Creating an illusion of space

Small rooms can often be a problem when it comes to furnishing and decorating. Pieces of furniture that look perfect in the showroom, will often appear too bulky in a confined space and end up giving the whole room a cluttered appearance. Structural alterations, such as taking out a dividing wall between two small rooms to create on larger one, are not always practical.

Light, plain colours will make a room appear larger. However, large expanses of plain wall can also make a room seem very boring. Choose complimentary shades, such as stone and beige for example, or perhaps two or three shades of the same pastel or earthy tone. Do not use more that two different colours or you will make the room look too busy and break up the smooth, continuous lines you are aiming for. Paint ceilings white or similarly light and bright colour. 

Continuous flooring, such as fitted wall-to-wall carpeting or laminated flooring  will make a room appear far more spacious. Choose a colour that is similar to that on the walls. Patterned carpets should be avoided, as they tend to make a room look cluttered.

Both curtains and blinds can be used to help create the illusion of space. Simple roller blinds that fit the windows exactly are best to give a feeling of space and are especially suitable for small windows. Select plain colours that have a similar tone as the walls and avoid fussy distractions, such as tassels or fringes. Venetian and Roman blinds are less suitable, as they tend to draw attention to the window. Curtains should be long – nearly reaching the floor – and hung from a rail extended out beyond the sides of the window to make it seem larger.

Mirrors are probably one of the simplest ways of creating an illusion of space and also of making dark rooms seem lighter. An obvious way of using mirrors to make a room appear more spacious is to cover one complete wall with them. Place a mirror on the opposite side op a window to reflect light and the beautiful view. In bathrooms, replace a small vanity mirror with a mirror that extends along the full length of the wall.

Clever use of plain glass can also help to create the illusion of space. Glass-topped tables look less bulky than solid ones. Glass shelves are light and unobtrusive and ideal for displaying delicate ornaments.  Doors with one or more glass panels, whether plain or ridged, can make a very considerable difference to a small space. Not only do they let more light into the area, but also they form a less substantial barrier.

Good lighting is important in a small room and should be carefully planned and positioned. Avoid harsh bright lights - soft, recessed or concealed lighting is far better and  leaves the edges of the room in less abrupt shadow. Wall lights are more suitable than one single ceiling pendant, with freestanding lamps to provide direct task lighting where it is needed. Maximise the quantity of natural light with skylights and sheer curtains.

When it comes to choosing furniture, look for low-level pieces rather than tall ones that will make the room seem cramped. Avoid buying lots of bits and pieces, and choose a few, well designed and complementary pieces instead. Use multi-purpose furniture that provides storage, function and decor, for example an ottoman that doubles as a coffee table and seating for guests. Heavily patterned upholstery is best avoided, however, textured materials are a very good option. Choose colours and materials that tone in well with the colour of the walls and the flooring. If you feel like it is looking a bit monochromatic and flat, add bright, contrasting colour with some patterned scatter cushions.

Make sure the furniture you choose is in proportion to the size of the room.  An oversized bed squeezed into a small bedroom will only make the room appear even smaller than it is. Whatever furniture you choose, arrange it carefully to make the best use of your floor space and ensure that you provide adequate passageways through the room.

Last, but not the least: nothing makes a small room look even smaller than a lot of clutter. Wherever possible, get things out of the way and into cupboards or shelves. 


Published in: September news


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