decorating

Live in a small space? 5 design tricks that can make any tiny room feel bigger

July 26, 2014 at 9:32 AM ET

Can you sit on your bedroom mattress and reach your closet at the same time? Does your living room feel like a shoe box? Does your small home make you feel like you're surrounded by clutter at every turn?

It's time to take your (small) home back, and in its new book, "Think Small: Make the Most of Every Square Foot," House Beautiful magazine shares tips from interior designers on making small rooms expand with just a few design tricks. Here are five easy ways from the book that can help make the tiniest room seem larger and look more stylish. 

The bigger the better

Roger Davis
Roger Davis / House Beautiful

Conventional wisdom suggests using dainty furnishings in snug quarters, but designers often recommend the opposite strategy: Use bigger pieces — an optical illusion that makes the room read larger. But avoid the urge to over furnish, and use just a few larger-scale items.

Arrange furniture to create a room-within-a-room

Amy Neunsinger
Amy Neunsinger / House Beautiful

“People have a tendency to push their furniture up against the walls," interior designers Todd Nicky and Amy Kehoe told House Beautiful. "But floating the furniture makes a room bigger – even though it doesn’t feel like you’re maximizing space.” 

Fake a view

Julian Wass
Julian Wass / House Beautiful

Gary McBournie high-mounted a giant mirror in the TV room of his Nantucket cottage to create the illusion of a more loft-like environment. “I had the mirror made over scaled. There’s only one window in that room, and that mirror becomes a virtual window,” he says.

Hang curtains, floor to ceiling

Eric Piasecki
Eric Piasecki / House Beautiful

Hanging curtains floor to ceiling creates an elongated line that makes windows — and thus rooms — appear taller. Matchstick blinds hung just above the windows complete the effect. 

Stretch space

James Cariere
James Cariere / House Beautiful

Stripes in any direction create visual movement with the suggestion of more space around the corner or ceiling to floor. 

"Stripes are a nice, graphic design element that can bring movement and pattern to a room, but not in a busy way," interior designer Angela Free, who used two tones of tile to embolden a 37-square-foot bathroom, told House Beautiful. "As soon as the tiles went up — whoosh! The room opened up. The fact that they wrap the entire room creates flow, a borderless space."

Reprinted with permission from "House Beautiful Think Small: Make the Most of Every Square Foot" © 2014 by Hearst Books, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. 

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