The #1 Thing Interior Designers Do to Make a Small Space Feel Larger

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Kelsey Clark

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Published on July 19, 2022

We’re firm believers that small spaces can still pack an impressive design punch. What a suffocating studio apartment lacks in square footage can be made up for 10-times over in style, texture, and personality. If anything, our designers see a tiny one-bedroom or a tight living space as a welcome design challenge, as opposed to a tedious hindrance.

With that said, it certainly helps that we have more than a few small space design tricks up our collective sleeve. But before we dive into our list, let’s start with the number-one small space design tips we always utilize, no matter the space:

Our #1 Way to Make a Small Space Feel Larger: Go Vertical

small space with floor to ceiling bookcase

This is a tried-and-true design trick that team Havenly and interior designers at large swear by: when in doubt, draw the eye up! What a small space lacks in horizontal square footage you can make up for in a creative vertical play.

From floor-to-ceiling book shelves and statement lighting to museum-worthy gallery walls, going up elongates the room, adds extra storage, and makes the most of the space at your disposal. Even a well-placed hanging plant can encourage guests to scan the entire room, not just the measly 200 square feet at eye-level.

Keep reading for additional small space design tips courtesy of our designers:

Tip #2: Don't Hug the Walls

float furniture off of walls in small space

While it may seem intuitive to line the walls with furniture to leave as much open space as possible, doing so can often have the opposite effect. Instead, float furniture off the walls to optimize flow. For example, pull an accent chair away from the wall, angle it in a corner, and add a side table to create a more dynamic, interesting room layout that promotes conversation.

Tip #3: Go Big or Go Home

bright living room with leather sofa, modern desk, and gold velvet curtains

A small space littered with small, decorative pieces of furniture can easily feel cluttered and cramped. Instead, stick with larger, more important pieces, like a comfy sectional and upholstered armchair, to make the space feel more defined and put together. This approach grounds the space and makes better use of the limited square footage.

Tip #4: Embrace Mirrors

small living room with blue velvet sofa and burlwood coffee table

Like our number-one small space decorating hack, embracing mirrors to reflect light and create the illusion of more space is a tried-and-true designer tip. Add large mirrors where appropriate and ideally, place them across from windows to reflect natural light and brighten up the space.

Tip #5: Invest in Proper Curtains

apartment living room with gray sectional and modern curtains

Nothing makes a small space feel even more like an afterthought than neglected window treatments (or worse, none at all). If anything, we’d argue that this is where you should splurge when decorating a small home or apartment. Invest in a thick, quality pair of floor-to-ceiling curtains, hang them high and wide to create the illusion of larger windows, and, if you’re dealing with a narrow layout, consider expanding them the entire width of the room. Trust us: proper window treatments will make a small space feel larger and more complete.

Looking for a way to overcome your unique home dilemmas? Work one-on-one with our expert interior designers for just $129 per room. Get started today with our style quiz.

Words by Kelsey Clark