Do you live in a small house? Are some of your rooms tiny and cramped? Does your home make you feel claustrophobic? It’s possible to increase the visual appearance of space, to create the illusion that your room is larger than it really is. The trick is the careful use of paint! The following are some useful tips and paint colours for helping your space feel bigger when you can’t actually increase the square footage.

Colour choice:

Intelligent use of colour can help you create the illusion of depth and space in small rooms and cramped corners. Try the following hues.

  • Pale blue offers a soothing, calming touch to any room. It makes a room feel bigger, particularly when combined with light colours on the ceiling, trim and doors.
  • Dark blue shades (navy, indigo) can heighten the drama of a space, creating the impression of depth and making it seem larger. Use them on an accent wall, with colour blocking or pair them with similarly hued accent pieces. These hues are particularly great for the kitchen and library.
  • Soft black is great for north-facing rooms where low natural light makes stark white walls unappealing. Black gives your space an intimate feel while also creating an appearance of grandeur and space. Use it on the ceiling and trim too!
  • Cool grey adds brightness and depth. Use it in rooms that receive moderate light (east and west-facing). It feels fresh and bright, creating the appearance of more space. 
  • Light green opens up your space, similar to light blue. Opt for a muted sage or moss tone.
  • Taupe has the ability to make a room seem expansive while adding the subtlest hint of colour. It makes your space feel elegant and adds warmth by bouncing light from one wall to another.
  • Lavender is a muted shade with bold appeal, adding a breath of fresh air to a space and creating the illusion of more square footage. Use a warm lavender hue if you want your room to feel cozy. 
  • Blush pink can brighten a small room, making it feel cheery, light and roomy. Use it in rooms with lots of natural light and complement it with warm neutral tones (beige, sand, ivory). Paint the ceiling blush pink too for an enveloping feel.

Other ways to use paint to make a room feel larger:

When attempting to make your space feel larger, don’t stop with colour choice. There are many ways to use your paint colour to enhance the feeling of roominess. 

  • Paint an accent wall: Accent walls add dimension and the feeling of size to a space. Choose one wall as the focal point or try painting two long walls in a darker shade and two short walls in a lighter shade, using the same colour family. 
  • Paint the ceiling: Applying a light colour to the ceiling heightens the overall feel of a space. Consider a pop of colour to trick your eye into perceiving depth or try a hue in the same range as the wall colour, making you less aware of where the walls end and the ceiling begins. You can even extend your wall colour up a few inches onto the ceiling, creating the illusion of height. Or try a band of colour painted around the lower third of the walls teamed with a subtle off-white above and on the ceiling. This helps a room look taller and airier.
  • Consider the choice of sheen: Choose eggshell, satin or semi-gloss paint. Their slightly glossy finish reflects light, making a space look bigger. Use semi-gloss on trim and doors. 
  • Don’t pair dark colours with light trim as this creates a visual border that chops up the space, making it look small. Dark trim keeps the eye moving, making a room feel larger. 
  • Don’t fear the dark: Paint a small room that receives little natural light with a dark colour, pushing the boundaries of the walls outward and creating a spacious feel. Dark colours actually open up a space. 
  • Consider a monochromatic look: It’s tempting to paint small rooms (bedrooms, bathrooms) a different colour than the rest of the house. Try using a single colour or a range of closely related hues to give your home a seamless look. It helps the eye flow smoothly from one room to another, creating fluidity and a feeling of space. 
  • Start with the correct undertone: The undertone is the hue under the colour of your paint, the blend of pigments used to create the final colour you see. It ranges from green to pink to violet to gray. Make sure your undertone works with the fixed elements of your room (carpet, cabinets, flooring). If you have trouble determining undertones and what works, talk to your painting contractor. They have the experience, knowledge and skill to help you sort out your colour choices.
  • Use stripes: Consider painting your walls with stripes. Horizontal stripes make a wall appear longer while vertical stripes make it seem taller. 
  • Try colour drenching: Colour drenching involves making an entire room one colour; walls, woodwork, ceilings, window frames, skirting, doors, and even furniture! This creates a contemporary look that stretches the space, making the walls seem endless. 
  • Expand a narrow space: If you have a space so narrow that your furniture barely fits, expand the feel by painting the wall on the far side of the room in a dark contrasting colour. Keep the side walls light. This helps a narrow room look more spacious. Consider painting a single element (shelving, door, table, etc.) a dark tone, catching the eye and making the rest of the room appear lighter in contrast. 
  • Consider metallic paint: Metallic finishes make a surface reflective, welcoming light to a small space. Layer metallic paint beside flat matt to make the colour pop and create depth. Try it in small rooms such as a powder room or cloakroom. 
  • Create the illusion of depth by painting the wall on the far side of a room in a light colour and the other walls in a darker colour. It adds dimension and depth to a small space. This technique is especially effective for rooms with slanted walls and/or staircases. 

Don’t settle for a small cramped feeling in your home. All it takes are a few brushstrokes and the right hue to create a spacious feeling room. Use paint colours to make your home seem larger. A careful selection of colour and prudent choice of where to apply it can make your home feel expansive. 

Need help transforming a small space with paint? Want help with colour choices? Call the Calgary residential painting experts, Cal Res Coatings at (403) 917-0579. We’re a residential painting contractor that strives for quality, has an eye for detail and colour and will not rest until your job is done to your satisfaction. Request a free quote today.

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