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light colored wall paneling

Panasphere Aura Stone Surfaces Melamine Sheets for wall skirting and wall covering from BuildDirect.

To create space, or more accurately the illusion of space, there are a number of DIY home decor strategies you can pursue. Here are some of the easiest ones to get you started.

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Did your home or apartment feel bigger when you first moved in? Did you downsize to smaller digs to save money? Do you need to spread your wings, but don’t want to move?

Are you feeling cramped?

There are a lot of reasons to change your surroundings. Create space where there is none with these simple DIY home décor tricks.

Get rid of your stuff

Our spaces get crowded when we have too much stuff, much of which we don’t use and never will. My rule of thumb for decluttering is If I haven’t touched it in a year, it goes. And I’m ruthless. Sort through your things, and have a yard sale. Donate or consign clothes and furniture to thrift stores. Give books and magazines to the library or a school. Or just pass things on to friends.

Once you’ve done that, suddenly you have lots of space! Maximize it!

Walls

Light colored walls make a room seem larger. Off-white, a 2016 trend, can be warm or cool. Keep in mind that warm colors advance, and cool colors recede. A tint of a cool color will make the walls seem farther away than they are.

Floor to ceiling bookshelves carry the eye towards the ceiling, creating height. (They will also store your remaining stuff.)

Hang floor to ceiling drapes, again to carry the eye to the ceiling. You could also use drapes that are bigger than the windows on all sides for the illusion of large windows. If you have big windows, then you must have a big space, right? I have heard of people hanging drapes on walls where there are no windows for the illusion of space!

bedroom curtains wall

Alternatively, add large windows to blend the outdoors and indoors, and nix the drapes. The eye will naturally travel beyond the boundary of the wall, making the space feel larger. If you have an outdoor living area, decorate it with similar colors and furniture to visually double your space.

Hang a large mirror to create space. Place it at the short end of the room to make give is a wider dimension.

Floors

A “cramped” home art studio is opened right up in part thanks to the light-colored flooring installed here (Toklo Laminate flooring “sea salt”; 12mm Ancient Spice Collection).

Light colored flooring will enlarge a space. Install it on a diagonal for even more impact. It’s a subtle trick, but it does make a room seem to go on forever. Install the same flooring throughout the house for unity. The busier a space is, the smaller it feels, so keep it simple.

Use stripes going the length of a room, either in the flooring material or an area rug.

Browse for light colored wood flooring.

Furniture

Use big furniture, but not much of it. A long, beefy couch lining one wall will hold you and your friends just as well as several small pieces of furniture. Less is more! With that in mind, add a few large accents, such as one tall ficus tree, instead of a dozen plants in small pots.

See-through furniture takes up little visual space. Side and coffee tables of glass, Lucite or acrylic will be functional but hardly visible. Choose chairs with legs instead of upholstery to the floor.

jute area rug and light colored wood flooring

Area rug (jute Natural Boucle Weave from BuildDirect) as matched to a light colored wood floor, with texture creating the contrast instead of color. This helps to increase the effects of a larger space.

Choose textiles similar to the wall color so the furniture will seemingly melt into the walls. In this case, an off-white wall is not always necessary. A monochromatic color scheme of tints and shades of one color will create visual space, but I do recommend keeping the colors light.

Browse for area rugs.

Make furniture groupings, instead of pushing all the furniture to the walls for maximum floor space. Define these ‘rooms’ with area rugs.

DIY home décor

Most of these ideas are simple and inexpensive for DIYers. Homeowners or renters can paint, install drapes, and find furniture to give the illusion of space.

Flooring and window installation should be left to a licensed contractor.

Have fun with it! Start in one room, and work your way around the house. See what works, and keep with that. Enjoy a bigger place without the extra expense of higher payments!

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Nan Fischer

Nan Fischer has been living and building green for over 35 years. Nan’s emphasis on the BuildDirect blog is about how to make your dollar stretch further, while also moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as upcoming and existing technology to help us live in an ecologically-friendly way. Nan also authors posts on the website of her seed business, sweetly seeds.