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Jasper hardwood stained maple collection

Jasper Hardwood Stained Canadian Maple Collection.

Sometimes, we haven’t quite grown into our rooms. When that happens dark hardwood floors, dark tile, furniture arrangement, and other additions to a space can help you make it cozy. Here are some more suggestions.

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The location of your new digs is perfect; close to work, big yard, sunny windows, good schools, safe neighborhood, close to public transit. You couldn’t resist it, but the rooms are ginormous and swallow up your furniture, making the space look even bigger. Suddenly you feel like you’re living in a bright cave that isn’t very cozy.

What can you do to visually minimize the space? Whether you are a renter or a homeowner, you can create a cozy, comfy home quickly and on the cheap.

Color

An effective way to trick the senses into believing you’re in a small room is with color. First, remember that warm colors advance, and cool colors recede. To make walls come towards you, paint them in warm colors. Use rich, dark, earthy colors to absorb light, an abundance of which gives the feeling of spaciousness. Even paint the ceiling a dark color to bring it down towards the living area.

Use a flat matte finish to further absorb light. My mother gambled with a spare bedroom with one large window on the north side of the house. She painted the walls and ceiling chocolate brown, turning it into an intimate den for tv and reading. She used a glossy paint, because it was not a big room to begin with. That kept it from being claustrophobic by giving the room some light. So paint finish does make a difference.

Laminate flooring armstrong black paint

Armstong laminate flooring “black paint”; a low-gloss finish, a high-density fiber board core.

Add wainscoting or a chair rail along your walls, and paint the lower half a dark color. The horizontal line and the dark paint will seemingly pull the ceiling down. You know how they say short people shouldn’t wear horizontal stripes, because they will look shorter? Same principle.

The warmth and weight of a dark wood floor will further ground the space. If you opt for tile floors, again choose dark colors and non-reflective surfaces.

Browse for dark flooring.

Furniture

Several small pieces of furniture will make your space seem hollow and frenetic. Choose large-scale furniture, including couches and chairs that are overstuffed. Use an ottoman instead of coffee table.

Use furniture groupings to define separate areas of one big room. Place a couch across the middle of the living room as a room divider. A chunky earth tone area rug can define the living area, while the space behind the couch can be an office, den, or dining area.

open living room area rug birds eye view

Alternatively, put a screen type room divider behind the couch for an even cozier and more closed in feeling. A screen also works well placed in a corner to actually make the room smaller.

Pull all the furniture into the room away from the walls. Place a small seating area along the wall instead. Use the same idea in the bedroom with a loveseat or chair and side table.

Accessories

High contrast and large patterns visually make a room smaller. Think big and bright for pillows, textiles, lampshades, end tables, and art. Avoid mirrors, which bounce light and expand space.

Got a fireplace? Want one? Create a faux fireplace of stone or brick veneer, and add a visually heavy, textured wood mantle. Top it with a few bright accents, and hang a large abstract painting over it.

Lighting should be soft, warm, and low on the wall. Floor and table lamps are preferable to overhead lighting. Don’t point lights towards the ceiling, but instead, direct the eye to the floor.

Plants should be few and large. Instead of a screen in a corner, install a large palm in an earth-toned pot.

Remodeling not necessary

These home décor tricks work whether you are a renter or a homeowner. There is no need for construction to make a cavernous space feel like an intimate spot for two. You don’t need to feel uncomfortable in a large room, and it’s not a major project to get comfortable. Paint, textiles, and accessories are available to everyone. Enjoy transforming that perfect place!

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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.