Design Ideas

The 7 Most Successful Ways to Make a Small Space Seem Less Claustrophobic

published Nov 30, 2014
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Let’s face it, as cozy and sweet as a small space can feel, it can also sometimes feel like the walls are closing in. With winter on the way, you’ll be spending a lot more time indoors, so you might consider investing in proven ways you can make your small space feel less claustrophobic. We’ve got seven ideas!

(Image credit: Chris Perez)

1. Declutter and use furniture that pulls double-duty

In a small space, sometimes sacrifices have to be made to make a space feel more airy. If you’ve got a piece of furniture you’re no longer using, get rid of it. And then make the furniture you do have in there work extra hard, like in the image above, where an upholstered ottoman doubles as a coffee table or extra seating.

(Image credit: Carolyn Purnell)

2. Rearrange and move big furniture to the back

Consider moving your bulkier furniture away from the room’s entrance. Place your heaviest, most important pieces on the wall the farthest away from the door, and then arrange the rest of the furniture based on trying to visually balance out the space. You won’t feel like a room’s furniture is ganging up on you when you first walk into the space.

3. Use paint to unify and disguise

Camouflage a piece of furniture — take away its visual weight — by painting it the same color as your wall. It’s drastic, but it works (find images in this post as proof). By camouflaging a piece of furniture in this way, it doesn’t grab your attention as easily, and it doesn’t feel heavy or imposing. But also use paint to disguise and hide bulky, unwanted things that stick out in the way like radiators, fans, anything else that gives visual clutter to a room.

(Image credit: Sarah Dobbins)

4. Keep surfaces clear and free of unnecessary clutter

Getting to create vignettes and display your favorite items on surfaces is always fun. But keeping them clear and clutter-free can have a huge impact on making a room feel more airy. You don’t have live in an empty space, but try clearing off surfaces and see which ones make a room feel better when they’re empty.

(Image credit: Carolyn Purnell)

5. Don’t choose oversize art or go crazy with wall collages

Though oversize art can certainly play an important role in interiors (as can wall collages), oversized pieces of art, even if they make for a dynamic look, can feel imposing in a small room. Wall collages, if they’re too large or randomly sized, can feel busy. It can literally feel like the walls are squeezing in slowly. So stick to a moderately sized piece of art that complements your space (and as you can also see illustrating our point about not choosing all these tips at once, this room sports a not-clear coffee table).

(Image credit: Kelly Brown and Melissa Milakovic)

6. Keep window coverings simple (or don’t use any)

I love a set of curtains that pool on the ground dramatically, and they can really up the feeling of coziness and softness in a room. But, pool on the ground a little too much, especially too close to furniture, and it might feel like they’re inching toward you. While you’re consider curtains, think about your rugs, too. Too many small ones in one space can add to the feeling of clutter in a room. Keep the textiles simple in your space for a more wide open feel.

(Image credit: Chris Perez)

7. Use mirrors to your advantage

It’s a common suggestion around here, but it’s because it works. Not only will it make a small space feel bigger, it’ll help cut down on that claustrophobic feeling by not letting those walls feel too imposing or solid. And spreading more light around a space can’t hurt.

Re-edited from a post originally published 11.30.14-NT