Decor Solutions That Make Smaller Spaces Look Bigger and Better

Posted on: 2014-09-03

WITH space being a luxury these days, and living spaces becoming smaller as the population grows bigger, many are looking into ways and means to make undersized areas look and feel larger.

Especially with the scarcity of spacious landed property and huge supply of "doll-house" high-rise living spaces, it is becoming a Hobson's Choice.

Interior designer Lauren Lim has much to share on this, small yet vital subject.

"Interior designers have long been faced with the challenge of making a small room look bigger. The good news is, we have come up with several tried and tested 'tricks' to achieve this," says Lim.

From tall chairs to striped rugs, here are Lim's favourite and affordable ways to make small a little or a lot bigger.

1. Rug it

With the appropriate rug, you can make a small room appear bigger by visually expanding the floor area. Avoid heavy patterns, as these tend to make a room appear cluttered and even smaller.

Your best bet is to go for rugs with simple horizontal or vertical lines, as this creates the illusion of additional length and width.

To narrow in on the floor and achieve the best "floor expansion" plan, the colour of the rug should be lighter than the walls.

Additionally, keep in mind that the larger the rug, the greater the illusion. To maximise the effect, the rug should at least be half the size of the room.

2. Mirror, mirror

Mirrors are the perfect way to create an illusion of open flow and make a room look larger than it actually is.

You do not need an entire panelled mirrored wall to achieve this, but neither is a small mirror going to be effective either.

The best way to create this illusion is by placing a substantially sized mirror against the main wall of the room (ideally the wall you face when entering a room or the wall you are most likely to face while sitting).

Ensure that the mirror is at least three-quarters the width of the wall and one-quarter its length. This will dramatically create depth and space to the room.

3. Less is more

Generally, the less a floor is seen, the smaller the area looks. So avoid sofas, tables and beds that completely hide the floor area they are placed upon. Incorporate furniture with tall, skinny legs or go for transparent acrylic or Lucite furniture.

Placement of furniture can also affect the perceived size of a room as well. For example, a large piece of furniture, when placed diagonally, will make the area look longer.

This is because our eyes tend to perceive diagonal lines as longer compared to straight lines. Another tip from Lim's box of tricks is to avoid placing furniture near doors.

The more the space between the door and the furniture, the less cluttered the area around it will look. This gives the room a more spacious and airy appearance.

4. Light it up

Lighting can work wonders for a small room. The better lit the room, the bigger it appears to be. So, bring in as much natural light as possible.

If not, artificial lighting can do the trick. A suggestion is to make use of the "wall washing" lighting method, which is a technique that distributes light onto the entire wall instead of just one spot.

Not only does this highlight the wall and make it look quite cool and out of the ordinary, but when applied on all walls of a room, it lights up the entire wall area and emphasises the vertical surfaces to give the surrounding a more spacious appearance.

Lighting that works well and gives the most beautiful effect with the "wall washing" method includes recessed lighting and wall sconces lighting.

5. Go vertical

Incorporate curtains that extend from the ceiling to the floor. This will automatically influence the eyes to focus on the height of the room.

When the attention is on the height, the lack of width in the room becomes less apparent. If the ceiling-to-floor curtain look is just not "you", try a ceiling-to-floor bookshelf or a tall, decorative piece of furniture such as a high-back chair, pushed against the wall.

Perhaps even an elongated artwork or vertical mural on your wall. All these will work just as well in getting the perceived additional height of the room into focus, through optical illusion.

What to avoid when decorating a small room

» Dark furniture
Oak, rosewood and walnut furniture look beautiful but they are also predominantly dark and make a room look smaller.

» Clutter
Too many things make smaller spaces over-crowded. Better to avoid stacks of old magazines and unused stuff in the four corners of a room?

» Colours galore
Too many colours intersect a space and make it look smaller. Stick to monochromatic colour schemes.

» Ornate furniture
One main piece is fine but too many intricate pieces and this will make it look too busy. Stick to furniture with simple, clean lines that are less distracting to
the eye.

Light colours reflect light to give small rooms a larger look. However, that does not mean that you have to stick to pale white shades and beige. Soft colours like blue, pink and green also help to visually recede walls and give it a larger sense of space.



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