Over the years, we’ve flipped all kinds of houses in all kinds of markets. Some of the most fun design projects for me have been houses that felt tiny and cramped, but there was no way to knock out any walls to create more physical space. If you saw these rooms before Tarek and I got to them, you wouldn’t believe that they could feel spacious and livable, but it’s amazing what a little bit of creative design work can do. Check out some of my favorite tips for adding space without knocking down walls or killing your rehab budget.
Go With Light Colors for the Walls, Ceiling, and Floor
Lighter colors reflect light better and make any room look and feel bigger. Painting the ceiling and walls a lighter shade and going with a pale wood grain (whether hardwood or laminate) for the floor can mean the difference between a cramped, dark room and a cozy, light one.
Install Shelving Near the Ceiling
Installing a shelf just below the ceiling adds storage space and draws the eye up. That makes the room feel bigger because it needs less furniture (no need for bookshelves), and it makes it look bigger thanks to a subtle visual illusion.
Add an Oversized Mirror
Mirrors reflect light, which will make any room feel brighter and warmer. An oversized mirror can give an illusion of more depth, which makes the room look bigger. This is a trick I especially like to use in bathrooms, since people like to have large, beautiful mirrors in their bathrooms.
Paint with the Whole Space in Mind
When choosing a paint scheme for each room, consider which other rooms are visible, especially when you’re painting the living room and rooms adjacent to it. You don’t have to go with the same paint throughout the house, but do go with colors that work together and create a continuous look and feel.
Avoid Overwhelming Fixtures
When you’re picking out fixtures and appliances, think about the size of the space you’re putting them in. Take some measurements of the space and take them with you when you go shopping. That way you’ll have a better idea of how well ceiling fixtures and other appliances will fit in a smaller room.
Work With Your Stagers
If you want to add an extra boost to a small living room, talk with your stagers about hanging a mirror, working with lighter shades for area rugs, and other tricks for making a small space feel bigger. House stagers are experienced with this kind of work, but that doesn’t mean they know it all. You can specifically ask for certain details that will help add space.
For example, you can go with furniture with exposed legs over furniture with upholstery that descends all the way to the floor. This adds the illusion of more floor space, and it shows potential buyers how they could furnish the house to make it cozy but not cramped.
Between using your color scheme wisely, adding some built-in storage space, and working with your stagers, you should have no trouble turning a cramped challenge into a delightfully compact space with plenty of room for an individual, couple, or small family to move in. Have fun!