Living Space: Simple decorating tricks can instantly expand small room

By Kathryn Weber
Jan. 9, 2014 at midnight
Updated Jan. 8, 2014 at 7:09 p.m.

A large piece of furniture can add drama in a small space.

A large piece of furniture can add drama in a small space.

Small spaces can be a challenge to decorate because anything added to the room takes up precious space. It helps to use a few decorating tricks that can open up the space and make it feel larger than it really is. Here are some basic tips:

Good lighting. All rooms need good lighting, but small rooms need extra lighting. Add lights in the corners of the room to brighten and expand the space.

Mirrors. Add a mirror over a bed, sofa or fireplace to make the room instantly double in size and in light. And don't overlook mirrored furniture; it can work small space magic, too.

Add storage. Make all furniture do double duty - whether it's a chair that hides a fold-out bed, an ottoman with storage under the cushion or a cocktail table that has shelves or drawers. The more storage you have, the more spacious the room will feel.

Think contrast. A dark carpet with light walls or furnishings will draw the eye toward the walls, making the room feel larger than it is.

Think monochromatic. When a room is bathed in a single color, the walls expand. To break up the color monotony, add texture in flooring, upholstery and accents.

Sheer magic. Heavy curtains can close off windows, views and all-important light, so ease up. Sheer curtains dress windows with softness and add light while preserving privacy.

Hang 'em high. Long curtain panels hung at the ceiling create visual height in a room. Or use a valance at the ceiling and layer long sheers behind it.

Simplicity. Small rooms beg for editing. Pare down accents and accessories to singular, bold items that stand out but don't add clutter.

Grand proportions. Don't be afraid to use a large piece of furniture in a small room. A canopy bed or floor-to-ceiling bookshelf can make a big statement and look chic.

Clear it up. Glass and clear furnishings can be both practical and space-enhancing. Go for chairs like the budget-friendly Tobias chair ($79) or the classically styled Louis Ghost Chair. Add a glass table, and you have a stylishly space-friendly arrangement.

Skirt the issue. If you have open shelving you use for storage or open plumbing beneath a sink, cover it with fabric skirting and double the storage capacity.

Focal point. If having a focal point in a large room is important, it's doubly so in a small one. Without a focal point for the space, the eye keeps swimming like a goldfish in a bowl. Use a large piece of furniture or artwork to anchor a small room.

Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui ezine. For more information, contact Weber through her website,



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