Design Tips for Small Rooms

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Heather Jones
Heather Jones
I'm Heather, an author passionate about home improvements. My writing is your guide to making homes better. Let's explore easy ways to enhance your living spaces, from small fixes to exciting projects. Join me on a journey of making your house a cozy and stylish haven.

Whether you’re living in your first apartment or you’re a student in one of the luxury student residence rooms at The Arc Winnipeg, you probably don’t have a lot of room to decorate. But, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t decorate. In fact, there are plenty of design tips for small rooms to make them look larger, cozier, and more, well, you. Here are some of our favorite tips for designing small rooms.


You might not have the walk-in closet of your dreams, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a place for your accessories. Use them as decor in your small room and kill two birds with one stone. Hang up hats instead of or in addition to artwork. Display your necklaces on hooks around the room or on stands on your dresser because after all, it’s like miniature pieces of art anyway. You can’t wear it all at once, so why not put it on display when it’s not around your neck?

Trick the Eye

Small space design requires a bit of trickery to make the room seem bigger than it is. One great way to do this is to use horizontal planks on one of the walls. Horizontal planks or shiplap are easy to install and emphasize the width of your room. You can buy prefabricated shiplap boards that mimic the milled look of the boards used on turn-of-the-century homes, or you can make them yourself. Either way, you’re going to be shocked at how much larger your room feels and looks when you’re done installing them.

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Then, once you’ve installed your shiplap boards, if you’re designing a bedroom, choose a bed with tall posts or headboard to emphasize the height in your room. The space above your bed is wasted, but only if you don’t know how to use it properly. A tall canopy bed will make the room look like it has a higher ceiling, especially if the bed itself is fairly slender. A twin or full bed work best for this trick of the eye.

Hang Houseplants

Another way to make use of all that space above your furniture is to hang houseplants from hooks in the ceiling. Hanging plants not only give the room a fresh feel, but they also draw the eye to the ceiling, making it feel higher than it is. This is an especially good design plan if floor space is at a premium in your space. You don’t want to sacrifice plants in your home, but they’re often the first to go if you don’t have room. Hanging them solves this problem.

Let In the Light

Nothing will make a room look small than a lack of light. So, don’t choose curtains that are designed to block out the natural light coming in through your windows. Sheer curtains still offer privacy while allowing light to filter into the room. Of course, you might need blackout curtains if you sleep during the day, but make sure you can open those and let the light in whenever you’re not sleeping. Moreover, don’t block the light with furniture or other furnishings.

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Mirror the Light

You probably already know that hanging a mirror in a small room is one of the surest tricks to making it look bigger, but you might not know that where you place that mirror is as important as having it in the first place. Hang a large mirror on the wall opposite your window so that it reflects the light and allows it to bounce around the room. You’ll be amazed at what this does to the perceived amount of space you have.

Choose Furniture With Storage

Storage always seems to be a problem in small spaces, but many furniture makers recognize this and design their pieces to offer a solution. Beds have underbed drawers, ottomans and benches have removable tops so you can store items inside, headboards have cubbies or shelves, and chairs have spaces under the seats that are designed for blankets or other items. Smart small room design is all about adding storage in unique and often unlikely places.


The more furniture you have in a room, the smaller it’s going to seem. A minimalistic approach toward small room design is important so that you don’t feel trapped by your trappings. In a bedroom, for example, you might get rid of the bed’s headboard altogether, along with a dresser, especially if you have underbed storage. For the most part, keep the walls bare, with perhaps just one or two small framed paintings and of course, a large mirror.

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Choose a Light-Colored Floor Covering

You might not be able to do much about your floors, especially if you’re a renter or a student, but if you have a dark-colored floor, you can cover it with a light-colored rug. Dark floors can be gorgeous, but they absorb a lot of light and as we’ve already discussed, a lack of light makes the room seem smaller. A light-colored rug will keep the airy, clean feeling you’re trying to achieve with your other design choices, plus it will prevent dirt and debris from showing as well.


Your small space doesn’t have to be boring and you can even make it seem bigger with just a few good design choices. Use the tips here to make your space both attractive and functional.

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