How to create the illusion of space in a small room

interior design, cambridge,

How to create the illusion of space in a small room

Space is a luxury that creates an environment of peace and relaxation. If you want to make the most of a small room, then creating the illusion of space is the answer. 

In Cambridge there are  many properties with limited space.  For example, student flats, pint sized new builds, quaint cottages and modern bijou apartments.

Doing my job, I meet many experts who build, create, design and style spaces to client specifications.  So, given that  space is a premium in Cambridge, I spoke to one of them who can help. 

Kate Gallimore is an interior designer with experience both in the UK and the USA.  She follows three golden rules: stay tidy, find storage solutions and declutter regularly. Here she shares some of her wisdom and advice for designing and arranging small spaces.

Big is beautiful

Have you noticed that an empty room actually looks smaller that a room full of furniture?  The lesson here is to play with scale and do not put tiny furniture in a small space.  Find a bold statement piece of furniture, such as a sofa, plant or wardrobe.

If you go for a big sofa choose a shape that isn’t too square and boxy, maybe a shaped back and rounded arms.  Also try to avoid pinning the sofa to the wall. People think that pushing the furniture back against the walls creates more space but positioning the sofa even just a little bit off the wall gives it breathing room and creates the illusion of space and circulation. 

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Bums on seats

Be realistic about how many you can actually seat and don’t try to provide seating for all your friends coming around to watch the cup final. One sofa, plus one comfy armchair is plenty.  Add to that a smaller, characterful slipper chair, an ottoman, even an upholstered bench that doubles up as a coffee table and you have plenty of additional seating and ‘perches’.

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Magic mirrors

Mirrors are one of the best solution for small spaces.  When placed opposite or adjacent to a window they draw light into a room and reflect what’s outside to make the space feel larger.

Build up

Because floor space will be a premium, build up.  Use the wall space to store books, ceramics, music etc. Invest in tall cupboards and creative shelving building up to the ceiling.

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Long drapery

If you have windows that needs dressing, consider hanging drapery and curtains from the ceiling to create the effect of a taller room.  Use this same technique to create doorways and soften the space.

Strong colours, bold patterns

Be fearless. Use colours that you love and mean something to you, borrow inspiration from a painting you love or a foreign city.  A room without a window will always be dark, so work with the shadows and choose a fabulous colour to give a wow factor, rather than “Oh. It’s a dark room”

Play with patterns: if a room is narrow, use horizontal stripes to widen it; if it has a low ceiling, then vertical stripes will give the illusion of height, or create a ceiling that will make a huge impact.  Have fun with colours.


All the images are courtesy of Kate Gallimore Interior Design, a scuseme recommended expert.  You can contact Kate here to discuss your interior design needs and ideas.