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How to Make Any Room Look Bigger According to Design & Science

How to make any room look bigger

Written By Kate

As rent prices rise, we’re often getting even less space for our money. In lieu of this, interior designers are turning to any trick they can to make any room look bigger. Even if we have a smaller room, by optimizing the space, we can trick our own eye into perceiving it as bigger.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the best ways to make any room look bigger. We will move through space, color, and optical illusions. This will help us demonstrate easy ways to change your room. These tips stem from science or from the expertise of interior designers.

Table of Contents

how to make any room look bigger infographic

How to Make Any Room Look Bigger

First of all, let’s quickly run through how depth perception works for the human eye. There are two main concepts to go through: color saturation and color progression. Both of these affect the way our bodies perceive a space. By understanding them and manipulating their use, we can change the way we understand a space.

How to Make Any Room Look Bigger With Color Saturation

make room bigger with color saturation

Saturation refers to the vividness of color hue. This means how bold a color looks to us, also referred to as color intensity. Our brains perceive some objects with a higher saturation as bigger. If two equally sized objects of differing shades, the one with a more intense hue will look bigger.

The reason for this goes back to the earliest days of civilization. Our brains understand colors with more intense hues to signal danger. Think of the bold red or yellow stripes on a poisonous snake for example. When we see these intense shades, our pupils dilate, letting in more light. Due to this, an object grabs our attention, and in doing so seems bigger.

We can use this knowledge to manipulate how our eyes perceive a room. When decorating a space, try to stick to less intense shades of color. Bold reds, oranges, yellows, and warm colors have a higher saturation. Due to this, our bodies believe focus on them, and communicate them as bigger.

Try sticking to lighter hues. Or, you can even opt for colder colors like blue and green. If you want to go all the way, try selecting white furniture. White completely reflects light, making it seem smaller than objects of a bolder hue.

Who would have thought that our primal fear of snakes would lead to a change in color perception! This is one of the easiest ways of making any room look bigger, just use lighter furniture.

Do you have an interest in learning more about depth perception? We learnt all of the above information from this study.

Color Progression

Making a room look bigger with color saturation

Now we understand how color saturation works, let’s move on to color progression. Try ordering our room with a decreasing saturation in color. This can trick our eye into thinking the room is bigger. We see darker hues as larger, while lighter hues are further away and seem even further in contrast.

This trick is frequently used in art to create depth perception. By placing darker hues by the door and light hues on the other side of the room, it seems to stretch out. This is good news if you enjoy darker colors. If you want to use bold or dark hues, place them near the door. Then slowly decrease your color saturation as you move down the room.

There are multiple examples of this in art here. We can use this practice to make any room look bigger. We can trick our eye into believe a space is larger than it actually is!

Now we understand a little more about color theory, let’s get into some practical changes we can make.

Clear Pathways and Remove Furniture

make a room bigger by clearing pathways

One of the easiest ways to make a room look bigger is take the minimalist approach. A room with lots of clutter will be harder to navigate. The claustrophobic feeling of little space will impact our perception of the room. Lots of furniture means we believe the room to be smaller than it actually is.

First of all, assess which pieces of furniture you actually need to keep. If you have lots of side tables and other things you don’t need, get rid of them. You can either move them to a room that needs them, or give them to a charity shop. Having less furniture in a room will reduce its clutter. Due to this, we will believe the room to be larger.

Alongside this, you can clear pathways through the room. To avoid that claustrophobic feeling, try making a pathway through your room. Move furniture to the sides of the room. A clear eyeline or pathway between doors will trick us into seeing the room as larger. The simple ability to move from one side to the other will do wonders.

Once you’ve got rid of any furniture you don’t need and moved the rest to a side, your room will look much larger. Minimalism is key!

Emphasize the Horizontality of a Room

emphasize the horizontality of a room to make it look bigger

Next on our list is to emphasize the horizontality of a room. What this means is using furniture on either side of the room to demonstrate how large a room is. You only need to use one piece of furniture for this. Even better, you could hang some art on either side of the room.

When entering a room, by having things on either side, your eye will have to travel from one side to another. The active movement of your eye will map the room as large. If your eye could take in all the furniture without using periphery vision, it would seem smaller. The small movement of the eye from one side of the room to the other creates a sense of size.

If you want to make any room look bigger, it’s a good idea to place some artwork on both walls. If you can, remember to stick to brighter colors. Avoid dark hues or high saturations where you can.

Emphasize The Verticality of a Room

Make a room bigger by emphasizing verticality

Much like the past tip, you can emphasize the verticality. The works in the same way, making your eye believe that the room is larger than it actually is. You can do this by having furniture that places emphasis on the height of the room. A piece of furniture that hangs from the ceiling, or a large bookcase will demonstrate this.

If we take the example of a large bookcase, the height will put into perspective the size of the wall. A large bookcase will make the wall feel large in turn. This is a fantastic way to make your room feel much bigger. You eye will scan and see the vertical movement, creating a sense of movement.

These tips are easy ways to really open out the style and design of your room.

Get Rid of Curtains and Rugs

make room bigger by removing curtains and rugs

One of the best ways of making a room seem large is to open it up. One way we can trick ourselves into believing this is to reduce clutter in front of windows and on the floor. Windows allow light into a room. Large curtains both block out some of this light and reduce the flow of the room.

If you’re wanting to keep your room looking large, no curtains will really help. The direct sightline that moves out of the window and into the world will trick your eye. The extra light that enters the room will also definitely help!

Rugs block floor space and obscure vision. Although they may be comfortable for your feet, they hide the floor.

Without the depth perception given by the floor, it will look cramped. You don’t want a floor that emanates closure. This is also why interior designers don’t recommend that you paint your ceilings a dark color. The less stuff in the room the better. Don’t cramp it!

Have Low Based Furniture

make a room bigger with low based furniture

This strategy goes hand in hand with making a room vertical. Low based furniture has shorter legs, placing them closer to the ground. Due to the slightly lower nature of the furniture, the walls seem much larger. When you pair this with one large bookcase, your walls will seem huge.

What’s even better for this tip is if the legs of the furniture are bare. Instead of blocky fabric surrounding a furniture leg, leave it bare. By being able to see through or under a piece of furniture, the floor isn’t cut off. This is the same practice we apply when removing rugs. We want to be able to see the floor as to maintain depth perception.

So, try lower furniture. Or, at the very least make sure you can see under furniture!

Hang Mirrors

Make room bigger by hanging mirrors

Everyone loves a good mirror. Not only are they practical, but they also help make a space feel larger. By hanging a mirror, two things will begin to occur. First of all, they will reflect light into the room. This is a great way of furthering the impact of other tips on this list.

Secondly, mirrors reflect space. Due to this, the room will look like it extends further than it actually does. These are easy pieces of furniture to hang, and they really go a long way.

When placing a mirror, be sure to consider size and spatial placement. For mirrors, it’s often better to go for rectangular shapes. These will be larger, allowing for more light reflection. Alongside this, they’re easy to place near door ways and windows. The complementary rectangular shapes will look great in any home.

Be sure to consider what is actually reflected in your mirrors. Place them in a location that is sure to help the room look better. Think of points of view you particularly enjoy in a room. This could be near a window, or perhaps reflecting the greenery of a plant. Whatever it is, make sure it feels right to you!

Paint The Walls

Finally, we come onto the largest changes you can make. These tips will completely change the illusion of your room. Looking into a room, there will be 5 surfaces you can paint. This excludes the wall which holds the door you walk through. These surfaces are three walls, the floor, and the ceiling.

By painting these with different hues, we can change the illusion of a room. This works by combining the color progression and saturation theories described earlier. If you want to take a look at these practices in action, here is more information.

Using Paint to Make the Room Look Bigger

paint room light color to make it look bigger

If you’ve got the paintbrush at the ready, we can enlarge the space. By painting the walls in a lighter color, you will trick your eyes into making the room seem larger. This works because the light hue seems further away as it is non-threatening to our minds. Due to this, we do not have an adverse reaction, allowing the wall to fade into the background.

Make The Ceiling Look Higher By Painting

make a ceiling look higher by painting it white

If you want to extend the ceiling upwards, we can achieve this. First, paint the three walls a darker hue. Next, paint the ceiling in a lighter hue. This could even be in complete white. The difference between these shades will make the ceiling look higher. Even without changing the structure of the room, it’ll look much higher because of this.

If you have an apartment that feels claustrophobically small, this can really help.

Make a Room Look Wider By Painting

make a room look longer by painting

If you want to make your room feel wider, you can also do this with painting. First, paint the back wall and the ceiling in a darker hue. Next, paint the left and right wall in a lighter color. In doing this, it’ll seem that the room extends outwards.

This style pairs fantastically with low furniture and increasing a room’s verticality. Doing both of these things will ensure the room feels wide and tall.

How to Make a Living Room Look Bigger

make a living room look bigger

If you’re looking to make your living room look bigger, there are several steps you can take.

First of all, let’s talk furniture. If there are any pieces that are not frequently used, get rid of them. Any extra bits of furniture simply takes up space and creates clutter. Next, you’re going to want to ensure there is a path through the room. You don’t want to be bobbing and weaving through all of the furniture.

Try to create straight lights through furniture. A path that you can visually walk through will do wonders. You can do this by moving furniture out of the center of the room. Alternatively, clear one side of the room and hang your TV there. Hanging your TV is a great way of freeing up some additional space.

Next, you can opt for furniture with no arms. Arms, no matter their size, are additional clutter. Although they are part of furniture, they bring a lot of extra bulk. By opting for stools or an armless sofa, you can save a lot of space. This will reduce the visual clutter of the room, making it seem larger.

If you have a rug in your living room, it may be impacting the space. By hiding some of the floor, the perspective of the room will change off. Although they are comfortable, they aren’t ideal. If you’re really worried about space, get rid of the rug. Exposing the floor will allow your eyes to understand the true depth of the room.

If you can, opt for furniture that has hidden storage. Sofas with internal compartments are a fantastic place to start. Footstools are often hollow, which you can use for storage. By having less clutter on the sides, you allow the room to feel larger.

Finally, if you’re really looking for a radical change, paint the ceiling. Stick to lighter colors, white is often a great bet. By painting the ceiling a lighter color, it gives the illusion that it is higher than it actually is. This will make the living room feel much larger. All you have to do is get the brushes out!

How to Make a Bathroom Look Bigger

make bathroom bigger

Bathrooms are notoriously small rooms. By, there are a few tricks we can employ to change that. Or, at the very least, change how they look to our eye!

First of all, we want to sort out lights and mirrors. As I’ve suggested about, mirrors are a fantastic tool for expanding the feel of a room. But, to use them properly, we need a good amount of light in the room. If you have heavy drapes in your bathroom, pull them down. Let the natural light flow into the room.

Using a good overhead light will also add more dimension to your bathroom. Make sure you don’t skimp and use a cheaper light. Especially if there isn’t much natural light, you need a great source in a bathroom.

One of the best ways to create space in your bathroom is to get rid of cabinets. Although they hold your items, cabinets off the wall create a lot of clutter. Instead, invest in a sink with a platform rim. This extra space around the laps won’t take up much space. However, it will give enough room to place any products you need.

You could also use the painting method to make the room look larger. If you paint the walls in a white color, this will make the bathroom feel larger. Try to avoid darker dues and bold saturation when painting.

Finally, you can replace showers with curtains with glass wall showers. Although this is an expensive fix, the transparent glass will follow through to the wall. Without the blocking force of the shower curtain, your bathroom will feel much larger!

How to Make a Dining Room Look Bigger

make dining room look bigger

The easiest way to make your dining room look bigger is to reassess. How many people are in your family? Do you need all of those places at the table? Is your table entirely too big? If so, you can switch out your dinner for a smaller one. Alternative, try moving from a rectangle table to a circular one.

Circular tables will save more space than a rectangle. Due to this, you could have the same amount of seats and still save space. Be sure to consider the shape and size of your table.

Additionally, make sure to keep it simple in regards to your furniture. In a dining room, you really don’t need much furniture. Of course, the only thing you’re really going to need is the table itself. Alongside that, some wall art can help draw the eye. This is an example of making the most of the horizontal space.

Finally, be sure to have great overhead lighting. You want a light that brightens up the ceiling. This, coupled with a white painted ceiling, will expand the visuals of the ceiling. Doing both of these really makes the room seem larger.

What Experts Had to Say

After interviewing some experts, here is what they had to add about making a space look bigger.

1. Trey Van Tuly

Tip #1: Visible Floorspace 
Nothing makes a room feel more claustrophobic than furniture that occludes the floor. Studies have shown that open spaces are “important for well-being” and may even impact our decision-making. Consider transparent furniture (such as glass tables) or lofted beds to make your space look more open and roomier.
 
Tip #2 Vary Furniture Heights
Those in small spaces may be incentivized to focus on furniture that utilizes vertical space rather than horizontal. However, being too efficient with vertical space can make the room feel claustrophobic. Consider varying the heights of your furniture so that shorter pieces offset the taller ones.
Trey is a luxury realtor from https://www.discoverhomesmiami.com/
 

2. Sharleen Pyarali

These are my tips for making a room look bigger:

  1. LowProfile Furniture. Furniture that’slower to the ground gives more vertical space above.  This illusion helps to make the feel airy andopen, causing a room to feel bigger than it actually is.
  2. Add WhitePaint. White reflects a lot oflight.  When light bounces off whitepaint, your eye sees a brighter space leading to the illusion of a largerroom.   
  3. Decluttering. Rooms that are clean and simple rooms givethe sense of more space.  Less furniture,less décor, and less clutter will open up the existing room and make it feelbigger.

3. Andra DeMonico

Correctly Sized Area Rug 

Placing an area rug on the floor can make the room feel larger when it’s the correct size and color. A darker color on the floor pulls the heaviness of the room down, which makes the lighter colors in the upper portion of the room light bright and the space feel bigger. When the rug is the correct size, it creates a physical connection between all of the furniture. This also helps the room to feel larger. 

Light Colors 

Paint the walls of the room a light color. The walls will reflect more light, making the room feel brighter. More light in the room makes it feel more open, airy, and inviting. If there isn’t enough natural light from the window, add a large light fixture. 

Hang the Curtain High 

Take advantage of optical illusions by mounting the curtain rod higher than the window. Mount it just below the ceiling and let the curtains hang to the floor. This creates an optical illusion that the window is larger than it is and that the ceiling is taller than it really is. Both of these will make the room as a whole feel larger. 

Andra DelMonico is a lead interior designer for Trendey.com

4. Eric Ridenour

Have furniture and wall decor low to the ground, no high profile anything and modest lighting, makes the place appear higher than it is.

More open space is more open space, and the mind subconsciously translates it into a bigger area, even if it is just the area above, and even when there really isn’t more room above.

A key to perception of area is openness and light.. Never block windows, always leave them open and space furniture as far apart as comfortable to allow movement around everything. Light is key here, avoid tablecloths or other coverings that block light.
In fact: Furniture should be thin and hollow as much as possible, if you have a table, choose one with a low profile and thin legs with open area underneath rather than something higher and solid.

Mirrors. This one should be fairly self explanatory. Mirrors create more open space, subliminally you see another room that is not there.
Paint color matters. Go for white. This is the most common advice, but if you can’t tolerate boring white, go for lighter colors as much as possible, the darker, the smaller the area appears.

Eric Ridenour is the research and strategy direction for HOME DNB, Inc.

Conclusion

If you’re wondering how to make any room look bigger, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve used science and interior design to give you all the best tips. From painting to furniture arranging, and even color theory, we covered it all. With these small changes, you can make any room feel as large as can be!

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