It may surprise to learn, that the majority of the projects I am hired to design have challenging spaces…. Be they small or cramped, or poor natural lighting, low ceilings… the space appears visually small — which reads as cramped or tense to those in the room.

For the client, small rooms pose a unique challenge to decorate and make functional. This is why I wanted to write a blog post with some easy tips and techniques I routinely turn to in order to visually expand a room. Give some a try in your home.


The walls of a room, are the largest surface area. Simply by choosing a pale shade of off white, you are spreading any available light around the room, which in turn makes the room feel larger. Fortunately, paint is THE most affordable design element you can change in a room. You just need to pick a shade, buy the paint, and if you are physically able to do so… paint in one day! So the best way to feel certainty about the proper color for your walls — is to look at a paint fan deck. For instance, Benjamin Moore sells fan decks to consumers. I love this paint company for the East coast projects I design. For the West coast projects, Dunn Edwards is the gold standard, as the color palette suits the western light (particularly in the Southwest). So, I digress, back to the fan deck. Look at the off-white colors on the fan deck. They will vary in color, but not the intensity of color. Perhaps you want a pale shade of pink or ice blue… they exist in the OFF WHITE COLORS. You can always buy a sample of the color to try.

Make the walls and ceiling the same color. Doing so will blur the boundary from wall to ceiling… and…. You got it… make the room look bigger!

Take the wall color into the furnishings for a monochromatic color scheme in the room. If you choose a buttery white on the walls, select a similar tone for upholstery fabrics, rug, lamps, window shades, etc. This will allow the eye to flow about the room, without any bold or harsh color changes. This, again, is a trick to make a space feel bigger than it actually is. You will enjoy the added bonus of a serene room.


Assuming you have a window in the room, allow as much natural light into the room as possible. Privacy and light control are required in every room. So in a small space, I mount a shade above the window, so that when fully open, all the glass is exposed. This secures the best view outside during the day and invites the outside space inside. Our brain reads this as breathing room, seeing trees and sky visually expands the room, and makes us feel calm and more centered.

If the window is small, consider a SkyLight or Solar Tube if the architecture of the home permits. The idea is we want as much natural light as possible.

For nighttime, you may want that shade down and will want lamp lighting. Choose lighting at different levels. For instance, wall sconces are nice accent light, to give a lovely glow to the room. Lamp lighting may be more decorative. If it is an office, a desk lamp will shine on the work at hand. If budget permits, adding LED ceiling recessed lights on a dimmer, will provide yet another level of lighting. The key is versatility in your options for lighting.


Introduce accessories judiciously. Too many things for the eye to look at, will shrink the room fast! One accessory to definitely ADD to your small room is a mirror. Properly chosen and placed, a mirror on the wall will double the light and trick the eye to feel the room is much bigger!

If you want to hang art, go BIG… I know it is counter-intuitive… but lots of smaller art hung on the wall, will make the walls busy. Instead, opt for a larger piece of art — it will make a bigger impact and actually make the walls feel more open.

If you want drapery at the windows, hang the rod at the ceiling to draw the eye upward. Eliminate any patterned drapery ideas, opt for solid, textured drapery fabric such as linen panels on a simple iron rod.

Let me know how any of these turn out for you, and I am available for some professional guidance to transform your room or an entire home!

Need the help of an interior designer or custom window treatments for your Darien CT or Fairfield County home?  Give me a call today at (203) 677-1161 to discuss your design challenges.

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