Expert Advice

Optical illusions: 7 decor tricks that'll make small rooms look larger than life

08 July 2018 - 00:00 By Kelly Adami
Trick the eye into thinking your small space is bigger than it is with these 7 tips.
Trick the eye into thinking your small space is bigger than it is with these 7 tips.
Image: Supplied

If you're living in a tiny apartment, you'll know that small-space living comes with its own challenges. But fewer square metres doesn't mean you have to compromise on style or comfort.

With a little planning and forethought even the most cramped spaces can become magazine-worthy dream pads.

Designer Kelly Adami of Copperleaf Studio shares some tips for small-space living:


When you're short on space, it's crucial to ensure that every item within that space is there for a reason.

Get rid of clutter. Keep surfaces clean and tidy and include only those items you feel add value in terms of function or aesthetics. When space is at a premium, less is definitely more.


Oversized items can eat into your floor space and make small areas appear even smaller, but too many tiny items can also create a look of clutter. Rather, try to select pieces that feel a comfortable size in relation to the size of the room, and create interest and balance by mixing a selection of medium and small-scale items.


Save on space by selecting items that perform a dual function. For example, a bedroom ottoman could double up as storage for blankets or linen, while an office pedestal on wheels allows for a multipurpose surface that can be moved around the office.


When your floor space is limited, maximise your wall space. Floor-to-ceiling shelves are an excellent way to create additional storage, while also providing an attractive decor feature.


Don't be afraid of colour. A well-chosen hue can go a long way towards making a tight space feel more roomy. Lighter colours generally give a feeling of openness.

That said, if you like deeper, more saturated hues, use them on the walls and balance them out with soft neutrals in the rest of the room so that you don't overwhelm the space.

Another trick is to paint the trims (cornices and skirtings) in the same colour as the walls, to create the illusion of a taller ceiling.


Mirrors are an easy way to create the illusion of space. Remember to consider what is reflected in the mirror and make sure it's pretty. There's no use adding mirrors if it amplifies the view of an unsightly collection of wires, or the view of the dumpster next door.

If you're able to, make the most of the natural light, with bigger openings such as skylights and windows and no heavy curtains or blinds. If natural light is not an option, make sure you choose effective lighting for your space, as this mood will also be amplified by the mirrors.


These can help to make the most of the space available to you. For example, built-in seating in a reading or breakfast nook ensures you're making the most of awkward corners. It also eliminates the need for a passage behind loose furniture. It can also be neater, as it doesn't run the risk of being moved out of place.