1. Knock down a wall or replace with partitions
“If you knock down a wall or two, you won’t win much in the way of floor area per se, but the effect will be immediately expansive. Partition walls, which are simply spatial dividers, can be taken down with impunity. If you are in any doubt about which walls are structural and which are not, consult a surveyor, engineer or architect,” says Elizabeth Wilhide, author of Small Spaces: Maximizing Limited Spaces.
2. Make sure the curtains go all the way up
Mount the track to the ceiling and, if possible, from one corner to another. Let your drapes fall until they just about sweep the floor without pooling to give the most ideal illusion of height.
3. Extend your living room to the balcony
The secret to a larger living room could lie in integrating it with your balcony or planter space. Make it look seamless by using one colour palette.
READ MORE: The Hottest Home Trends You’ll Love In 2017
4. Opt for light-coloured carpentry
“The colours of the carpentry works shouldn’t be too dark coloured. Glossy laminate will be a better choice as it will further enhance the natural light reflection of the room,” says Danielle Teo, senior designer from Rezt & Relax Interior.
6. Brighten up with white or creamy walls
Just like with furniture, lighter-coloured walls reflect more light to make your home look more airy and spacious, while darker walls absorb light which can make a space look smaller.
6. Go for ceiling-to-floor shelves
Skip short shelving and cabinetry. According to Libby Langdon, author of Libby Langdon’s Small Scale Solutions, “Using full-scale shelves and cabinets that go all the way up to the ceiling visually draw the eye upward, making the ceiling seem higher and space larger.”
7. Keep the bathroom open and breezy
“Overly compartmentalised rooms appear smaller, while open spaces create the illusion of size. To maintain an open view, trade in a traditional shower curtain for clear-glass doors. Continue the bath flooring into the shower to amplify the effect,” says Samantha S. Thorpe of 100 Decorating Ideas: Big Style for Small Rooms.
8. Consider sliding doors for bedrooms
“A sliding door is the perfect way of providing a tiny bedroom with the necessary intimacy and sense of seclusion but without the door taking up valuable floor space on opening,” explains Sara Emslie, author of Beautifully Small: Style Solutions for Small Spaces.
9. Float your sofa
“Don’t assume that all the furniture has to be pushed up against a wall, because that usually leaves an enormous open area in the middle of the room,” says Libby. Placing your sofa a few feet away from the wall instantly gives the illusion of a more spacious living room.
10. Try moving furniture around
“A new position frequently brings a new perspective,” says Kimberley Seldon, author of 500 Ideas for Small Spaces. Rearranging the position of your chairs, tables and other items changes the appearance of your room and you might end up with a configuration that makes it look larger than it was.
11. Multipurpose furniture is a must
“In a small home, every piece of furniture needs to serve more than one purpose,” says Libby. “Too much furniture not only hogs the space but also makes it look even smaller than it is.” This low transformable table from Smootree doubles up as storage space and has a mechanism that brings the tabletop up for you to do work on. Nifty!
12. Mix and match materials
Refrain from using all wood furniture. “It makes a room feel clunky and bottom heavy but by mixing in glass-topped tables with wood pieces you give your room a lighter, airier, and more open feel,” explains Libby.
13. Don't be afraid of going large
“It may sound counter-intuitive but a few oversized furnishings can make a small space appear larger, while too many small pieces can create a claustrophobic feeling,” says Samantha. When it comes to buying a sofa, remember this tip from Kimberley: “It’s preferable to choose an ample two-seat sofa rather than a small three-seat sofa. The slightly smaller sofa allows room for an end table.”
14. Appliances should also serve more than one purpose
“Make your appliances multi-task! The hand mixer that does double-duty as a blender and the can opener that also works as a knife sharpener are valuable kitchen space-savers,” says Tara McLellan, author of Small Spaces, Beautiful Kitchens. “The key word to remember when buying appliances or weeding out old ones? Edit, edit, edit.”
15. Install mirrors
Capitalise on mirrors to “create ‘larger’ and ‘brighter’ space,” says Mike Tan, designer and owner of furniture and home accessories store, Egg 3. Even better if the window is placed facing a window to reflect even more light!
16. Go for wall-mounted lightings
Instead of large floor lamps that take up precious floor space, install wall sconces or lamps that function just as well or look for floor lamps with a small base.
Photo: IKEA SG
17. Look out for furnishings that can "breathe"
The idea is to create an “airy” look – so think thin handles, open shelves and woven pieces.
18. Use side tables instead of a large coffee table
Coffee tables can be clunky as they usually take up the centre of your living room. However, side tables are less conspicuous and easier to take care of.
19. Cut clutter
According to Libby, “holding onto too much stuff and not throwing away clutter can make even a space feel small, so when in doubt, throw it out.”
20. Match draperies with the wall colour
Samantha advises, “To make the boundaries of a room disappear, flank windows with draperies that match the hue of the walls.”
21. Use large area rugs
“A small area rug can look like a postage stamp and make your room feel cramped but using a large rug creates an extended visual line and gives the illusion of more square footage,” says Libby.
22. Heighten with stripes
“Stretch the visual height of a room with vertical stripes. Bold black stripes on the draperies of a living room draw all eyes upward,” says Samantha.
Photo: 100 Decorating Ideas: Big Style for Small Rooms via Cromly
23. Be generous with lights
Libbysays that “not lighting your space effectively makes it look smaller. Capitalising on natural light and bringing in artificial light is imperative.” You can even add a chandelier, “which is large in proportion to the space it illuminates, [thus making] a dramatic statement,” says Samantha.
24. Use a drop-leaf or extendable dining table
A versatile drop-leaf table like this one from IKEA lets you save and create space depending on your needs.
Photo: IKEA SG