Few people are fortunate enough to live in their dream home, which means most of us have to make the best of our living situations. In many cases, this means living in a space that may be a little smaller than we would like. Unless you have serious storage, issues or have to share one bathroom with five other people, coping with a smaller living space can be done with a few easy-to-manage tricks.
No matter what type of small space you may have, there are a lot of simple yet effective techniques you can use to make that space feel much bigger. You won’t gain any square footage, but you’ll be able to spend time there without feeling cramped and claustrophobic. By taking control of your small space’s color, texture and patterns, you can change the design of that space in a fundamental way that will affect how you and others feel in it.
For example, going with a monochromatic color palette for your smaller space can help the room feel more open and airy than having lots of contrast. Choosing accents in your space such as curtains made of light fabrics and furniture with long, thin legs also can contribute to the impression that the space is a lot larger than it really is. Walls and floors can be accentuated with striped elements that help guide the eye horizontally or vertically to create the feeling of additional height or width, as well.
Accepting your small space doesn’t have to mean feeling like you’re always trapped in a phone booth. Mastering some simple elements of design and using psychology to your advantage can help small spaces feel much larger — ultimately making you more comfortable in them. The accompanying guide contains many ideas for making a small space feel bigger. Apply them to your home and it will feel much closer to the dream space you’ve always wanted.
Use these ideas for color, texture and patterns to make your living space feel larger
- Choose light colors for walls and floors to make the room feel more open and airy.
- Color-code items on shelves to create an organized look. Arrange those items with the darkest at the bottom and lightest at the top.
- Use different shades of the same color in the room to make the space feel more open.
- Paint your ceiling a darker color to create depth and draw the eye upward.
- If you have drapes or window curtains, use the same color as your walls.
- Cluttered shelves and tables make a space feel cramped, so keep them as clear as possible.
- Use floor-to-ceiling bookcases or shelves to provide the feeling of height.
- Use glass tables and shelves that reflect light and give the impression that spaces are larger.
- Choose furniture pieces with long, thin legs that allow you to see more space underneath them.
- Hang curtains and drapes of light, gauzy fabrics (rather than heavy fabrics) to make rooms feel larger.
- Choose rugs and carpeting with stripes to make floor space feel longer.
- Cover walls with vertical shiplap to help accentuate the height of the ceilings.
- Alternatively, use horizontal shiplap to help a narrow room feel wider.
- Add mirrors and reflective surfaces to help create the illusion of depth and additional space.
- Keep any decorative accents relatively small so they don’t overwhelm the room.
Business leader Ben Creamer received his B.A. from Saint Norbert College and graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School. After law school, he worked as an attorney and counseled sophisticated real estate clients with the law firm Mayer Brown LLP. Creamer’s passion is in real estate business, as his father was a real estate developer and broker for more than 50 years. This family tradition sparked Creamer to co-found Downtown Apartment Company (DAC) in 2009 — a provider of Chicago rental properties. DAC’s mission is to help clients find downtown Chicago apartments in the Loop and surrounding neighborhoods.