How to make a small home look bigger; 15 tips

How to make a small flat look nice; 15 tips

Small Space Living

So you want to make your small room, flat or home look big and cosy. Great. But before you grab a paintbrush or shop online for a new rug, take a look at these 15 useful tips for better small space living.

We asked our customers for their top tips on making a small space seem bigger. We thank them for their ideas. The improvements you may need to make can fall into 3 categories; Light, Design and Clutter. Good use of light can create an illusion of space, good use of design reduces claustrophobia, and avoiding clutter enables a room to breathe. Ready? Here we go…

1) Use a few big objects, not lots of small ones

This may seem counter-intuitive, but lots of small objects create clutter. Clutter is confusing to the eye, and confusion can make a space seem small (as well as not very relaxing).

As your eye travels the room looking for a focal point, it is recording each item and you become overwhelmed. Each item screams for attention and creates ‘visual noise’. Try to create empty areas of space and aim for a single focal point.

2) Colour co-ordinate objects on a shelf

Sounds silly, but it works. It’s a similar principle to our first recommendation. You need to reduce the confusion for your eyes. Randomly placed, disconnected objects may look interesting and eclectic, but they will eventually create too much chaos in your home.

By colour co-ordinating you add calm and order to the room. There is nothing to stop you having all brown items on one shelf and all orange items on another, just don’t mix them up.

3) Use clear glass where possible

As much a possible, you want functional items to disappear. For example, vases will normally hold flowers, and the flowers are the point of interest. A clear glass vase is obviously transparent and will not be as visible as pottery. This is another example of reducing clutter and confusion in your room.

Doors with clear safety glass, glass table-tops (and glass windows – joking) will all help to make items disappear and open up the area.

4) Buy furniture with exposed legs

To create an illusion of space you need to see as much of your floor as possible. Sofas or beds that touch the floor create a barrier for your eyes and consume the area they occupy; whereas legs enable your eye to travel under the furniture.

The same rule applies to other furniture, such as storage units or wardrobes. Raise them off your floor.

5) Pull furniture away from the wall

If furniture looks cramped it will give the impression there is a lack of space. So don’t push your sofa or other furniture up against the wall, leave a small gap to create ‘white space’ around it.

6) Buy multi-purpose furniture

It’s an obvious solution, but one that few people seem to follow. In our desire for the dopamine hit we get from retail therapy, we buy too much ‘stuff’. It’s much better to buy a few things that are multi-purpose and built to last.

Buy sofas and beds with storage underneath, or a coffee table that converts into a dining table (hint). These can all eliminate the need for additional furniture and make your room or home look less packed.

7) Add storage near the ceiling

This may seem odd, but most rooms have space above the door or near the ceiling. This area can be utilised for storage. We’re not suggesting you add something the size of a wardrobe, but a small storage unit for those items you rarely use can be very useful. Curved instead of straight edges will help it disappear, as well as painting it the same colour as your ceiling.

8) Stripes on walls and floors

Just as vertical stripes on a shirt can make you look thinner (and horizontal stripes make you look bigger), stripes in a room have the same effect. They can make your room look longer or wider.

The stripes don’t have to be bold to be effective. Embossed wallpaper with a stripe pattern and painted a single colour can be just as effective – and you can paster the wallpaper horizontally as well as vertically (see photo).

9) Use light colours

Admittedly, not an original idea. Yet it’s surprising how many people fail to follow this simple rule. Dark colours make a statement, but they make walls and ceilings dominate the room. It literally feels like the walls are closing in.

Ideally, you want walls/ceilings to disappear. White is at the extreme end of the spectrum but can be made to feel more inviting with the addition of warm coloured furniture and fixings.

10) Avoid hanging ceiling lights, use lamps or candles

To open up an area you want the ceiling to appear as high as possible and not be a feature. Installing pendant lights and shades that hang down will draw attention to the ceiling and make it feel lower.

Use table lamps, candles and wall lights in the evening, but allow as much natural light during the day.

11) Avoid curtains

Take a look at your curtains (if you have them). When they are fully open, do they reveal the entire window? Unlikely.

Most curtain poles are only slightly wider than the average window, therefore your open curtains will always obscure part of the window and therefore limit the amount of natural light. Solution? Buy a much wider curtain pole or use roller blinds that don’t block the window.

12) Make use of large mirrors

This is a ‘tried & trusted’ method to expand an area. You can see from the picture how it gives the impression the room is double the size. Are you currently using mirrors?

Mirrors don’t have to be a full floor-to-ceiling unit, a large wall mirror or door mirror can achieve a good effect.

13) Use different shades of one colour per room

This refers back to ‘confusion’ highlighted in tips 1) and 2). The more colours you introduce the more confusing it is to your eyes – and confusion generates ‘visual noise’ which makes a space seem small. Limit your palette to subtle shades of the same colour.

14) Lay the same flooring throughout

Using the same flooring, carpets of floorboards, throughout your home will give the impression of one large unit – instead of a series of small rooms.

It links each room and enables a connected flow. Just be careful to choose flooring that is suitable for every room and matches each colour scheme.

15) Hang a see-through shower curtain

Your smallest room needs the biggest help. A see-through shower curtain or perspex screen will disappear and eliminate the barrier created by patterned/coloured shower curtains. Just make sure you invest in one that is mould resistant.

You may have previously read or heard advice about how to make a small home look bigger, yet few of us put these ideas into practice. Now that you’ve read these 15 tips make a commitment action at least 5 of them. The reward will be a bigger more comfortable and relaxing home.


Author: Graham Smith

Graham is the Founder of Hot Tea Workshop. He lives in a small London flat with limited space. His need for multi-purpose furniture was the inspiration for the London Table and sparked his interest in small space living and tiny homes.