10 Design Tips and Ideas That Make Small Spaces Feel Bigger

10 Design Tips and Ideas That Make Small Spaces Feel Bigger

Kitchen
Kitchen Remodeling
Interior Design
By Mateos Glen Hayes September 14, 2022

As cities grow and the price of housing goes only higher, more of us are finding ourselves in smaller homes. In many ways, compact homes can be far better options than larger ones. They tend to be less wasteful as far as energy is concerned, require less time to clean, and are often easier to keep maintained as well. But the thing with a compact space is that it’s of course small, and small isn’t to everyone’s taste. 

Even for those of us who do prefer it, a poorly designed small space can be an unpleasant place to be. That’s why it’s crucial to be cognizant of the best ways to make small spaces feel cozy rather than cramped. With the right design choices, you can even make a small space feel bigger than it actually is.   

1. Declutter 

Keep your small space free of clutter with an organized sorting system.

Keep your small space free of clutter with an organized sorting system.

One small house idea that makes the space feel bigger immediately is decluttering. Clutter builds up imperceptibly over time and can soon come to dominate a room, overshadowing any decor and leaving a space feeling cramped and uncomfortable. Decluttering not only makes a space feel bigger but also helps you maintain a smoother workflow if you work from your home office

While reducing clutter is in some ways a never ending process, there are some techniques that you can adopt to make keeping clutter at bay easier. For instance, simply keeping compact sorted bins on hand can greatly ease the decluttering process by giving you a quick way of sorting through what is trash and what is to be kept.   

2. Light It Up

An abundance of light makes for an airier, more spacious design.

An abundance of light makes for an airier, more spacious design.

One of the keys to making a space bigger is to give it plenty of light. Good lighting will give your small space an airy feel that a dingy dark space will sorely lack. There are two main ways to increase interior illumination in a small space. One way is of course to add artificial lighting. LEDs are both affordable, super-bright, and can even come in color-changing variants, allowing for a wide range of colors that match your small room decor. New or larger windows can also give you plenty of natural illumination. To make your small space as appealing as possible, it is best to avoid any design choices that leave your small space dark and cellar-like.    

3. Remove Walls, Add Glass 

Open your space up by removing interior walls and adding glass ones instead.

Open your space up by removing interior walls and adding glass ones instead.

This may not be possible for all households, but knocking out a wall is a great way to win back some space by removing unnecessary clutter in your small room design. Removing your wall is a small house idea that will open new opportunities for you to reimagine what you want your home’s layout to look like. 

The absence of walls allows both artificial and natural light to flow freely, further increasing the airiness of the space. Provided it is done with caution, wall removal is also quite an affordable modification to a small space if you want to make it feel bigger. The key is to make sure that the wall you choose to remove is not load-bearing but is rather merely a dividing wall.

4. A Landscape of Color 

Use light wall colors along with accent colors in the room to add depth to a small space.

Use light wall colors along with accent colors in the room to add depth to a small space.

Decorating small spaces can often seem difficult or counterintuitive, especially since there are so many ways to go about it. Fortunately, it isn’t as difficult as it may seem. In fact, often the answer lies in lots of different colors. Paintings and other colorful wall-mounted decorations can make a space feel bigger if executed correctly. 

For example, a beautiful painting of the countryside can be your clever way of making a small space feel bigger if you cannot add windows. We recommend using a combination of light wall colors and colorful paintings as this will give your interior character without cramping its style. Plus, this counterintuitive idea will add a dash of eclecticism to any interior, perfect if you want a space that feels bigger and stands out at the same time.  

5. Avoid (Big) Furniture 

Small furnishings and fixtures work wonders in freeing up your small room design.

Small furnishings and fixtures work wonders in freeing up your small room design.

There are really a few ways you can go about choosing furniture for a small space without making it feel too small. One thing you can do is opt for smaller pieces of furniture since this will take up less space by default and will also allow you to add more things to your space relatively easily. But if you would prefer bigger furnishings, there is an alternative: buy larger furniture but simply get less of it. Fewer furniture can achieve similar results to smaller furniture in that you will have a bit more free square footage to play around with. 

6. Make Good Use of Vertical Space

Make full use of vertical space with storage that reaches up to the ceiling.

Make full use of vertical space with storage that reaches up to the ceiling.

Vertical design space doesn’t just have to be reserved for decoration. It can also be the site of many useful features in your home. In a small room, high space efficiency is key, and the most you have to work with is vertical space since horizontal is by default limited in this case. So if you have a small space in say, a kitchen, installing cabinets and pantry shelving that reach up to the ceiling is a good idea. 

Likewise, a small bathroom can benefit hugely from a design that maximizes your storage and ensures that none of the square footage is being used frivolously. Similar design choices can be made with regard to book ceilings, high-mounted sculptures or wall sconces, and even nifty devices such as staircases that fold away when not in use. 

7. Introduce Interior Zones 

A studio apartment with distinctly segmented zones will feel much less cluttered.

A studio apartment with distinctly segmented zones will feel much less cluttered.

As with open concept homes, one way to prevent clutter and keep a small room design from feeling cramped is to use zoned designs. In other words, maintaining thematic delineations between different spaces helps keep them apart and makes better use of the available rooms. A small space such as a studio apartment can be designed so that the bedroom and sitting area are separated by decorative items such as hanging paintings and curtains. This keeps everything from clashing together and gives each area its allotted space. There’s always a solution to make your bedroom feel bigger!

8. Leave No Surface Unused 

Whether for storage or decor, we recommend making good use of all available flat surfaces to add to the coziness of a small space.

Whether for storage or decor, we recommend making good use of all available flat surfaces to add to the coziness of a small space.

This one’s pretty straightforward. If you have empty flat spaces such as windowsills, counters, end tables, etc., make use of those spaces. That may sound like a weird thing to say given that we just mentioned decluttering, but the key here is to make efficient use of empty space. In other words, use these empty surfaces to make the room feel like it can accomodate all the stuff you're placing in it. This can be as simple as using a windowsill for more lighting such as lamps, for extra storage, or to keep your knick-knack decor off a small end table that may be needed for more practical purposes. 

9. Use Space Saving Appliances 

Integrated home appliances reduce obstructions and make for a sleeker space.

Integrated home appliances reduce obstructions and make for a sleeker space.

Home appliances such as washing machines, refrigerators, dishwashers, and the like have become essential components of everyday life in the modern age. A small living room or other space will need to house these items somehow, so it makes sense to try and find the most compact ways to achieve this. Washer and dryer combo units mounted into closets or cabinets are fairly common nowadays and are a great space saver. 

There are also small fridges available that are specially designed to fit seamlessly into a kitchen cabinet, thereby eliminating the need to have your fridge in a designated spot. Likewise, a large bulky stove can be forgone in favor of smaller counter-mounted units that are far more compact. All of these solutions eliminated unnecessary obstructions and give a small room design a smooth, modern feel.  

10. Reflective Materials And Mirrors 

Lighter colors and mirrors maximize reflectivity, thereby keeping a small space from feeling cramped.

Lighter colors and mirrors maximize reflectivity, thereby keeping a small space from feeling cramped.

As with additional lighting, reflective materials carry similar benefits in that they help light to permeate a space more fully, thereby preventing it from being dark and dingy. In terms of reflective materials, white lacquered walls with high gloss do the trick quite nicely and stylishly. 

Mirrors come in all shapes and sizes, although we do recommend avoiding anything too big unless you are going for something sleek like a wall-mounted dressing mirror. A nice frame won’t hurt either, especially if it is clad with reflective materials, or can light up thanks to LED light strips as are increasingly common on some borderless mirror designs.  

MG

Written by
Mateos Glen Hayes

Written by Mateos Glen Hayes

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