6 Tricks Home Stagers Use to Make Your Living Room Feel Way Bigger

published Aug 5, 2020
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Credit: Minette Hand

If you love entertaining, a cramped living room can put a damper on your hosting plans. Late last year, I realized my apartment’s tiny living room was probably not the best place to host a holiday party. In the concert world, standing-room only is a sign of success, but in terms of a gathering, it’s a flop for sure.

Even though it can feel impossible, there are ways to maximize space in a small living room. While you’re spending extra time at home these days, take a minute to employ these home stager-approved tricks to make your living room look bigger. Even small improvements will have your friends feel like they’ve walked into a new room at your first post-quarantine soirée. 

Spring for a large area rug

A small rug in the middle of the room makes a tight space feel smaller. Meridith Baer Home design director Brian Ferrick says to make the rug as large as possible. “I would keep it with a five-inch border around the room,” he says.

Ferrick also says to keep the pattern simple with a seagrass or stripe pattern. Anything too busy will cause mental clutter.

Trick your windows into looking taller

According to interior designer Abbey Koplovitz, window treatments make or break a room. “Curtains will heighten the room and make the whole room look bigger,” she says. 

Depending on ceiling height, always mount your curtains above the casing or molding—never on them, Koplovitz says. “The thing that really makes the biggest difference is getting your window treatment proportions right,” she says.

Take your window game one notch further by mounting a mirror across from it. Its reflection will open up the room as if there’s another window.

Ditch lighter paint swatches 

If you thought lighter colors made rooms look bigger, think again. Koplovitz says darker colors like navy blue add depth to a living room and make it come alive. “That’s a misconception that lighter colors make your room feel bigger,” she says. Balance the dark walls with neutral-light upholstery. If you’re not ready to take the leap, experiment with an accent wall.

Credit: I Spy DIY

Think vertically with wall shelving

Using hanging wall shelves or bookshelves reduces floor clutter. But be wary of overcrowding. “If you’re filling [the shelf] up with books, make sure you’re breaking it up and putting in some accessories,” says Ferrick. 

Another decor piece and storage hybrid to accent shelves with? Baskets. Koplovitz says matching baskets can hide all your storage while still looking neat.  

Reduce furniture—and buy proportional pieces

For those (like myself) who find it difficult to part ways with that vintage desk or flea market end table, you’ll need to learn to say goodbye. Minimizing furniture is key. Hiding an ottoman under a coffee table or bringing in chairs from your office when you need extra seating helps make way for necessary furniture, says Ferrick. 

“Obviously you don’t want a big traditional rolled-arm sofa chair in the room, but still have a proper size sofa and a good chair,” he says.

To make a less obstructive walkway, Ferrick recommends investing in coffee tables with softened curves. Round edges make walking around feel breezier.  As for patterns, the more simple the upholstery, the bigger the room will feel.

Invest in lots of lighting

Lighting is everything when it comes to enhancing the size of a room. “It’s not about having just one source of light,” Ferrick says. “Make sure that you have ambient lighting.” To avoid any “dead spots” in the living room, put a lamp in the corner to compliment overhead lighting. Ferrick says dropping a swing arm lamp on your shelves also allows light to peep into neglected spots.