10 Decorating Mistakes That Make Your Space Look Tiny

Dreaming of more space? We've got you covered.

Gibson Cottage in South Carolina
A discontinued white four-poster bed from Ikea makes the small room feel grander. With no room for table lamps, sconces (the Paulo Small Bracket Light from Circa Lighting) were the only choice. The bedposts also help hide their cords. Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Don't let these decorating mistakes cramp your style. We're sharing our no-fail tips for making the most of your square footage—no contractor required. These are all things you can implement into your space to take advantage of your square footage, regardless if you have a small or a large room. We commonly make these mistakes, and often don't realize just how tiny it is making our space look. By trying one or two of these tips, you just may find that your room opens up again and you can finally breath.

Buying An Oversized Bed

It's time to say goodbye to that four-post and think on a smaller scale. Upholstered headboards are a great way to make an impact without leaving your room feeling closed in. Whatever you do, don't break the bank on this purchase—you should be able to find beautiful, statement-making options for less than $300.

Borrowed from the past Oct. Issue 2022 Keenan Home Bedroom
Forever Young: "This vintage chair really talks," says Keenan of the curvy corner seat. "And it's still cool.". Annie Schlechter

Painting The Walls Dark Colors

If your space is already small, skip the dark hues and think light and bright walls. Bring bold pops of color with throw pillows and fresh flowers.

Nicola McLaughlin San Antonio, TX Home Master Bedroom
To make room for the large headboard, the designer applied drywall over a set of windows. But she kept the bedroom feeling bright and comfortable by opting for white linen curtains and selecting light, airy furnishings, such as a pair of chairs with open backs that let the sun shine through. "Without natural light, this space wouldn't look nearly as inviting," McLaughlin says. Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Choosing Busy Wallpaper

If you choose to wallpaper your space, stick to one focal wall, and be sure to choose a pattern that's easy on the eyes. This is no time for hundreds of flower buds in a dizzy array of colors—actually, it might never be the right time for that.

Idea House 2020 Twin Bedroom Seating Area
Robbie Caponetto; Styling: Kendra Surface

Having Bulky Furniture

If you're trying to keep your space open and airy, skip the heavy furniture in favor of clean lines and unassuming silhouettes that won't make the space feel heavy. And remember, if you have two nightstands they don't need to match. It's all about coordinating.

Sherwin-Williams Bedroom Redend Point SW 9081

Not Cleaning Up Clutter

Maybe this should have been enemy number one on our list. Whether it's that stack of mail, tiny knick-knacks, or dirty laundry in the corner, when things are out of place your space can suddenly feel cramped. Having a proper place for everything will help you stay organized and eliminate the potential for a cluttered situation.

Decluttering Spring Cleaning
Getty Images/Westend61

Heavily Dressing Your Windows

When it comes to getting your beauty rest, skip the heavy blackout drapes and opt for an eye mask instead. Even when they're open, heavy drapes still have the potential to block out some of that wonderful natural light that your space needs.

Simple Window Treatments: White Linen Drapes
Photography Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Leigh Anne Montgomery

Not Incorporating Enough Light

We might sound like a broken record at this point, but light really is your best friend when combatting a small space. Sconces hanging on either side of the bed are a great space-saving option for a small bedroom. If you have a reading nook, a lamp will lighten things up without feeling bulky.

2021 Idea House Guest Bedroom Sunlights
Marta Xochilt Perez

Hanging Your Curtain Rods Too Low

One thing that can dramatically increase the feeling of space in your room is hanging your curtains at the right height. Instead of hanging them directly above the window, hang them about midway between the window and the ceiling. Hanging your curtains from this height will elongate your walls, which will in turn make your ceilings seem higher than they actually are.

The color scheme of our Coronado Showhouse master bedroom is inspired by the green fig leaf-patterned drapes, which have robin’s egg blue accents that are repeated in the chevron dhurrie rug, leather settee, and fringed accent pillow.
Photo: Tria Giovan

Putting Furniture In High-Traffic Areas

Having furniture in high-traffic zones will certainly close off your space. Plus, who likes having to move around a piece of furniture every time they enter a room? Avoid the chaos altogether and start rearranging. Look for ways you can remove furniture from those areas, or simply declutter them. This will surely give your room a more inviting feel.

The master bedroom is a grand 19 feet by 21 feet with a soaring 18-foot cathedral ceiling, so Balducci and Bennett built in warm details like white-painted beams, shiplap ceiling paneling, and a painted brick hearth. “Woodwork and other textural surfaces
Photo: David A. Land; styling: Lindsey Ellis Beatty and Rachael Burrow

Not Implementing Mirrors

A thoughtfully placed mirror will open up the room by adding more visual space. With the right mirror, the room will feel much bigger than it is. Try incorporating a circle mirror above your dresser, or a classic stand-up mirror in the corner of the room.

2022 Idea House primary bedroom vanity
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