You might be living in a space that doesn’t perfectly reflect your story, and for a lot of us, that’s chalked up to a space issue. And, that’s okay. Years of rental-dwelling has taught me that you don’t have to gut the place and renovate to achieve more of what you’re going for. You can make it feel like home regardless of the amount of square footage you have to work with.
If your space includes little ones, it’s important to open up rooms to allow you to see them as they play. Just remember: Keep an eye on dirty hands, spills and messes—they can make even the largest spaces seem cluttered.
Here are a few ways to make a small home seem larger:
1. Edit your stuff.
First, let’s change our perspective about this idea that small equals bad. Instead of seeing it as a problem, let’s see it as an opportunity to be a little more creative in our spaces. If you’ve got low ceilings or small spaces, pay attention to how much you fill your space with stuff and the arrangement of that stuff. Minimalism is all the rage these days and it’s important to make smaller spaces feel less crowded and more clean and open. This is the goal with any room that is a bit space deficient.
2. Use color to create depth.
Select paint colors for your walls, specifically your living spaces, that open up the space instead of closing it off. White is always a win, but it’s not always the most ideal. If white just isn’t an option for you, consider painting your ceiling an alternative or contrasting color to offer the illusion of tall ceilings, or selecting flooring that is lighter in color.
3. Experiment with textiles.
Hanging curtains brings personality and warmth to a space, but if you’re dealing with low ceilings in a small space, they can also create the illusion of higher ceilings in a room. The general rule for this is that the rod should sit four to six inches above the top or your window. If you have trim work, the rule is the same but would hang four to six inches above the trim. Hang them high. The idea is to draw the eye up and add some drama.
Challenge yourself to step out of the box by finding some patterns that complement the rest of your room. It’s visual candy for everyone and also pulls the eye and mind away from a space that may feel a bit cramped.
4. Strategize with furniture.
Furniture can be the foundation for everything else in a space. To use your furniture appropriately in your space, you will want to take inventory of what you have. Much like the games we help our eyes play with textiles, larger furniture in a small room gives the illusion that a space is much larger than it actually is.
I’m not saying to fill your space with large-scale favorite style, this will only congest your space and make it feel less cozy. But when selecting pieces like sofas, lounge chairs and the like, consider the scale of your room versus the scale of your furniture. While proportion is very important, function is also equally as important. Find pieces that perform double duty: sofas that turn into beds or side tables that nest. Mount your television instead of using a media stand, and use the space underneath for storage or for extra seating. It’s fun to think non traditionally, and you’ll be surprised at what you come up with to create a space that is both functional and fun.
5. Enjoy your space while making it your own.
I spent a lot of time comparing our beginnings with what it had taken other people and designers years to build and create. I wasn’t content. I was grumpy and childish. I don’t think I ever complained out loud, but inside my head, the war raged. It was all too common for me to rehearse comments like “I wish I had . . .” or “This isn’t like so and so’s,” until they became a toxic anthem that would surely become the death of any hopes, dreams, and desires if I wasn’t careful.
While I understood how damaging and reckless this kind of self-talk could be, for some reason, I just could not stop it. I wanted bigger and better right away. I thought having the perfect house would make me a perfect wife, a perfect friend, a perfect person. I didn’t understand then that all the beautiful light, fancy fixtures, and hardwood floors in the world wouldn’t make my home and my life automatically open, restorative and peaceful. Slowly but surely I came to realize that to create spaces that were regenerative in every way I, first, had to be regenerated. I, first, had to have a heart made whole.