How to make a room look larger

(March 03, 2012, posted in Decorating Tips)

Recently, I had an Open House where, although the house itself was large, there were several small rooms. Some visitors shook their heads at this, voicing that they would have no idea how to entertain (or sleep) in such a small area.

I would love to have shown that house fully decorated, demonstrating just what can be done to make a small room appear larger.

So over to my wife, who has had more than a little  experience in this area...

First up is to let one's imagination fly and not feel mentally confined by what appears to be a very small space. Contrary to what many people believe, properly-scaled furniture and rugs will make a small room appear larger, not smaller.

Once you have let go of the notion that a room is too small, it's time to reflect - literally - with the use of a mirror. Take a look at the dinette in the photo. Without that mirror, the space would indeed appear small and confined, but the well placed mirror both doubles the "visual size" of the room, and reflects light from the window. This gives a spacious, airy feel to the area - not at all confining. In bedrooms, use mirrored closet doors, and in tiny bathrooms, a mirrored wall, to expand the room's space.

Next, and again demonstrated in the image above, is the use of a light paint colour to "push" the walls outwards and also reflect light. If you have mouldings or trims, paint them lighter than the walls. This will have the effect of making the walls appear slightly darker and therefore further away.  Today's lighter colours are fabulous and multi-hued to play up the next point, use of tone-on-tone.

Notice how everything in this dinette is either dark walnut or rich vanilla in colour? Even the flowers are cream-coloured. Using similar tones within the same colour family will fool the eye into seeing the room as less detailed and therefore more spacious. If neutrals aren't your thing, try a "white" paint with a pink, green or blue hue, and use a similar tone for chair coverings, bed covers or table linens. We were particularly impressed with a recent home we visited where the designer had used a white paint tinted with lime, and light lime table linens. The centrepiece was of green linden flowers and immature hydrangea heads. The mirrored wall reflected the seven silver candlesticks on the table, each with a lime-coloured candle: Just stunning! We saw it during the day and could only imagine how beautiful it would have been at night, with the candlelight reflecting in the mirror.

Back to furniture. If you have a small room to decorate, you might have to invest in new furniture, despite the use of mirrors and lighter paint colours. A king-sized bed in a small bedroom is never a good idea. In small living rooms and dining rooms, consider "apartment size" furniture, which will allow more space for walking around as well as make the room appear larger. (In Westerns, the movie industry makes the door that a woman exits from, larger than one the male lead exists from - even if it's the same door - because it makes her look tiny and feminine. The opposite of course applies!)

Arranging your furniture at an angle is also a good way to fool the eye into thinking a room is larger, since diagonal lines lead the eye along the longest lines of a room - the diagonals.

Blair Gauer, REALTOR®, specializes in high quality homes in West and North Vancouver, and Vancouver's West Side.

Call me for: West Vancouver Real Estate, North Vancouver Real Estate, Whistler Real Estate, Squamish Real Estate and Vancouver West Side Real Estate.

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