How to Make a Room Look Bigger: 7 Tips for Fooling the Eye

Small modern living room that looks bigger with natural light
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Need to add some pizzazz to a small space? Check out these clever interior design-inspired tricks. When outfitting small spaces, everything counts. With a few well-placed items and smart design choices, you can actually make a room look bigger. Color techniques, furniture arranging, mirror placement, and creative lighting design can fool the eye and make interiors seem much more spacious than they actually are.

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How to make a room look bigger: 7 easy tips

1. Use contrasts and light colors that make rooms look bigger

Small dining room with light colors and blue for contrast
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Here’s how to make a room look bigger with color. (Hint: It’s an optical illusion.) the design world, it’s well known that light paint colors make a room look bigger and brighter. Light and bright walls are more reflective, making a space feel open and airy, which helps maximize natural light’s effect. Dark shades tend to absorb light, making rooms feel smaller. Accent walls to make a room look bigger is another way to go. Accent walls add to the decorative space in color without being too overpowering.

So, what colors make a room look bigger? For an optimum effect, go with soft tones like off-white, blues, and greens, and always remember that brighter rooms feel bigger and more inviting. And here’s another hack: Try painting your wall trim and moldings in a lighter color than your walls. By doing so, the walls will appear farther back, making your living room seem even bigger.

2. Open up your space with creative lighting

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Natural light opens up the interior of any room and makes it look larger. That’s great if you have natural light. If you don’t, though, don’t get discouraged. Add some creative effects using lighting fixtures. You’ll be amazed at how this small addition can make a big difference.

If you have access to natural light, bringing it into your home through large windows will instantly connect the room with the outdoors, no longer limiting your space. Use sheer window coverings, or pull them back completely, to allow more light in. If the view is bad, put plants or flowers near the windows and use lamps to brighten the space.

3. Cut the clutter

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Channel your inner Kondo, and keep your room tidy and organized. Not only will it spark more joy, but nothing makes a small space feel more cramped than too much stuff. With things neatly arranged or out of sight, the space that is in view will feel orderly and open.

Minimalism also goes for your walls. Don’t cover your walls with a lot of pictures. One large painting works better than a group of small paintings when you’re thinking about how to make a room look bigger.

And try to keep the floor as clear as possible. Remove large rugs to create the illusion of more floor space.

4. Create a focal point

Kitchen and living room of small loft apartment, space is designed to make it look bigger
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Learn how to make a room look bigger through an established focal point — one area or feature that will draw the eye’s attention. In the dining room, that’s probably the table. In the bedroom, it’s the bed. Make that focal point the star of the room. Arrange the furniture so that focus is drawn to that area, and keep the décor in the rest of the room to a minimum (limit the number of accessories).

5. Use mirrors

Room with white decor and gold mirror that makes the room look bigger
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If you’ve ever wondered, “Do mirrors make a room look bigger?” the answer is a resounding, “Yes.” Mirrors can make your room look larger and more open. Use a focal point and angle your mirrors toward it to give the illusion of depth. Mirrors also reflect both natural and artificial light to make a room brighter during the day and night. Placing a mirror near a window to reflect the world outside is especially effective.

Mirrors on the walls and glass table tops also will give your room a more open feel, or use mirrored cabinet doors. Ever considered mirrors on the floor? That’s another clever way to make a room look bigger.

6. Get creative with furniture

Small living room with creative furniture to make the room bigger
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Using the right furniture is a key way to make a room look bigger. For one, use multi-functional furniture, such as a chest that can be used as a coffee table, a sofa bed, or a bed with storage drawers. Expandable dining tables, folding tables, and nesting tables, which can be tucked away when you don’t need them, are also good picks.

Keep in mind that tall and bulky furniture can take up precious space. Choose a sofa and chairs with open arms and exposed legs. This allows light to filter under the furniture, making the room appear airier.

7. Maximize your room arrangement

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Scale your furniture to fit the size of the room. Place larger pieces of furniture against the walls to maximize the open space and make the room look bigger. Also, don’t block pathways. If furniture and accessories block the view into a room, it will look cramped.

The longest straight line in any room is the diagonal. When you place your furniture at an angle, it leads the eye along the longer wall. Bonus: You often get some additional storage space behind the piece.

Frequently asked questions

Q:

What colors make a room look bigger?

A:

If you’re searching for colors that make a room look bigger, look for light colors, like off-white, dusty blue, light gray, and sage green.

Q:

Do built-ins make a room look bigger?

A:

You can learn how to make a room look bigger by maximizing space through the use of built-ins or multifunctional furniture. This gives you a place for clutter while also maximizing precious storage space.

Q:

What furniture style can make a room look bigger?

A:

Multifunctional furniture, or pieces that can double as other items, is a good way to make a room look bigger, as are pieces with exposed legs.

Q:

What colors make a living room look bigger?

A:

The decorating rules for any  room apply to living rooms as well. If you want to make your living room look bigger, stick to lighter colors that reflect more light and make the space feel more open. Neutrals, like off-white, beige, or light grays, are a great way to add a level of sophistication and calm.

Virginia Brown contributed to this post.