This HGTV Designer-Approved Lighting Trick Makes a Small Space Look Bigger

published Apr 15, 2024
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Credit: Sylvie Li

I’m always looking for ways to make a small space feel bigger, especially in NYC, where those charming prewar walk-up apartments seem like a dream until you start to feel those 7-foot ceilings closing in on you (I speak from experience). Luckily, I have access to experts on small-space living, since I work at Apartment Therapy.

I spoke with HGTV design personality Jenn Todryk recently at a home decor pop-up from Kohl’s in New York City, and she shared one of her best fixes for making even the smallest of apartments feel open and airy: strategic lighting! Regardless of the style or theme of your home, Todryk swears by mid-century-inspired lighting, especially ceiling lights and wall-mounted sconces, to really open up any room. 

Todryk likes to use this trick in older homes, in particular, which often have lower ceilings. Mid-century light fixtures can add a touch of visual intrigue and modern flair to a historic home, but they’re also minimal in form, which means they won’t overwhelm a room that’s short on square footage. The mid-century look can also blend very well with almost any aesthetic, making it a great choice for furnishing a home.

Whether it’s a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, even a studio apartment, this trick can work anywhere. No demolition necessary either, which also makes this tip renter-friendly! You can even do the install yourself in most cases (just be sure to switch off the power at your breaker box first; but if you’re unsure of your DIY skills, call an electrician). 

Ceiling fixtures in particular are quite literally the cherry on top of any room, but you don’t need a big, bulky glam chandelier to make a statement on your ceiling. Take a look at some of my mid-century favorites below, all which still have an airy feel. Classic, simple silhouettes in hues of nickel, brass, or black make a subtle statement that will lighten up any space — literally! 


This classic black three-arm pendant adds a touch of modernity and visual interest overhead. Made of metal, this fixture is easy to dust and minimal but still provides a great deal of light. It’s fairly compact – making it great for lower ceilings. 


Timeless and stylish, this under $200 floor lamp is a great option. The gold finish, arc design, and marble base would complement almost any style. Add a cozy glow to your reading nook, living room, or bedroom with this classic, elegant lamp.


For just about $60, these sconces pack a lot of punch for the price! This classic silhouette will look great in any bedroom, bathroom, or hallway. You’ll love the soft warm glow from the frosted glass shades, and the two-toned black and brass metals will add an edge to the space.