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  • Lisa Christie

Make small spaces look bigger


With the increase in apartment living, especially in the Port Macquarie CBD, and the size of many homes shrinking, space now comes at a premium. But armed with these visual tricks and design ideas, you’ll be able to style small spaces to make them appear larger than they really are. Here’s how.

Large windows, sheer coverings Large windows are one of the most effective ways of creating the illusion of space. Instead of restricting your gaze to a room’s parameters, windows encourage your eye to travel beyond them. When you can visually take in extra space, it tricks the brain into including that space into the room. Not every window frames a favourable vista, however, and some are simply not large enough to make a room feel spacious. This is where light and sheer window coverings can bring an added dimension. Compare the white and purple sections of these curtains and you’ll immediately see the difference. The darker, more opaque purple drapes emphasise the limits of this small space; while the white, translucent sheers embody an airy ambience. Ceiling mounting the curtains and letting them fall the full length to the floor serves to heighten the room.

Translucent Items Transparent and translucent furniture works wonders if you want to optically free up

extra space. We’re probably all familiar with Philippe Stark‘s polycarbonate Ghost Chairs designed for Kartell. These pieces, and others like them, instantly declutter a space by virtue of being almost invisible. If translucent furniture is not your cup of tea, try choosing streamlined or more petite pieces, and furniture with slim or tapered legs instead of bulkier items.

Strategic mirrors When cleverly positioned mirrors can visually double a room’s proportions – or more, if it reflects a window. When using mirrors to visually enlarge your space, bigger is always better. Consider what it will reflect – and aim to mount it at eye level, flush against the wall instead of tilted on an angle.

White it out While dark colours visually

‘shrink’ a space, absorb light and can make it feel enclosed,

light hues optically enlarge rooms, reflect light and infuse them with an atmosphere of openness. Dark colours still have an important place, but not en mass if you’re trying to make your interior look bigger.

I must admit I am a bit over the white trend for interiors and find it to be a bit of a 'go to colour' which can easily look unimaginative and is definitely overused. But white interiors need not be boring, texture and character is key. By using a wall-hung toilet instead of a floor-mounted model, you could free up extra floor space and, in cramped quarters, every bit counts.

Over the all-white interiors trend too? Colour still has its place in small spaces – bright pops of colour can liven up a room without making it feel enclosed.

Furniture Choice matters To seat up to six people, round tables usually take up less room than rectangular ones. Because they don’t have corners they also help to increase the flow in a room, which is particularly important in small spaces. If you enjoy entertaining a bigger crowd but are limited by compact quarters, an extendable dining table is probably your best option as you can collapse it when you’re home alone and elongate it when company calls. If more than six souls congregate at your home on a regular basis, a larger rectangular dining table, or even an oval-shaped one, usually takes up less space than a vast round table. It’s also easier to squeeze in an extra chair or two around tables that rest on pedestal bases rather than legs.

Multi purpose furniture Every millimeter counts in tight spaces, so

it makes sense to invest in one piece of

furniture with a dual use instead of cluttering a room with two items. See this timber coffee table? It serves as a practical resting spot for mugs and food as well as a storage place for magazines, meaning the modest-sized living space doesn’t need to be crowded with book shelves. Using floor pillows can also provide extra seating when needed, and can be moved to the home’s sleeping quarters to jazz up the bed when not in use.

Replace a couch with armchairs

Very little beats flopping onto the couch after a long day, though if you have more than one sofa and barely enough room to walk around it you might consider swapping your second perch for a pair of armchairs instead.Two armchairs generally take up less space than a two-seater sofa and can be more easily angled to suit the proportions of a room. These upholstered chairs are voluminous and welcoming, yet take up less room than a sofa would. Your gaze can also penetrate the space between the chairs, which would otherwise be blocked by a couch, and what the eye sees (in this case free space), the brain believes.

Try placing your furniture away from the walls – the small amount of space in between is suggestive of roominess.

Low profile Furniture

Low-lying pieces of furniture can also help a room feel more spacious. This living room fills a modest square metreage, and a low back sofa helps to create an illusion of space . The shelves, low coffee table play up the room’s vertical instead of emphasising its smaller horizontal footprint.

Declutter Less is definitely more when it comes to creating the illusion of a bigger home – this means it’s time to get ruthless with those items you rarely use that crowd your precious space. The key to decluttering is to determine which items you want to keep, which you want to donate or throw out and which you are undecided about. If you haven’t used an object in a year and it lacks sentimental value, you can probably live without it. Next, try to find a home for everything so knick-knacks aren’t cluttering your home. Clear surfaces are easier to clean and, when you stand back and behold all that extra room, you’ll thank yourself.


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Visual Edge is your exclusive colour consultant for Dulux, Inspirations Paint & Colour & Bunnings Warehouse in the Mid North Coast.

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