This One Thing Will Make Your Small Bedroom Feel so Much Bigger

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: William Strawser)

By New York City standards, my bedroom is huge, which basically means it’s the size of a walk-in closet in the Midwest. But I’m a card-carrying member of the “fake it till you make it” club, and fortunately, it doesn’t take much to make a small sleep space look bigger. It’s all about fooling the eye and really is as simple as this: Don’t overcrowd your furniture, which should be appropriately-sized for your room in the first place.

Translation: That hulking, upholstered bed frame and set of large nightstands aren’t for you if you live in a shoebox. This is one of the biggest mistakes people make, but it’s easy enough to fix or avoid if you’re redecorating.

Multipurpose Masters

Come to think of it, try seeking out furniture that, in addition to being the proper scale, will work harder for you on the DL—multipurpose pieces with hidden storage. A wooden bed frame with shelving built into the headboard? Brilliant. Or a design that incorporates under-bed cubbies or drawers for clothing, shoe or linen storage? Sounds good, too. That way, you’re utilizing every inch of a given piece’s footprint.

Think Outside the Nightstand

No room for nightstands? Resist the urge to squeeze them in. Instead, try a wall-mounted shelf, stool, or a small wooden chair as a perch for a bedside lamp or alarm clock. Who says you have to have a bench at the foot of your bed? Yes, it’s a nice finishing touch, but in most cases, benches become a dumping ground for clothes and other junk (even when they have closed, built-in storage), which adds up to a more cluttered look. So skip it and any other unnecessary seating. You can read in bed, and you’ll find another place to sit to tie your shoes in the morning. I promise. And while you’re at it, pull everything you do need in your space—bed, dresser, whatever—a few inches off of your walls just to let things breathe a bit.

Don’t Cut Corners

Work with—not against—your architecture. Pick pieces that will fit under weird ceiling lines or that you can tuck into a niche or corner neatly.

Whiten Up

Minimal (Image credit: Elissa Crowe)

Visually speaking, white, light, or reflective finishes can also make your space seem larger and less cluttered. There’s a reason hotels often stick to all white everything—the look is clean, airy and serene. Not saying you need to go out and buy new stuff, but a coat of white paint on walls, wood furniture or even your floor (if you dare!) can really open things up.

Reflect on it

And if all else fails, add a few mirrors to the mix. Whether wall-mounted above your headboard or opposite a window, mirrors are a win-win. You’re working your wall’s otherwise dead vertical space and bouncing natural light around, which can be just the boost a small space needs to appear larger.

So stop making the mistake of cluttering your small bedroom with unnecessary, unwieldy furniture and visually-heavy finishes. It’s addition through subtraction, folks. Worst case scenario, you offload any less-than-ideal pieces for your space on Craigslist and start fresh. Think less is more and light and bright, and your room will feel that much bigger in the end.

*Re-edited from a post originally published 07.13.2018 -BM