A living space can look so big when it’s empty that you can’t even begin to imagine how your sparse furniture collection would ever transform it into a home. But once you unpack all the boxes, you often feel like you’re wedged in the middle of a storage unit gasping for air.
Aside from doing some serious decluttering, there are many clever and affordable ways to make your apartment look bigger and more welcoming.
Color It Tall
White or pastel colored walls and ceilings instantly make rooms appear larger. Consider using wallpaper with a sparse pattern on the ceiling to draw attention upwards and create the illusion of a taller room. Dark colors might make a room feel warm and fuzzy, but they suck up light and shrink the perceived size of a space. The same applies to dark floors. Consider lightly colored tile or carpeting for a delightful airy atmosphere.
Even though it seems like small knickknacks and curios would make a room appear larger, the opposite is actually true. Oversized wicker baskets, vases, and plants work best to create the impression of a big room. The same applies to large furniture (i.e. one oversized couch is preferable to a clutter of smaller pieces). Small pictures and paintings will also make a room feel smaller. Really big art pieces with bold colors, on the other hand, can give an apartment a spacious gallery-like feeling.
Avoid Wall Hugging
Pushing pieces of furniture up against the walls like they’re robbery victims will make any room look smaller. For that reason, you should always be sure to leave a little space behind them, putting only things like footstools or narrow console tables right up against walls. Alternatively, you could just leave the entire floor open. Open spaces make people feel comfortable and free enough to get up, walk around, and admire your conversation pieces.
Hang shelves near the ceiling to both draw people’s attention upwards and display beloved photos and interesting keepsakes you’d rather your guests didn’t handle. Adorn the floor with a vertical striped pattern that follows the longest side of the room (use a striped rug) to elongate the floor. Position a mirror on the wall opposite a room’s main window, as the reflection will make the room seem fresher and larger. Place a chest or end table in front of a window to make it appear like there is more space behind the object. Choose chairs and sofas with exposed legs instead of those that sit flush on the floor. The open space beneath them will help create a general aura of roominess.
In small bathrooms, a clear shower curtain can go a long way towards easing that claustrophobic feeling. By contrast, bright prints and florals only serve to create a cluttered sensation. Avoid heavy curtains or drapes, opting instead for sheers that let natural light fill the room and create depth. If traditional drapes are a must, just make sure they’re the same color as your walls and don’t interfere with the room’s general flow of color. You can also leave the windows uncovered and use hideable vertical slat blinds when you need privacy.
Instead of using harsh overhead lights, position a few floor and table lamps around your rooms. Low light helps maximize the impression of open space.
Clear and Bright
When choosing decorative odds and ends to add personality to your apartment, go for glass or acrylic pieces. As we explained earlier, any time light can reflect instead of being blocked, it adds another level of depth to a room. Coffee tables, end tables, lamp bases, bookends, and other home décor items are all available in crystal clear glass or Lucite and free up the space ceramic, wood, and other non-porous materials would absorb.
Everybody has “stuff” they just can’t part with. Instead of keeping stacks of papers, photos, and publications scattered throughout your apartment, try hiding them in storage ottomans and footstools. This way, you’ll also have some extra seating for large gatherings. Decorative trunks and chests are ideal displays for framed photos and lamps and similarly double as expansive storage bins for those keepsakes you don’t regularly access. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, you might even color code your shelving units. Creating displays that are sleek and organized will always make rooms feel larger. Leave open spaces between visible stacks of books to add a casual, accessible feel to your home.
Out of Sight
Most people don’t regularly eat at the kitchen or dining room table these days, choosing instead to consume meals while sitting in front of a TV. For that reason, you’ll want to invest in a table that can be folded and stashed in the closet until needed to open up a very large space in your apartment. Place extra folding chairs in the same closet, and store large cooking appliances like stand mixers, blenders, and food processors in unused cabinets to give your kitchen a large, streamlined appearance.
Odds and Ends
As you explore ways to make your living space look bigger, you’ll discover many tricks you never would have thought of. For instance, bookcases that are either wall-to-wall or floor-to-ceiling make your ceilings look taller and have the added advantage of more storage.
Don’t feel compelled to use every shelf in your apartment. Open space is attractive, casual, and exudes minimalism. Furniture that’s the same color as your walls and/or floors seems to fade into the background and closely resembles open space.
If you have any tricks to make a humble abode look much larger than it actually is, be sure to let us know!