Making a condo look and feel bigger can seem like a daunting challenge, but really doesn’t have to be that difficult.
By following some of the same techniques used by the top interior designers, you can create a bright, open and airy space that not only looks and feels bigger, but also creates a more comfortable living area to call home.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind while you’re transforming your condo. Always keep it simple and within your budget, but also have some fun while you’re shopping and redecorating. Most importantly, make sure your personality shows through by choosing colors, décor and designs that you enjoy.
Looking at the Top 5 design techniques, start with those you believe will make the biggest impact on your home. You can pick and choose from there, based on the look you’d like to create.
Professional designers know that light colors seem further away, and appear to push walls back, while darker colors appear to push walls toward you, making them feel closer than they are.
Light colors are also more reflective and will brighten the living area, making it feel more airy and that also has the effect of making the area look bigger.
Now that doesn’t mean you have to paint everything white (although you could). It just means that when looking to create a more expansive look, choose lighter, rather than darker colors. You still have plenty of colors and shades to choose from, like off-white, beige, light grey, and dusty blues and greens. These colors can also add a level of sophistication to your living space as well. Even more choices include pastel colors, citrus hues, and sea shades, which all work equally well.
After deciding on a color, try to carry that same color throughout the visible area to eliminate boundaries and create a more cohesive look. While color changes can help to define living areas, they create boundaries that cause the area to look smaller.
If you feel compelled to use different colors, try using different shades of the same color, or, you could use one wall as an accent wall and introduce a color or wallpaper of your choosing. Just be sure to stay within the same color palette. If you’re using a wallpaper, keep in mind that vertical patterns make a wall look taller and horizontal patterns make it look wider.
Designer Tip – Paint trim and moldings the same color as the wall or use a lighter shade of the same color to avoid creating boarders, or even a visually cluttered area.
Designer Tip – To create some excitement and liven up the area, add splashes of color by using strategically placed décor pieces or accent furniture. This will have the added benefit of creating even more depth to the area.
Designer Tip – If you have a long, narrow room, you can paint the long walls a light color making them feel further apart and use a darker color on the distant shorter wall to visually pull the wall forward. This will have the effect of making the room look more square and not as narrow.
Get Creative With Lighting
Not surprisingly, natural light works best for helping to create an airy, open and fresh look to any area. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible since… well, nightfall comes once a day and not everyone is blessed with big windows to let the sunlight in during the day.
That’s why professional designers use lighting strategies that both supplement the available natural light but also help provide the appearance of added depth and size.
First and foremost, work on letting as much natural light into your living space. Convert to sheer window coverings, pull them back or even eliminate them all together. This also has the benefit of connecting to and extending the room to the outside creating a limitless look. (Don’t forget to use a good glass cleaner on the windows). If the view isn’t great, use flowers or plants near the window to catch the eye before it views out.
The next step is to work on your interior lighting. Designers use a layered approach and never rely on one source of lighting as it will never fill the entire room with light. Your goal is to create even lighting throughout the space.
Start with a main source of light, like overhead lighting. This will fill most of the room with light but leave some areas and corners darker, which visually shrinks the size of the room.
Now work on filling those darker areas of the room. Accent lamps and track lighting can help accomplish this. Some good choices also include using built-in spotlights, flush-mounts, sconces, or even floor mounts.
Designer Tip – When using a hanging light fixture, like over a dining area, select a fixture that has a light and interesting look to pull the eye upward and create even more depth.
Designer Tip – Use dimmer switches to control the amount of light coming from each source. This will give you full control of the lighting effect you’re working to create.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to make a living area look larger and more open is the use of strategically placed mirrors. Even a small mirror, placed correctly, can have a dramatic effect in enlarging the look of your condo.
Mirrors reflect both natural and artificial light brightening a room and having the immediate effect of increasing depth and making the area look more open.
Start by looking at where you can strategically place mirrors in your home. Good starting points are areas of the room that are the darkest or are the most shallow. You’ll get the benefit of reflecting more light in the area as well as creating depth and the fell of a larger space.
Positioning a mirror where it will reflect the view through a window is another great technique for the bringing the outside in and making your home look more expansive.
Keep in mind, that when it comes to mirrors, the bigger the mirror, the bigger the effect, and if you can locate it as a focal point in the room, you’ll virtually double the effect. Look for opportunities to add larger, rather than, smaller mirrors. You’ll find plenty of options including using mirrored cabinet doors.
Designer Tip – Create a collage of different sized framed mirrors in one area of a wall. This will add an artistic flare while giving you the same benefits of having a giant mirror on that wall.
Probably one of the least ‘fun’ items in this guide, but an absolute necessity if you want to make your condo look bigger is to get rid of the clutter.
Let’s face it, we all have too much ‘stuff’. Whether that ‘stuff’ is everyday items or treasured décor pieces, or a combination of both, nothing does more to make an area look overcrowded and small.
Tackling this is a two-step process and it’s easier if you tackle one room or area at a time, whether it’s the living area, a bedroom or even the kitchen.
First, it’s time to neaten and organize items that are currently in cabinets, closets, storage areas etc. The goal is to make room for more stuff to get put away. It’s a great time to purge those items you’re probably never going to use again and are taking up valuable space. Now it’s time to take a look at the ‘stuff’ that’s currently crowding your living area. Find ways to get as much of it out of sight.
Secondly, be creative in finding ways to create additional storage areas throughout your condo. You’ll find this easier than you think, and you have plenty of options. Some to consider include, decorative baskets to store items out of sight, skirts around tables where you can place items underneath and out of new, go vertical by installing shelving for keeping those items that you want to display in a neat and organized way, or even built-in furniture like a window seat with interior storage.
Don’t forget to make full use of your condo’s assigned storage unit (if you have one). Be disciplined about moving those rarely used items out of your living area and into the storage unit.
Designer Tip – Make this project a twice a year activity. The start of Spring and Fall are great times to do this as we’re pulling out and putting away seasonal items for the upcoming summer and winter months.
Similar to the treatment used with walls, the goal with flooring is to create a cohesive look that runs through your living area. The use of different flooring in different areas of the condo will certainly help to define those areas but at the cost of having each area and the whole look small with many boundaries for the eye to focus on.
By using the same flooring throughout all areas, the eye continues to roam further and further giving the area a more expansive look. The obvious exception to this would be the bathrooms where you’ll likely need to use different flooring.
Whether you looking at hardwood, tile or carpeting, remember to choose lighter, over darker, colors since darker colors will make the space feel smaller.
If you’d still like to define certain areas of your living space, consider using area rugs. Be sure to choose the right size and don’t be afraid to go a little bigger than you may think. While it seems counter-intuitive, a rug that is too small will make the area look even smaller. Also, be sure to continue the thought that lighter is better than darker when making your choices.
Designer Tip – Don’t have area rugs tuck under sofas or other furniture. This has a tendency to tighten the area and make it look smaller.
Bonus Designer Tips
Bonus Designer Tip – When choosing furniture for smaller area, choose those with legs. This creates a more airy look and helps the area look more expansive.
Bonus Designer Tip – Keep a low profile throughout the condo. This allows the eye to roam further into the area and also creates a more expansive look.
Bonus Designer Tip – When hanging pictures or displaying art, create a collage of pictures in one area of a wall vs. having the pictures hung throughout the area. This creates a focal point that will draw the eye across the room. With regards to hanging art, opt for one big piece vs. several smaller pieces for the same reason.
Bonus Designer Tip – Choose bookcases or shelving that goes right to the ceiling. It’s very effective at creating the illusion of higher ceilings and more space.
Bonus Designer Tip – Make sure there is a clear pathway throughout the condo. Pathways that are interrupted by furniture make the condo look cramped and overstuffed.
Bonus Designer Tip – When choosing side or coffee tables, see if clear acrylic or a glass surface works for your décor. They offer the benefits and give the appearance of taking up less space.
Bonus Designer Tip – Liven up your living area by adding splashes of color by using colored throw pillows or colorful decorative pieces. Even a colorful accent piece looks wonderful.
As you can see, making your condo look and feel bigger doesn’t have to be difficult. It usually doesn’t require all of the steps listed above. Pick and choose those that will make the biggest difference for your living space. Most importantly, have fun doing it. It’s an opportunity to give a fresh look to some, or all of your home.
These tips come in handy when you’re buying or selling a home. If you’re selling, you can add value to your home by making it feel bigger than it actually is. If you’re buying, you can get a better sense of what you can create when you move in.
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