In college, you shared a closet-sized room with a roommate. At least in your first apartment, you had your own bedroom, but no space for much else. Your first house still didn’t have enough space. And even if you’ve moved into a bigger home, you’d probably still like to have extra room.
It seems that we always find a way to fill up the space we live in, which makes us always want more. And when we finally do actually get more space than we can use, it’s time to downsize – into a space-stingy condo. In one way or another, we are always on the lookout for extra living space.
If you’ve always felt that the rooms of in your condo or house were a little small, it might not be just because of their physical size. Of course condos and apartments, especially newer ones, will have less space than a house. And older urban homes will not be nearly as roomy as their suburban counterparts. But there’s something that you might be doing that would make any room seem smaller.
Regardless of the size of a room, it’s what’s in it, how furniture and accessories are arranged, and even the paint colour you choose, that can be a major factor in how big the room feels.
On the positive side, that means following a few interior design cues and avoiding some common design mistakes can create a décor that makes any room feel bigger.
1. Don’t Let Clutter Take Over Your Décor
Even if you have space for them, too many ‘things’ in a room makes it feel smaller. Yes, in your living room you proudly want to display the souvenirs you’ve collected from your travels. But try to be aware of when the sheer number of those souvenirs takes over the effect that you really want each of them to have.
Even in other rooms, including the bathroom, bedroom and kitchen, clutter can contribute to a ‘close’ feeling. In the kitchen for example, it’s tempting to hang pots, pans and utensils on walls, especially if you don’t have vast amounts of cupboard space. But not only will that clutter take away the feeling of spaciousness, but it can start to make the room feel disorganized and never really tidy.
Instead of doing something that adds to clutter, do your best to reorganize the cupboard space and use it to store things that you don’t use daily, leaving only essentials like toasters and coffeemakers out in the open.
2. Balance Your Décor
This is where you try a little bit of your own ‘feng shui’. The arrangement of everything in your room, from furniture to wall hangings, must be arranged in a way that makes the room feel inviting, comfortable and, yes, more spacious.
Arrange your furniture in ways that make it easy to get around the room, makes it easy for everyone to chat, and has no elements that are too far out of proportion or context in the room. That large palm might be beautiful by itself, but it may not fit with the balance of your room.
Make sure that every element of your room has ‘breathing’ space and you will not have to worry about it feeling to crowded or small. And, starting with the paint you choose for the walls, try to stick to colours that are complementary throughout everything in the room.
3. Light it Up
You don’t need to make every room glaringly bright, but poor lighting can make even the best décor seem dank and cramped. Try to have different levels of lighting. In the kitchen, maybe under cabinet lights are fine most of the time, but you’ll need brighter lighting for food preparation and something a little more intimate if you have dinner at the breakfast table. Dimmers are very helpful for setting the right tone for a variety of scenarios in any room.
4. Dark Colours Shrink Every Room
Most of us who have ever redecorated or even just painted a room know that light colours not only brighten the room, but they make it feel bigger. That doesn’t mean everything in the room must be white, but just be aware that anything that’s quite dark, especially if it forms a large part of the look of the room, like a carpet, will make it look that much smaller.
5. Stay Away From Clunky Furniture
Sure, it’s a big comfy couch, and when you sit in it, you never want to get up, but it probably does nothing for making the room feel comfortable and it will definitely make the room feel smaller. The decades-old trend was to large wall units, book shelves and home entertainment centres, but few homes really had enough space to accommodate them. Thinner, sleeker furniture, in every room of the house, will make them all look and feel bigger.
If there is one overall direction to make every room feel bigger, and make you feel better when you are in it, it is to think about the effect that any thing you do or add to it will have on the ambience of the entire room.