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Windows can be a strong tool in visually enlarging a small room because your eye moves beyond the wall to the outdoor view and embraces it as part of your living space. Take advantage of this liberating effect by leaving windows bare, or dress windows with draperies that match the color of the walls to eliminate boundaries and open the space. For privacy, install simple shades or blinds that can be pulled out of the way during the day.
If your house is too small to meet all your needs, gear spaces for double duty. A daybed anchors this living room by mimicking the look of a trendy, extra-deep designer sofa -- and scores space for guests to sleep. Look for a daybed with a solid back for all-day lounging support. Cap off the ends with a pair of bolster pillows to imitate the rolled arms of a sofa. Two small tables work together as a larger coffee table but move aside easily to give guests more space.
Small spaces are quickly overwhelmed by large or overstuffed furnishings. Choose neatly upholstered pieces with compact frames and slimmed-down, leggy pieces without skirted bottoms that allow you to see through them to the walls and floors.
It's an age-old decorating adage: light colors open up a room, while dark colors keep a space cozy. To give your room the illusion of spaciousness, bathe it in white. White surfaces bounce light around the room, keeping a small space feeling bright and open. In this narrow bathroom, white walls, a white bathtub, and an off-white vanity reflect light, giving the feeling of spaciousness. Dark tile floors ground the room. White grout lines break up the tile, ensuring the black tile doesn't weigh down the room.
Rather than using white walls as a backdrop for colorful accents, try the opposite effect. The green wall color here connects the room to the scenery and spaciousness outside, while white furnishings, white accessories, and white-painted architecture keep the room open and bright. A handful of green accents ties it all together.
Increase the apparent height of the room with vertical lines that lead the eye from floor to ceiling. A ceiling-skimming étagère draws the eye upward, making this living room feel more voluminous. For a similar effect, hang a collection of artwork on a wall that is arranged toward the ceiling. Add crown molding around the perimeter of a room, or add architectural molding on the ceiling and an intricate medallion around a light fixture to enhance the details overhead.
Hang a large mirror with a decorative frame (or prop it against a wall) to create the illusion of depth in a small room. Even small mirrors expand the sense of space by reflecting views and light, but an oversize mirror like this one has a dramatic effect because it reflects a large chunk of the room.
When it comes to small spaces, too many colors can be chaotic. Select a few and stick with them. In this living room, a cream background is accented with sky blue and rusty red. The colors add personality without overtaking the space, and the muted tones are far more subtle than fully pigmented hues, which also softens their impact.
When decorating a small room, let texture and color guide your fabric choices. Introducing too many patterns in tight quarters will create confusion. In this bedroom, a little bit of pattern on the bedding goes a long way. The patterns are subtle and small in scale, yet pop against the monochromatic blue palette.
Create a sense of movement and make a room feel larger by floating big furnishings away from walls. Allowing elbow room between the wall and seating pieces gives the impression of depth and space. In this open floor plan, the living room "floats" in the middle of the space, creating a distinct living area within the combination kitchen, living, and dining room.
Architectural focal points can make a small space feel choppy by causing the eye to stop and focus in on that area. By painting the brick fireplace white in this compact sitting area, the fireplace stopped distracting from the room and now the wall nearly disappears into the neighboring bank of windows. The cohesive color of the wall and architectural focal point blends with the primarily white furniture to make the area feel open and spacious.
Accessories make every room personable, but filling a small room to the brim will steal space visually. A handful of well-chosen and well-placed accessories is all it takes to give a small living room a layer of sophistication. To avoid a cluttered look, take advantage of natural display spots, such as the coffee table, end tables, and the fireplace, accenting them with a handful of thoughtful items. If you spread accessories throughout the room, keep the walls simple and quiet to focus attention on the objects. Likewise, if you want the eye to focus on the shapes and textures of accessories, keep their colors neutral or monochromatic.
A little something in the entry creates a welcoming focal point for guests, but when you're squeezed for space, keep it lightweight visually. Try a narrow console table. This provides a surface for some flowers and a place to deposit mail, keys, and a handbag when walking in the door. It also anchors the mirror and wall sconces, creating a well-balanced display that doesn't eat up too much space.
Keep a small room from getting extremely cramped when you entertain by outfitting it with smaller, portable pieces of furniture that can be rearranged. Here, a lightweight table with fold-down leaves can be expanded to accompany extra guests and can easily be folded up and scooted against the wall to be used as a console table.
Anything that stops the eye in its movement around the room can register as a boundary or border that limits space. Eliminate the obstacles, and you enhance the sense of limitlessness. A unifying color is one powerful means of banishing limits; glass is another. The glass top on this dining table virtually disappears, opening the eating area so it feels bigger. The transparent surface also allows the table's decorative base to shine without weighing down a room. Open-slat chairs further contribute to the airy feel and visual openness.
One oversize piece of art can create a strong focal point that actually opens a small space. To the contrary, multiple pieces scattered around the room make it feel cluttered and small. Here, an abstract painting starring red delivers a dramatic performance. The rest of the room remains neutral and subdued, giving the artwork a chance to shine.
Add round elements to a small, square room. Soft edges, instead of rigid corners, turns small into cozy. In this living space, curvy chairs and an oval-shape table lend a flowing, organic feel.
Visually expand a small room by wrapping the walls with wide horizontal stripes. In this bedroom, horizontally aligned boards achieve this effect without overpowering the room. The rough texture of the planks, installed with the unfinished side facing out, lends a light and airy washed finish to the soft wall color. You can achieve the same effect by painting horizontal stripes on plain walls. Use light colors to maintain a bright, open scheme and similar tones so the stripes are noticeable but don't visually break up the space.
Squeeze more function into small spaces with strategically selected pieces of furniture. A tall table designed for an entry hall or foyer supplies a slice of sophisticated storage in this cozy bath. The table's height and long legs play up the room's vertical dimension. The open space beneath both it and the console vanity contribute to the room's airiness.