Interior 9 Amazing Illusion Tricks To Make A Small Space Look Bigger
- August 16, 2022
- 12 min read
I recently saw this amazing illusion exhibit online.
It’s incredible isn’t it, just how these illusions can play tricks on your mind to make you perceive something totally different.
Some people may call it deceptive, but if done in the right way, it can actually make a huge difference.
It’s like how wearing shirts with vertical stripes can make you look taller, or how a black dress can give the illusion of making you seem thinner.
So using the same principle, we can make a small space in your home appear larger by employing some illusion “trickery” in your home.
We’ve collected a number of effective tricks that you can easily apply.
(Thankfully, none of them involves painting your walls with horizontal stripes)
Here are 10 things you can do to make your space look bigger:
1. Light colours
In the design world, colour choice is paramount. It can literally make or break any design.
As such, it’s only natural to give special attention to how colours can affect our perception of space. Sticking to any light-coloured paint for your walls can help reflect the light in the room, brightening up the space. It makes the room feel more open and airy.
White is the obvious colour choice, and it goes well with whatever existing decor you have in your house or with most interior styles.
But you don’t have to limit yourself to only stark and pure white paints.
Going with neutral colours, such as light grey or beige, can also allow you to exercise some form of creativity while sticking to the goal of making the space feel more spacious.
Here are a few examples.
- Bright pink can add cheerfulness to the room. It’s also considered the ultimate feminine tone.
- Light cool grey can have the same reflective quality as white, but it also makes you perceive the room as cooler.
- If you want to add warmth to a room, you can also go with light taupe or other light beige shades.
It’s not just about the colour, but where you paint it to help frame the view. Here’s a look at how painting different sections (or all of it) can drastically change the way you perceive the space as well.
2. Lights Pointing Up To Draw Eyes Upwards
Ever wonder why hospitals only opt for white lights? For one, humans correlate an all-white interior as one that is clean and hygienic. Besides, bright white light can also help hospital staff feel more alert and energetic.
Likewise, lights can play a crucial way in how a space looks.
A technique known as uplighting can help create an illusion that your low ceilings are higher. And in case you have high ceilings, it can emphasise this further.
What this approach does is create a vertical path for your eyes to follow. It takes off the attention from your room’s actual width and redirects it to the illusion of height your lights are creating.
If you prefer using sconces or wall lights, simply placing them higher than their usual height can help with this upward visual redirection.
Lighting can also effectively expand the room’s depth. Backlighting is all about adding lights at the back of furniture on the wall, making the wall appear farther. Fortunately, this is relatively easy to implement with LED light strips.
3. Use Glass To Make The Space Visually Bigger
Walls or furniture made of glass can make boundaries seem invisible and significantly lessen the clutter.
We’ve seen how well this can be implemented in one of our featured reno journeys, the NYC loft style. Here the homeowner made use of glass walls for one of their rooms to create the illusion of a bigger space. Furthermore, it also helped to brighten up their hallway and living area since it allowed the natural light to flow through.
Naturally, this depends on how flexible your floor plan is. HDBs are usually easy, as most of the time you can hack down the walls to create this. Condos are where it gets tricky as it depends on if the walls are load-bearing or not.
So if you’re faced with an inflexible layout, you can also take a look at changing up the furniture pieces.
Furniture pieces made of glass or lucite can create a see-through effect which helps extend the field of view. For instance, this minimalist glass table from Ultra Modern opens up the space to a great degree.
For sure, it may be more difficult to upkeep (cleaning will be a nightmare), and perhaps neither is it the most kid-friendly (they like to throw stuff). But it can definitely play a big role in making the space feel less cluttered – and as a result, more spacious as well.
Likewise, bookcases with a glass front can help reduce visual clutter, as books behind these glass panels look more organised. And that goes for anything else behind the panel.
4. Smaller Furniture
One of the biggest culprits of making a small space feel even smaller is oversized furniture.
We’ve said this many times in our condo reviews, but when the space is small, being stringent on the size of the furniture is super important.
Any room packed with large furniture can make the space look smaller than it’s supposed to be. It’s the same thing if you fill the room with lots of small knick-knacks. They could end up looking like clutter and make the room feel claustrophobic. It’s the reason why one of the biggest changes that you can make to staging your house for sale is to declutter it.
Unless you’re going full minimalist, having a space-challenged area doesn’t mean you can’t add decor or pieces of furniture. The rule of thumb is to always leave some space for the room to “breathe.” And you can easily achieve this if you go with smaller furniture.
For instance, a large sofa with lots of throw pillows can feel very cosy and can accommodate a lot of guests. However, if it occupies too large an area, it can make the room appear smaller.
It’ll be better to look for a smaller sofa (one with less backing for example). You can take the leaf out of the book of show flat interiors as well, where they go for more svelte options.
Of course, form may triumph over function here, but it can do wonders to help ensure the space doesn’t feel so constrained.
Almost every homeowner knows that mirrors can help create the illusion of making a space look larger. However, there are specific techniques to follow in adding a mirror to a small area.
Tall mirrors not only help create an illusion of small space but also helps to draw the eyes upward. But you can’t just lean it against a wall if the room is small. In this case, it’s better to hang it so as not to take away valuable space on the floor.
Aside from doubling the amount of visual space, a large mirror can help reduce shadows. A hallway is a good candidate since it’s usually dimmer than the other parts of the house. Try to hang mirrored panels that reflect light from other areas of the home to help brighten it up.
Your options are not limited to mirrors only. Furniture pieces made of glossy materials or having the same reflective surfaces can also create a similar effect. For instance, this HAY slit side table is crafted can help reflect the light in a room.
6. Enhance The Visible Floor Space
It’s simple when it comes to floors. The more floor area you can show, the bigger the space may appear.
Expanding your visible floor space means more area to move. And with more room to move around in, you’re subconsciously instilling that the space is big.
You can do this simply by pushing your cabinets and other furniture pieces to the wall. Also, going for built-in shelving can do wonders in freeing up your floor space. In the bedroom where flooring is usually limited, you can try to move your shelving around your bed to help free up the floor.
So how about rugs?
The rule of thumb for smaller rooms is to always make sure to leave some space around the rug. This will help make the room appear larger. Having a rug almost the same size as the room is a big no-no.
7. Drapes From The Floor To The Ceiling
Here’s another trick. Floor-to-ceiling curtains can create an illusion of height.
A room with a low ceiling can considerably benefit from this technique. By attaching the rail close to the ceiling, you are actually tricking the eye into thinking that your room’s wall is bigger. It’s pretty much the same notion as wearing vertical or horizontal striped shirts to make you look either thinner or wider.
The size of your windows doesn’t really matter, as the eyes will tend to focus more on the drapes of the curtain.
Implementing this is as easy as placing the curtain rod high above the window. And if you want to enhance this trick further, you can even choose light-coloured drapes or those with long, vertical stripes design.
Usually, you’d want to use lightweight fabrics only because thick, heavy curtains will absorb the light coming through the window. But if you really have to use a heavy fabric for your drapes, you can still achieve the same visual illusion as in the image below.
To get a similar effect as above, you just need a curtain rod that extends farther than the width of your window. Leave the drapes pulled to the side so as not to block the light flooding into the room. Not only will you be visually enlarging the space, but you will also create an elegant-looking effect.
8. Keep a lower profile
Here’s another favourite show flat “trick” in Singapore, keeping the furniture pieces as low as possible.
Low-profile furniture pieces are those that sit closer to the floor, thereby allowing you to have more vertical space.
Keep in mind, though, that to maximise the effect of this illusion trick, you also need to create the same openness underneath the furniture. To do this, choose pieces that have legs so that both light and air can flow even under them.
9. Try Multi-Purpose Coffee Tables And Ottomans
Okay, I have to admit, this last one isn’t actually an illusion trick – but rather one of a more practical nature.
Smaller homes are a trend that is happening not just in Singapore, but all over the world in cosmopolitan cities as well. As a result, designers are starting to think of furniture that doesn’t just fulfill one purpose, but is smartly designed to be able to be multi-functional as well.
For example, there are pieces such as a multi-purpose ottoman or compact coffee table with added functionality.
Quite often in smaller new launch condos, you might decide to do away with a coffee table altogether.
But if you look more in-depth, there are solutions that could possibly work for you.
Take this coffee table that has in-built mahjong storage as well. Now, you don’t need to have a separate mahjong table stowed away (even if it is foldable).
You can never go wrong with your choices as long as you remember this philosophy. Your furniture should always have several purposes — a bed with storage underneath or a window seat that doubles as storage. Well, you get the idea.
Spruce Up Your Small Room With These Illusion Tricks
I know it’s a common complaint in Singapore today: homes are just getting smaller and smaller.
While we are thankfully not at the same level of micro as some Hong Kong homes are (there are rules in place for that still), it isn’t something that will ever get better either. We just have to live with it.
But having a smaller space is not that bad, really.
It takes less effort to decorate (cheaper too), is faster to organise, and even makes cleaning easier. That said, no matter how hard we try to convince ourselves, our sense of sight takes precedence over all else.
This isn’t surprising, though, since humans are visual creatures.
Ultimately, hacking walls to make a space bigger is not always an option, especially for those who are not planning to go through a full reno journey. And even if you’re planning to push through with this, you can only hack so many walls.
When you can’t physically make a space in your home bigger, you can opt for these illusion tricks instead. Perception plays a big part in our day-to-day lives. Remember that if a space looks big, regardless of the actual measurement, it feels big.