Selling Tips

How to Make Small Homes feel Bigger When Selling

Space is definitely the name of the game when staging a home for sale, or if you are renovating on a budget to sell. Small homes or rooms can often feel claustrophobic and uncomfortable – but it doesn’t take much to turn that cramped space into a cozy retreat. It boils down to tricking the eye into perceiving more space through three simple tactics – light, scale and movement.

Float that furniture

Let’s start with the most obvious – your furniture. Ditch the bulky, over-sized pieces in favour of the low, leggy types. Creating the illusion of space is about improving the sense of openness and flow. Streamlined furniture gives a space some “breathing room”, allowing light and air to flow all around it, so your eyes move through the furniture, making a room feel more spacious. Purchasing a few pieces in the same colour as your walls also allows it to blend in and widen your space.

Other top tips employed by interior experts are:

LOUNGE: Choose one that has legs about 10 centimetres high, and low arms. This helps create a sense of light and space. You don’t necessarily have to choose something small, one large lounge instead of multiple small pieces feels like less clutter. But, just be sure it doesn’t cut a room in half, or block traffic flow around the space. Additionally, try to face seating towards a window to provide depth and interest when lounging.

COFFEE TABLE: Opt out of using a coffee table and use streamlined side tables instead. Or purchase multi-functional furniture like ottomans, which can be used for extra seating or as a table.

DINING TABLE: A mirrored, glass or any reflective tabletop is your best option, in a round shape as it takes up less. Or choose a compact dining table that has the option to expand.

DINING CHAIRS: The leggier, the better – just be sure they don’t splay outwards. Ensure the backs are low so they don’t feel imposing. See-through chairs are often a great option as they blend right in.

PLACING FURNITURE: Avoid the temptation to push all the furniture hard up against your walls. Instead, float your lounge in the living room with a skinny console behind it, or angle your bed. The longest line in a room is the diagonal, so placing furniture on an angle leads the eye along the longer distance, rather than a shorter wall. Tall pieces of furniture such as bookcases and floor lamps should be placed in the corners of a room, as your eye finds it easier to take in.

Likewise, when decorating a small space, the main piece of furniture in a room often becomes the focal point. In the bedroom, it will be the bed; in the living room, it will be the lounge; so ensure these pieces are the star by maximising their impact and minimising any other competing décor elements.

White out the Walls

It’s a no-brainer that paint in pale, cool shades, especially white, allows a room to feel bigger, brighter and serene. This is because light-coloured walls are more reflective, and will maximise the effects of any natural light in the space. A style secret is to paint skirtings, door trims and detailing in a slightly lighter shade than the walls so they recede, and the space feels larger. Painting walls and ceilings in the same neutral shade enhances the cloud like feeling of a room. Another designer tip is to paint the ceiling in a darker or bright colour to draw the eye upward and create the illusion of height.

White walls and ceilings blend seamlessly

White walls and ceilings blend seamlessly, tricking your eye and providing an illusion of extra space and height within a room.

Light the Way

Harsh overhead fixtures pool the light, drawing your eye to one spot in a room. Instead opt for tiny table or wall lamps, coupled with tall, thin floor lamps and candles dotted around the room to spread the light. Any design tricks that causes your eye to travel around a room in an intentional and ordered manner will make it feel larger. Tall floor lamps also help to draw your eyes upward, which is important when creating the perception of space.

Allow natural light into your home wherever possible – check out the tips for windows below!

Get Perspective

One of the best options in a small home or room is to leave your windows uncovered, creating a light, airy space with a sense of depth thanks to the connection with the outdoors. Ensure your windows are clean and sparkling to maximise the natural light.

If you do require privacy, or if the view is not the best, trend towards gauzy, sheer drapes in white or light tones to promote the breezy feeling. Another trick is to add shades or blinds, but ensure they are the same colour as your walls. If curtains are an absolute must, use a bar that extends well beyond the window frame, and mount close to the ceiling. This will allow you to fully expose the window, plus it makes the ceiling look higher and the room taller.

Sheer curtains

White, sheer curtains in a linen fabric are light and airy. Matching the colour of the walls also helps your eye to move past them without being distracted.

Lay Down Space

Continuous use of the same flooring throughout a home creates an uninterrupted flow, making it feel like the rooms are part of one large space. Additionally, keep the floor space as clear as possible to maximise the sense of flow.

If you prefer the use of rugs, choose those that are smaller, simple and minimal. A striped rug can often make a room appear longer – orientate the stripes to flow along the longest length of a room.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

A large mirror is an easy way to fool your eye into believing a room is much bigger than it actually is. Mirrors reflect natural and artificial light to make a room brighter, and bounce light deep into the room, giving that sense of increased scale. One big mirror placed to reflect a window is the best way to reflect light. If your budget doesn’t permit a large piece, try grouping smaller mirrors with the same coloured frames on a wall. Alternatively, mirrored furniture and tabletops can also work a treat.

Colour Coded Accents

A unified, neutral colour palette will visually expand a small room, so choose soft furnishings and décor items in similar tones to make your space look streamlined. Likewise, avoid heavy fabrics that absorb light and weigh your eyes down. Linen is a great lightweight material to promote that airy feeling in small rooms. Another great tip is to choose a point in a room furthest from the door, and place an accent piece there. A décor piece in a pop of colour or an interesting plant will draw your eye to the longest point and make the room feel bigger.

Be careful not to go overboard when placing decorator pieces, otherwise you risk the room feeling cluttered. Small spaces are all about editing and, while it seems surprising in a small room, opt for larger décor accents. A good guide developed by the experts is the rockmelon test – anything smaller than a rockmelon will clutter a compact space, so choose a few accent pieces that are larger than a rockmelon.

When it comes to artwork, there are also tricks to keep you living large. Again, bigger is better – so long as you keep it to just one piece, hung in a position to create a great sense of space. If you can hang the artwork above your eyeline, it can further create a sense of height and spaciousness.

Build it up

Consider adding floor-to-ceiling or wall-to-wall shelving or bookcases as a way to maximise storage and visually expand the height of a room. A word of warning – don’t fill every exposed shelf as it will look too cluttered. Instead leave some empty space to create that airy feeling.

A built-in desk is another great way to streamline furniture, and coupled with shelving to the ceiling visually draws your eye upward.

Decor pieces should be neutral and pared back so not to introduce clutter into small spaces.

Rosalie Crowder

Rosalie Crowder

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"Rosalie Crowder is an experienced, knowledgeable and very personable agent. She is also well informed about local sales and has worked hard on our family’s behalf. Given the death of our father during the selling process there were big challenges and delays Her willingness to seek out the appropriate processes and documentation, while communicating with executors and keeping us informed, was greatly appreciated. She remained focussed, positive and empathic throughout. We all appreciated Rosalie giving extra energy and an encouraging, determined commitment to the selling process, as we navigated our grief and the inevitable challenges we faced." Melanie Parry

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