Home Décor: How To Create An Illusion Of Space

Small rooms can feel suffocating and restrictive, so we need to use every design tip we can to trick our mind into thinking there is plenty of space in our home.  Careful use of colour, reflective surfaces, window dressings and furniture will all contribute to creating a bright, airy feel.

Colours: Choosing pale colours that occur in nature are a good option.  Creams, sky blue, soft greens and pebble beige all provide a warm back-drop to your furniture and accessories, and they give a more thoughtful appearance than smothering everything in a stark white.  Pale, or bright colours make your walls feel like they are receding and therefore make the room feel larger.  Pale wall colours also reflect the light, whereas dark colours absorb light.

Using a shiny egg-shell paint or silk emulsion will be easy to wipe clean and will provide a reflective surface.  To ensure you create a single expanse of colour, you could paint your walls, skirting boards and dado rails in the same colour.

Flooring:  If you are in a flat, you might not be allowed wooden flooring because of noise issues. If this is the case, choose natural fibre carpets. These are dark enough to not need cleaning every day and light enough to keep a fresh feeling.

If you like rugs, then choose a rug that fits in the central space you are trying to protect.  Leaving a small border of floor showing around the edge of the rug will make the room appear bigger. Our preference for very small rooms is to use wooden flooring. This is highly reflective and perfect for bouncing light around the room.

Furniture: Small rooms need light coloured furniture that are the right size for the dimensions of the room.  Dark oak or mahogany will dominate a small room, so choose pale wood such as birch or pine, or choose a sofa and armchair that are fully upholstered.

Choosing furniture which is on the same colour palette as your walls will optimise the visual feel of space.  Our suggestion is that you avoid fussy trims and patterns. However, we don’t recommend that you live in a sterile design-free hotel-like space!  If you like bold prints and highly decorated furniture perhaps choose a single piece with the bold pattern and then neutralise the remaining furniture so that your decorative furniture becomes the feature. This method works well in a bedroom where just the bed or just the wardrobe is the focal point.

Positioning your TV stand, sofa or other longer pieces of furniture at a slight angle will lead your eye along that visual line, making the room feel longer than it is.  It is also wise to buy furniture on legs so that your eye is drawn to see the space beneath the piece of furniture.

Other smart tips for small rooms include using multi-function furniture.  Sites like eBay have lots of second-hand wooden storage chests that that double-up as a coffee table.  Extending dining tables work well in tiny kitchens and nests of side-tables that used to be popular in the 1960s are making a come-back.  A smart alternative to stacking tables is to use a simple glass coffee table will enable you to see the floor through it. This has the added advantage of reflecting daylight or lamp light around the room.

Lighting: Clever use of multiple lamps can be used to help open up your living space.  Ensure that your central light fitting, whether it is a pendant lamp or spotlights, have the right wattage lamp. If you have spotlights that pivot, then perhaps angle them so they reflect off your new silky walls.  Choosing one or two table lamps will also help create mood lighting. Choose different height lamps with different colour lamp shades so that the lighting differs slightly in different areas.

Daylight: Modern properties are shrinking in size and their windows are far smaller than older properties.  Do let the daylight in wherever possible. If you are over-looked, just use simple voiles so give you privacy but allow light to flood in. Using houseplants across a window-sill also gives you privacy without blocking out natural daylight. If you have curtains or roller blinds, open them as wide as possible so that your eye is drawn to the view outside.

Home Accessories:  Keep it clean! Unfortunately, small rooms need to be cleaned and maintained more regularly than larger spaces.  All it takes is a newspaper and book on the side, or a toy on the floor and the room starts shrinking.  Be precise with your choice of home accessories. A small room need a few fabulous accessories rather than twenty decorative china plates splashed across a wall. As we mentioned above, you should choose one piece of furniture as a focal point. Everything else should either support that piece, or be removed.

Mirrors: Finally, we couldn’t end without a mirror. Always position a mirror so that it catches the natural daylight from your window. It might make sense to have a large floor-standing mirror if that reflects the most light around the room.  Also, be clever with your décor. If you are not keen on a wall-hung mirror, perhaps choose mirrored candlesticks, or small mirrored photo frames that will reflect your lights around the room.

by Loretta Cotterell

image from www.freshome.com

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