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Small-Space Design: How to Make a Small Room Look Big

Moving into a new home can be exciting, but once you get all your furniture and things in the space, it can look a lot smaller than when you signed those mortgage papers.

Here are some easy and inexpensive ideas for decorating and designing those small spaces to make the most of your new home.

  • Using mirrors in a room to expand the space is an oft-used design trick, but here's the secret: You must hang the mirror high enough on the wall that it does not reflect the clutter of the room. Above eye level is best.
    If it is a large mirror, hang it as high on the wall as is practical. If high wall placement is impossible, lean the mirror on a shelf or mantel so that it tips upward slightly. If the mirror is hung too low and reflects the contents of the room, it will actually make the room look smaller.
  • White walls are not necessarily the way to make a room look large -- they tend to create a lot of contrast with furniture and artwork, and contrast makes a room look smaller. Try painting the walls a soft, cool color to reduce the contrast, but still reflect as much light as possible. If you cannot paint the walls, paint your furniture a lighter color to blend more seamlessly with the walls, thus creating the illusion of a larger space.
  • Speaking of light, the more light in a room, the better! Make sure whichever window treatments you choose for your new room are hung to let in as much light as possible. When curtains or blinds are open, they should totally clear the window so as to not block any light. Even an inch or two can make a difference! Also, hang the window treatments as high on the wall as they allow. This creates the illusion of a higher window, and therefore a larger light source, making the room seem to expand.
  • Try placing your furniture at an angle to the walls in the room.  If the furniture won't cooperate with that arrangement in your new digs, just place a large area rug on an angle to the walls. This allows the eye to be drawn across the room to visually expand the space, and also makes a room more interesting.
  • Keep accessories to a few, larger scale pieces in a small room to reduce the look of clutter. If you have collections of smaller items you wish to display, find a way to place them into a grouping. A display cabinet or shelf works well. Grouping the smaller elements together allows them to be seen from a distance as one item, and expands the look of space in a room.
  • Try to choose window treatments in a color that blends with the wall color. This reduces the contrast seen with the larger items in a room, and makes the entire room appear more open.
  • Finally, take some time to shine up all those sleek surfaces in the room. Cleaning the windows, stove fronts and countertops from all the moving-in dust and grime will brighten up any room, reflect more light and create the look of a larger space. It's a simple and easy tip, but very effective.

Kathy Wilson is a home and garden writer, author and consultant and is the home decorating expert for LifetimeTV.com. Visit her for more home and garden ideas at http://www.TheBudgetDecorator.com and http://www.TheGardenGlove.com.

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A Moving Company's Moving Story
June, 2012

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