5 Optical Tricks That Will Open Up a Cramped House
1. Expose your baseboards
One of the simplest ways to open up a room is to increase the sense of visual depth—the more of a room you can see, the more space you perceive. Remove sofa and bed skirts, and replace bulky nightstands with slim end tables to expose more of your baseboards.
2. Fool the eye with color
An “accent wall” can visually stretch a room and make it feel larger. If you have a long, narrow room, paint the smaller wall in a bold complementary color. Also, in especially small rooms like bathrooms, giving texture to the walls (using spackling or textured wallpaper) can create the illusion of depth, and make the room feel larger. A light, unified color scheme can also reduce the sense of clutter and visual “noise” in a room, which can make it feel less cramped. Light blues and greens with white accents work well, particularly in busy, hectic rooms like the kitchen.
3. Open shelving
Especially in the kitchen, open shelving can increase visual depth and open things up. All you need to do in most cases is remove your cabinet doors, sand down the hinges, and repaint. If you’re planning to implement this tip, it may be time to throw out your novelty plastic cups—it will look much better if you have matching dinnerware that goes well with the color scheme of your kitchen.
4. Use vertical space
The more you can clear the floor of your home, the larger it will seem. Instead of a potted plant on the floor, consider hanging a plant from the ceiling. A well-placed wall shelf can replace a nightstand or blocky end table. In your kitchen, a string of Christmas tree lights placed behind your kitchen cabinets can draw the eye to your kitchen’s vertical space and make it seem larger.
5. Place more mirrors
This is one of the simplest tricks for increasing visual depth. Two mirrors on opposite walls can create a “tunnel” of space that can greatly stretch the apparent size of a room. Place them at angles to one another to make this effect more subtle. Bathrooms especially need large mirrors to open up the space.
Mike Freiberg is a staff writer for HomeDaddys, a resource for stay-at-home dads, work-at-home dads, and everything in between. He’s a handyman, an amateur astronomer, and a tech junkie, who loves being home with his two kids. He lives in Austin.