If your living room is smaller than you would ideally like, is there anything you can do to make it look bigger? Besides remodeling and enlarging the space, there are a few things you can do to make the room appear visually larger.
You can make a small living room look bigger by sticking to colors that are neutral and using a monochromatic color scheme. Remove clutter and focus on only the pieces of furniture that you absolutely need. Using a single statement piece can often work more effectively than using many pieces. Avoid bulky furniture and instead, opt for pieces that are more open and allow for light to pass through.
Natural light can bring life and help any room feel larger than it actually is. The combination of light with neutral colors can give a living room a feeling of expansiveness which is what you want to aim for, so avoid blocking any source of natural light.
Stick to Light Neutral Colors
Neutral colors are those that are unsaturated or have very little color saturation. They include white, ivory, beige, gray and black. Since the goal is to make the room feel more spacious, stick to very light neutrals.
White can be used in varying shades to produce a cohesive look. If you opt for gray or beige, be sure to use light tones since these will help reflect light better and in turn make the living room seem larger.
Painting the walls in light, neutral tones can serve as an ideal background for your living room. Aside from making the room appear larger than it actually is, neutrals can have a calming effect, something you want in a tight space.
Start by thinking about the furniture you absolutely need, both in terms of their function and because of their ability to function as a visual centerpiece. Think statement furniture, rather than a few smaller pieces.
It’s more effective to have a single centerpiece that makes a bold statement, than many small pieces of furniture that actually create clutter and make the room look smaller. Once you have the centerpiece, you can then build around it.
When building around the main piece of furniture, however, don’t overdo it. Less is better. Stick to furniture pieces that are needed to make the room functional, but again avoid too many small pieces.
Use Low-Height Furniture
Aim to furnish the room with furniture that is low in height, but without being uncomfortable. Lower furniture allows for more open space at eye level and better distribution of natural light.
By keeping the height of your furniture pieces low, you can create the sense that the living room is more spacious than it actually is. This is because it creates a more open feel at eye-level, making the space feel less tight.
Lower furniture will also tend to give a room a feeling of greater height. Avoid furniture pieces with high backs or sides as they will tend to block the visual field, affecting both the sense of volume and the height of the space.
Avoid Bulky Furniture
Just as furniture that is lower tends to create a more open feel, so does furniture that allows more light to pass through and allows the eye to see more open space. The less obstructive the furniture, the better it will achieve this.
Bulky furniture will tend to create a sense of tightness within a room, making it feel smaller. Instead, opt for more open and airy furniture. Sofas with high, thin legs, for example, work better than ones with short bulky legs.
Along the same lines, smaller sized furniture can also work to make the room feel larger, but remember to keep the number of pieces to a minimum. Too many small pieces will have the opposite effect of what you are looking for.
Move Furniture Away From Walls
Furniture doesn’t necessarily have to be placed back against a wall. It can be pulled away in order to free up the sides of a room. This can help give the impression that the room is wider than it actually is.
By pulling furniture away from the wall, you can also create a pathway on the side. This can help with circulation through the room, making it functionally efficient and at the same time feeling less tight.
Often times, you can place accessory pieces directly behind furniture. An example might include a wide bookcase behind a sofa. You can use the top portion to accessorize the room, and the bottom to store items.
Allow Light to Dominate
Natural light can really help make a room appear larger. If your living room has windows, make the best of the natural light. Avoid blocking light by placing furniture or other accessories in the way.
This includes heavy curtains, blinds or other window treatments that interfere with the passage of light. If you must have curtains, opt for a sheer curtain that gently filters light and provides visibility.
In addition to natural light, windows also increase the visual field. It can make a small room appear larger by giving the impression that the outdoors is part of the living space.
Make Use of Mirrors
Mirrors are yet another great way to increase the perception of room size. In a living room, you will want to use mirrors in a strategic manner, since you don’t want them to overtake the space.
A mirror at eye level, that is well proportioned relative to the room, can work since it will reflect the space and increase the effect of natural light. Use a frame that compliments the furniture or no frame at all.
If you have pictures or artwork in frames, you can use a similar style for the mirror so that it feels like it’s part of the look of the room. Just be strategic, don’t overdo it. Floor to ceiling mirrors is not the look you’re after.
Emphasize Horizontal Patterns
Horizontal patterns create the visual effect of making rooms appear longer than they actually are. You can use this to your advantage either by making one side look larger or by balancing a room so it looks more symmetrical.
Horizontal patterns can be used on walls, ceilings, or on floors. If used on floors or ceilings, it will produce an elongated effect on the room. If used on walls, it will make the walls seem larger than they actually are.
You can use the pattern on all four walls for a more balanced look, or on a single wall or on opposite walls for a more strategic emphasis. Opt for a subtle pattern that will produce the effect in a less obvious
Avoid Floor Rugs
Floor rugs can provide some visual interest to a room, but because the eye will subconsciously relate the size of the rug to the size of the room, it can be an immediate giveaway that the room is small.
Steering clear of rugs when working with a small living room is probably the best strategy, but if you must include a rug as part of the design, try to scale it down. Use a small rug so that it doesn’t overtake the room.
Another approach you can use in this case is to use a rug that sticks to the neutral color scheme you use for the walls. This will help create a more cohesive look and avoid making the room look smaller.
Clear the Clutter
A small living room requires great thought to the pieces that will be placed in the space, much more so than a large living room. Use a minimalist approach where less is better. Too many pieces of furniture will make the living room look cluttered.
Try to only use furniture that you absolutely need in the room from a functional standpoint and use pieces that take up the least amount of space. If you have shelves in the room, don’t overcrowd them with too many accessories.
Place items in shelves strategically so that they are color coordinated and don’t feel the need to fill every inch of the shelves. Leaving areas empty can help the units feel less cramped, which will help lessen visual crowding in a small room.
Opt for Multi-purpose Furniture
Multi-purpose furniture is a great solution for living rooms where space is limited. A credenza with hidden storage, a coffee table or side table that also allows for storage, are common options.
If you don’t have furniture that comes with concealed storage, you can get creative and arrange furniture in such a way that allows you to store items without taking up too much space.
An example is storing small furniture under the coffee table until used or placing a bookshelf behind a sofa so that items can be stored out of view, while the top portion can be used to place accessories.
A small living room doesn’t need to feel small. With some creative planning, ample access to natural light, and disciplined furniture selection, a small living room can be made to feel airy and open.
Because of limited space, it’s more important than ever to stay disciplined with your selection of furniture pieces and accessories. A single statement piece can be much more effective than many smaller furniture pieces.
Select furniture and accessories only if they will bring added value to a room, not just in terms of functionality, but also in terms of overall design. If you use art on the walls, select one piece of art that will define the room.
A minimalist approach will go a long way in helping you achieve your goal of creating spaciousness in a limited area. But you need to be relentless in scaling back to only those accessories pieces of furniture that you absolutely need.
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