it is better to curb the impulse to display every single souvenir or a picture of every destination you've traveled to over the past ten years. There are few things that make a tiny apartment feel cramped more than having too much stuff on display.

Try to keep your rooms tidy, don't put too many objects on countertops, and don't cover your walls with tens of tiny pictures. Things that you don't use on a daily basis should be stored out of sight, and if you can't go without some of your favorite knickknacks, try to arrange them by color to make the whole look neat and organized.

Create a focal point

We know that already -- too much going on in a room makes mess and kills a sense of spaciousness. This should serve as a warning if you think smaller pieces of furniture scattered all over the room will make it appear airier. Sure, smaller items take less space, but sometimes larger and fewer is better. When decorating small rooms, always try to create a focal point with one prominent item or feature that will draw attention  (a table in the dining room, a bed or a beautiful armoire, or large modern wall art) and limit the rest of the décor  to an absolute minimum.

Light modern room

Fold and stack

You may associate stackable furniture with unattractive chairs fit for outdoor cafes and waiting rooms at the doctor's office, but some of the modern designs can absolutely steal the show in your apartment, let alone they are great space savers as they can be stored when not in use.  The same applies to furniture on wheels. They can be pulled to the center when needed, and easily pushed out of the way for floor cleaning or when they're not in use at any given moment.  Also, consider dining tables that can be made expanded with removable or drop leaves -- a great solution for a combined living-dining area.

Give it some reflection

How to make a room look two times its size? Make an exact copy! Large floor to ceiling mirrors that encompass a whole wall are by far the most effective way of creating the illusion of space, but actually any kind of reflective surface will help, be it glass tabletops or mirrored cabinet doors.

Modern interior design with bedroom

Mirrors and glass amplify natural and artificial light and radiate it throughout the room, making the interior brighter and thus seemingly larger -- there's no better friend to small apartments than that! The best places to install a mirror? Behind a light source (a candle, a bedside lamp, or a pendant light), next to or across the window to reflect the outdoors,  or towards a focal point of the room, which will give the illusion of depth.

Jessica started out as an interior photographer, but her love of pretty settings took her to the field of interior design, where she can combine two of her greatest passions, creating and then capturing the beauty of homes.