Unless you’re a tiny house enthusiast, most of us dream of having more space in which to live, work or play. However, budgetary and logistical constraints can sometimes prevent us from actually moving, adding to or reconstructing existing space. The good news is that through use of color, optics and clever configurations, you can make your small space bigger.
The Use of Paint Color and Accents
While some deep hues, like rusts, reds and blues are very popular right now, if your aim is to increase your sense of space, you’ll want to steer clear of dark colors. This has much to do with how colors attract and disperse light. Simply, darker colors attract and hold light, while lighter (or brighter) colors will catch and redistribute the light, amplifying the sensation of air and space.
While any number of lighter colors will succeed in creating the impression of a larger space, your best bet is to stick with white. White not only reflects light the most, but it is the most versatile of colors; it can be a focal point and a supportive design element all at the same time, because of its ability to lend contrast to other accent pieces, promoting the overall sense of space.
Have you heard the saying less is more? This holds particularly true when it comes to design. In minimalist design, you are stripping your space down to its décor essence. It’s about making very deliberate choices for each and every element in the room.
If you are intent on doing an accent wall, veer away from bold patterns and instead opt for a solid color or thin vertical stripes to draw the eye up and out — still in a monochromatic color pattern. Vertical stripes can be used as well to increase the perception of a room’s width.
Each piece of furniture has to be essential. For a bedroom, for example, avoid the temptation to have overstuffed dressers, half-filled bookcases and a desk that you may or may not use. Get back to basics with a utilitarian and stylish room with a bed, something for storage (like a blanket box, hope chest or stacked bookshelves) and a side or end table with a lamp.
Don’t load up walls with artwork. Choose one or two pieces that really pop and anchor the eye in the midst of the space. Hang them a little higher than you might otherwise. Not only are you directing the eye in and up, you are creating the sensation of taller ceilings.
Mirrors are one of the best tools around to heighten perception of space. Hang mirrors strategically so that they can harness and reflect the most light across a room (i.e. in cramped areas, across from windows where they will get the most natural light).
Place a large mirror behind your couch or as a headboard behind your bed to really amplify the space. In lieu of artwork, hang a large mirror horizontally in living or dining areas. Hang smaller mirrors in a geometric pattern for a funky, light-filled look. Have a windowless room? Hang window-shaped mirrors to trick the eye.
The trend at the moment is to favor blingy pendant lighting. Be careful with this in a small space, because light fixtures that are too big or that hang too low can interrupt the sightline, cutting through the available space, making a room feel smaller.
Recessed lighting (especially in task-heavy areas like a kitchen) is a great way to flood a space with light while keeping the sightline intact. If you are using wall sconces or torch lamps, make sure that the light flows upward. This has the effect of drawing the eye upward and making ceilings appear higher. If you have your heart set on chandelier or pendant lighting, opt for several smaller fixtures rather than one bigger one, so as to divert the eye outward. It’s also a good idea to select transparent or translucent shades, so as not to obstruct the light.
Firstly, make sure that your furniture is appropriately sized for the space in question. Yes, your overstuffed couch might be the best spot ever to curl up with a good book, but it will positively swallow the space in a small room. Tall pieces of furniture will make ceilings feel low, whereas shorter pieces will expand the height. Consider open leg or glass-topped furniture. Furniture placement is important too.
Angle furniture away from the wall, which will draw the eye diagonally, creating visual flow rather than interrupting it.
In terms of materials, things like marble and stainless steel will have the most reflective quality, and therefore disperse the light the best, increasing your sense of space.
Keep your countertops as bare as possible. Replace cabinet doors with glass, or remove them entirely. If possible, use built-ins wherever you can, whether it is building your microwave into the cabinetry or for shelving. A really cool built-in space saver is a slide out pantry, where you can stash your dry goods underneath your limited counter space.
Do you have space between your cabinets and your ceiling? There is another opportunity here to create the illusion of more space. Install interesting molding on top of the cabinets, in order to draw the eye upward, making the ceilings appear taller.