How to Make Any Tiny Space Feel Expansive

Navigating smaller space can be challenging.

If you’re a city-dweller, perhaps you’ve resigned yourself to a teeny studio or apartments with limited square footage.

Maybe you want to start living smaller–downsizing is in your future!–but aren’t sure how to begin.

Whatever the case, these storage and design solutions are easy to implement and here to resolve most any space limitation. Read on for insight!

1. Let there be light!

One of the best ways to make tinier spaces feel luxurious is to bring in as much light as possible.

If you are in the design phases of a new home or tiny structure, implement floor-to-ceiling windows for maximum light exposure. Make sure to install windows in directions likely to receive the most sun, depending on geographic location.

To turn existing apartments or homes into expansive spaces, choose blinds and curtains wisely. Install gauzy, translucent window coverings, LED lights, and indoor canopies for a roomy feel.

This modern tiny house makes use of light, floor-to-ceiling windows, and wall space to create the illusion of large space. 

2. Make Use of Walls

Don’t forget about wall space in your tiny interior. It’s valuable real estate!

Install televisions higher up the wall rather than displaying them on a T.V. stand.

Floating shelves help you store kitchen goods and living room knick-knacks without making rooms feel crowded. Other open-concept storage solutions can have the same effect.

In fact, why not go cabinet-free? Remove existing cabinet doors or plan for a hingeless kitchen for an open and expansive design.

On the flip side, if your open-concept shelves and storage are too cluttered, they can quickly kill the expansive vibe. Pursue this option only if you can commit to uncluttered, organized shelf lives.

3. Pick Your Palette Wisely

Color–or the absence of it–is on your side when it comes to expanding smaller areas. 

If you’re tired of feeling overly cramped and cozy in your current bathroom, opt for a white design. Paint the walls eggshell to craft the illusion of unhindered space.

Other soft colors such as ivory, sandpaper, pale greys, and yellows can lighten and brighten those rooms that easily succumb to dark.

If you do give your walls a makeover, keep your existing furniture and decor in mind. Paler or whiter walls require carefully chosen accents to ensure that items don’t distract from the sense of a large interior.

Don’t forget about wallpaper, either. Gently patterned wallpaper, especially paper with paler backgrounds, can visually blur corners, giving a vision of limitless wall.

4. Be Green

Bring the outdoors in when resolving the issue of limited space.

Flowing, spidery green plants can make rooms visually flourish. Hung from the ceiling or draped over shelves, the right bit of nature can make visitors feel as if they never stepped inside.

Draw guests’ eyes up by filling corners with potted trees or vines. This also takes advantage of wall space.

Trail emerald tendrils over the top of a window so that leaves can catch the light and make rooms glow. Choose pots or planters that are lighter in color and pick out plants that have an ethereal (rather than sturdy) look.

5. Declutter, Declutter, Declutter

The easiest solution to all things tiny is free and clear space.

Kill the clutter! Set the standard for open, organized areas. Invest in high-quality storage solutions that keep clutter off of the ground and hidden from visiting eyes.

Ensure that countertops are both clean and not drowning underneath paperwork, knick-knacks, and coffee mugs.

Get rid of any superfluous items, such as unused pieces of furniture. Or bring in new furniture that also functions as storage, like an end table bookshelf.

The best place to start when decluttering is with your closet. This is especially important if you have an open-concept closet without doors. 

6. Be a Pure Minimalist

For impossibly small spaces, it may be time to move beyond the standard declutter trick.

Embrace minimalism at its fullest by getting rid of excess belongings. Pare down on furniture pieces, clothing, wall decor, and accents. 

Practice the rule of essentialism: make sure everything in a given room is absolutely necessary. If not, move on.

You may find that paring down is easier than you think. It can even give you a chance to try out a new theme, make a few extra dollars on Craigslist, and feel lighter and freer. 

7. Bring in Illusion

Sometimes making a tinier area feel larger than it actually is requires a bit of deception. Use strategic mirrors to brighten and visually expand those small rooms in your home.

Mirrors are especially helpful in this regard when used as a way to offset windows or rooms that receive less light than others.

Choose mirrors with decor and function in mind. The best designed small spaces are also often the most efficient ones, incorporating pieces that serve dual purposes.

8. Avoid Chunky Furniture

Your furniture says a lot about a space. It can also be more limiting than we realize.

Chunky, solid, or heavy furniture pieces visually weigh down rooms, making us feel immediately contained. They are also more likely to simply take up space.

Replace full-bodied furniture with sleek, thinly-designed pieces. Minimalist furniture will visually fade into the walls. It also tends to be more space-efficient.

Other pieces to explore include tables with metal or wire footing, floating beds, and furniture that bolts into the wall itself.

9. Be Intentional

Make rooms expansive by intentionally creating functional space. The good news is that you don’t need doors or walls to accomplish this.

Visually separate larger rooms into specific functions. For example, divide a studio apartment into a designated reading or study area, bedroom, lounge, and kitchen.

Divide space by using hanging curtains, different decor or colors, and rugs. Do maintain a decorative theme throughout your home to build a sense of flow between all areas.

Floor lamps and other lighting solutions can also effectively mark transitions between functional spaces.

10. Choose Compact Appliances

If you have the luxury of installing new appliances–or remodeling an existing home–opt for smaller, compact appliances. 

It’s possible to purchase fridges, dishwashers and stoves designed with tinier areas in mind. These appliances also tend to be more energy efficient, which means a lower energy bill is in your forecast.

Keep kitchen counters clear of other appliances by stowing these in cabinets. Install a range separately from your oven so as not to crowd out your kitchen with electronics.

Final Thoughts

If your current apartment or home is lacking in the square footage you crave, don’t despair. It is possible to make any small living space feel roomier than it actually is.

Make use of clever lighting and storage solutions, taking advantage of wall and ceiling real estate. Keep areas clutter-free and minimalist, embracing a less-is-more visual policy.

Flood cramped areas with light and don’t be shy about exploring a softer, more muted palette to hide the sense of corners.

You may even find that tinier spaces force you to downsize in a valuable way. Living with fewer belongings may even be better for your brain (and your wallet).

Bio: Kate McGunagle is a freelance writer, editor, and mindfulness blogger. Her blog A Lighter Earth focuses on conscious living, mindfulness, and sustainability. A graduate of Princeton University and Boston University, she recently moved to the northwest of the U.S. to become a yoga instructor, launch her writing career, and build an off-grid tiny house in the mountains.

Instagram: @alighterearth (

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