5 Ways to Make a Small, Dark Room Feel Larger

updated Oct 13, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.

Putting together our post on modern sun rooms, we saw a lot of light, open spaces. But what if you live in a small, dark apartment? There are ways to lighten the space and open it up. Click below to see them

In general, light walls make a small room feel larger. This image is from Victor and Soeun’s Loft from Small Cool 2007. There are exceptions to this rule: a dark accent wall can bring definition and scale to a small space and bright colors can definitely help to enliven a small room. Unless you’re going for a cloistered, cozy feeling avoid dark chocolate browns on all four walls.

If you can paint the floor white, it’s a good trick for making a small space appear larger. This image is from Joseph D.’s Wicker Park Nest. By painting white floors and white walls, he was able to make a very small space seem open and airy.

Hang curtains at the edges of the windows. You can make a window appear larger by flanking it with floor-length curtains that visually extend into the wall. In this image from the Shade Store, a small window has a lot more presence because of the drapes.

Don’t fill the room with too much furniture, and choose pieces with a small footprint that are visually lightweight. Low-profile furniture or pieces with legs (and open space underneath) will make a room seem larger. Image: Eames Chair from Room & Board. (Also notice how the artwork is hung a little lower to fit the scale of the room in this photo.)

Use accessories that emit and reflect light. If you don’t have the space for floor or table lamps, use wall-mounted sconces (especially in areas that don’t get a lot of light). Hang a mirror on a wall opposite a window to reflect light into the space. Ron’s Hotel “Sweet” from the Smallest Coolest 2007 Contest makes good use of lamps and mirrors.