7 interior designer secrets to make your living space feel bigger


Summer 2020 looks a bit different. Many of us are working from home, others are hosting virtual play dates and some are turning their backyard into a beautiful oasis, but there’s one common thread: Mamas are spending more time at home than ever before.

Refreshing your space for summer to make it more kid-friendly and give you more space (even if it’s just an optical illusion) is the one way to get through a summer spent mostly at home. But don’t get overwhelmed feeling like you have to tackle your entire home in one sitting. Take a deep breath and choose one room—or backyard area—at a time.

Here are 7 proven ways to to make your space look bigger today:

1. Pull your furniture off the wall.

While it seems like pushing all of your furniture against the wall is the best way to create a big, open feel, you can actually make the space feel bigger by creating multiple zones within a large, open space.

By simply rearranging the room and pulling the sofa away from the wall, the back of the room can become a completely different area that enables additional ways to use the space.

In a small space, pull your sofa 8 to 12 inches from the wall. If you have the space, try adding a console table between the wall and the sofa and leverage that area for decorative accents. If you’re working with a larger space, try a few additional feet. Add a bookshelf, a desk or a workstation behind the sofa.

2. Hang your curtains long and high.

Create the illusion of higher ceilings by hanging your curtains high above the windows, closer to the ceiling. If your ceilings are 12 inches or fewer from the top of your windows, hang your curtains just below the ceiling or crown molding. The illusion of higher ceilings makes your room feel a bit larger and less cramped as it draws the eyes up.

3. Use a large rug to anchor your living room furniture.

For the average living room, which is around 12 feet by 18 feet, a 5′ by 7′ rug will shrink the space because it feels so small compared to the floorplan. By adding an 8′ by 10′ or even a 9 by 12′ rug’ in a space this size, it fills up the visual space of the room.

Don’t be afraid to layer a larger, neutral rug under your small rug to create a more substantial feel for the space. When all of the furniture can sit fully on the rug, or all pieces can sit with the front two legs on the rug, your living area seems larger.

4. Declutter your space.

One of the best ways to make your space feel larger, more open and brighter is to get rid of clutter. This is the fastest and easiest way to make your space feel larger, and is usually the first step that a stager suggests when it’s time to put your house on the market.

Remove of any piles on the floor and edit out the decor throughout the room. A good way to do this is to first edit out all of the noise or items you can toss. Do you have piles of mail or magazines that could be shelved or thrown away? Next, assess your decorative objects. If it’s hard to see table surfaces because they’re filled with decor, you may want to cut back on what’s on display.

If you have a lot of furniture in one room, remove one or two pieces that are of little value to you to allow more breathing room in the space. It sounds hard, but it’s not. Take a critical eye to your decorative objects and single out the ones that you love versus the ones that feel like filler. If everything has sentimental value or you can’t imagine parting with it, choose a few pieces to box up or place in a different room, and in a few months swap those out with the ones you kept on display.

5. Tap into the power of a good mirror + lighting.

Using mirrors to create spaces that feel larger is one of the oldest tricks in the decorating book. Mirrors allow more light to be reflected in the room, which creates a brighter more open feel. They also create a visual illusion of more space breaking up a flat wall and introducing depth of field, which can trick the eye into feeling like the room is bigger.

Try hanging a mirror above your sofa to reflect light and make the space feel larger. You can also hang mirrors above console tables, bar carts or on small walls where you’d like to add a decorative accent without introducing a new color or pattern.

Brighter spaces feel more open and can appear larger to the eye, but you don’t need to rely only on overhead lighting to provide light for a space. Try a floor lamp in a dark corner or a table lamp on a bar or buffet to brighten the room and eliminate dark corners that might make the room feel cramped.

6. Keep it small.

Choose an expandable table that can grow in the space. It should be a perfect fit at its smallest setting—this will allow you to expand the table when necessary, getting the fullest use of your table. If you purchase an expandable table and have it open on its largest setting, you can add additional seating when needed.

You can store extra chairs that don’t fit at the smaller setting on either side of your buffet, in a bedroom corner or in your entryway.

7. Use storage strategically.

Rethink where you have storage pieces in your home and move them around to areas that have the biggest needs. Entryways are an often overlooked, but high-trafficked, area that are desperate for more storage. Move a storage piece, such as a credenza or extra dresser, into your entryway to capture clutter, hide bags and shoes, and allow for the ultimate organized drop zone.

Yamazaki storage bin

Yamazaki storage bin

Perfect for the kids’ room and even your bedroom, these durable polypropylene storage bins keep loose items organized and out of the way.

Hawkins New York woven basket

Hawkins New York woven basket

One of the biggest concerns when organizing is sacrificing looks. It’s important to store important items, but you also want pretty bins that compliment your style. That’s why we love these chic, all-natural grass baskets that double as storage and decor.

Lorena Canals washable rug

Lorena Canals washable rug

“Washable” and “rug” are two words that don’t typically go together. But, thanks to this cotton rug made of eco-friendly natural fibers, the two words are the perfect marriage. We love that this washable, kid-friendly rug doesn’t force you to choose between functionality and style.

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