How to make a small room feel bigger

Just because you’re short on space doesn’t mean you have to compromise on style. Small can be beautiful. With a little know-how and careful planning, a compact room can look just as chic as a larger space. Our tips should point you in the right direction....

How to make a small room feel bigger

Buddy Bed with storage drawers and pullout bed, £899, Dwell

Use pale colours to decorate
Your first consideration should be the colour scheme which will form the backdrop for the rest of the room. If you’re using paint on the walls, steer clear of dark or bright shades which will only make the room feel smaller. Pure white works well but can look a bit cold. Opt instead for muted pastels, stone, taupe or ivory.
A clever trick is to paint all the walls the same shade and the skirting as well. This will have the visual effect of making any room appear taller and bigger than it actually is.
Specialist paint formulations can also make a difference. Dulux claim their Light & Space paint will reflect twice as much light as conventional emulsions, thereby giving the impression of more space.

Choose wallpaper with care
Wallpaper gives a warmer feel to a room than paint and can be a good choice if your room faces north or doesn’t get a lot of natural light. Avoid oversized patterns which can overpower a tiny space. Small-scale designs are workable but stripes are even better. Vertical ones visually increase the height of a room while horizontal stripes make it look wider. Another alternative might be to create a feature wall by hanging wallpaper on just one wall, and painting the rest.

Accessorise with bright shades
Just because your room is small, don’t feel you have to banish colour completely. In fact, by choosing vibrant accessories you can draw attention away from the lack of space and focus the eye onto other things. A trio of colourful pictures, a cerise throw, a tangerine vase, a teal lamp, even just a collection of candles on a mantelpiece, all can make a big impact and lift your scheme.

Keep flooring neutral
Flooring should be unfussy so it blends into the background. Plain carpet works well in living rooms, bedrooms and dining rooms, again avoid dark shades or pattern. A simple beige will complement most colour schemes. If you prefer timber or wood laminates, choose paler shades like birch or oak instead of deeper -hued varieties such as walnut.

Sort out storage
Clutter makes compact rooms look ten times smaller, so well-planned storage is a must. By far the best solution for a small space is to build in furniture. This will make optimum use of the available space. Storage specialists Elfa offer a range of custom-built shelving for every room in the house. Try to get floor to ceiling storage as this will maximise the height of your room. In a bedroom, make use of storage space under the bed. And don’t forget the walls. Wall-hung shelving is far more practical then floor-standing bookcases and cupboards.

Choose space-saving furniture
Keep furniture in proportion to the room. The general rule of thumb is to choose a few large pieces rather than lots of smaller ones which can look cluttered. Seek out space-saving or foldaway furniture. An extending dining table, a sofa bed for a guest bedroom, a corner desk, stackable kitchen chairs. Furniture in transparent materials such as glass or perspex is a good choice rather than heavy dark wood. Mirrored furniture too will help reflect light around the room.

Maximise natural light
Curtain poles should be mounted as close as possible to the ceiling, with fabric falling to the floor. This will give the illusion of height and space. Width-wise, make sure that poles extend beyond the window recess so that curtains can be drawn right back. Better still, use blinds which give a cleaner, less cluttered effect. Or for a minimalist solution, try window film. Cheap and easy to apply, film will allow maximum light in while still providing privacy. Try Brume or Purlfrost.