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Ten Top Interior Design Tips to Make A Small Room Seem Bigger

Updated on March 27, 2008

Ten Top Tips To make a small room seem bigger.

Living space in this day and age seems to getting smaller and smaller,

while people are getting bigger and taller (perhaps that's for another hub!)

Interior design magazines are full of shots of loft spaces and

Victorian houses, or worse stories about what Mr and Mrs Architect

did with this rundown loft, castle, barn, old mill etc.

This hub is aimed at people who find themselves in smaller spaces.

People who want to get the most from their small space and

still have big style an impact.

People who don't want the size of the room to totally dictate how it looks and feels.

This hub aims to provide you with a list of tips that help you decide

what to highlight and what to hide, or at least change or disguise.

The big message here is don't let your room dictate your style,

let your style form the room even when it's a small room.

(1) De clutter...


I know it's easier said than done but it is vital in a small space.


Top Tips

  • a) Where possible use built in storage.

This helps to disguise it and melt it away into the walls.

You can then disguise the storage by using the same

treatment as on the walls i.e. painting it the same colour, or

even wallpapering it. You can also continue any architectural

details such as coving, skirting etc.

  • b) In an asymmetrical room box out the wall recesses and build in storage in the same way to blend in.
  • c) stools and poufs can provide useful occasional seating, choose ones that provide storage in the base.

The Japanese are way ahead on this so look in Japanese design books for ideas.

Stylish storage

Storage can be stylish
Storage can be stylish

underbed storage in a small room

(2) Choose Appropriate size Furniture.


Measure, Measure, Measure,

Interior design books are full of huge sofas which look great but in a small room they can be overwhelming and make a small room seem tiny.

If reducing the size of the furniture doesn't help or is not possible at a given time, having less furniture in a room will help.

(3) Use Mirrors

The appropriate use of mirrors can visually double the size of a room. Sheet mirror above a fireplace can be a very cost effective way to do this. Go to framing suppliers as they can often sell beautiful frames much cheaper and it is simple to add some mirror to it.

There are many pieces of furniture around currently with mirrored surfaces which help bounce light around also.

use of sheet mirror

use of sheet mirror

(4) Lighting


  • a) Obviously utilise all the natural light you can.

  • b) If your ceiling is low spots are your best friend.

Pendant lights i.e. hanging lights can make the ceiling seem lower or ‘bring the ceiling down' (not literally!) Spots accentuate the height and make the ceiling seem higher and therefore the room seem larger

  • c) If you can get recessed spots put in at the early stages of build or renovation all the better. If not look for ceiling mounted spots on bars or tracks.

  • d) Light all four corners of the room. Again angled spots can do this for you. Or you can position wall mounted floor mounted lights or table lamps strategically to draw the eye outwards and thereby visually expand the size of the room.
  • e) If the ceiling is low emphasise all the verticals by using

Striped wallpaper

Full length curtains

Up lighters (light fitting which direct light up the wall

Use gloss paint on the ceiling to bounce light down. Choose a receding colour on the ceiling.


(5) Colour


(5) Colour

Test Test Test

Use light receding colours on walls.

What are Receding Colours. Also called cool colours, receding colours are said to make walls appear to recede. Warm colours are said to make walls advance.

Receding (cool) and advancing (warm) Colours

On the Right hand side of the colour wheel you find the warm or advancing colours such as orange and red and on the left hand side are cool or receding colours such as blue and green.

A colour wheel

(6) Neutrals


Neutrals can also be termed ‘non colours'. They are very easy to work with and can be a great choice for a beginner who is unsure of colour. . another advantage of Neutral colours is that they all go together and can be layered, mixed and matched as no neutral colour will try to dominate over another.

Neutrals don't appear on the colour wheel and include Black, Grey, White and sometimes Brown and Beige.

Working with colour takes a lot of practice. Colours can look very different in different parts of your home as the type of light in a space can affect the colour dramatically. Don't be too hard on yourself if you make some mistakes, most of us have at some time looked at a wall colour and thought "did I choose that!"

Big Rule for finding the right colour for walls is ....Test Test Test

Using Tone on tone colours for furnishings is another great way to add to the illusion of space, i.e a cream (neutral) sofa against a dark cream wall, the sofa will blend in and recede. In other words select furnishings that blend in with the background colours of the room. Big dramatic red or purple sofas are best used in large room where they can't swamp the room.

So by now maybe you are thinking... but I don't want a bland neutral room full of receding colours!!! I want individuality, flair even Drama.... The Wow Factor (I hate that phrase!)

This is where accent colours come in

neutrals and accent colours

(7) Accent colours


Accent colours can be used as a complementary colours . They can be used in small quantities to lift or to give a 'wow-factor' to a colour scheme.

An accent colour work best if it is a bright, vibrant colour. If you are scared of using a strong colour, accent colours are perfect as you can simply add a splash of colour and compliment this with matching accessories such as cushions, a throw or a vase.

Try to keep your most of your room in shades and tones of one single colour. Choose a number of items in a harmonious colour and then pick out a few objects to be painted in an accent colour.

(8) Clashing colours


If you want even more Drama Try Clashing Colours

Clashing colours used to be a 'big no' but when they are used carefully, then can look fabulous. Make sure they are of equal tonal strength, you can mix them together. You don't have to stop at two clashing colours, you can use three or four but be aware that if one colour is paler or weaker, then the rest may get lost in the overall look.

(9) Your Own Treasures


Interior décor is an expression of self so.....

Use your own treasures as points of focus and drama.

Invest in a display unit or Curio Cabinet. Rather than hiding all your childhood memento's, holiday or travel souvenirs vintage finds in drawers, display them.

Light it artfully to pull focus onto the pieces and away from aspects of the room that are less attractive.

(10) Wall Art


A piece of dramatic wall art can give the impact and individuality you seek without dominating the room the way a highly coloured or large piece of furniture would. Also it is easily changed or moved to another wall or room as required over time.

Accent colour in wallart

neutrals in a small area + accent colour in dramatic wall art.
neutrals in a small area + accent colour in dramatic wall art.


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    • profile image

      Cuadros Goya 

      5 years ago

      That is true! Good advices! It is very important to put some mirrors if you can near of a window.

      Here you can find some mirrors:


    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Some great ideas here cflynn! I love the shabby chic style so some of these ideas are perfect! I found a lot of chic storage solutions on here ..hope this helps!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have small living place with heavy furniture.

      What should i do to look each room big and different from each other?

    • toolongdidntread profile image


      6 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      I was engrossed in this article I found from Google when I looked up and realized it was on hubpages! Nice hub!

    • jennifertaylor91 profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      Excellent recommended to make elegant room by curio cabinet within small area with affordable price..can you hosting design of black and white color cabinet because of i most like this kind of cabinet..Thanks


      Curio cabinet lights :-

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I lived in a small home. The bedrooms are 12x9 and 10x9 I want to put tounge and grove pine boards half way up on one wall of each room. would this give the rooms a smaller look.

    • profile image


      7 years ago


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      nice tips but some change clour

    • MyFavoriteBedding profile image


      7 years ago from United States

      Storage is always such a problem in many homes. I saw an article about using the space under the main stairs to a home as storage, what a great idea!

    • Mirrors4Home profile image


      7 years ago

      Great concepts here for making small spaces appear bigger. Using mirrors is always a good way to help open up a small area. Nice Hub, thanks for the ideas. For a good place to get a huge selection of mirrors try

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you those designs are great. Could you make a design for a small box style room?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Wow! I really like you tips. I will try and use them in redecorating my room. I hope I can have a beautiful outcome. great hub!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      nice one,thanks ;)

    • ericosiu profile image


      8 years ago

      I'm definitely going to implement some of your tips!! Awesome hub! Hope you can check out mine too!

    • acewebdesign profile image


      8 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      I can certainly say that de-cluttering a room will certainly have high impact

    • realfun profile image


      8 years ago

      Fantastic hub, you certainly have a lot of follows already.Keep it up.Alix

    • MisCook profile image


      8 years ago

      I agree that taking out the clutter can make your room clean, big, and organized.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for the great information. I am going to school for Interior Decorating and was stumped on a narrow room assignment. Now I have lots of ideas!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      nice stuff :)I mean really it's amazing. If you ever want a job at HGTV just contact me. I represent the company with advertising and reeling people in to work for the company. We are looking for a new show host and I would be glad to have you come in and talk. just email me at

    • spincollective profile image


      8 years ago

      Great hub, some excellent tips in there. :)

    • Complaicency profile image


      8 years ago from Wales, UK

      Great. I really enjoyed that

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great info! I have bookmarked this hub for further reading..

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great info! I have bookmarked this hub for further reading..

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Nice hub. Some good information here. Thanks for the info..

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Nice hub. Some good information here. Thanks for the info..

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      iwas searchin something for my new small flat and i m happy to discover this.

    • Morris Streak profile image

      Morris Streak 

      9 years ago from UK

      I am into home improvement, which is why I found myself here, on your hub. The zen tips here are amazing. They encourage people who have no idea how to fix up their homes to do something about it, which is a campaign I fully support. Imagine how much people save when they do the fixing themselves.

    • cflynn profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Ireland

      Hi Ange-ella

      sorry if it is not so clear. to start with painting choose a receding colour...blues greens or a neutral. try to use one a few tones lighter than the colour of you furniture. there are some great greeny mushroomy colours out at the moment like farrow and ball shaded white.

      Maybe then add some more reflective surfaces..a larger mirror or an extra small pretty one to help bounce light.

      curtains are expensive but if you can make them as long ( and High) and wide as you can to make the window seem larger and grander.

      that's 3 good basics to start with. good luck and thanks for stopping by


    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I don't really get it. I was hoping I could renovate my room, by painting. since my room is so small. It helped-ish... but, great site!

    • cflynn profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Ireland

      Thanks for dropping by jaya.

      And absolutely homedesign i like the more realistic side of design. The real challenge is to have a lovely space but with all your stuff in it !! minimalist is not really a challenge...just throw everything out!!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Nice tips altogether...!!!

      Great job..

      Thanks a lot.!!1

    • homedesign profile image


      9 years ago

      Great tips here and you're right about those posh magazines showing mansions all the time - actually they don't look too comfortable either. I like practical home design as well as design that looks good and it seems you do too.

    • cflynn profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Ireland

      thanks. I haven't found a good site for that exactly. no one wants to give the secrets away except on hubpages!!  Most interior design sites are about the designers and they want you to hire them.

      The best thing to do is an 8 or 10 week course ( evening class). A good course will show you how to do a mood board and a scale plan of the room. Then you make little pieces of scale paper shapes for the furniture ad move them around. It really helps think differently about a space and where you can put things.

       You can plan a room around your favourite pieces or treasures of the past, that helps get a really individual starting point and focal point for a room.

      i shall post more links if i can find something cool.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      this is cool. good work . i mean it really makes sense. i am just renovating my house n i need some great ideas of how to place things n where n stuff. could u just recommend me a good site for this?

      thank you

    • cflynn profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Ireland

      Thanks for the tips and the compliment

    • Constant Walker profile image

      Constant Walker 

      10 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

      Great hub. I like a small, but efficient living space, and have always used mirrors and indirect lighting to make it look bigger than it really is. A good way to make windows look longer than they are is to frame them: Hang curtains -or shutters on smaller windows- at the edges (so that the side edges are covered) and about a foot beyond. It gives the illusion that your window is up to 2 feet wider than it really is. Also, hanging pictures at eye-level or a bit lower makes the ceiling look higher.

      I learned a lot of great tips like this from my ex-wife's "Apartment Living" magazines.

    • Weldon Jewellers profile image

      Weldon Jewellers 

      10 years ago from Ireland

      Thumbs up! Great hub!!!

    • cflynn profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Ireland

      Thanks Funride

      i try to simplify things for myself if no one else!


    • funride profile image

      Ricardo Nunes 

      10 years ago from Portugal

      Great hub with very simple but effective tips.

    • cflynn profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Ireland

      Thanks Mary Pat

      Its on my todo list for today!


    • profile image


      10 years ago


      Very timely advise for me as I am looking to stage my home to sell it. I am getting ready to paint and clean out all the clutter. I will enjoy reviewing this page when you have some pictures to emphasize the effects of your suggestions!


    • profile image

      Jason Stanley 

      10 years ago

      Good advise and info here. I have used an accent color on one wall to brighten or make a room feel larger for many years and can tell you from my experience that the advise in this hub is very solid. cflynn knows what she is talking about!


    • cflynn profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Ireland

      Hi Abhinaya

      Thanks a lot its my first hub so that means a lot. I am aiming to get more pics with before and after shots of lighting in an area and some on the affects of light on colour.



    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Great hub.Lighting and colouring can indeed make a lot of difference.Thanks for sharing the info.


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