11 easy ideas to make a small room feel bigger

Blessed with a small space? Check out these design tips and tricks to help you make the most of your beloved shoebox

living room with large circle mirror
(Image credit: Arteriors)

Are you resigned (or delighted) to small space living? Chic but compact apartment, tiny flat or smaller-than-ideal house – whatever your home’s space challenges, these decorating tips and tricks will make a mighty big difference. 

1. Less is more in a small space 

‘Less is more’, the time-honoured interior design mantra when it comes to small spaces. Don’t make the mistake of cramming the same amount of furniture you would into a bigger space and just putting it closer together. Just because you can fit a three piece suite into your teeny living room doesn't mean you should.

Worried that it won't feel homely? Swap too much furniture for lots of texture and layering instead.

Sofa covers over sofa in living room by Bemz

(Image credit: Bemz)

2. Downsize your furniture 

Compact rooms call for furniture that’s in proportion, so choosing sofa beds designed for small living spaces or desks created for small home offices is the most efficient way to use your space. 

The shape and design, as well as the size, of your furniture can also have a massive impact on making a space feel bigger. As a general rule, low slung furniture works best as it will make your room feel taller, plus it lets more light flow around the room. Also be sure to choose seating with show legs – if you can see all that space beneath your furniture, it will look less bulky, the room will seem bigger and light flow will be better.

3. Try a different layout 

What is it with our obsession with pushing furniture right back against the walls? It’s understandable that we want to maximise the space but this can sometimes enhance rather than balance out that claustrophobic feel. So, give your furniture room to breathe by pulling it away from those walls a little – and if you can group seating around a coffee table in a snug group, you'll create a fabulous focal point, too.

(Image credit: Vanessa Arbuthnott)

4. Be sneaky with your storage

Okay so looking at all these photos of gorgeous, clutter free tiny spaces you are probably thinking, but where’s all the stuff? The secret is having plenty of hidden storage solutions – sneaky storage if you will. The key to living in a small space is forging storage spaces wherever possible, putting those empty spaces to good use. Space under the bed? Get some small bedroom storage ideas solutions. Space in the kitchen cupboards? Add small kitchen storage ideas, such as shelf inserts. Space under the stairs? Check out our ingenious under stair storage solutions.

Bedroom by Ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

5. Or use (Instagram worthy) open shelving instead

We all seen the rise of the #shelfie. Keeping your old knick knacks out on display for all to see has never been trendier. Embrace the style and use it to your advantage –ladder style shelving, floating shelves or wall mounted magazine racks will provide extra storage and display space with a minimal footprint. 

You can create a similar look with the Algot shelving unit from Ikea, which comes in different depths and widths so you can choose a size to suit your space. Use our guide to #shelfies: 15 decorative shelves to inspire Instagram likes for more ideas.

Shelving in a small living room

(Image credit: Darren Chung)

6. Opt for oversized artwork

We will never say a word against the gallery wall, but in small spaces they can be overwhelming and end up making a room feel more cramped. Instead, choose one bold, large-scale print, that will make a statement but won’t clutter up the wall. 

Rug used as wall hanging in a bedroom

(Image credit: Tipi)

7. Fill your space with mirrors and reflective accessories

It’s the oldest trick in the book, we know, but it works. Placing a large mirror on the adjacent wall to your biggest window will reflect the most light, but if your windows are small or you don’t want to rely on natural light, try placing a tall mirror behind furniture or lighting to create the visual trick of another room opening up beyond. 

living room with large circle mirror

(Image credit: Arteriors)

8. Be clever with your window dressings

Banishing big, heavy, light-sucking curtains is a must if you want your rooms to look bigger, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have curtains at all. IF you are going to have them, start by swapping in floor-to-ceiling, light-coloured ones (wahey, suddenly your room – and window – looks taller). Then, ensure you hang them from a pole that’s long enough so that they can be pulled right back past the window frame, making your window will feel wider, too. Keep windowsills clear too – the more light that can flow into a room, the bigger it will feel – a must if you're designing a north-facing room.

Scandi-style bedroom by Ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

9. Don’t forget the flooring 

We all know that white walls reflect light and make a space feel larger blah blah blah, but so many of us don’t make use of the flooring to enhance a space. Opting for a finish in a light colour is the most obvious way to go, whether you strip and paint floorboards white, choose a lime-washed look for engineered wood boards, laminate or vinyl, or simply lay down a large white or cream rug. 

10. Go for a one-colour scheme

Received wisdom has it that painting walls white makes small rooms look bigger, right? Right – but if you’d love your home to be colourful and spacious-looking, you’ll need a clever trick or two up your sleeve.

Try choosing a colour you love for the walls, match it with furniture and pick accessories in close tones of the same shade. That way, you’ll get colour and a spacious feel, plus you don’t need to compromise on your furniture’s size because even larger pieces will blend into the background.

Heart Wood by Dulux is a soft heather purple and works well in a living room

(Image credit: Dulux)

11. Draw the eye upwards

There are all sorts of ways of doing this: vertical stripes on a wall, painting a ceiling to draw attention to it, long curtains that reach to the floor... all serve to exaggerate a room's proportions height-wise. Or, combine them to create a bigger, bolder impact. Find more sunny rooms like this in our yellow room ideas gallery.

Living room with painted yellow ceiling

For similar paint colour try Annie Sloan Arles, find similar cushions at Next, for reclaimed storage try etsy

(Image credit: Clive Nicholls)

Want more advice on working with small spaces?

Small Spaces Month:

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Hebe Hatton

Hebe joined the Real Homes team in early 2018 as Staff Writer before moving to the Livingetc team in 2021 where she took on a role as Digital Editor. She loves boho and 70's style and is a big fan of Instagram as a source of interiors inspiration. When she isn't writing about interiors, she is renovating her own spaces – be it wallpapering a hallway, painting kitchen cupboards or converting a van.