Seven Ways To Make Small Spaces Feel Larger

If you're on the East Coast, there's a high possibility you've lived in (or have at least encountered) small living spaces. While these old, dense cities provide plenty of historical charm and neat features (looking at you, exposed brick and beams), they almost always lack the type of space one might find in their suburban counterparts. Living in an old mill-town rowhouse ourselves, we're fully acquainted with its size-related quirks. Spiraling trinity staircases, the lack of a dining room, the absence of substantial closet space- these are all things we've come to live with and work around. Being such, we've learned a few lessons and tricks along the way that we thought might be helpful to share.



Find Furniture With Legs

Not only are hairpin legs a chic mid-century touch, they also help to make the space appear larger than it is by lifting furniture off of the ground. Even if there isn't much usable space beneath a couch, chair, or coffee table, to the eye it will still visually feel like the room is larger and airier if the ground isn't covered by boxy furniture. If mid-century isn't really your style, you can still find furniture with legs (albeit slightly less slender and hairpin-ny) to achieve this look. An added bonus: having additional room around accent chairs and coffee tables is a great way to introduce more diverse elements into your home- remember layering?

Go For Lighter Paint Colors

Perhaps this one is a more obvious choice, but it still stands true. Lighter paint colors will help brighten up a space (literally) as if more light was hitting the walls. Not everything has to be the same shade of white or grey, but nevertheless, having the lighter paint scheme blend into ceiling will allow the eye to move upward and around the room as if there was more space. That doesn't mean you can't have a fun accent wall or wallpaper, however (tip: if you go for wallpaper, you can elongate your wall space with vertical stripes- but more in that in a future point).

(Pictured: Photograph by Matthew Williams from Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home.)


Mirrors Are A Must!

We love a good mirror. They're simple and sleek, and there is just as much range in their frames as their content-driven, art counterparts. Mirrors, though, have an added bonus: they reflect light and space. We've all been fooled by a floor to ceiling mirror before. We've deployed this particular tactic in our bedroom's stairwell to create a mirror wall, giving the sensation that our bedroom continues further than it actually does.

Think Upward

This is probably one of the oldest ideas in the book. Hundreds of years ago, Gothic architects constructed massive columns, steeples, and the like to draw the eyes upward. Granted, raising the eyes of medieval churchgoers in this respect was meant for a more heavenly, religious purpose- but simultaneously achieved the same effect we're going for here. Floor to ceiling mirrors, bookshelves, or gallery walls emphasize the scale of the room, even if it is small. It's another counterintuitive trick of design- empty homes often feel smaller than those that are staged with furniture.

(Photo by: Andrea Sparacio)


Light Is Your BFF

We've already emphasized the importance of light paint colors. The logical next step, if your space is able, would be to emphasize light itself. If you're fortunate enough to not have any privacy issues, ditch the curtains. Not only are they often a more gaudy relic of times past, they're blocking your precious light! If you're in an apartment or a smaller city townhome, go for lighter sheer curtains. Not only will these literally brighten your space, your plants will love you for it. (Side note: if you don't have any houseplants, go ahead and get on that train, too.)

Let It Flow

This tip is a little more ~vague~, and will take some thought on your part. When you walk into your home, how do you move? Do you have a clear pathway? Are you only walking around your living room in a particular manner because of how the furniture is set up? Try to allow for more intuitive and free movement throughout the house as best you can. This will help greatly in having a space that doesn't feel so sanctioned. If you're able, focus on opening up your entryway in particular.

Slim It Down

No, no- I don't mean it that way. You're beautiful as is. That chonky entertainment console, however- she can go, sis. Keeping a low profile against your wall space will (you guessed it!) add space to your room. It's not exactly groundbreaking, but saving six inches on one side of the room and six inches on the other side of the room will give you a whole extra foot of freed up space! Some of you might be blessed enough to live in a home with a larger footprint, but for my East Coast peeps (and rowhome brethren in particular), every inch counts. If you've got "stuff" but don't know where to put it, try floating shelves- they can help with TVs, too!


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