Seven Decorating Tips That Will Make Your Small Space Look Bigger

You can make even the tiniest of studio apartments look more chic and spacious.

Grey living room
Photo: Janelle Jones

Just because you're short on space doesn't mean you have to sacrifice design and comfort. Yes, we know that just squeezing all of your worldly possessions into a modestly-sized home can quickly look (and feel!) cramped and messy, which is the opposite of the calm sanctuary you've been dreaming of. And when your home feels tight and cluttered, it's not where you want to host book club meet-ups or throw fabulous cocktail parties. But by making a few smart design decisions, you're able to make any small space feel a lot larger. In fact, there are a number of decorating tricks and optical illusions that can help even a tiny studio apartment flow like an airy home.

Cut Down on Clutter

It's a truth that many of us keep items we don't love and that serve no purpose in our homes for far too long. Before you start thinking about factors like layout or paint, take a day or two to go through what you have-both in your closet and out on display-and purge anything that isn't that you don't really want or need. Nothing makes a space feel more cramped than clutter.

Try a Tonal Color Palette

"One of my biggest overall small space tips is to go for a tone-on-tone color palette," says interior designer Emily Henderson. "The more high-contrast colors you use, the busier the room can look which will make your space feel smaller." To that end, make sure you aren't trying to introduce a ton of competing patterns, either. What could look cozy and bohemian in a larger home can end up feeling dizzying in a small space.

Or Experiment with a Bold Color

If a small room gets a ton of natural light, painting the room a light color will make the space feel airier. However, a design mistake people often make is painting a small, dark room a light color. "When you are starved of light, it's better to go for a really strong color to add depth to the room," says Joa Studholme, a color expert with Farrow & Ball. "Then decorate with lighter elements to make it welcoming."

Invest in Double-Duty Furniture

If you haven't already, invest in storage furniture. Not only do beds come with built-in drawers, but you can get sofas, chairs, ottomans, and tables that double as storage so that you can clear the clutter away. Nesting tables are a great investment to add more surface space when needed and then easily stow away.

Play with Curtain Height

A lot of making your space appear larger has to do with optical illusions. "Hang your curtains close to the ceiling rather than at window height," says Henderson. "This small adjustment will expand the visual size of the room and the window."

Go Breezy

Dark and heavy fabrics can overwhelm your space, especially when it comes to window treatments. Opt for linens and sheers to keep things feeling light and airy and allow for some amount of natural light to stream in even when they're closed.

Add Mirrors

Another trick is to strategically place mirrors to your space-the reflection of natural light coupled with their ability to create the illusion of depth makes them an easy (and inexpensive) way to make a room look bigger.

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