My name is Amanda and my boyfriend and I live in the upstairs of my parents house... it's about 420 sq feet.
The room is almost smaller than the hallway...
There are no windows in that room and because it's an older house, the ceilings are slanted downward.
What my dilemma is-- I don't know how to make the room look bigger. I want to go with a
light, nature-inspired living space, something along the lines of "country modern," but my
boyfriend doesn't want light colors or anything "girly."
It is a small room with medium to dark paint, no windows, no paneling, everything is primer so far,
I don't know how to make this whole living space look bigger than what it really is.
I know you wrote for interior design advice- but living with your boyfriend in your parent's home? Girl- there are some better ways to go! When did kids start moving back home? I'm only 40, and I swear people my age didn't try that one. Are my kids going to try that on me? And with their boyfirends? If I were your mom, I'd be telling that boyfriend ... OK- I'd better get off that soap box and on to my interior design one before you decide to simply not read the post.
I have come up with 12 tips for you to make a small area look larger:
1. Furniture is the trickiest part. For the most part, you have to use small items, like a 36 inch round table instead of a 48, etc. But sometimes I like to break this rule. Sometimes a big old four poster bed or overstuffed sofa will really make the room look bigger. Keep in mind, only a few larger pieces- not all of them. If ALL of your furniture is small- it won't look great- and if it is all full size- it simply won't work. Don't go too deep in your upholstered furniture, but don't shy away from taller pieces. Without photos and floor plans I can't get very specific Note to everyone: For the best advice, send good photos and floor plans.
2. Eliminate unnecessary items. Do you need two end tables? No. Do you need an ottoman and a coffee table? No. This starts with your personal items. If no one plays the guitar- it goes. Have only one set of dishes, one set of glasses, are you going to read that book again? Get rid of them...the cleaner the feel, the better it will look.
3. Make sure your space is well lit.
(photo from the letter red cottage)
4. Use white on the walls. It can have a tint of some sort, but anything darker- sounds to me like it would be too dark. If you had a large amount of natural light, I might say something else, but with no windows at all... go white. I'd consider adding a window or a skylight. Is that too much? Sometimes the dark small room is really a fabulous look, but I think that's more the case with a powder bath than my entire living space.
The white furnishings above continue to open up the space.
5. Use mirrors. It is true that they reflect light and visually open up the space. I am not saying, hang a mirror. I am saying, hang a collection of mirrors. Get a large oversized mirror. Mirror an entire wall! Really use mirrors and light in conjunction with one another.
6. Use furniture with a light visual weight. Items light in color, with "see through" qualities are lighter in visual weight than darker, more solid pieces. For example, the "see through" cane back chair below and legged desk have lower visual weight than an upholstered chair and solid desk. Even if the square footage of the floor they take up is the same, a lighter visual weight will visually enlarge the space.
For another example- the kitchen below has open shelves instead of upper cabinetry. This is much lower in visual weight, making them area appear much larger than traditional cabinets would have done. By the way, I am sick of people telling me they can't do this because they don't have nice clean cabinets. Throw away your husband's free mugs that he has gotten from conferences and clients, buy a nice set of white dishes, spend $20 on some matching glass glasses and do it. It's not that big of a deal.
7. Have a minimalist color pallet. I would use a maximum of three colors, one of them being white. This will keep your space cohesive, and looks decorated rather than a mismatch. Yes- that color pallet carries through to the bath and bedroom.
8. Large open graphic patterns work better than small busy patterns.
9. I love Murphy beds. I wish I had them in all of my kids' rooms. Murphy beds are terrific.
(photo from Barbara Purdy Designs)
10. Consider multipurpose furnishings, like a sofa table with fold out leaves that will double as a dining table.
Above is the Normandie Manor Flip top Console table by Bernhardt.
Use an ottoman with storage instead of a coffee table, or if seating is more of an issue than storage, use a bench as a coffee table.
11. Make good use of your vertical space. Is there a place you can add wall shelves or wall mounted cabinets?
(photo from design sponge)
12. Do something fabulous. Find a fabulous painting, or amazing wallpaper, a stunning chair. Draw the eye to something great rather than your too small architecture. In the photo below, do you see that the dining area is less than ten feet wide? No. You see the fabulous pink chairs. Oh yes, and that bit about your boyfriend not wanting anything girly? Tell him what I learned in my environmental psychology class, if the female feels more feminine in her surroundings, she will... how should I say it, be in the mood more often. There. That should get you some pink chairs.
(all other photos from House Beautiful)
Check out this video, for more small space decorating ideas.