Our homes are our havens of security and comfort, aren’t they? We want to feel like our home represents who we are in a way that is appealing to look at and easy to live in.
But, it can be hard to create an inviting and functional space when you feel like there isn’t enough room. You might live in a small home or a home that has a cut-up type of floor plan. Or you might even have a home with more generous footage but the rooms still feel cramped and tight for space.
Many people think that the only way to create more visual space is by adding color and decor pieces to a room. You know, go out and spend money on new stuff to solve the problem. If you’ve been there and done that, you know that’s not the answer.
But what if I told you there was another way? What if I told you that there are some simple things we can do to make a room look bigger than it actually is? Sounds crazy right? Not really.
Here are 12 simple tips that will show you how to rearrange your room to make it look bigger, without having to start over and spend lots of money. These tips will help keep your home organized and beautiful too!
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- How to rearrange your room to make it look bigger
- CLUTTER: Clear Out the Clutter
- CREATIVITY: See Your Space with Fresh Eyes
- COLOR: Add Visual Space, Personality, and Interest with Color
- The rest of the Details
- Put It All Together
How to rearrange your room to make it look bigger
These tips to help you create a more spacious feel to your rooms and home are not rocket science, my friend, but I know from my 20+ years of interior decorating background that they work and are very effective. You can apply them to your living room, bedroom (small bedroom or large master bedroom), dining room, home office, or really any room of your home.
In general, we’re going to look at what I call the 3 C’s:
We’ll take a deeper dive into these areas and see how making some changes to your room (some are quite simple, others may take a little time and money) can create a fresh, open, roomy space!
By the way, if you are just moving into a new home, this is the perfect time to arrange your furniture to get the most ‘bang for your buck’.
I’ll warn you though, you have to be willing to make some changes to the way your space looks, and possibly functions. Toss the notion of, “I’ve always had the layout this way”, because that, my friend, is most likely a large part of the problem.
CLUTTER: Clear Out the Clutter
Clutter is one of the most common problems in homes. It’s amazing how much can accumulate when we’re not really looking, right? Before you think about rearranging your furniture in any room of your house you need to start fresh with that space.
Here’s how you can do that. It will take some time but is well worth it. I have used this concept in both interior with Modern Home Decor”>decorating and home staging, as well as in my own home. It works.
- Take all of the smaller pieces out of the space, including what is on the walls. This includes smaller pieces of furniture that are easy to carry, lamps, decor items, wall art, accent rugs, area rugs if possible, etc. All that should be left in the space are the pieces of furniture that are too large to remove.
- This is the perfect time to do a thorough cleaning of the space, so wash, vacuum, spot-clean upholstery, whatever you need to do, do it now while the room is cleared out.
- Take some time to consider how this room is used functionally, how you live in the space. Try not to think about the furniture in it, but rather how it is used day to day, or even how you would like the room to function if you’re going to make a more significant change.
- Decide on a focal point for the space. This could be a feature of the room, like a fireplace, an interesting accent wall, the view out of the windows, etc. The furniture arrangement will highlight that focal point.
- One of the biggest culprits in making a room appear small and cluttered is the size of the furniture that resides in it. We’ll talk about that in more detail, but for now, evaluate what’s in that space and decide if something has to be removed because it is on a scale that just doesn’t go with the overall size of the space.
- Before you bring anything back into the space or decide how to arrange the furniture, continue reading this article, then arrive at your plan of action! We’ll wrap everything up after the 12 tips.
As an aside, this is a good time to go through what you have and use it, donate items that no longer work or serve a purpose in your life. Get rid of trinkets and extra nic nacs that you don’t need or want any longer.
If you want to dive deeper into how to create a beautiful space the simple and affordable way, take a peek at my guide, Love Your Home.
CREATIVITY: See Your Space with Fresh Eyes
What you don’t want to do is recreate the space you just had, because that wasn’t working for you, remember? Take your time and consider these tips before deciding what will live in this room going forward.
1 | Keep Furniture Pieces to Scale
Make sure to keep all of your furniture pieces to scale so they work well with each other and flow throughout the room. Just because there is space for a large piece of furniture, doesn’t mean you should put it there. Make sure it goes with the style and décor flow of the room, as well as the traffic patterns in the space.
Consider how you can “divide and conquer”. If you can fit two smaller pieces of furniture into a space rather than one large piece, they can help to make the room appear more spacious.
For example, two smaller accent chairs to replace an oversized, overstuffed chair will immediately relieve the room of visual bulk.
Or, a standard size sofa and loveseat instead of an oversized sectional can help a room appear larger and more spacious.
2 | Use Clean and Open Style Pieces of Furniture
Having a large, chunky, bulky piece of furniture in your room will make it appear smaller, so use pieces that are visually open such as seating pieces with open arms and exposed legs, and case goods without too many drawers or cabinets. This leaves more space for the eye to move around and doesn’t create any visual blocks in the room.
Glass tabletops, open iron bases, and/or clear lucite material in the base of an accent table will help the room look larger because the eye can keep moving through the room.
Try to avoid having too many pieces of furniture that are the same size, as that is another visual chunk of space. Literal, too. Keep what you need in there, and that’s all.
3 | Multifunctional Furniture
A single piece of furniture that has more than one purpose can help keep your space from feeling cluttered.
Nesting tables, expanding dining tables, ottomans that double as coffee tables are just a few examples.
4 | Use Mirrors to Make a Room Look Bigger
Using a mirror in your home when decorating can help to add more light and create the illusion that there is more space because it reflects everything around it. This is especially great in smaller spaces like hallways (and bathrooms).
Remember to use your mirrors strategically and sparsely because it’s not the only element that affects the size of a room.
Placing a mirror where it will reflect the outdoors into the space will utilize the natural light to help make a small room feel larger.
5 | Be Aware of the Traffic Flow
Ask yourself these questions:
- how do you enter this room? Is there a clear path? Is there furniture blocking the way, or the view into the room?
- how do you maneuver through this space? Can you walk through it without having to zig-zag repeatedly? If so, something needs to be moved, or removed.
6 | Create a Focal Point
How to determine the focal point of a room is very personal. It may be a piece of artwork, the fireplace if you have one, or even a window view. If you think your space is boring and are having trouble with the focal point, consider taking one wall and painting it an accent color (more about that below) and creating the focal point with a beautiful piece of wall art.
Once you decide on your focal point(s), arrange your furniture around it to draw attention to that area.
If you have a seating arrangement in front of the fireplace, make sure it is open and inviting with no bulky pieces of furniture cutting into the floor space.
If your focal point is artwork, place it above an area that can be used as a headboard or side table, such as the bed or sofa. This will create a conversation point when entertaining.
You can also use one tall vertical surface as your focal point, such as a media cabinet or a built-in bookcase, which could be the case if you have a media/entertainment unit where your TV is located in the living room, for example.
In my living room, the fireplace with the TV mounted above it is the focal point, and there are also several windows with nice, natural lighting. The room is small so not every seating piece can have a birds-eye view of the focal point. But, the seating is arranged for conversation as well, and it all makes sense.
7 | Creative Layout
When possible, consider the angles in your room and use them when creating seating arrangements. Remember that everything doesn’t have to be pushed up against the walls. Notice in the photo of my living room above and see how I used angles to create an interesting space.
And, there is a school of thought that says, always keep your furniture 2 to 3 inches away from the wall (angles or not) rather than right up against it, and your room will immediately feel larger.
COLOR: Add Visual Space, Personality, and Interest with Color
Color and texture will go a long way toward helping or hindering, your goal of making a room look larger. The furniture arrangement and selection is the foundation or starting point, and the layering of color comes next.
8 | Basics of Using Color to Make a Room Look Bigger
- Using bright white on the ceiling will reflect light, and a neutral off-white on the walls will add warmth
- Light walls are more reflective; dark walls tend to absorb the light and the room can feel smaller
- Choose a trim color that is lighter than the walls, to make the area seem larger
- Soft tones will help make a space appear larger: light grays, soft beiges, off-whites, dusty blues
9 | Use Highlight Colors to Make a Small Space Appear Larger
You can use accent or highlight colors on your walls, just be sure you don’t overdo it or everything will start to look too busy.
For example, select one accent wall (perhaps your focal point) and paint that wall a deeper shade than the color of the rest of the walls.
10 | Consistent Furniture Colors Can Make A Room Look Bigger
Having furniture that is a similar color also helps the room look bigger, but it has to be done in moderation. Having too many pieces that are exactly the same will make everything blend together and become dull. And we don’t want to sacrifice style and interest to make a space look larger.
If you choose varying shades of one overall color and then use textures as well as a highlight color for interest, you’ll create an interesting space that feels bigger.
It doesn’t matter what that overall color is, and it doesn’t have to be a light neutral, it is the lack of contrasting colors that makes the room feel bigger.
The rest of the Details
11 | The Walls and Finishing Touches
We all want to see the niftys, the chachkis, the decorative items that give our rooms and home the look of “us”. The key when learning how to rearrange your room to make a space feel bigger is to know when enough is enough.
- On the walls, aim for one large piece of wall art rather than a collection of pieces
- Know that it is okay to have a wall or portion of a wall, that doesn’t have anything on it. Resist the urge to hang something on every available wall space
- Bear in mind that the more decorative accessories you place in a room (you know…those little treasures that are family heirlooms, HomeGoods finds that you just can’t pass up, the second-hand store nifty that catches your eye) the more visually, and literally, cluttered it will become. If you have a lot of those types of things, rotate them through a room so you can appreciate them, just not all at one time. 🙂
- An area rug can serve to anchor a space or portion of a room, but sometimes it can make it appear smaller. Give your space a thoughtful look and determine if that area rug (or those smaller accent rugs) is really necessary.
- Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves can draw the eye up and visually create the appearance of more space. Just remember to use a light touch with what you put on them so they don’t get cluttered.
- Layer lighting by using lamps on top of other fixtures such as vases, books, etc. This also helps create the illusion that the room is larger than it really is.
- Layer fabrics and textures by using different rugs, throws, etc. Use light colors as well as dark ones to create depth in your space.
- Use materials such as mirrors and glass containers to add shine and sparkle if those elements are lacking in the room.
12 | The Windows
Here are a couple of quick tips to ensure that you’re giving the illusion of space, draw the eye upward, and make a room look bigger :
- If using curtains, keep the fabric color in the same color family and intensity as the wall color
- Hang the curtains close to the ceiling and make sure they end at the floor, not inches above it!
Put It All Together
Now that you’ve learned some simple tips for making a room appear bigger, let’s go back to the space that we decluttered and removed everything from (our example project!) at the beginning of the post.
To review, we removed:
- all of the small accessories
- everything from the walls
- the small items like lamps, accent rugs, end tables, ottomans, etc.
- any larger pieces that can be carried out of the space safely
- area rugs
Then, we took these things into consideration in our project to make a small or cluttered space appear bigger:
- the size, scale, and placement of the largest pieces of furniture
- determined the focal point of the space
- considered how we could use multi-functional pieces to eliminate excess furniture
- thought about the traffic flow in and out of the space
- decided how we could use mirrors to reflect light and make the room look larger
- pondered how to use color on the walls, window treatments, furniture, and accessories to keep the space feeling larger
Now the room is ready to be put back together, my friend. And I’ll tell you this from creating hundreds of room designs and layouts, so listen up, please:
Room arrangement is NOT an exact science. Your idea for room layout may need to be tweaked, or sometimes you have to start over again. Be patient and try different arrangements until it feels right.
Then, bring your smaller stuff back in, but use a light touch. When you think you’re finished, take several photos from different angles and study them. Many times you see where something can be moved, or removed. Pictures can show us so much!
Learn to love your home, flaws and all, and it will bring some peace to your life and help you maintain a healthy perspective.
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