We’ve all been there. You’re in a space that feels small, cramped, and dark. The windows are in the wrong place, the shelves are crammed full of stuff, and there’s barely enough room to turn around without banging into something. But there are ways to make spaces feel lighter and brighter without undergoing a major renovation.
Check out these tips to help you make the most of any space in your home.
Use Mirrors Strategically
Mirrors reflect light, which can help make a space feel brighter and more open. Place mirrors opposite windows so they can reflect natural light back into the room, or use them to reflect artificial light from lamps or overhead fixtures. You can also use mirrors to create the illusion of more space by placing them so they reflect other parts of the room, like an adjacent wall or pretty piece of furniture. Just be sure not to overdo it—too many mirrors can make a space feel like a funhouse.
Streamline Your Shelves
If your shelves are crammed full of books, knick-knacks, and photos, it’s time for a purge. Stand back and have a good look at what’s on your shelves. If you don’t love it or use it regularly, get rid of it! Once you’ve whittled down your collection to only the things you really love, arrange what’s left in an orderly fashion. This will help give the illusion of more space and make the room feel cleaner and less cluttered. If you’re struggling to let go of some of your tchotchkes, try storing them in bins or boxes so they’re out of sight but still within easy reach.
Cut Back on Clutter
We all have way too much stuff these days, so it’s no wonder our homes often feel cramped and cluttered. Take some time to go through your belongings and get rid of anything you don’t need or use regularly. This includes clothes that no longer fit, dishes you never use, and those knick-knacks that are just taking up space on shelves (see tip #2). Not only will decluttering make your space feel bigger, it will also give you a sense of calmness and serenity. And who doesn’t want that?
Hang Sheer Window Treatments
Sheer window treatments let in natural light while still providing privacy, making them ideal for small spaces. Choose a light color such as white or ivory so they won’t absorb too much light (dark colors can make a space feel small and cavernous). Hang sheer curtains high and wide so they don’t block any sunlight coming in through the window. You can also try layering sheer curtains with blinds or shades for added privacy and insulation from outside noise.
Hang Curtains Strategically
If you have windows that are placed oddly or take up too much wall space, hanging curtains strategically can help balance out the proportions of the room and make it feel more open. For example, if you have a large window that takes up most of one wall, hanging curtains on either side can help break up the expanse of glass and make the room feel less like a fishbowl. Just be sure not to block any windows with furniture—that would defeat the purpose! (See our post how to choose the right drappery)
Swap Out Doors
Doors that swing into a room can take up valuable floor space and make a small room feel even smaller. If possible, replace swinging doors with sliding doors or pocket doors—these types of doors don’t need clearance to open so you won’t have to worry about them hitting furniture or taking up precious floor space every time you open them. If replacing your doors is not an option, try painting them in a light color such as white or cream to help brighten up the space (dark colors tend to absorb light rather than reflect it).
Scale Down Furniture
Furniture that is too big for a space can make it feel cramped and claustrophobic. If possible, try swapping out large pieces for smaller ones—this will help increase traffic flow and make the room feel airier. For example, opt for a loveseat instead of a sofa, or choose a coffee table that is lower to the ground rather than one with a bulky base. If buying new furniture is not an option right now, try rearranging what you already have to see if that makes a difference in how spacious the room feels.
These are just a few tips to help you make any space in your home feel bigger without knocking down any walls (or breaking the bank). So next time you’re feeling claustrophobic in your own home, try using some of these tricks to brighten things up—you might be surprised at how much difference they can make!