Monday, October 27, 2008

5 Quick and Easy Ways to Make Small Rooms Feel Bigger!

Decorating small rooms can be quite a challenge, but there are some simple things you can do in a weekend to make the space seem to expand before your eyes!

1. Go buy the largest mirror you can afford, and place it in a focal area of the room, such as over a mantel, or over a sofa. Hang it a little higher than eye level to avoid reflecting clutter if necessary. If you can't afford a large mirror, drop by your discount store and dollar shop and pick up a few smaller ones to create a grouping of mirrors to accomplish the same purpose. I have decorative mirrors in almost every room of my modestly sized home, and when I take them down to paint or clean, I am shocked at how much more closed in the room feels. One mirror adds several visual feet to any room!

2. Don't leave your walls white! I know, that's not what you've always heard. White walls can be difficult to pull off in an interesting way, and they don't expand a room any more than light colors do, so add some personality! Paint your walls a light cool color, such as blue or green. Cool colors fool the eye into thinking the walls are farther away than they really are, while warm colors make walls seem closer. (Most whites used in homes are warm whites.) So bring in that pale blue or green!

3. Change your furniture arrangement. I don't believe there is any one formula that works for every room...some rooms will seem larger with the furniture against the walls, and some will seem large if you float the furniture out into the room. Experiment! If you don't want to spend a whole afternoon rearranging furniture (I know a good chiropractor!) then use graph paper to do it. Assign each square of the paper to 1 square foot. Draw in walls, traffic patterns, and other obstacle such as doors. Then cut out small pieces the size of each piece of furniture. Now you can use your furniture templates to move your furniture around on paper, to find the perfect fit for you, before you move a stick! Keep in mind, you still may want to make a change or two after you get it all into actual place. That's ok, us decorators change our minds too!

4. Remove all accessories that break up the space. This is the case where less is more. If two patterned pillows add the pizzazz you need, then don't add four. Use larger scale accessories instead of many smaller ones. And get rid of clutter! We tend to stop seeing the pile of magazines because we are used to them, try to look at the room with an objective eye. If your kitchen is small, don't store things on the counter, put them behind cupboard doors. Kids toys? Find inexpensive bins that can slide under the end tables, then cover with table cloths. If you don't love it or need it, get rid of it! (Don't keep an accessory out just because it fills space!)

5. This is the most underutilized tip for small rooms of all, but also one of the easiest! Keep all your windows and reflective surfaces sparkling clean! Don't believe me? Try it now, go clean that sliding glass door, then stand back. Looks bigger, doesn't it! Now do the same for the rest of the windows, tv screens, dishwasher fronts, glass over artwork and glass tabletops. The shiny clean surfaces both reflect light (which always brightens and enlarges a room) and creates a smooth surface for your eye to glide over, creating the illusion of more space! It works!

Five easy ways to enlarge the look of any room, and you can do it in an afternoon or a weekend!

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