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10 Decorating Mistakes That Make Your Home Appear Smaller

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Many homeowners enjoy the visual appeal of a compact home. It can appear cozier or more intimate in many cases. Other times, the look of a scaled-down home makes it difficult to decorate it the way you want to. If you wish to give the impression of a bigger home, there are some tricks you can try. The best solution is to avoid certain mistakes that make your home appear smaller.

Even if you have a good eye for interior design and know how to decorate the room, it’s likely that you still make some of these mistakes. Let’s explore them and figure out ways to fix the sensation of having the walls closing in on you. You might not always be able to expand the space in a literal sense but it’s possible to at least create the appearance of a less-cramped home.

1. Having Only Small Furniture

Living Room With Small Furniture

There’s a common belief that loading rooms with big furniture pieces will make the space feel smaller. This is true in some sense but only if you’re using oversized furniture. It’s important to keep a good balance and avoid including just small furniture pieces. This might create the illusion of extra space but it doesn’t always work as expected.




The addition of a large sofa or another furniture element can suggest a more imposing presence. As long as you manage to keep the room from becoming too cluttered with bulky pieces, a grand sofa can actually make the space feel smaller. Aside from the size of the furniture, the material type and texture are also important. A glass coffee table is useful to reduce visual impact.

2. Dark Color Makeovers

Dark Wall Living Room

Creating a beautiful statement wall in shades of dark green or moody navy blue is a good idea to enhance the style of your living room. The problem appears when you’re going for a total makeover that involves painting all the walls in that same dark tone. This creates a cramped effect inducing the illusion of the walls closing in quickly.




Avoiding this decorating mistake is fairly straightforward. Keep at least two walls in the room painted in brighter tones and focus on dark hues for opposite walls. The idea is to prevent the cavernous look created by a full dark paint makeover. If you’re still in the planning stage when it comes to painting the room, consider opting for lighter tones of the same colors that you love to enhance overall openness.

3. Bare Walls

Bare Wall Waiting Area

This might sound a little counterintuitive but keeping the walls too minimalistic won’t help much in terms of expanding the feeling of space in the room. It can contribute to a general airier vibe but walls shouldn’t be left completely bare. All that vertical space can be used very efficiently for displaying items laying around the counter or floor by incorporating floating shelves.




Hanging artwork is also recommended but don’t go overboard with a complex gallery wall. Keep in mind the needs of the space and allow for some breathing room when decorating the walls. Apartment-sized homes will probably need their art collection trimmed down so that walls won’t feel too busy.

4. Excessive Patterns

Patterned Living Room

Patterns are fun to use when you’re decorating your living space. That being said, it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to match way too many patterns. It’s recommended to keep some décor items with solid colors as well to maintain a proper visual balance. Overusing patterns can create an undesirable look in compact rooms.




Consider focusing on a solid base of solid colors that will allow patterns to stand out properly without overwhelming the room. At the same time, try to avoid a clashing style by maintaining the overall scheme consistent without lots of bright pops of color. This helps to emphasize the impact of patterns more effectively.

5. Unsuitable Area Rugs

Living Room With Animal Area Rugs

Rugs are handy accessories when decorating your home. A stylish area rug has the ability to complement the furniture pieces used in the room while also improving the expansiveness of the room. If you’re working with limited space, it’s very important to ensure that your chosen area rug matches the flooring.




Instead of scattering small rugs, go for a large area rug that keeps the room visually grounded. Separating the floor into tiny areas doesn’t seem like a good idea if your aim is to make the home appear less cramped. Properly-sized rugs are able to tie the style of the entire room together. Make sure all the main furniture pieces touch it.

6. Uncovered Windows

Living Room With Uncovered Windows

A room that has bare windows can often appear smaller. This is because you’re essentially increasing the view outside and diminishing the sense of space inside. With the help of proper framing, you will be able to make both the windows and the room seem bigger. A balanced set of curtains is recommended. Avoid extra-heavy drapes and opt for light, transparent coverings instead.




Keeping the windows uncovered might be able to make the space feel more welcoming but you just need to find the right balance. Curtains are practical because you will also be able to gain an increased sense of privacy. The idea that window treatments drag down a tiny room is simply a misconception. You can use drapes in creative ways to accentuate the ceiling height and make the living space appear bigger.

7. Having a Simple Room Layout

Simple Layout Living Room

It’s not easy creating distinct zones when you have to work around limited square footage. However, basic room layouts can do more harm than good in terms of making your home appear bigger. For example, the bedroom can look smaller when furnished with two nightstands. One area of the room can be transformed into a workspace by setting up a desk instead of one of the nightstands.




The idea is to avoid giving the room a single purpose if you’re worried about the area looking cramped. In the living room, different zones can enhance the sense of expansiveness. Instead of a single seating zone, two distinct ones can easily change the vibe of the room. Even if these separate areas have similar purposes, you should try alternating the furniture pieces to set them apart more clearly.

8. Dim Lighting

Dim Lit Hallway

When it comes to perceiving the size of a room, it’s safe to say that lighting plays an important role. Any space can appear small and dingy if the level of illumination is too low. That’s why it’s recommended to avoid dim lighting. It’s a good idea to incorporate some additional lights in some areas of a room to make the space feel larger or at least not as cramped.




Overhead lights may not be sufficient for compact rooms. To increase the sense of space, consider supplementing the level of illumination with the help of sconces that can be easily mounted on the walls and will not take up valuable floor space. If you like the look of a floor lamp, that’s also a good solution but make sure you choose a slender model that won’t clutter up the room.

9. Setting Up Furniture Against the Wall

Well Lit Living Room

If the room appears small, the way you’re arranging the furniture can play an important role. It seems quite intuitive to push all furniture pieces against the wall to gain more open space in the center but this is not the correct approach. This is a common decorating mistake that will often have the opposite visual effect than intended. The space appears to shrink with such a layout.




Your furniture shouldn’t be stuck to the wall. Keep it far enough from it to create a shadow that will increase the depth perception in the room. It’s a simple but ingenious trick that can reduce the appearance of a small space. If the furniture pieces don’t fit properly unless pushed against the wall, the issue is likely to be the use of unsuitable pieces for the size of the room.

10. Excess Clutter

Cluttered Living Room

Having too much clutter is always detrimental when it comes to interior design. This problem is especially relevant for compact rooms. There’s nothing wrong with displaying your collection of decorations or various knick-knacks. However, these objects can make the room appear smaller than it really is. Stick only to your favorite pieces and organize the excess with the help of efficient storage solutions.

Getting rid of clutter can be tough, particularly when dealing with treasured possessions. But you can also take this opportunity to focus the viewer’s attention on the best décor pieces or art objects that deserve to be properly displayed. It can be satisfying to reduce the level of clutter while enjoying a rejuvenated space that feels larger.

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