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Illuminating spaces: Tricks to make a small room feel bigger


By Matthew Currington, Technical Director, The Lighting Superstore 

Brits are quite used to living in smaller homes. In fact, the average size home in just UK is just 76 square meters.


But the challenge of living in compact spaces lies in making them feel larger and more open, if even you don’t have the square footage.


So, if looking to make your space feel bigger, these tips will inspire you to make the most of your space...


Create depth with accent light


In a small space, using light to create height and depth gives the illusion of more space. To achieve this, try layering light around the room by using different types of light to create this layered effect. 


Make use of table lamps on surfaces around the room to create a warm glow and draw attention to various points. By adding layers of light, you can create visual interest that tricks the eye into perceiving the space as larger than it is. 


If you’re short on surfaces to place table lamps, consider using wall lamps to add some brightness to the space – these are ideal for creating a more diffused light that overhead lighting. 


Meanwhile, ambient lighting from a pendant light can provide overall illumination while casting gentle shadows that add depth to the space.

Make use of reflective surfaces


In the daytime, synthetic lighting plays a slightly more limited role in how it lights up a space. But strategic use and positioning of mirrors and glassed frame prints alongside natural light from a window will work to make a room feel lighter, airy and spacious.


If there is a large window on one side of the room, place a mirror on the opposite wall. The reflection of the limitless sky will be found in the mirror across the room, immediately giving a sense of more space than a blank wall.


Glass-fronted framed prints are a lovely way to add style and décor to a small room, with an added benefit; they reflect any natural or synthetic light that touches them, enhancing the amount of light originally emitted and making a room feel more spacious.


Light-coloured materials in soft furnishings and lampshades tend to bounce light around a room, unlike dark and heavier colours which absorb light and darken a room, which will make it feel smaller.

Illuminate dark corners


Large furniture items like wardrobes, bookcases and TV units create shadows and take up space in a room, which can make it feel smaller. Subtle strip lights placed along the underside of furniture (or on top of a wardrobe or bookcase) gives space back to the room, lighting up dark corners created by furniture.


You can also use shadows to your benefit and creating interesting light patterns. Lampshades made from materials like rattan, seagrass or wicker will also create intriguing shadows and add some interest to the various corners of the space.


Maximise vertical space


Remember to draw the eye upward, enhancing the height of the ceiling with fairy or strip light details in all corners. Or, if preferred, tall standing lamps with ‘upside down’ shades, or standing lamps without any shades, send streams of light upwards toward the ceiling, lifting it and making the room feel bigger.


Similarly, wall sconces with the same kind of ‘upside down’ shades, will send light streaming upwards, heightening the room.


Create focal points


Use accent lighting to highlight architectural features or focal points within the room, such as alcoves, bay windows or a fireplace. Drawing attention to striking features draws the eye across the room further enhancing the perceived size of the room.

For alcoves, consider recessed lighting to brighten up the space. For alcoves with built in shelving, under-shelf lighting is ideal for creating a bright focal point, while also reducing dark corners. 


Wall lamps on either side of a fireplace create a sense of grandeur – giving the impression that the space is large than it really is.

Matthew Currington, Technical Director

Images by The Lighting Superstore

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