Making A Small Bedroom Feel Larger

Your client’s brief is to make a small bedroom appear larger…


Bring on the challenge with these tips:

Use a cool palette

Warm colours (reds, yellows, browns) make a space feel intimate as the walls advance. Cool colours push the walls back to create a more spacious feel – airy, breezy… take this into soft furnishings as well as rugs to create a harmonious scheme. (Keep in mind that not all whites create an airy feel – whites range from creamy, to stone.)

Let there be light

Apart from taking advantage of natural light, a light palette can also reflect light. You can enhance this further by using mirrors which give the illusion of a larger space.

Think of the horizontal line

Having low furniture will mean your eye can move around the room freely without interruption; opening up the room.

Beware of patterns and tones

Using very bold patterns and too many in a room, means they will all scream for attention and make the room feel busy. You could rather use plain base cloths and then an accent in a pattern. Try to stick to the same tone of timber e.g. all blonde, distressed grey, chocolate… (all cool or all warm tones); this will create repetition and rhythm.

Consider finishes

Glass, mirrored, gloss or transparent finishes will encourage the eye to look through a piece; bounce back a reflection; or enhance artificial and natural light. 

Increase negative space

Keep the corners of a room free of furniture and a small space between the furniture and the walls; and include wall hung bedsides and other furniture on legs, which will allow for air movement, visually expanding the space. 

Consider scale and quantity - smaller pieces and less pieces, will use up less space.

EmphasiZing a focal point

Highlight one feature in a room to catch the eye. It might be a large artwork above a bed (ensure the width of the painting is equal to or less than the width of the bedhead); a chandelier to lift the eyes up; or a bedroom chair in a gorgeous colour.

Avoid too many features in a room - focus on one.

Tricks of wallpaper

Must have that wallpaper? Opt for a horizontal stripe – this will make the walls look longer; and a vertical stripe will make the ceilings look higher.

Hang them high

Floor to ceiling curtains in a plain base cloth (similar colour or tone as the wall); can make a ceiling look higher. 

Storage is key

Edit, edit, edit… keep surfaces free of clutter; floating shelves can lift those books off the floor; under-bed storage drawers can hide those tennis racquets; and built-in furniture maximizes available space.

Read more on making a small space feel larger via my article on Houzz.

Colour My Interior


As designers, colour is a powerful tool – helping us define spaces; emphasise and highlight features; and create overall harmony in a room or design project.

Image by #IDIstudent Nikki Astwood from @revisededitionstyle

Image by #IDIstudent Nikki Astwood from @revisededitionstyle

Different colours are associated with different emotions; so understanding the meaning of colour, helps us to create a specific ambience and mood in a room. Before choosing your colour scheme (for wall finishes, tiles, cabinets, lighting; to furnishings); consider what the purpose of the room is; and what ambience the client would like to project in each room.

Also be mindful, that colour can be interpreted differently by various cultures.  

In Western culture we would associate the following primary and secondary colours with the corresponding emotions. (Keep in mind that there are many options of the below primary and secondary colours. The associated emotions and tips generally examine the more muted versions.)


Red in interior design can promote: passion, excitement, boldness, energy, determination - increasing metabolism. 

TIP: Use in small quantities so as not to overwhelm a space – effective in accents; and a red and white stripe for a statement. 


Blue in interior design can promote: classical, airiness, establishment, confidence, trust, intelligence.

TIP: Used with white will create a crisp appearance; and with its complementary of orange, will balance a room. Blue pairs well with gold or silver finishes and accessories, including lighting.


Yellow in interior design can promote: happiness, joyfulness, welcome, comfort; playfulness.

TIP: Yellow pairs well with black for a sophisticated interior; and it marries well with ornaments, pictures and patterned fabrics. Use to highlight specific features.


Green in interior design can promote: nature, serenity, mindfulness; comfort; stability, harmony.

TIP: Combine with timber; and a range of its complementary of reds and pinks. For a darker green, ensure adequate lighting so the room doesn’t appear too dark.


Orange in interior design can promote: warmth, creativity; inviting, light; eye-catching, enthusiasm.  

TIP: The addition of white can create a range of melon and apricot hues which are complex and interesting. 


Purple in interior design: majesty, power, mystery; established; depth; ambition, luxury.

TIP: Using a lighter purple for large wall areas (a soft violet) can provide a tranquil setting; and splashes of it work against neutral tones. A richer shade adds depth and a sense of authority.


For colour palette inspiration, check out Resene Colour!

Moodboards that inspire...

Moodboards that inspire... Each designer has their own particular style - you can create a board of the separate products, clearly listed - or you can make up a room; not noting the specific pieces but rather giving an overall feel and mood... Rebecca Farr, one of the students I tutor, has done an amazing job here - she's really given the client a strong visual of her design concepts... Gorgeous work!

Pink, glorious pink

I've loved pink all my life - I had pink and white candy wallpaper in my bedroom; and then, for a few years, I was a 'secretive pink lover', I went 'underground' - but then I came out and embraced it - and now I flaunt it.

I think it works in all decor - either as a pretty pop, a soft colour on the wall; or a hit of fuscia in an artwork...

Don't think it doesn't work well in a more masculine or tailored interior - as this little man, Charlie, will attest; pink pairs beautifully with charcoals and warm grey.

From dusky velvet, linen, wallpaper to paint; embrace your 'inner' pink - go on, you know you want to.

 For a full pink story and a few tips on how to introduce it into your home...



Decorating schemes - where to start?

A decorating style is subjective - so, when first visiting your client, I recommend you take along your design books and magazines as references. Sit with your client and go through them together - highlighting with sticky notes any rooms that your client finds appealing - a colour combination, a bedhead, a mirror; or the overall atmosphere in a room.

THEN, armed with those references and OODLES of sticky notes, have a play with some design concepts. You can use Olioboard - it's fun!


Not a moodboard, but just to get a 'feel' for the client's style...

Not a moodboard, but just to get a 'feel' for the client's style...