Tips to make small spaces look bigger

Living Well | Jade Thrupp | Posted on 15 August 2017

Modest homes needn't feel small. Try our tips to maximise the space you have.

According to census data, Australians are increasingly inclined towards living in high-density areas. For many urban dwellers this means that spacious suburban homes have been sacrificed for much smaller apartments closer to the city.

If you can’t do much about the size of your home, there are ways to create at least the illusion of space, the feeling of living in airy comfort rather than cluttered confines.

Try these tips for a home that feels spacious, even if it’s not.

A plant beside a chair

Less is more

As obvious as it may sound, an excess of stuff can overwhelm a small space. “The fewer pieces that are scattered around in the space, the more clean, tidy and spacious the room will appear,” says interior designer Christian Oshiro.

First up, get rid of unnecessary possessions. If you want to tip the scales from hoarder to minimalist be ruthless, because if it isn’t useful now, chances are it never will be. And keep things you don’t use often out of sight.

Additional tip: Souvenirs and trinkets are the enemy of a minimalist existence. Large quantities of smaller items can make your home seem crowded. Replacing these with fewer, larger items will make your home seem less cluttered and more spacious.

An open, minimalist kitchen

Light fantastic

Keeping your home awash with light, and light colours, helps create a sense of space.

While the census data suggests that many of us risk making direct eye contact with our neighbours if our curtains aren’t drawn, letting the light and outside world in is the cheapest and quickest way to create an illusion of space.

And a carefully chosen light colour palette creates a more open, refreshing feeling than darker colours. “Whites and light greys are the safest choices when it comes to making your little room look bigger,” says Oshiro. A grey couch might not be as exciting an addition as an orange one, but it will provide a more open atmosphere, especially when coupled with walls and flooring of a similar colour.

If white isn’t your thing, try a monochromatic palette. The sense of cohesion will give your home the appearance of a clear, fluid space that isn’t convoluted by busy colours.

Additional tip: The cohesion principle also works elsewhere. If you have a feature wall filled with books, try colour-coding them to create a sense of cohesion and eliminate chaos. (This also helps elevate your collection of books, mugs or clothes from expensive habit to carefully co-ordinated style choice.)

A multi-purpose table

Make it multipurpose

Tune in to the magic of multipurpose furniture. Oshiro says that when choosing furniture for a small home, consider its ability to “be practical, functional and generate multipurpose spaces”.

Having a couch, for instance, with built-in drawers that doubles as a storage compartment means that doonas or camping gear or out-of-season clothing is out of sight and freeing up valuable storage space elsewhere. Or a gate-leg table can open out to seat a dinner party, then tuck away against a wall for use as a narrow occasional table.

Even a spare kitchen chair that’s crowding a dining table can be used to elevate a stack of books, a bedside lamp, a lovely green pot plant or the cat’s cushion.