How to Use Color to Make Small Spaces Feel Larger

Photo of author

When it comes to decorating small spaces, the options can be overwhelming. How do you choose the right colors, patterns and finishes to make a room appear larger? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll guide you through using color to create the illusion of more space. From selecting the right paint finishes to playing with optical illusions, these tips and tricks will help you make the most out of your cozy quarters. So, let’s dive in!

Choose the Right Colors

Choose The Right Colors
Choosing the right colors for a small space can be a daunting task. The right colors can create an illusion of a larger space, while the wrong colors can make the space feel cramped and cluttered. It is essential to consider a few things before painting or decorating a small area. Using light colors can brighten up a space and make it appear larger, while dark colors can create contrast and depth. Another option is to play with monochromatic color schemes which can add dimension without overwhelming the room. To learn more about how to choose the right color scheme, check out our article on home color scheme tips.

Use Light Colors

Using light colors is one of the most effective ways to make a small space appear larger than it actually is. Light colors have the ability to reflect natural light and create an illusion of more space. When selecting colors for your small space, consider using light shades of your favorite colors. Pale shades of blue, green, yellow, and pink are great options for making a room feel brighter and more spacious.

In addition to using light colors on the walls, consider using these shades on the ceiling, doors, and trim. By extending the light color scheme throughout the room, you can create a sense of cohesiveness that makes the space feel more expansive.

Pro Tip: When selecting light colors for your small space, be mindful of undertones. Selecting a color with a cooler undertone (like blue or green) will make the room feel more open and airy, while a warmer undertone (like yellow or orange) may make the room feel cramped.

As an added bonus, light colors can also impact your mood and overall well-being. For instance, blues and greens are known for their calming effects, while yellows and pinks can have an energizing effect. To learn more about the psychology of color and how it can impact your mood, check out our article on psychology of colors.

Incorporating light colors into your small space is an easy and effective way to make it feel more spacious and inviting. If you need help choosing the perfect shades for your space, check out our article on choosing color families for your rooms.

Contrast with Dark Colors

Using contrasting colors can also be an effective strategy when trying to make small spaces appear larger. When paired with light colors, dark tones can draw the eye away from the limited floor space and create a sense of depth within the room.

Here are some tips for using contrasts in small spaces:

  • Pair a dark accent wall with lighter surrounding walls to create a focal point.
  • Use dark furniture pieces against light walls to create depth and dimension.
  • Try using a dark rug or artwork against a light floor to make the floor appear farther away.
  • Use contrasting accessories, such as throw pillows or curtains, to bring depth to a room without committing to a larger design element.

It’s important to find the right balance between light and dark color usage to avoid overwhelming the small space. Using a color wheel can be helpful when selecting contrasts that will complement the existing color scheme. For more tips on using accent colors in small spaces, check out our accent color tips article. Additionally, it’s a good idea to stay up-to-date on popular color trends for home interiors, like the use of bold jewel-toned hues or airy pastels, to spark inspiration for your small space design. Remember, using contrast is just one piece of the puzzle in creating the perfect color flow throughout your home – read our article on creating perfect color flow for more ideas.

Try Monochromatic Color Schemes

One effective way to manipulate color and make a small space feel larger is to utilize monochromatic color schemes. This involves using different shades and tints of a single color throughout the space. By sticking with one color, you create a cohesive and uninterrupted visual flow.

Here are some tips to effectively use a monochromatic color scheme:

  • Choose a light color: Stick to a lighter hue to help reflect light and create the illusion of more space.
  • Add variety: Use different shades and tints of the same color to add depth and interest without overwhelming the room.
  • Incorporate texture: Use different textures and finishes to add dimension to your monochromatic scheme. For example, you could use a matte wall paint paired with a glossy accent piece.

When done correctly, a monochromatic color scheme can make a small room appear larger and more spacious. It is a simple yet effective way to add depth to a small space without overwhelming the space with contrasting colors.

Play with Patterns

Play With Patterns
Adding patterns to a small space can be a nerve-wracking decision, but when done correctly, it can be transformative. With the right patterns and placement, you can create a larger and more dynamic feel in a small room. Here are some tips on how to play with patterns and get the most out of your small space.

Use Vertical Stripes

When it comes to making a small space appear larger, vertical stripes can be your best friend. Vertical stripes are known for creating the illusion of height, which can make a room feel more spacious. There are several ways to incorporate vertical stripes into your décor.

Option 1: Paint a statement wall with vertical stripes.
Option 2: Use a striped wallpaper on a single wall.
Option 3: Choose furniture, such as a striped rug or curtains, with vertical stripes.

Regardless of how you incorporate vertical stripes into your design, be mindful of the size and spacing of the stripes. Narrow stripes that are close together can create a busy, cramped feel, while wider stripes with more space between them can create a more open, airy atmosphere. Additionally, choose stripes that are in proportion to the size of the room – smaller stripes may get lost in larger rooms, while larger stripes may overwhelm a small space.

Overall, vertical stripes are a great way to add visual interest and make a small space appear larger. Just be sure to choose your stripes wisely and use them in moderation for the best results.

Avoid Busy Patterns

When it comes to using patterns in small spaces, it’s important to keep things simple. Busy patterns can make a space feel cluttered and overwhelming. Here are some tips to avoid busy patterns:

  • Choose Simple Designs: Stick to patterns with simple, clean lines instead of intricate designs or busy prints.
  • Avoid Large-Scale Patterns: Large-scale patterns can overpower a small space, so it’s best to stick to smaller scale designs.
  • Limit the Number of Patterns: Using too many patterns in one space can create a chaotic and overwhelming effect. Stick to one or two patterns in a room.
  • Stick to Neutral Colors: Using neutral colors for patterns can help them blend in seamlessly with the rest of the room.

By following these guidelines, it’s possible to incorporate patterns into a small space without creating a cluttered or overwhelming look. Remember to keep things simple, limit the number of patterns and stick to neutral colors to create a cohesive and visually appealing space.

Select the Right Paint Finish

Select The Right Paint Finish
Choosing the perfect color for a small room can make a big difference, but it’s not the only factor to consider. The paint finish you choose can also have a significant impact on how spacious a room feels. The right paint finish will not only make your walls look great but also make the room look larger. However, there are several options available when it comes to paint finishes, making the decision overwhelming. Let us guide you on how to select the right paint finish for your small space.

Choose Glossy Finishes

When it comes to choosing paint finishes for small spaces, opting for a glossy finish can make a big difference. Glossy finishes reflect light, which can make rooms look brighter and more spacious. However, it’s important to keep in mind that glossy finishes can also highlight imperfections on walls or surfaces, so it’s important to properly prep the area before applying any paint.

Here is a table summarizing the benefits and drawbacks of using glossy finishes in small spaces:

Pros Cons
Reflects light: Glossy finishes can make rooms look brighter and more spacious by reflecting light. Highlights imperfections: Glossy finishes can also highlight any imperfections on walls or surfaces, making them more noticeable.
Easy to clean: Glossy finishes can be easier to clean than matte finishes, as they don’t absorb dirt and grime as easily. Can be more expensive: Glossy finishes can be more expensive than other finishes, so they may not be the best choice for those on a tight budget.
Provides a professional look: Glossy finishes can give off a sleek and modern look, which can be perfect for smaller rooms that need a touch of sophistication. Takes longer to dry: Glossy finishes tend to take longer to dry than other finishes, so it’s important to plan accordingly to avoid any accidental smudges or marks.

Choosing a glossy finish can be a great choice for making small spaces appear larger, as long as the proper preparation and paint application is taken into consideration. Whether you’re painting a small bathroom or a cramped living room, a glossy finish can help create the illusion of more space, while also providing a sleek and modern look.

Avoid Matte Finishes

When it comes to choosing the right paint finish for small spaces, it’s important to avoid matte finishes. While matte finishes can give a sophisticated and elegant look to a larger room, they can make a small space feel more closed in and cramped. Here are some reasons why avoiding matte finishes is essential for enhancing small spaces:

1. They absorb light: Matte finishes tend to absorb light rather than reflect it, which can create a dull, lifeless effect in a small space. This is because they have a rough surface that scatters light, making it difficult for light to bounce off the walls and fill the room.

2. They show imperfections: Matte finishes have a flat appearance that can highlight imperfections on your walls, such as bumps, cracks, and other blemishes. This can draw attention to areas of the room that you would rather not emphasize, making the space appear smaller and more cluttered.

3. They are difficult to clean: Matte finishes are notoriously difficult to clean, which can be problematic in small spaces that are prone to collecting dirt and dust. This is because they don’t have a shiny surface that allows dirt and grime to be wiped away easily.

To avoid these issues, it’s best to opt for glossy or semi-glossy finishes that reflect light and create a more open and airy feeling in small spaces. These finishes also tend to be more durable and easier to clean, making them a practical choice for busy households. So, next time you’re selecting paint for a small room, think twice before choosing a matte finish and consider the benefits of using a glossy finish instead.

Maximize Natural Light

Maximize Natural Light
One of the simplest ways to make any room appear larger is to maximize natural light. However, it can be perplexing to figure out how best to do this. From choosing the right curtains to implementing strategic color schemes, there are many factors to consider. But by following these helpful tips, you can effectively bring more natural light into your space, and make it feel bright and spacious.

Use Sheer Curtains

When it comes to maximizing natural light in small spaces, using sheer curtains can be hugely beneficial. Sheer curtains allow natural light to filter in while still providing privacy. Here are some important things to keep in mind when using sheer curtains:

  • Choose Light Colors: Opt for light-colored sheer curtains to allow as much natural light as possible to pass through.
  • Avoid Busy Patterns: Busy patterns on sheer curtains can compete with other elements in a small space, making the room feel even more cramped.
  • Hang Curtains High: Hanging curtains closer to the ceiling can create the illusion of larger windows and higher ceilings.
  • Use Floor-Length Curtains: Floor-length curtains can also help give the illusion of higher ceilings and a larger space.

By choosing the right sheer curtains and hanging them strategically, you can create a bright and airy atmosphere that makes a small space feel more spacious.

Avoid Heavy Drapes

Heavy drapes can make a small space feel even more cramped and closed off. Instead, opt for lighter window treatments that allow natural light to flow into the room. Consider sheer curtains, which can add a touch of elegance while still allowing light to filter through. Heavy drapes can also be difficult to clean and maintain, so choosing lighter options can save time and effort. If you do prefer a heavier look, consider using them in moderation, such as as an accent piece rather than covering the entire window. Another option is to use blinds or shades that can easily be adjusted to control the amount of light that enters the room. This will help create a sense of openness and airiness, making your small space feel larger and more inviting.

Use Optical Illusions

When it comes to making small spaces appear larger, sometimes using color and patterns just isn’t enough. This is where optical illusions come into play, by creating visual tricks that fool the eye and create the perception of more space. Using a combination of color, texture, and reflective surfaces, you can make your tiny room feel much bigger than it really is. Let’s explore some clever optical illusion techniques that designers use to make small spaces appear larger!

Paint the Ceiling

One clever way to use color to make a small space appear larger is to paint the ceiling. Many people overlook this aspect of the room, but it can have a significant impact on the overall look and feel. To make the ceiling appear higher and the room more spacious, consider using the following tips:

Tip #1: Paint the ceiling a lighter color than the walls. This will create the illusion of height and open up the space.
Tip #2: Avoid painting the ceiling a dark color, as this will make the room feel smaller and more enclosed.
Tip #3: To give the room a cohesive look, consider painting the ceiling the same color as the walls. This will make the room feel more like a single, open space.
Tip #4: You can also use different shades of the same color for the walls and ceiling to create a monochromatic look. This can be especially effective in smaller spaces.

By using these tips, you can transform the look and feel of a small room simply by painting the ceiling. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different colors and finishes to find the perfect combination for your space.

Match Wall and Floor Colors

Matching the colors of the walls and flooring can be an effective way to make a small space appear larger. When the colors of the walls and floor blend seamlessly, the room appears to have more space. This is because there is no jarring contrast between the surfaces that would draw the eye and create an impression of division.

For example, a light-colored floor paired with equally light walls creates a sense of spaciousness. When the eye moves from the floor to the wall, it moves seamlessly without any jarring visual interruption. In contrast, if the floor was dark and the walls light, there would be an abrupt visual transition that would make the space feel smaller.

Here’s a table showing some ideal wall and flooring color combinations:

Wall Color Floor Color
Pale blue Light grey
Soft green Beige
Off-white Dark grey
Grey mist White oak
Warm beige Honey-colored hardwood

When choosing colors for your walls and flooring, remember to take into consideration the amount of natural light that enters the room. A room with plenty of natural light can handle dark walls and floors better, while a room with limited natural light is better suited for light colors. Also, don’t forget to take into consideration the other design elements in the room, like furniture, fabrics, and artwork, when choosing your colors. By carefully considering all these factors, you can make your small space look larger and more inviting.

Use Mirrors to Reflect Light

When it comes to creating an optical illusion to make small spaces appear larger, mirrors can be your best friend. Mirrors can reflect natural and artificial light, which makes the room look brighter and airier. Here are some ways to use mirrors to reflect light effectively:

  • Hang Mirrors Strategically: Placing large mirrors strategically on a wall opposite of a window can reflect natural light into the room. Additionally, you can hang a mirror above a mantel or piece of furniture that is opposite a window to further reflect light into the space.
  • Group Mirrors Together: Instead of hanging one large mirror, group several smaller mirrors together to create a statement piece on the wall. This not only reflects light, but also adds visual interest to the room.
  • Use Mirrored Furniture: Mirrored furniture or accessories like coffee tables, dressers, or lamps, can reflect light around the space. The light bounces off these surfaces and creates the illusion of more open space.
  • Create a Mirrored Wall: If you really want to make a statement, consider creating a mirrored wall. Use mirrored tiles or panels on a wall to reflect light and make the room appear larger. However, use this approach carefully to avoid overdoing it with the reflective surfaces.

When using mirrors to reflect light, be mindful of the placement to avoid reflecting cluttered or unattractive areas. Additionally, be sure to clean smudges and dirt off of mirrors regularly to maintain the reflective quality.


In conclusion, utilizing the right colors, patterns, paint finishes, natural light, and optical illusions can all work together to make small spaces appear larger. By choosing light colors and contrasting them with darker shades, you can create the illusion of depth and space. Monochromatic color schemes can also work well in small spaces, creating a cohesive and open feel.

Patterns can add dimension to a space, but it’s important to use vertical stripes and avoid busy patterns that can overwhelm. Choosing the right paint finish is also crucial, as glossy finishes can reflect light and give the illusion of space, while matte finishes can absorb light and make a space feel smaller.

Maximizing natural light is also a key factor in making small spaces appear larger. Using sheer curtains to allow light to filter through and avoiding heavy drapes that can block light can open up a space and make it feel brighter.

Lastly, utilizing optical illusions such as painting the ceiling, matching wall and floor colors, and using mirrors to reflect light can all contribute to making a small space appear larger than it actually is.

In conclusion, with the right techniques and design choices, small spaces can feel open and airy, even with limited square footage. By utilizing color, patterns, natural light, and optical illusions, a small space can become an inviting and comfortable living area.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some tips for using color in small spaces?

Using light colors, contrasting with dark colors, and trying monochromatic color schemes are all great ways to make small spaces appear larger.

What type of paint finish is best for small spaces?

Glossy finishes reflect light and create a sense of depth, making them the best choice for smaller spaces.

What types of patterns should be avoided in small spaces?

Busy patterns can make small spaces feel overwhelming and cluttered. Stick to simple, vertical stripes instead.

How can natural light be maximized in small spaces?

Using sheer curtains and avoiding heavy drapes can help to maximize natural light in small spaces.

Why is it important to use optical illusions in small spaces?

Optical illusions can help to make small spaces appear larger and more open by tricking the eye into seeing depth and dimension.

Should the ceiling be painted a different color than the walls in small spaces?

Painting the ceiling the same color as the walls can create a continuous flow of color and make small spaces feel larger.

What is the benefit of using monochromatic color schemes in small spaces?

Monochromatic color schemes create a sense of continuity and flow, which can make small spaces feel more spacious.

What should be done to avoid overwhelming small spaces with too much color?

Stick to a neutral color palette and use pops of color sparingly to avoid overwhelming small spaces with too much color.

Should curtains match the wall color in small spaces?

Matching curtains to the wall color can create a seamless, elongated look that makes small spaces feel larger.

Why are mirrors an effective tool for small spaces?

Using mirrors can reflect light and create the illusion of more space, making them an effective tool for small spaces.


Leave a Comment