How To Make A Small Home Feel Big
According to a recent health study, the average American is bigger (and heavier) than ever before. The same trend has been the case in recent years where the size of the average American home has grown too. We guess that the latter is a result of the former. Though many new houses are larger, often they contain lots of small rooms. Granted, entry ways are more elaborate, kitchens are more spacious and great rooms more great, there is still no shortage of small spaces that can use a little more elbow room.
With today’s high housing costs, “smaller” does have a certain and important advantage — affordability. Unfortunately, small can be confining and somewhat uncomfortable. When you first walk into a room, the eye automatically and subconsciously does an accounting of the area and, without measuring, tells the brain whether it has entered a large room or a smaller one. But, the eye can be fooled.
Mirrors really can help, but paint color, lighting, window treatment, floor covering and furniture also can have a great deal to do with the perceived size of a room. In fact, disregarding these important elements can cause a relatively large room to look small. Dark colored walls, heavily-lined dark drapes, dim lights and oversize furniture are a definite no no. As you will soon see, increasing the apparent size of a room can include several factors that are dependent upon one another.
Light — both natural and artificial — has an extremely important impact on room size. First, a well lighted room appears larger because it is easier to see the entire area. Also, light adds shadows which create depth and interest. Oddly enough, if we want a room to seem smaller and more intimate we simply dim the lights.
So, is it okay to have black-out drapes in a small room? Of course! However, when fully opened, drapes should completely clear the window opening and they should be light in color — this will maximize reflectance and therefore the presence of light in the room. Artificial light should be ceiling mounted, but if wall scontzes are preferred, the fixtures should be small in size — as not to overwhelm the walls.
Light, brightly colored walls are more reflective and will maximize the effect created by both natural and artificial lighting. If wallpaper is the finish of choice, be careful. Solid colors are the safest, with tiny patterns taking a close second. A large pattern grows smaller at the opposite end of a large room, thus enhancing depth by increasing apparent perspective. On the other hand, viewed from across a small room, a large pattern continues to appear to be about the same size and therefore, perspective is not enhanced. This can actually reduce depth in a small room. Regardless of wall color or finish, we would recommend that the ceiling in a small room be painted stark white to maximize brightness.
Scaled down furniture also can help to improve room size. There are actually stores that deal exclusively in furniture for apartments and mobile homes. Except for its slightly smaller size, scaled down furniture can be quite beautiful. Heavily padded furniture can look bulky in a small room. The same can hold true for overstuffed bedding and pillows — not to mention a padded headboard. Actually, an open headboard would be our choice in a smaller room. When furnishing it is important to keep the view at eye-level completely unobstructed. Taller furnishings should be placed at the end of the room opposite its main entry.
A bright, uncluttered room that displays a substantial amount of clear floor and wall area will appear larger to the eye. Just remember — the eye doesn’t come with a measuring tape….it can only “perceive” the size of a room and therefore the size of a home. So, decorate wisely and enjoy a roomier surrounding.
And yes, mirrors can have a very favorable impact on the appearance of a room. Just visit model homes in your area and have a look at how effectively professional decorators use mirrors to “grow” the size of an otherwise small, confining space. The mirrors also reflect both natural and artificial light to make a room brighter during the day and at night. Keep in mind that too many mirrors can cheapen a space and make the room seem confusing and cluttered. Large, expansive mirrors over vanities, mirrored wardrobe doors or a floor-to-ceiling wall of mirrors (combined with the decorating suggestion offered herein) can make even the smallest of spaces a “palace.”
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