Living large is something some people aspire to, but the reality is that many live in a home that’s a little smaller than they wish. Whether you’re in a tiny studio apartment or a three-bedroom house, interior designers have the knack for making any home feel and look bigger.
Step one is always to edit your possessions and get rid of unnecessary pieces, said Mary Maloney, founder of Bee’s Knees Interior Design Studio in Hopkinton.
After you eliminate clutter, try these 10 suggestions to make your home look larger:
■ Move your furniture away from the walls. It may seem counterintuitive since you want more usable floor space rather than less, but Kalah Talancy of KTII Design Group in Sudbury suggested, “Always leave some space in between your furniture and the walls of the room to create the feeling of a larger area overall.’’
■ Incorporate clever storage. Thoughtfully designed storage can improve the shape and function of interior spaces, especially in small spaces that can look “busy’’ very easily, suggested Eilyn Jimenez, founder and creative director of Sire Design in Miami. For example, Jimenez recommended a long, low storage cabinet along the living room wall that hides electric cords and can double as seating for guests.
■ Embrace multitasking. Maloney recommended installing a Murphy bed so your guest room can function as a home office. She also suggested buying a coffee table that includes storage, a desk that can function as a serving area when entertaining, and anything that provides more than one purpose in a tiny space.
■ Paint your home white. “The Bees love color, but if the goal is to make your space feel larger, white paint is a great option for small spaces,’’ Maloney said. “Benjamin Moore’s ‘White Dove’ is a favorite. It has a warm undertone, which will keep the space from feeling cold.’’ Maloney suggested painting the ceilings and trim the same shade of white.
■ Add character. While the white paint makes a room look bigger, you want to avoid a too-bland look. Jimenez suggested adding one or two small statement furnishings or accessories chosen for their timelessness. “There should be some continuity in color that connects at least one of the objects in the room with the room’s color scheme,’’ she said. “This mix-and-match look is about finding a balance between modern-minimalist design (think neutral wall and floor colors) and vintage finds to add interest to the potentially small space.’’
■ Keep lighting simple. Floor lamps are a good option that offer ambient and task lighting without taking up too much room, Maloney said. Talancy agreed: “Nothing can crowd a room quicker than an oversized chandelier or elaborate lighting fixture. When possible, use flush-mount recessed lighting or consider wall sconces to keep the ceiling area clear.’’
■ Choose floaty window treatments. Go for light and breezy fabrics on your windows, Maloney suggested, and keep drapes off the glass to let in more light. Talancy suggested hanging curtains as high as possible, almost up to the ceiling: “This will create a feeling of height and openness over your windows,’’ and gauzy linen curtains can almost disappear in a room.
■ Hang mirrors. Mirrors can visually trick the mind into thinking there is more space and openness in the room, Talancy said. Place mirrors opposite windows to increase natural light, hang them above a mantel or a sideboard, or prop a large floor mirror against the wall.
■ Add color with a focal point. Jimenez suggested incorporating color into a home with a focal point such as a sofa or a statement area rug. “Blending colored accents with more modern materials like marble can create beautiful juxtapositions of color and texture and make a space feel more open,’’ she said.
■ Add vertical patterns. Vertical stripes make everything look tall and skinny and draw the eye upward, Maloney said. A vertical focal point such as a painting with a linear subject, a chinoiserie panel, or a striped wing chair can make your room feel larger.
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