small apartment with mid century modern decorations

How to Make a Room Look Bigger: 13 Ideas That Will Open Up Any Space

Remodeling and Renovation Tips

by LB Gabriel Posted on January 30, 2024

Coziness is one thing, but cramped is another. And it doesn’t matter what type of home you’re in — a studio apartment, a small home, or a mansion — there’s probably at least one space that you wish felt bigger and roomier than it really is. With that in mind, here are some top tips for how to make a room look bigger.

A loveseat and small chair maximize seating without sacrificing space.

1. Get Smaller Stuff

Wondering, “How can I make my room bigger visually?” This answer may seem obvious, but it’s a tip worth sharing: Swap big furniture for smaller pieces. Rooms that are crammed with large furniture often look cramped and crowded.

Your sprawling couch might have been great for your last house, but maybe a loveseat is more appropriate for your new space. And do you need a kitchen table that seats 12, or would a smaller table work just as well?

Figure out what you can downsize, and watch your room instantly gain some square footage. Need help picking out some new pieces? Here’s a list of must-have furniture for small spaces for your convenience.

2. Lighten Up

Darker spaces feel smaller, and lighter spaces feel larger. And while you probably can’t install floor-to-ceiling windows (though, if you can, go for it!), there are ways to fill a space with light and make it seem bigger: Install a skylight, replace a dark rug with a light one (or light wood flooring), and use more electric light — particularly floor lamps — to keep areas bright. Any of these methods will brighten up the area and make the room seem bigger.

3. Be Picky About Paint Colors

Repainting is one of the easiest ways to transform a room. But what color makes a room look bigger exactly? The most popular color for making small rooms look bigger is stark white — especially if the room brings in a lot of sunlight — because the light will naturally reflect off the walls. If this is the clean, crisp route you want, we suggest using paint with an eggshell or satin finish. It will better reflect the light and give the room some dimension, preventing it from looking too cold and clinical.
Want something with more character than basic white? Try a pale blue, gray, or beige (bonus points for painting the trim and ceiling the same color). These calming neutrals work well with various decor and prevent the room from looking too bright, which can happen when a yellow or orange hue is used in an already sun-filled space.

And speaking of sun-filled spaces, you may want to pick a darker shade if you have a north-facing room filled with light. But if you have a south-facing space that sees a lot of sunsets, you may want to go with a lighter shade.

4. Get Matchy Matchy

If your walls are blue, your couch is yellow, and your rug is green, it may look like a vibrant TV sitcom set rather than a bright, open space. Pick pieces of furniture that match your wall’s color to create cohesion and make the room look larger. Not everything in the room has to be monochromatic, though. You can still incorporate a few pops of color in the decor, have a piece of furniture with wooden accents, or try a coffee table or nightstand made of transparent glass or acrylic. 

5. Use Stripes

The advice you’ve heard about clothing applies to rooms, too. Vertical stripes on a wall help a room seem taller, and a striped rug with the stripes running in the room’s longest dimension will make a room feel longer.

6. Pull Furniture Away From the Walls

This one is counterintuitive, and you have to see it to believe it. Pulling your furniture (couches, chairs, tables, etc.) away from the wall slightly creates the illusion of spaciousness. This hack sends the subconscious message, “This room is so large that things don’t need to be put right against the wall!”

Sometimes, however, your couch won’t fit anywhere other than against the wall. If this is the case for your room, you can still create some depth by adding a console table or shelf between the couch and the wall.  

7. Make a Rearrangement

If you have smaller furniture and lightly colored walls but the room still feels off, it could be because of an issue with furniture placement. Good layouts promote traffic flow, meaning people can easily and effortlessly navigate through the room. So how do you rearrange your room to make it look bigger? Here are some quick tips:

  • Keep three feet of walking space around the room. This prevents people from bumping into the furniture and gives doors and dressers enough room to open fully.
  • Choose a focal point, like a painting or television, and place the furniture around it.
  • Don’t cover windows or block the window’s light with a large piece of furniture.
  • Apply the rules of feng shui. If this concept is new to you and you’d like to learn more about it, the PODS Blog has an article that breaks down the basic feng shui tenets and how to use them to create balance in your home.

8. Use Mirrors, Mirrors, on the Walls

It’s not about vanity but the illusion of space. A mirror on the wall in a room can give the feeling of more space because, when you see its reflection, it shows another whole room! The larger the mirror, the more dramatic the effect. 

Remember to keep it tasteful — if it's too large, it’ll start to feel weird. And don’t feel the need to invest in mirrored glass furniture. This can actually make a room look cluttered instead because it reflects the surrounding items.

9. Pick Furniture That Shows Some Leg

Choose the couch with exposed legs rather than legs that are covered up. Choose a dresser with legs rather than one that sits on the ground. Put your bed on a simple frame rather than letting it sit on the ground. You get the idea. Seeing underneath furniture with exposed legs helps a room feel bigger because of the space between the floor and furniture.

Full-length curtains make a room look larger while also adding softness and style.

10. Invest in Full-Length Curtains

When choosing curtains for your windows, opt for floor-length curtains in a light, linen material. Even if the windows aren’t huge, full-length curtains draw the eye upward and create the impression of height, even in a small space. Want to really draw the eye up? Hang the curtains from a track on the ceiling instead of a curtain rod. 

Q: How do interior designers make small rooms look bigger?
Typically, designers assess the room to select the right paint color. Then, they find ways to maximize the light, which can mean removing blinds, adding mirrors, and placing a few lamps around the room. After arranging the furniture, they carefully choose a few pieces of decor that add character rather than clutter. .

A minimally decorated room with high shelves that draw the eye upward

11. Build High Shelves

While we’re on the subject of drawing the eye upward, consider building a shelf higher up on a wall and putting your books on it. Like floor-length curtains, a high shelf draws the eye upward and helps a small space seem bigger.

12. Cut the Clutter

Remember how your grandmother had her glass animals, mug collection, fine china, and 153 thimbles on display? Those tchotchkes may be adorable, but they can also make it seem like the room’s walls are closing in on themselves. Decluttering your home can instantly turn a crowded room into a more pleasing space.

13. Use Smart Storage Solutions

Once you’ve sorted through your belongings and donated, sold, or disposed of items no longer wanted or needed, it’s time to store what’s left. 
The more things you leave visible in your home — particularly smaller items like books, DVDs, knickknacks, cords, office supplies, whatever — the more cluttered it’ll feel. To make your home feel larger, keep more things inside drawers, closets, storage, etc.

If you do want to show a few items, use floating shelves to show off some items with similar colors. This will look deliberate and organized rather than disheveled and cluttered.

If you’re limited on space, choose furniture pieces with built-in storage, like a hollow ottoman, floor-to-ceiling bookcase, or a window seat. Want more ideas? Check out our storage hacks for small spaces for inspiration.

If you look around your home and wish it were bigger, there are ways to get the desired results without calling a realtor or breaking out the sledgehammer. Just remember that one of the best tips for how to make a room look bigger is to trick the eye into thinking your space is bigger than it really is. Want more advice on how to make a small house look bigger? Check out our decor tips for small spaces.

LB Gabriel is a freelance writer who lives with her husband, daughter, and Golden Retriever in Memphis, TN. A frequent PODS Blog contributor, she’s a sucker for any tip she can find on downsizing, cutting clutter, or minimalist living. When she’s not on a deadline, you can find her on a tennis court or golf course.

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