How to Make a Small Home Feel Bigger

After years of living in small spaces and helping clients optimize their small homes, I’ve learned how to make a small home feel bigger. You can even use these tips and tricks to learn how to make a studio apartment look bigger. Let’s get started living larger.

Cluttered room
Cluttered bedroom

1. Goodbye clutter

The more little things you have the more chaotic and small a room feels. Use less furniture, decor, trinkets, kitchen gadgets that take over an area. I avoid items that are smaller than my fist because they clutter and require more dusting.

Before and after decluttering
Moving things to a specific location

Congregate your clutter

Congregate things you love instead of spreading them out. Move special things together to the same location and it’ll start to look like an intentional collection.

Color coordinating clutter

Color coordinate

For example, color-coordinating your books on one shelf looks curated, not cluttered.

Being intentional with objects

2. Be intentional

Be extremely intentional and surround yourself with what you love. You’ll feel happier in your home and size won’t matter anymore. You will resent your home if you force yourself to sacrifice everything because you’re living tiny.

Using a large juicer
For example, I love eating healthy but it makes no sense for me to have a giant juicer in my tiny  kitchen taking up space. But having it makes me happy.

Having a pet cat in a small space
Having a pet in a small space can be rough, especially when it needs a litter box and toys. But having my cat here makes me feel like I’m home, so I use small-space pet-friendly accessories to make better use of our 269-square-foot space.  

Living in a small space without windows
Light-colored curtains
Optimizing lighting with cheer drapes

3. Optimize your lighting

If you’ve ever lived in a small space without windows, you’ll know how truly claustrophobic it can feel. Use natural lighting by keeping your windows open or covered with sheer curtains when you can. If you don’t have good natural lighting, there are other ways to optimize lighting.

Using mirrors to make a space feel larger
Mirror placement in a small bedroom
Hanging mirrors on a wall

Use mirrors

Well-placed mirrors can brighten dull or dark areas, corners, or walls and make these spaces appear larger. Use a standing or wall mirror. Use Velcro strips for lighter-weight mirrors so they can hang on the wall.

Changing colors on a wall
Changing color of a sofa
Changing colors of bedroom walls
Changing patterned sheets to plain sheets

Choose colors wisely

Optimize your lighting by using light-colored paint, furniture, and white bedding in small spaces. Patterns and a mix of colors tend to dull out the rest of the light in a room.

Layering lighting

Layer your lighting

This means using undercabinet lights, table lights, or anything other than harsh overhead lighting.

Adding puck lights to shelves

Add puck lights

Even try small inexpensive puck lights. This creates small shifts in the mood of the space.

Creating zones with lighting

Create zones

Layered lighting also creates zones within your space.

Open storage

4. Avoid open storage

Open storage requires maintenance and it’s a clutter magnet. Your eyes will naturally gravitate towards the open storage area when you walk into a room and it can magically shrink the size of your space very quickly.

Cluttered vs uncluttered open shelving
Cluttered vs organised open shelving
Open vs closed storage
Closed storage examples

Closed storage

I opt for closed storage when possible.

How to draw the eyes upwards

5. Draw your eyes upward

There are endless ways to achieve this. For example, white baseboards and trim are very noticeable. In a small space, it makes the link between floor and the ceiling very noticeable.

Blending baseboards

To solve this problem, I blended the baseboards so they matched the walls and painted the crown molding and the ceiling the same bright white. The result? The eyes no longer noticed the baseboards but also felt like the room grew a foot taller.

Hanging curtains close to the ceiling
Drapes hanging from the ceiling to the floor
Hanging drapes to make a space feel bigger

Hang curtains close to the ceiling

For curtains, hang the rod as close to the ceiling as possible and make the curtains as long as you can, preferably to the floor.

Items hanging on a wall
Hanging things

Hang things higher on the wall intentionally

Hang photos, towel hooks, shelves, and even shower curtain rods a little higher than where you think they would naturally go. This gives it a naturally lifted look.

Using a small rug vs no rug
Using a large rug vs no rug
Small vs large rug

6. Lengthen your space

Avoid placing rugs or furniture in any way that will make your room feel choppy. In a very tiny space, I generally steer clear of rugs altogether. However, rugs similar in color to the floor do help blend it without breaking up the room.

Or, go for a big rug that extends across the width of your room as much as possible. Place furniture in a way that opens up the room rather than breaks it up.

Creating space with furniture placement
Placing the bed in the middle of the room
Changing the layout of a living room

7. Allow for breathing room

Don’t push everything against walls or corners in a small room. Even creating a narrow path around a bed works better than shoving it against the wall. However, sometimes, you need a sofa against a wall for better flow.

Gallery wall
Open wall space

Open wall space

This goes for walls–don’t fill every inch of wall space or you’ll feel claustrophobic. In this living room makeover, one wall was filled with prints the clients loved. Instead, we put their collection together as a statement gallery wall to give the room breathing space. You don’t have to eliminate what you love, you just have to place things smarter.

Small furniture can make a room look smaller

8. Avoid small space furniture

Small furniture may be uncomfortable and also make your space look smaller. Use less, but full-sized furniture.

Less furniture vs small furniture
IKEA sofa
IKEA sofa without arms

IKEA’s SÖDERHAMN sofa works well but without arms, which eliminates choppiness, for example.

Prints and textiles
Keeping patterns and textiles to a minimum

9. Fewer patterns

Keep prints, patterns, textures, and layers to a minimum, as well.

How to make a small home feel bigger
Minimalist design

How to make a small home feel bigger

In general, less is more in a small space and it’s the essence of how to make a tiny house look bigger. I used to have a lot of decor pieces that had no real meaning. But over time, I’ve embraced a minimal style using meaningful pieces.

Do you have more tips to share on how to make a small home feel bigger? Share here in the comments.

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