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7 Decorating Mistakes That Are Making Your Home Look Smaller

Updated: May 17, 2021

A small space is cozy and intimate, but not always our first choice. We are always looking and wishing for extra space, and storage.

There is also a very good chance you’re making at least one or two of these design mistakes that can make any space seem smaller than it actually is. Most people do, myself included.

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Playing it safe with paint

Most people assume that neutral shades work best in tight spaces, but the opposite can be true if done correctly. “A deep wall color will blur the edges of the room, taking the focus away from the size,” says designer Maryline Damour of Damour Drake in Kingston, New York, whose favorite small space shades include Benjamin Moore’s charcoal “Iron Mountain” and saturated “Gálapagos Turquoise.” “Also, if you choose an eggshell or satin finish, it will reflect light and make the room feel bigger,” she adds.

Designer Josh Wollowick agrees with this statement. “A darker, saturated shade makes a tight space feel special—kind of like a ‘jewel box.’” His go-tos: Farrow & Ball’s “Hague Blue” and “Green Smoke.” Just be sure to offset the heavy hue with lighter-colored accents, advises Sabrina Soto, featured designer on HGTV’s “Ty Breaker.” That’s why the dark small studio bedroom works above; the space gets a ton of sunlight, and the beige upholstered bed and white sheeting offset the onyx walls.

Focusing on traditional

The standard shade for crown moulding is white or off-white, but it is ok to change it up. “In a small space, I paint baseboards and trim the same color as the walls to trick the eye and make the room appear higher and larger,” says Wollowick.

If you do want to stick with white or off-white architectural features, paint the ceiling an ever so slightly different shade than the trim, he suggests. “It’s a small detail that draws your eye up,” making the space feel larger.

Forgetting about walls

Minimalism can help a small space feel larger than it is, but forgetting the walls is a missed opportunity. Wherever you have items piling up on a counter or floor, consider adding shelves or a floating cabinet above.

Ignoring the windows

Some people skip curtains because they think they’ll make a room feel smaller, but window treatments actually elongate a room if you hang your curtain rod just under the ceiling and let the drapes reach the floor. This helps accentuate the ceiling height, and make the room look larger.

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