How to make a small room look larger

If you live in a small space and have big ideas about interior decorating, there are ways to make your home feel less cramped. Some strategic decorating can open up the rooms of your house and make even the smallest spaces feel roomier.

Clear the clutter
Nothing makes a small space feel more cramped than mess and clutter. Miscellaneous and unnecessary items strewn throughout the room will cut down on space and make the room feel more chaotic and uncomfortable. A thorough tidying will help open your rooms up and give it a renewed sense of order. Be sure to arrange books, DVDs and other items neatly and store any unnecessary articles in a drawer or closet. Keeping walkways clear at all times is essential to improving the flow of the room.

When working with limited space, careful furniture placement is a must. In fact, the scale and proportion of furniture to the room is the "single most important factor in making a small room look larger," according to Will Hayward, vice president and creative director of Setting the Space, a home staging and interior design company based in Palo Alto, Calif.

Larger pieces should be placed against walls to open the room's central space. Matching some of the furniture pieces to the color of the walls may also improve the overall look and feel. Whenever possible, invest in some multi-purpose furniture, like a cabinet that doubles as a coffee table, which will allow you to save space without sacrificing functionality. Other furniture can be made more compact or folded away, such as an extendible dining table.

Color can have an enormous effect on the look and feel of a room. Brighter hues will make your room feel open and spacious, while warmer colors create a more intimate and cozy atmosphere. If you're looking to add a more spacious feeling to your home, brighten up your room with a fresh coat of light paint.

Hayward recommends using taupe, "because it becomes a neutral backdrop to the room." Alternatively, try to select soft tones of blue and green which will maximize light reflection, making your room lighter and more airy. Remember to stay away from dark colors on all surfaces, Will says.

Mirrors are a great way to make a room feel less cramped by giving the illusion of extra space. It's best to choose a focal point near the middle of the room, which will provide an added sense of depth. Wall mirrors, mirrored tabletops and closets will all make them room appear larger. What's more, strategically placing mirrors near windows and other sources of lights will help illuminate the room, making it feel more spacious.