How To Make Your Small Space Seem Big

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What to do when your home is a little more compact (cramped) than you’d like. James Treble teaches us the dark art of space-wrangling…

Sure, mining the celebrity pages to find out how George and Amal will decorate their 9-bedroom Georgian mansion beside the Thames is fun. But for most ordinary minions, space can be an issue. This is probably partly due to our desire to collect (hoard) many, many possessions* and partly due to the super-exxy cost of square metres in this country. (Yay!)

In the interests of making the most of our lot, we sat interior designer James Treble down with a cuppa tea so he could spill the beans on how to achieve that open spacious feel… Here are his secrets to decorating your small space.

*See our post on accessory overload.

Replica Philippe Starck Ghost Chair and Replica Harry Bertoia Side Chair – available online at Zanui. Image sources L to R:, and

See clearly

Lucite, glass or mesh furniture is space-enhancing, sleek and super-practical. As functional as their opaque kin, these on-trend translucent materials don’t obstruct sight lines – in essence they give back the space they inhabit.

Explore multiple light sources and pared-back floorboards… Image sources L to R:, and

Say no to rugs

Okay – that may be a bit extreme. However in a small room, the more floor you see the better. Covering it with wall-to-wall carpet or rugs makes it feel full. Less is more here.

Image sources L to R:,, and

Show your legs

Boxy furniture that goes all the way to the floor is another no-no. It takes up valuable real estate and blocks your view. Opt for elevated pieces with exposed legs (Scandinavian style does this well). This airs out an otherwise claustrophobic space. (Hallelujah!)

Opt for old-world or statement mirrors. Image sources L to R:, and

Mirror, mirror….

A must-have for that last-minute check on date night, mirrors also create the illusion of space. They bounce light around the room, giving it that bright and airy feel – can’t argue with that.

Rugs that blend with your floor finish add texture without taking up space. Image sources L to R:,, and

Light it up

Don’t rely on the traditional overheads. Diversify your lighting. Experiment with pendants, floor lamps and table lamps to create different zones and alternative points of reference in your rooms.

These light sources will direct the gaze around the room – creating a sense of journey – as well as contributing statement décor or subtle nuances to your home.

Cushions, rugs, and wall decals are a great way to incorporate stripes. Image sources L to R:,, and

Stripe it up!

As it works in fashion, so it works for homes. Vertical stripes elongate a space making it appear instantly bigger (slimmer!).

JT says: “Introduce stripes in the direction that allows for the most distance to maximise the effect. Install them floor-to-ceiling to create the illusion of high ceilings. Rugs, cushions and art are great options for styling with stripes.”

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Be brave – go big in your furniture selection. Image sources L to R:,, and

Big is better

Yep. It might seem like a contradiction, but oversized furniture + décor can make a room appear larger. Play with scale. Ditch that gallery wall and dinky furniture and go for the big, bold couch and canvas wall art.

Makeshift bench-seating on your balcony with an excess of cushions and throws makes a small space into a super-cosy nook. Images sourced from:

Cleanse the mess

There’s nothing worse for a small space than clutter, and yet most storage options will also intrude on your space. The fix? Dual-purpose furniture.

A bed with an under-mattress draw, a chest that doubles as a coffee table, or an ottoman with a removable top are all great multi-purpose pieces that decrease the chaos. Clean-lined furniture and surfaces give you the space to breathe.

Image sources L to R:, and

So there you have it. The insider deets. Use it wisely. Happy Wednesday, lovelies! 🙂

Hero images sourced L to R: and

Kay is a feature, blog and copywriter. She collects empty jam jars, academic degrees and tawdry dreams in the hopes of turning them into something useful someday. Her work has been published in ACP magazines, ABC fiction, Overland, Brittle Star, Seizure, trade publications and online forums. Her creative writing has won several awards.