8 Ways to Make Small Rooms Feel Larger

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

When selling a home, you don’t want buyers to step foot in a room and suddenly feel cramped. They will quickly start questioning whether they’ll be able to fit their belongings in there and whether the home is too small.

What can you do to open up some of the tight spaces in your listings?

1. Remove furniture. Rooms packed overly full of furniture will not allow buyers to visualize their things in the space. Keep the furniture basics in each room, and then haul away the extras to a storage unit or somewhere else in the home that could use more furniture. Make sure the furniture is fit to the size of the room. For example, that canopy bed may be commanding too much attention in the master bedroom, making the room feel cramped and even blocking the walkway through the room.

2. Declutter. This is an obvious way to make a space feel bigger. It can have one of the biggest impacts to the perception of a room’s size. Have your sellers go through their closets and box up about a third of it. They can take the load to a storage unit or put into bins to store elsewhere in the home. When buyers open up a closet, you want them to see the spaciousness, not it filled top-to-bottom with your sellers’ belongings.

3. Find secret storage spots: Ottomans that can double-up as storage units too can help your sellers clear away clutter in a hurry. These can be useful particularly for sellers with children who need a quick place to throw toys and clothes prior to a showing.

4. Lighten the color. Dark colors on the wall can make a room feel more closed-in, whereas lighter tones on the wall can open it up. Cream colors and soft tones of greens and blues can help open up a space. Monochromatic color schemes, which is using colors all from the same color family, can go a long way in creating flow in a home and making a space appear larger too.

5. Let the light flow in. Tieback–or better yet, take down–the curtains and open up the blinds to let the natural light flow in from the windows. The more natural light that flows in, the more a space can appear larger.

6. Hang some mirrors. Mirrors can reflect light and give the illusion of depth to a room.

7. Opt for plain fabrics. Upholstery that is plain and neutral can make a space feel larger than upholstery with bold prints or stripes. To avoid the neutral blahs, however, liven up spaces by incorporating textured or small patterned items, such as with throw pillows on the sofa.

8. Make smart furniture choices. See-through furniture, such as glass tabletops, can open up a space. Also, armless chairs or sofas can make a space feel larger too. For desks, try stools that can be tucked underneath and show off more floor space than a bulky desk chair. Also, remove any floor lamps and instead use desk lamps or ceiling light fixtures for light.

Bottom line: The more floor space you can see in a room, the more open and bigger it will feel.

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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  1. marie z

    Love it! Good advice!

  2. I think you’ve nailed pretty much every point right on the head! I especially liked your tip about the color schemes, they make so much sense, but I’d never thought of them before. Thanks a ton!

  3. Tony Thompson

    The idea that darker colors make a room feel smaller may be somewhat true – in some cases – but the truth is that color sets the tone and feel of a home. Used properly, color conveys atmosphere and feeling to a room, and as a designer who specifies finishes, I always make certain to incorporate an interesting color palette. Don’t be afraid of color – light neutrals aren’t always best.

  4. Ty Vanwyk

    Wall lights, side lights, standing lamps, floor lamps, lighting columns.. There are so many different types of lighting available, how do you know where to begin? Here, we just focus on the big one. The centrally located suspended ceiling light.In order to find the perfect stylish suspended ceiling light that works in the awkward place that is the centre of a room, you need to fist consider what the room is used for and what kind of lighting you need for those activities.^

    Kind regards

  5. These color scheme ideas are perfect!