How Can I Make My Small Room Feel Bigger?

Photographed by Dee Campling
This is an extract from My Bedroom is an Office & Other Interior Design Dilemmas by Joanna Thornhill.
While small but perfectly formed is nothing to be ashamed of, many of us do aspire to inhabit larger spaces. Whether you want to embrace the cosy opportunities for hygge that a diminutive room can offer, or trick the eye into thinking the space is larger than it is, there’s much that can be achieved, despite the limited proportions.
Light colours are often recommended for small rooms, although darker hues can create a more intimate atmosphere; either way, keep to the same or similar tones on walls, ceilings and woodwork to avoid drawing attention to the boundaries of the room and to minimise distracting colour clashes. Anything that draws the eye upwards will increase the feeling of space, so install high, slim shelves close to the top of walls to house a collection of paperbacks, or hang vertically striped wallpaper (or horizontal stripes if you’re after the illusion of width).
Designers will tell you to pull your furniture away from the walls to enhance the feeling of space. That’s easier said than done when you live in a shoebox, but even angling the odd piece outwards can help the flow. Make sure your furniture works as hard as possible by making best use of the height of the room and choosing multi-purpose or hideaway items where possible, such as a storage coffee table or a wall-mounted drop-leaf table.
Rather than using small items of furniture, go for fewer pieces in larger dimensions; running generously proportioned rugs underneath legs will prevent your furniture from looking as though its perched along the edges of the room. As with the walls, a stripy rug can look modern yet timeless and elongate the space – just don’t have stripes on both walls and floor at the same time. Leggy furniture or semi-transparent accessories and fittings can aid the feeling of light and space and will be less obstructive than solid pieces; this goes for kitchens and bathrooms, too, where wall-hung base units or sanitary-ware allow the eye to see right to the edges of the room. Be bold but restrained with accessories; by organising them into cohesive, structured displays, you’ll create attention-grabbing areas without overcrowding surfaces and making things look cluttered.
My Bedroom is an Office & Other Interior Design Dilemmas by Joanna Thornhill is available now from Laurence King, £14.99.

More from Home

R29 Original Series