Whether you live in a small studio or a pocket-sized home, making do with your lack of square footage can be a challenge.

There are a few little design tips, however, that can make any space — especially a small one — seem bigger.


Painting a room is an affordable and easy way to make your room feel different. It’s also the simplest way to fake a big room. Rather than painting in dark tones, keep your walls light in whites, light yellows, blues or greens. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, keeping the walls and ceiling monochromatic can make a space seem bigger. If you want some sort of contrast between the ceiling and walls, paint the walls one shade darker.

Matching walls and ceilings make this Portland condo appear larger


Contrary to what you may think, small furniture in a small space is not always the way to go. A grouping of a small chairs and a tiny sofa can make a room seem cluttered. Instead, choose one larger piece as the focal point and restrain from adding too many other pieces. If you are dealing with a small kitchen or dining area, look for a table with leaves or folding sides that can expand for more guests while staying small for the day to day. Once you have your furniture, don’t push everything against the wall. Place one piece at a diagonal, which leads the eye along the longer line. Bonus? Added storage space behind the furniture.

An angled couch tricks the eye into seeing more space in this Fort Worth home

Mirror, Mirror

While mirrors were the choice decor in the 1970s, hanging a mirror can still make a room look larger since it reflects light and gives the appearance of another window. Rather than using a bunch of small mirrors, use a large mirror as your focal point on the largest well or above the fireplace.

This Columbus, OH home has a mirror to reflect light back into a small space

Let There be Light

Dark rooms tend to look smaller. If you have windows, make the most of them with window treatments that won’t block the light or the view. Add additional lighting with floor lamps or table lamps. If you’re really crunched for space, track and recessed lighting can brighten up the place without taking away from precious square footage.

Do as these Falls Church homeowners did and add track lighting to brighten a small room

Less is More

Clear out the knick-knacks and books. Choose your extra decorations sparingly. Or, if you want to have a collection of something on display, arrange it by color.


Basic decor keeps this New Orleans condo looking spacious

About the Author

Erika Riggs, the Zillow Digs manager, covers home design and trends.

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