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bright living room yellow accent wall

Whether you are downsizing to save money, or redoing a single room, you can visually expand the space with these simple ideas.

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If your living quarters make you claustrophobic, there are a few decorating ideas you can use to visually enlarge the space. Whether it’s one room or an entire level of your home, you can design and decorate to magically create more room (it’s all an illusion!).

Light and bright

Paint the walls light colors, which automatically expand the space. Dark colors create cozy, cave-like atmospheres. Whites, pastels, and off-whites will do the opposite, like you are exiting the cave to the outside again. Think of that contrast!

Add windows. They extend the indoors to the outside, and bring the outdoors in. Double bonus – connect with nature while creating the illusion of a large room. The eye will travel beyond the wall to the scenery, tricking the viewer.

gray walls old leather couch open door wall art

I say no curtains, but if you need them for privacy, install lightweight floor-to-ceiling drapes so you don’t break up the wall expanse. Match them to the wall color for the illusion of a continuous wall.

Use mirrors. Full-wall mirrors will instantly double the size of a room. A large hanging mirror creates depth, i.e. space. Mirrors also reflect light, doing away with shadows.

Simplicity

Decorate with a monochromatic color scheme. As much as I love color, it can make a room busy, and busy rooms feel small. Use shape and texture in your furniture and accessories, and shades of your chosen color for variety and visual interest.

Just as the continuity of color works to create visual space, so does continuity in flooring. One material throughout the space keeps the eye moving forward. Hardwood or a light colored carpet throughout will magically give you more room.

bright basement

 

Keep the furniture simple, light, and to scale. Buy see-through furniture. A glass top table keeps the eye moving beyond it. Let the legs show on upholstered furniture – no skirts! Tables with thin legs and sleek lines don’t take up visual space. Think Scandinavian! Sleek, simple, and visually light.

Hang one piece of art instead of a busy grouping. Use multi-functional furniture with storage in it to reduce clutter and more of that busy-ness. You don’t want busy!

Line

The tile in my meager entry way was laid on the diagonal, making this small space feel grand. It also carries the eye to the living area. I suppose it directs people there, too! Wood flooring can also be installed on the diagonal for the same effect.

Lined patterns on rugs will do the same thing. If you have a hallway, put a striped rug on the floor with the lines going the long way. An area rug with diagonals in the living area will expand the room. You can even paint diagonal stripes on a wall, but keep the colors light. What a cool accent wall that would be!

Raised ceilings

I am looking at land to buy and am designing a small house to build. I think I will raise the ceiling in the living/kitchen area to visually expand the space.

I don’t recommend rooms with high ceilings in cold climates. They are hard to heat, even with ceiling fans. This house is so small, though, I don’t see that as a problem.

I’d add windows in the upper part to bring in winter sun. A ceiling fan would draw the heat down to the living area. A friend had this feature in a house that had a large, old lilac hedge directly to the south of the house. The clerestory windows were above the hedge, and they added sufficient heat, which was distributed with a ceiling fan.

Create magic anywhere!

Are you downsizing to save energy and money? Are you planning a remodel? Are you redoing a single room? Are you moving into a dorm room or college apartment?

Whatever your situation is, you can visually expand the space with these simple tricks. Most are inexpensive and quick projects. Hit the thrift stores for unique rugs and furniture. Upcycle your finds to suit your needs.

Just remember light, bright, and simple.

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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.