There are a few benefits to living in a smaller house. Usually, they come with low rents or are cheaper to buy, and property taxes can reflect this. In cold weather, smaller properties are easier to keep warm so you are not spending a fortune on heating bills.
But smaller properties come with their own drawbacks. They can quickly start to feel quite cramped and claustrophobic, causing undue stress. We may feel embarrassed about receiving visitors and worry that our home appears squalid and inhospitable. There are, however, a few simple tricks we can employ to turn our small spaces into places we love to show off.
Often the thing that can really close a room in is the amount of light that gets in. When a room has less light, a lot of the space is thrown into shadow, creating the illusion that there is less of it. There are a couple of ways to combat this in both day and night.
During the daytime, you should ensure that you leave your windows uncovered. If you do need to keep your curtains closed or blinds down, ensure that they use light colors in keeping with your general color scheme. Using as much natural light as possible gives a space depth.
In the evenings, avoid using top-down lights. Ceiling lights can give the illusion of a lower ceiling, whereas sconces or floor lamps will give the illusion of a higher ceiling, drawing the eye upwards.
"Understanding how light can alter a space is a fine art, and can depend very much on the room," writes Jacqui Perkins, interior design author at Academized and Paper Fellows. “Think about where your windows or lights are positioned and chart how the light travels about.” Spending some time experimenting with light can make your rooms look bigger.
Of course, the most useful way of giving your room a larger image is to manipulate the space itself. Many people try to create a feeling of space by optimizing floor space, but this can be not only impractical but can actually accentuate the lack of space you have. It's wise then to utilize the space you do have in subtle but effective ways.
Instead of pushing everything up against the walls, try to bring furniture and tables out a bit. You should even try angling them, as this too can make a room look bigger. Likewise, use your display cabinets, bookshelves or desks sparingly. It always nice to have a filled bookcase, but if it's overflowing, this too can give the impression of clutter.
Colors are an important way of setting the atmosphere of a room. Using dark or imposing colors can make a room feel closed in and stuffy. Opt instead to have lighter colors, and if you need to, add bolder colors in vibrant splashes as statements.
Using different shades of the same colors can help you to manipulate how the shadow and light play in the room. It's worth experimenting with using the different shades in each part of the room. A darker skirting can accentuate a lighter wall, making it seem bigger. You should avoid loading each room with too many colors, as it can create a feeling of chaos and clutter. A general scheme of coordinated color can help you manipulate the rooms image into something more harmonious.
It might be wise to consider the color of your flooring. A wooden paneled floor can create a feeling of distance, and striped carpet can work to stretch out the floor space.
A welcoming room should also have a great and impactful decorations scheme. It's true that an unadorned wall can accentuate space; however, it can also leave a room feeling cold and unwelcoming. In fact, a bold artwork can draw the eye and divide a wall. Try to go for artwork that is eye-catching and evocative. The bigger the piece the better.
“Restaurant designers have long made use of mirrors as a way of creating the illusion of space. A well-placed mirror not only extends the image of the room but also helps to reflect the light from windows or lamps,” says Louise Scharf, regular design blogger at State of Writing and Australian Help.
A well-placed rug or two can really tie a room together. Depending on what floor you have, try to find rugs that complement the colors you have, and consider using different shades to divide the room up.
Pay close attention to the ceiling. Often our sense of space is dictated by what it above us. Even if you have fairly low ceilings in your home, utilizing murals or paint on your ceiling can extend the feeling of space.
Sometimes the best way of creating a feeling of space in a room is to take a look at your furniture. Naturally, it stands to reason that the more furniture you have the more cluttered its going to feel, but what type of furniture have can have an effect as well.
A taller bookcase, for instance, will give the illusion of a higher ceiling, drawing the eye upwards. Even if you don't have a bookcase, putting shelves up higher will also achieve this effect.
It might be tempting to use smaller furniture in proportion to the room size. But if you use one larger piece of furniture, whether it's a desk, table or sofa will reduce the impression of clutter and create a statement about the room. Choosing glass or Lucite tables will give an impression of light, and opting for statement furniture will attract the eye. It's also a good idea to choose furniture that allows for space underneath.
It's also wise to consider practical aspects of furniture. If you can lay your hands on a foldable dining table, for instance, you will benefit from being able to alter the space in the room at will. Using multifunctional furniture, such as ottomans or beds with drawers will help you to declutter.
Nora Mork is a lifestyle journalist at UK Writings and Boom Essays. She loves yoga, hiking, home decorating and sharing her ideas at Essay Roo blog.