Are you wondering how to make the best use of space in a small room?

Perception of space can be a strange thing. If we imagine our ideal home interiors, we will often imagine big, lofty, wide-open rooms that we can fill with the very finest furnishings.

And yet homeowners who are blessed with very large rooms will often complain that they feel too empty.

Similarly, take two relatively small rooms of similar dimensions. Perceptions of how big they are can be completely different depending on how they are decorated and laid out. It’s amazing how often people will compliment a modestly sized space for being ‘roomy’ when it’s furnished just right. But pack too much clutter into even a decently proportioned room and it will feel cramped and pokey.

The golden rule that every interior designer knows, is that every room needs to be furnished according to its own proportions. There’s no relative benefit between big rooms and small rooms. Kit them out in the right way and both will feel equally comfortable and inviting.

The trick with smaller rooms is knowing how to make the most of the small space available. Here are some pro designer tips.

Scale down the furniture

It may seem an obvious point but it’s one worth emphasising anyway – if you try to squeeze large pieces of furniture into a small room, it is going to look overcrowded very quickly. 

Home furniture comes in all shapes and sizes, so whatever item it is you want, there will be something available with the right dimensions for your room. If you’re tight on space in your living room, for example, go for a two-seater sofa rather than a three-seater. In a small bedroom, choose a queen size double bed rather than king size. 

If you want to turn a smaller room into a dining space, a round dining table makes use of available space much more efficiently than the standard rectangular shape.

Go for fewer pieces

As well as opting for smaller items of furniture, keep the number of different pieces down to a minimum. If you don’t need that coffee table or extra armchair or book shelf, take it out. The more you declutter a small room, the more spacious it will feel.

Get creative with storage

One of the big head-scratchers people face when kitting out a smaller room is where to store things. The ideal answer is somewhere else, in another room where there is more space for bookshelves, cupboards and wardrobes. But that’s not always possible, and that’s where you need to get creative.

One solution is to think of ways you can incorporate storage into other pieces of furniture you need in that room. The classic example is under-bed storage in a bedroom. Another big winner is to switch a standing bookshelf or display cabinet for fixed shelving higher up the walls, which frees up the floor space underneath.

Along the same lines, if you have a small kitchen, rather than take up precious space with extra storage cupboards, consider hanging racks for your pots and pans on the walls or hanging from the ceiling. And again, use wall shelves to create an open pantry for tins and other foodstuffs.

Go big with mirrors or pieces of art

Ok, so much for the practical space-saving tips. As we said at the start of this article, how we perceive space can be a funny thing. We don’t always see space as it really is.

Which means we can be tricked into thinking that a room is bigger than it actually is. And interior designers will often engage in a little smoke and mirrors when it comes to how they dress up a smaller room – literally, in the case of mirrors.

Placing a large mirror in a small room instantly makes it look bigger because the reflection tricks the eye into seeing a larger space than is actually there. The bigger the mirror, the bigger the illusion. But you can also achieve a similar effect by hanging large pieces of artwork on the wall. Again, it’s all about how our brains process what our eyes are seeing. A big piece of art that takes up a large chunk of one wall, well that must mean a big room, then.

Bring furniture away from the wall

Layout of furniture also has a big impact on how we perceive space. Certainly in living rooms and bedrooms, the standard is to have everything pushed back against the walls. The idea is to create a nice big open space in the middle.

But in a smaller room this can backfire. We notice very quickly that the available space is actually quite small. It’s therefore better to bring items away from the wall and create space around them, which opens things up. This works best in a living or sitting room, where you can bring sofas and chairs into the middle of the room to face each other, creating a pleasant sociable space. It also works well in dining rooms, having the table and chairs as the focal point in the centre of the room.