How to Open up a Small Space

An open concept room with a spiral staircase.

If you live in a small space, you may have no choice in the matter. But you can use design and DIY tricks to make any room of the house or apartment feel much bigger than it really is. Our tips below will fake an increase in square footage, and range in complexity from replacing walls with columns to decorating with strategic furniture choices.

Use a Spiral Staircase

A big, heavy, wood staircase might look nice, but it can take up a ton of space and create a closed-off feeling. Consider replacing your huge staircase with a circular model made of wrought iron or similar material. This will really open up a room and give the illusion of more space.

Use the Same Color for the Floor and Walls

An open, airy room.

Don't try to break up the floor and walls too much in your small space. Choose a floor treatment that's similar in color to your wall shade, and allow the two to visually blend together and make the space feel larger.

Widen a Doorway or Open a Shared Wall

Have a shared wall or existing doorway connecting two small spaces in your home? Knock down that wall between the two to make one big area, rather than two tight rooms. A big, framed opening is a perfect separation between the kitchen and the living or dining room. However, there is one catch to this idea; before tearing down walls or opening doorways, consult with a structural engineer or architect to be sure you won't compromise the structure of your home. Support beams may be needed before walls can be removed.

Play With Color

An empty pink bedroom.

A small space can feel daunting when decorating, and you may be tempted to use neutral colors—but don't! Add bold shades and big splashes of color to your small space and you'll be surprised by the result. Avoid dark colors, and you really can't go wrong when decorating a small space. The more vivid the colors, the bigger the room will feel.

Go All the Way Up

Use all the space you've got, especially when it's limited. Build cabinets that go up to the ceiling, place shelves up high, and don't be afraid to let furniture go clear to the top of the room. Tall furniture can actually make a room feel bigger.

Try Glass

A glass coffee table with a cup of water on it.

Don't forget about your furniture. You don't want a bunch of heavy, dark pieces in a room that's small. Choose pieces of furniture that feel light and don't take up so much space with their design. For example, instead of a couch, try a bench loveseat or two small arm chairs. Use a glass coffee table or glass end tables to reflect light and create the illusion that your furniture is barely taking up any space.

Brighten It Up

If your space feels small, maybe that's because it's also dark. Replace your window treatments to allow more light to come into the room, and remove anything that may be blocking the window and making it look smaller. When you open up the windows and replace heavy curtains with light, breezy fabric, you'll suddenly feel like you're standing in a larger room.

Get Rid of the Walls

A dining room with columns.

Take a page out of history and use an age-old architectural elemental to open up any small space: replace the walls with columns. Even removing one wall and adding a couple of support columns can make a world of difference. Columns will continue to provide the same support as a load-bearing wall, so structure is no problem as long as you make this change the right way. Any tight, enclosed space can easily be opened up with this trick.

The DIY Touch

Even if you can’t always knock down walls when you want to, you can always play with your paint, replace your fabrics, and make design decisions that will give any small space a bigger feel. Get creative and put your DIY skills to work to transform that small space into something you can have big love for.