How to make your rooms feel bigger - without spending £££S

Sarah Warwick 28/01/2015 18:36:37 DIY and How-to Guides

We don’t know about you, but by January, we’ve spent enough time cooped up indoors, we’re fed up with tripping over Christmas presents and we’ve begun to think our homes are looking small and decidedly in need of a revamp. Then we realise we spent all our cash over the holidays… Despair not, people, we’ve got 10 easy ways to make your rooms feel bigger and brighter – with minimum spend!

1 Undress your windows

Go on, do it now with your eyes. Just how much wider would your windows look without those bulky curtains there? Or without all that clutter on the windowsill? No one wants bare windows, though, so our solution (so shoot us) is shutters for a light-reflecting, space-enhancing feel. And, if you must hang curtains, too, ensure they can pull right back to the window frame. The result: your windows will look bigger and more daylight will get into the room.

Effort level: click to order then save loads of cash by installing them yourself 

Spend: not nearly as much as you think; it’s our January sale now, too

Picture: California Shutters

2 Have a clear out

You got new gloves for Christmas, so your old, hole-filled ones could be binned… your kids are so focussed on their new toys, the neglected ones would surely be more loved by someone younger… you’re NEVER going to eat the pickled walnuts or use the tagine your mother-in-law gave you, so have a good chuck out. Your house will feel tidier and bigger, you’ll feel better than if you went on a detox diet – and you won’t have spent a thing.

Effort level: elbow grease and sweat

Spend: 0

3 Hang a mirror, double your room size

Hold off binning that old mirror – it could be put to use making a dark or cramped room feel much more spacious. Here comes the expert tip: don’t hang mirrors opposite windows – put them on the adjacent wall instead. That way the light gets bounced back into the room. Simples.

Effort level: take a nail, bang it in

Spend: 0 (surely you’ve got a nail somewhere?)

4 Use metallics

We know a mirror reflects light – so metallics must do the same thing, right? So, if you’re thinking a feature wall covered in a rather fabulous wallpaper design might be just the thing to give your living room a bright new look, choose one with a reflective finish. A design with a white or pale background and a subtly shiny motif that whispers rather than shouts will be more of a visual space-stretcher than anything dark… and a smattering of metallic accessories won’t hurt, either.

Effort level: wallpaper a feature wall in just a couple of hours

Spend: DIY stores such as B&Q sell great designs for less than £20 a roll

Picture, B&Q 

5 Trick the eye with vertical stripes

Still got your wallpapering tools out? Be a love, keep them there and dash back up to the DIY store for some striped wallpaper, which will make your rooms look taller than they are (really). Be careful with your selection though because no one in their right minds has decorated with strident stripes since the mid-eighties (live by the sea and striking out for a nautical theme? We’ll let you off). The stripes to go for now are more like this – light-coloured panelled-effect…

Effort level: easier than putting up real panelling

Spend: see 4

Picture, B&Q

6 Swap dark floors for light

They’re easily overlooked, floors. But they’re a huge surface area AND the most likely to be useful in reflecting day or lamplight back up into the room. So, if you’ve got dark carpets, rip them up and whitewash the floorboards; and if you’ve got dark floorboards… er… whitewash them. Use an eggshell paint which is tough and has a light sheen without being glossy.

Effort level: we’re not going to lie, rubbing down floorboards is messy and noisy

Spend: the hire of the sanding machine and a pot of paint should cover it

Picture, Farrow & Ball 

7 Sort your storage

The good news: you can do this while you’re tidying up. The bad news: you might be tempted to start alphabetising your books and cds. Need to invest in some new storage pieces to get the best from your home? Here’s a secret shopping tip: get furniture that does two jobs at once. We’re talking shelves with hooks beneath, window seats with lift-up lids, footstools with hidden storage inside, hall tables with storage cupboards on top.

Effort level: see 2

Spend: 0 upwards, depending what your home harbours already…

Picture, The Dormy House 

8 Pack out unused space

Got room under the bed for all those summer coats and shoes you don’t need at the moment? Perhaps space on top of the wardrobe for all those old photos you never look at? Maybe you could fit a shelf above your bedroom door for seldom used stuff you want to keep handy? Or hang hooks on the back of doors to take the strain off your wardrobes, radiators and other clothes magnets? In other words, if you don’t use it all the time, stack or pack it into an attractive box, put a lid on it to keep the dust and moths out, and forget about it until you next need it.

Effort level: see 2 (again)

Spend: DIY stores sell great, affordable storage boxes and tons of cheap hooks. Go wild

9 Light = space

Just as shutters will allow lots more light into your rooms in the daytime, good artificial lighting will make your rooms seem much bigger at night. So, we (sort of) forbid you from turning on the central overhead light and instead command you (but not really) to invest in a few table lamps to create pools of lights in different areas of the room, uplighters to make the ceilings seem higher, downlighters to make the walls recede. You probably don’t want all those light types in one room… but experiment to see what works for your space and what doesn’t. And don’t forget, shine lights near your mirrors, metallic wallpaper or shutters and still more light will be reflected around the room. Ingenious.

Effort level: a bit of shopping for lights? Piece of cake

Spend: 0 if you’ve got under-used lights at home; just a few ££s if you shop cleverly at DIY sheds

Picture, Alexander & Pearl 

10 Paint your rooms in light colours

Too obvious? We think not, but we’ve left it till last, just in case you do.

Effort level: easier than wallpapering, harder than sitting on the sofa

Spend: A pot of brilliant white can be yours for can be yours for well under £20 


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