Interior designers employ many visual tricks to make small space seem much larger. Here are a few techniques that  my professional peers and I often use that work really well to seemingly add more volume and height and bring out the best in your space:

Choose correctly-scaled furniture – Keep in mind that if you live in an average-sized (2,400 sqft or more) house and decide to downsize, you will most likely need to buy smaller-scaled furniture. There’s nothing worse than seeing too-large furniture shoehorned in a too-small space. Not only will it make your home look more cramped, it will be hard to move around. Call in a professional to measure your space and to tell you exactly how big you can go.

Go with low-slung furniture – To make your space seem bigger, you’ll need to maximize the space between the top edges of your furniture and your ceiling. This means buying sofas, side (or accent) chairs and dining chairs with low backs, or 30” – 31” inches from the floor to the top edge of your sofa or chair back. Most modern furniture are designed with low backs so your best option is to shop at a contemporary furniture store. The only downside to low-slung furniture is that you’ll have to slouch in order to rest your head comfortably as the chair (or sofa) backs are lower than usual.

Hang your art lower – It is generally recommended to hang art at eye level (about 60” from the center of the artwork to the floor). To make your ceiling seem higher than it really is, try hanging your art a little lower than eye level (roughly 40” from the center of the artwork to the floor) . For this to work you will have to buy smaller pieces (e.g. 12” L x 12” W for example) as opposed to much larger works of art (e.g. 36” L x 36” W or 48” L x 48” W) and the top edge of your sofa should be no higher than 32” inches from the floor. You can then position the bottom edge of your artwork 5 or 6 inches away from the top edge of your sofa. Most people actually hang their art too high. If in doubt, ask for an interior designer professional’s opinion.

Raise your existing ceilings (if possible) or buy a home with high ceilings – A small space doesn’t have to feel small provided you have very high ceilings (10 feet high or more). A lot of older heritage buildings or warehouse spaces that have been subdivided into loft spaces typically lend this feeling of spaciousness due to their high ceilings. Most new buildings these days have much lower (8-foot high) ceilings, with 9 feet being considered being generous nowadays. In general a home can feel more spacious if it has more height than width, even with a smaller square footage. If you are still shopping for a home, consider a space with high ceilings to avoid the feeling of claustrophobia. Do keep in mind that if your home has a higher ceiling you’ll end up with a higher energy bill, too.

Pick lighter colors – Lighter colors open up a room and make it feel more spacious. Darker colors make your walls feel closer than where they are and tend to create highly visible barriers, thereby contributing to that feeling of being “boxed in”. Personally, I find white walls a bit too sterile-looking and even a bit drab. Color is good for lifting people’s spirits so a medium to light shade of mocha or sage is ideal to add some life to your space and not make you feel too hemmed in. Generally, the rule for colors is: (1) floors are the darkest (2) walls are a medium color (3) ceilings are the lightest, which is why they’re usually painted white. You can use dark colors as accents to make it more interesting visually.


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