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10 ways to make a room feel more spacious

room
There are lots of clever tricks and hacks you can do to make rooms seem taller, wider and generally more spacious. (Boris SV via Getty Images)

Whether you live in a flat or a family home, you want your rooms to feel as big as they possibly can. Inevitably, as time goes on, the number of family members you live with and/or the number of possessions you have, will grow, and suddenly a home that felt perfectly sizeable can start to feel cramped.

Fear not, there are lots of clever tricks and hacks you can do to make rooms seem taller, wider and generally more spacious. As well as drastic measures, such as changing the colour scheme or adding fitted storage, you can also try low-key, budget-friendly solutions like adding hooks, wall mirrors or even some plants.

We spoke to five interiors experts to get their take on what you can do to make even the smallest home feel bigger.

1. High ceilings and furniture

There’s a reason Georgian and Victorian houses feel big — they were built with high ceilings that make the most of the square footage and generally make rooms feel larger, even if they aren’t.

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“Maximising the height of a room can make it feel much more spacious,” says Kate Parker of Pocket Living. “With high ceilings you can use wall-hung furniture and shelving units to make the most of the space, while tall windows flood light into a room, which can also make a space appear bigger. For bedrooms, in particular, tall wardrobes elongate the height of a room.”

2. Colour drenching

Colour drenching, when you paint the walls, ceiling and woodwork in one, single colour, is becoming increasingly popular. It has a spacious effect because you can’t see where one wall/ceiling/door ends, and another begins.

“At home, I have sloping ceilings in the bedrooms, all of them are painted in one single colour — both walls and ceiling — this blurs the line where ceiling and wall meet and makes it feel bigger and airier and ultimately calmer,” says Steph Briggs co-founder of La Di Da Interiors.

“[Colour drenching] has become a big trend this year and can make the wall feel never ending as it blends into one with the ceiling,” says Parker. Alternatively, she says: “To exaggerate the width of a room, drop the paint line down to three-quarter or half height.”

Colour drenching can make the wall feel never ending as it blends into one with the ceiling.
Colour drenching can make the wall feel never ending as it blends into one with the ceiling. (Boris SV via Getty Images)

3. High gloss paint

If you’re thinking of repainting, don’t just consider the colour when it comes to making a room feel bigger, think about texture too.

“Another way to lift the ceiling so to speak, is to use a high gloss paint,” says Lucy Breton of Studio Breton. “Not only will this reflect light and give your smaller rooms some interest, but high gloss paint is so much easier to keep clean. I would recommend using this trick for hallways, utility rooms and little loos. If this sounds like a step too far, try just painting the ceiling.”

4. Stripes

Alternatively, you might prefer something other than plain walls and, if that’s the case, Breton suggests you opt for stripes.

“Use vertical lines to make a room feel taller. A great way of doing this would be to use a striped wallpaper,” she says.

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“If this is out of the budget, why not paint your own? Hand painted stripes are very forgiving, as long as your line is straight. The best way to guarantee this is to use a self-levelling laser. They really are very simple to use, and you can pick a basic model up for £25 from any hardware store.”

5. Bring nature inside

Plants and flowers are great for our well-being, but they also make a room feel bigger, adding a hint of the outdoors and its wide, open spaces.

“We are on a mission to bring nature into play whenever possible and make the rooms we work on flow into any outdoors, garden spaces, we even work with the sky,” says Suzanne Duckett and Sharon Duncan, co-founders of Onolla. “From penthouses to lower basements with window boxes, bringing the outdoors in gives a sense of space and almost creates the sense of an additional room.”

Plants make a room feel bigger, adding a hint of the outdoors and its wide, open spaces.
Plants make a room feel bigger, adding a hint of the outdoors and its wide, open spaces. (Thomas Barwick via Getty Images)

6. Rugs

Rugs really are magic carpets when it comes to transforming how big a room feels.

“Rugs alter the space making it feel bigger and they can elongate the corners away from the centre point of the room creating a kind of optical illusion,” says Duckett and Duncan. “We always place a large rug under the coffee table and a little under the sofas. It creates space and comfort which is what we always aim for.”

7. Built-in furniture

Another way to make a room feel bigger is with the clever use of furniture, especially storage.

“Built-in wardrobes help make the most of bedroom space while providing even more practical storage high up,” says Parker. “Bespoke solutions can be expensive, but thrifty interior lovers are achieving well-designed results using the skeleton of a standard wardrobe from outlets like IKEA and some DIY joinery skills.”

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You don’t even need to built-in solutions to make the most of your wall space. “Do not underestimate hooks! They’re cheap, simple to install and can declutter a utility cupboard or bedroom in no time,” adds Parker.

8. Oversized artwork

You might think smaller pieces of art, arranged as an on-trend gallery wall would make a room feel bigger, but the reverse is actually true so choose one large piece of art instead.

“‘Oversizing’ visually simplifies the room, making it feel spacious, and gives an impression of a larger space more than a few little things that sort of ‘cuts’ the space up,” says Duckett and Duncan.

Parker agrees and warns against underestimating what artwork can do: “Artwork plays a key role in how a room feels. Lots of small A4 pieces will feel bitty, but investing in one large piece will exude a sense of space, while offering clean calm lines.”

Interior design of living room at nice scandinavian apartment with stylish furnitures and elegant accessories. Modern home decor. Template.
Investing in one large piece of artwork will exude a sense of space, while offering clean calm lines. (FollowTheFlow via Getty Images)

9. Correctly sized furniture

It’s a pretty obvious one but choosing the wrong sized furniture for a room will always shrink it.

“The most common mistake I see in clients' homes is that the sofa is way too big for the size of the room, what looks small in a vast open plan furniture showroom can easily take over when it arrives home,” says Briggs.

“Consider how much floor space you have and maximise it. A sofa with legs so you can see more floor, bedside tables with long legs or glass dining tables all give the feeling of extra air in the room and make it feel less cluttered.”

10. Reflective spaces

Mirrors have long been used to give the illusion of space, but our experts suggest being more creative.

“It’s an age-old design trick to use large mirrors but also consider other reflective surfaces, large pictures with glass, polished wood, metallics and glossy ceramics,” says Briggs.

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“We use mirrors in most of our projects — they make a space appear larger. If done right you can make a room look double its size, plus they add some magic by elevating the ambience with their shiny surfaces bouncing light around,” agree Duckett and Duncan.

“Other reflective surfaces, including high-gloss painted ceilings, lacquered furniture, shiny tiles on a kitchen backsplash — have a similar effect, casting light and creating the illusion of space as their edges can seem never ending as opposed to matte with very definite edges.”

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