Projects & Improvements

No Windows? No Problem: Here’s How to Make a Dark Home Office Feel Huge

updated Oct 25, 2022
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Picture this: You just moved into a new apartment. The kitchen, living room, and primary bedroom are all dreamy. You’ve got a great patio with a stellar view. All in all, the space is perfect—except for the one tiny, windowless room tucked away in the back of your home. It’s supposed to be a closet—you think—but you really need an office.

With the right decorations, you can turn even the darkest, tiniest of spaces into a quaint home office. Here are six tried-and-true interior design tricks to make that small, windowless room feel bigger and brighter.

1. Light the room strategically

It’s a no-brainer that substituting natural light with artificial will make a room appear brighter. But the kind of lighting you use and how you use it matters.

Spread the light around the room by putting lamps in each corner or lining the space where your wall and ceiling meet with string lights. Lighting up the room’s edges makes the space appear wider and more open—plus, string lights draw the eyes upward.

Avoid using one central light fixture in the center of the room: This casts a pool of light into the middle of the floor, making the space appear darker and closed-in.

Also, if your room has some height to it, take advantage of this vertical space. Hanging long pendant light fixtures from the ceiling attracts the eye upward, thus emphasizing the room’s height and distracting the eye from its size.

2. Choose a light color scheme

Employ a light, airy color scheme to make your room feel larger. Dark colors absorb light and make a room feel like it’s closing in on you, but bright colors reflect incoming light and open up an area.

That doesn’t mean your room has to be a sterile bright white. Using off-whites paired with pastel accents will do the trick.

3. Play tricks on the mind

Take advantage of the power of optical illusion by accenting your walls with mirrors and old window panes. You’ll want to be sparing with the number of wall accents you apply in a tiny room—too many can make your walls appear smaller—but a strategically placed large mirror will trick the eye into believing the room is double its size.

Consider placing old window panes or empty picture frames on the walls to trick the eye into seeing a window. It may seem silly, but it’s a comforting touch that really works.

4. Use one type of flooring

Decorating with a chic area rug can be tempting; using any floor accent that’s smaller than the room’s square footage will only break up the space and make it appear smaller. Go au naturale with your floors—a sleek hardwood looks nice in an office—or use carpeting that spans the entire area of the room.

Continuous flooring gives the space a seamless appearance. If your floors are naturally dark, try topping them with light carpeting. After all, the floor is the fifth wall, so the same rules about lighting up your walls apply here.  

5. Furnish wisely

There are a number of furniture hacks that make the best of a small area, like buying multipurpose items that also serve as storage. Another lesser-known trick? Raising your furniture’s legs. Items lifted off the floor allow light to shine underneath them, thus making the floor space appear larger.

The same effect occurs with floating shelving, as well. Rather than taking up valuable floor space with a clunky table, hang shelves on the walls and place your valuables there. This will also draw the eye upward.  

Most importantly, be sparing with the amount of furniture that you use. Small rooms look even smaller when stuffed with lots of items, so this is the time to go minimalist with your design. Rather than using lots of small items, pick a couple of larger essentials to accent the room.