Changing the Size of a Room With Paint
If you live in a home or apartment with small rooms and can’t budget for a major renovation, don’t lose hope. First of all, get rid of all of your unnecessary furniture and clutter. That will instantly make your spaces seem larger. If you can’t part with your belongings, think about changing your paint color scheme. Yep, paint is a simple way to create the illusion of space without having spring for an addition or demo a single wall!
Make It Bright White
There’s truth in the old interior design trick that white makes a room look larger. Bring space to cramped quarters by painting the entire room in bright white. White surfaces are reflective, hence they bounce light all around a room. White can make even the smallest rooms feel open and spacious! The psychology behind the trick: white fools the eye into thinking walls are farther away.
Introduce Light Colors
If that much white isn’t your thing, consider alternative neutral colors such as light gray, taupe, beige or even pale yellow. These light colors reflect light in a similar manner to white – without the need to wear your sunglasses indoors!
To maximize the impact of light colored walls, use complementary light colors to furnish the room. When light colored walls blend with similarly hued upholstery, it enhances the sense of openness. A monochromatic light palette also adds an air of sophistication to a room.
If you have already committed to dark furniture, use a chair rail to achieve the same effect. Paint the lower part of the wall a darker shade that picks up the tones of your furniture and then use the lighter paint shade above the chair rail. This technique will create an illusion of space while accommodating existing furnishings.
Counteract Low Ceilings
Often, with small rooms come low ceilings, unless you’re lucky enough to live in a loft apartment. Low ceilings make a small room feel even more claustrophobic. Here are a few ways paint can counteract your low ceilings:
1. Use a satin, semi-gloss or gloss paint on the ceiling. Any paint with a sheen reflects light and makes the ceiling seem taller. The shimmer of a metallic paint achieves the same effect -- and looks lovely by candlelight!
2. Give your low ceiling a lift by extending your ceiling down the wall. Mark a line around the perimeter of the room four to six inches down from the ceiling. Fill in that area with your light ceiling paint color. You’ve just increased the height of your ceiling with this handy paint trick! Get the same effect by using deep crown molding painted the same color as your ceiling.
3. Paint vertical stripes in shades of the same color to give your walls an exaggerated sense of height. For the best results, use a flat base color as one stripe, then tape off alternating stripes and paint them in a satin version of the base coat color. Vertical stripes on a wall make a ceiling look higher in the same way striped clothes elongate the body!
If you are intimidated about measuring, taping and painting vertical wall stripes, think about purchasing striped wallpaper to achieve the same effect.
Ceiling Color Impacts the Size of Your Room
Lengthen a Short Room
Say you’ve got a short rectangular room you would like to visually lengthen. This can easily be achieved by painting one of the shorter end walls with a light color. Choose a shade several degrees darker and use it on the remaining three walls.
Conversely, painting an end wall a darker accent color will give a short room the illusion of length. Paint the other walls a complementary lighter color.
Another slight of eye involves stripes – this time horizontal. Paint two or three wide horizontal stripes around the room to make your room appear longer. Use a light base coat and darker stripes for optimum results.
De-Clutter With Paint
Since you have indicated you don’t want to downsize your personal possessions and furnishings, why not de-clutter your small room with paint? If your room has built-in shelves, bookcases or radiators, neutralize them with the same paint color as your walls.
These items will then blend in and literally recede into the background. This will make your room look much less cluttered, which translates into more visual space. You can also use the same technique on woodwork and paneling.
The same thing applies to furniture pieces. Now I’m not saying you should paint your brand new solid mahogany dining room set. However, if you own some furniture pieces that are a bit worn; paint will help them blend in, give them new life and brighten up your room!
Too Much Space?
If you have a cavernous room, paint can also cozy it up. Choose warm wall colors to bring the walls and ceiling in. This will make the space feel smaller and more intimate. Just consult a color wheel and concentrate on the half that represents warm colors such as reds, oranges, and yellows. You can even move toward the red side of the purples for additional warm color choices. Some browns and tans also read warm and are appropriate for this purpose.
How Colors Can Change Room Size
blues, greens, purples
These colors will stabilize and cool a room or color scheme. They will also appear to recede, or move away from the observer.
whites, grays, taupes, beiges
Cool colors give a room the illusion of more space.
reds, oranges, yellows, magentas
They bring warmth, comfort, and vibrancy to a room and color palette.
Warm colors appear to move toward the observer, or advance, making an expansive room feel smaller.
Questions & Answers
How can we reduce the vertical scale of a room ?
Painting the ceiling a dark color will visually reduce the height of the walls. It gives the illusion of a lower ceiling, creating a cozier feel in a space with soaring walls.
© 2012 lindacee