Advertiser Disclosure

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

Small modern living room that looks bigger with natural light
Photographee.eu / Shutterstock

Need to add some pizzazz to a small space? When outfitting small spaces, everything counts. With a few well-placed items and smart design choices, you can actually make a room look bigger. 

Ready to transform your space? Here are seven tips for making your small room look much bigger.

Jump to:

7 easy tips to make a room look bigger

1. Use contrasts and light colors 

Small dining room with light colors and blue for contrast
Photographee.eu / Shutterstock

Here’s how to make a room look bigger with color. (Hint: It’s an optical illusion.) In 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. 

Accenting 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. Start your painting journey with a color palette that suits your style.

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. To get you started, consider looking at some of the best neutral colors.  

2. Open up your space with creative lighting

Living room with natural lighting
asbe / Getty Images

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, that’s totally fine. Add some creative lighting effects using light 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 curtains, 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

Room with no clutter
in4mal / GettyImages

Keeping a room tidy and organized can physically and visually open up space in any room. With things neatly arranged and out of sight, the space that is in view will feel orderly and open. Try to keep the floor as clear as possible. Remove large rugs to create the illusion of more floor space.

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

4. Create a focal point

Wooden table and chairs as the focal point of a modern living room
Westend61 / Getty

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).

Yvonne Pratt, a designer at StoneGable, calls the focal point “the star” of its space. She explains how you identify that star and shares some examples like fireplaces, large art, or a window “with a breathing view.” 

5. Use mirrors

Mirror above a couch with throw pillows
moodboard / GettyImages

If you’ve ever wondered, “Can mirrors actually 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. 

Leoma Harper, interior design expert with Style the Clutter, says that mirrors can, “totally transform a space, reflecting light into dark corners, frame details, help you get ready in the morning, but most importantly, they can completely open up a room giving the illusion of space and light.”  

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

Sofa bed with storage drawers
Ivan Pantic / Getty

Using the right furniture is a key way to make a room look bigger. You can 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

Room with small furniture
NelleG / Getty Images

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 a small 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.

Making the most of your space can also be achieved by floating shelves or creative uses of closet space as well. Have an empty wall? 

The bottom line

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. But don’t stop there – let your interior designer side take over, and discover what works best for your home. 

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.


Related Articles

MYMOVE Gift Guide: The Best Gifts For a New Homeowner

The products featured here are independently selected based on thorough research from our editorial team. If you buy something through links on our site, we may receive a commission. Everyone loves gifts that they can get plenty of use out of, which makes practical gifts one of the best gifts to give, especially to a […]

Read More
How to Set Up and Care For a Live Christmas Tree

The products featured here are independently selected based on thorough research from our editorial team. If you buy something through links on our site, we may receive a commission. A Christmas tree is the perfect centerpiece in any home’s Christmas decor. And there’s no denying the pleasant feeling (and smell) that a live Christmas tree […]

Read More
New Home Checklist: Hosting Your First Thanksgiving

If you moved into a new home over the past year, you might be finding yourself on hosting duty for the first time this Thanksgiving, and that can be a lot of pressure. But don’t worry — a little bit of planning will go a long way towards a stress-free afternoon. Jump to: Two to […]

Read More