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9 Ways to Make a Small Bedroom Look Bigger With Furniture

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  • This article has been researched and reviewed by Andrei Vasilief (a professional architect and interior designer) for factual accuracy and to provide unique content.

It’s no secret that the current price you pay for a square foot of building has been steadily growing over the years, with developers finding new ways of squeezing the last cent from a plot of land.

As an architect by trade, I’ve already had to deal with multiple situations where I had to help a client furbish and design a bedroom using every bit of free space they have available – with the role of furniture selection and placement playing a significant factor in making the room more spacious and functional.

So how do you make your small bedroom look bigger with furniture?

To make your small bedroom look bigger using furniture, you should choose a proven design and integrate it with your own individual floor plan, whilst only including essential furniture that can increase storage, using lighter wood finishes to reflect light, and employing a minimalistic design overall.

The rest of this article explains how to make your small bedroom look bigger by integrating the principles of furniture placement and selection with other design elements such as lighting and décor color selection.

Alternatively: to save the most amount of space in your small bedroom, check out my list of the best Murphy beds to buy in 2021 to maximize the space and functionality of your bedroom.

9 Ways to Make a Small Bedroom Look Bigger

To make your small bedroom look bigger, base your floor plan on a proven design, use light wall and furnishing colors, selective mirror placement, minimalistic lighting fixtures and bed frame designs, furniture with functional storage, longer curtains, avoid multiple carpet segments, and draw the eye with singular wall art.

To learn how to make your small bedroom look bigger using these techniques, follow the 9 steps below:

1: Search Google Images and Pinterest For Inspiration

To decorate your small bedroom to make it look bigger with your furniture, you should first find a relevant visual example to work from by searching Google images and/or Pinterest instead of copying portfolios that typically utilize expensive furniture.

For example, most people go to a magazine or website, find some photos they like, and try to mimic them.

The problem with this strategy is that the projects you see on the fancier sites such as Wallpaper* Magazine – whilst looking amazing – generally have enormous budgets.

For example, I had a client who had a sizable home in Los Angeles and wanted to use Poliform furniture.

Even though there wasn’t a lot of furniture, as the design was generally very minimalist, the final budget made me shiver!

So, when looking for inspiration, try to find more relevant low cost examples.

For example, when looking for inspiration for your next small bedroom project, use Google image search and/or Pinterest to find visual examples that are more specific to your situation, instead of using general terms.

A good way to do this would be to use the term ‘small bedroom’ and then continue with some specific terms like ‘small bedroom nordic style’ or ‘small bedroom British row house’, etc.

This way you make sure that you will find relevant examples.

2: Draw Up a Furniture Floor Plan

Now that you’ve got a visual idea of what you want your small bedroom to look like, the next step is to draw up a floor plan with measurements so that you know exactly how much space there will be between your furniture and other key areas like the door.

Most furniture websites list the dimensions, so you can use this information to create the layout of the room.

To learn how to create a floor plan for your small bedroom in detail, check out our 6 step guide to arranging furniture in a square bedroom where the floor plan design process is explained with visual examples.

The floor plan that you create will be an invaluable instrument moving on, as you can place the furniture on it, and it will give you a sense of how everything fits together, instead of just working by feel.

Because as an architect, I often see people just looking at photos and winging it from there, but for small rooms, this can be a very problematic approach.

For large rooms, you can get away with this, but for smaller rooms, I really recommend doing a bit of planning beforehand to avoid spatial issues.

You may also wish to follow the rules of Feng Shui furniture arrangement if you’d like to add energetic balance to your small bedroom.

2.1: Use Proven Small Bedroom Furniture Arrangements

In addition to creating a floor plan that’s unique to your sleeping space, you can make your small bedroom look bigger and have practical functionality by borrowing from proven small bedroom layouts like the ‘hotel layout’, the ‘productivity layout’, the ‘L-shaped layout’, the ‘master bedroom layout’, and the ‘activity layout’.

The video below shows you how to arrange your furniture in your small bedroom efficiently using these 5 layouts:

5 Best Layouts For Small Bedrooms (13.5 sqm.) | MF Home TV

3: Use Light Decor Colors to Create the Illusion of Space

To decorate your small bedroom so that it will look bigger alongside your furniture arrangement, you should stick with light wall and ceiling colors – white is the safest choice, but you can also go with light blues, greys, greens, and off-whites to help reflect the light and create the illusion of space.

And whilst traditional advice states that strong colors should be avoided in a small bedroom for fear of making the room look dark and dingy, it’s possible to successfully decorate a small bedroom with a dark color if you know what you’re doing.

However, I recommend avoiding wallpaper in a smaller room as it can clutter, with the various patterns adding too much ‘noise’ to small spaces.

The safe approach is to pick a soft, light color, that is calming – white works very well too, as it really adds to the feeling of spaciousness 

If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, you can try painting the plinth or the door frame to contrast with the wall (white plinth and frame, light grey wall, for example).

This is a more advanced technique, that is not for everyone though and I generally recommend avoiding experimenting with small spaces unless you have prior experience.

4: Deploy Subtle Lighting Fixtures and Soft Light

Light is one of the most important elements in room design and can greatly enhance how a room feels.

To make your small bedroom look bigger using light, you should go for an unobtrusive ceiling fixture and wall-mounted bedside lamps to save space and complement your strategic furniture layout.

More specifically, my recommendation is to go with a simple ceiling fixture and not a hanging light because a more complex and imposing design can make the room feel even smaller – although a hanging light might work if the ceiling is very high – plus there’s also the added risk of getting the height wrong and ending up with something too low.

For the bedside lamps, consider going with ones that can be applied on the wall, rather than sitting on the bedside table because this will clear up some space, and work well with the overall spaciousness of the room.

4.1: Choose a Minimalistic Lighting Fixture Design

The lamps should ideally be minimalistic (rather than very decorative) to create a clean finish – go with solid colors or simple textures, such as wood or metal for the light fixtures to avoid a chaotic feel.

Greys, black, silver, and aluminium all work great in a small bedroom without cluttering.

4.2: Select Soft Lighting

Go with a soft, yellow light for the bedside lamps (not overly bright) to create a subtle contrast with the lighter walls and furniture arrangement in your smaller bedroom to create the illusion of more space and put your mind in a more relaxed mood.

For the ceiling light, you can go brighter depending on your preference (consider a dimmer if you’d like to switch up the ambiance from time-to-time).

5: Use Furniture With Functional Storage

To save space in your smaller bedroom and make it look bigger, consider furniture with functional storage like wardrobes, under-bed drawers, clothes racks, and even a fold-up Murphy bed with storage options.

Because smaller bedrooms typically lack storage options.

This can lead to clutter in the room, and this is very problematic for smaller spaces.

For smaller bedrooms, we have two main storage options: the wardrobe and bed storage.

You’ll want to place the wardrobe on a longer wall, without blocking the windows or doors.

A good option is to place it on the wall with the door.

Ideally, you’ll want to go with a sliding door mechanism to further make use of the space.

You’ll also want to use the height of the room as much as possible to your advantage, making the wardrobe as tall as possible.

The wardrobe should be divided into segments – between 2 and 3 for smaller bedrooms.

You’ll also need to take into account that you will need to store in the wardrobe more than just clothes (bed sheets, towels, etc).

If you find the wardrobe insufficient, there is also the option of using a bed frame with drawers on the sides, or a bed frame with storage underneath the mattress, to further expand your options.

If space is really tight, you can also opt for a simple rack on which to hang your clothes.

These look quite stylish, but there is a downside: they don’t protect from dust.

But in very small bedrooms, they are worth taking into consideration.

5.1: Reflect Light With Mirrors

You can use doors with mirrors on the wardrobe to reflect light and create the illusion of depth and space – since mirrors can double the spacious feeling of a small room, and they have been used multiple times in the past to this end.

5.2: Use Lighter Colored Furniture

Lighter colored furniture can work with the lighter wall colors and use of mirrors to create a brighter ambiance and enhance the feeling of space – consider lighter tones of cherry wood bedroom furniture.

You can use a wood finish that matches the floor, which can greatly increase the spaciousness.

Sketch some options on the plan and find the one that works best for you.

6: Select a Light Colored Wood Bed With a Spacious Frame

The bed will take up a large portion of your small bedroom, so to create space you should go for the smallest bed possible with a light frame (avoid solid panel bases), and opt for lighter wood tones whilst avoiding solid black to de-emphasize the physical presence of the bed and to shift the focus towards space in the room.

The bigger the bed, the smaller the room will feel.

So a minimalist bed frame is a good option. 

For example, you should go for a bed with a lighter frame with legs, not a continuous base because this feels lighter and doesn’t take up as much space as the solid base option.

However, you might want to revise this choice if you want under-bed storage.

Avoid large beds or large headboards.

6.1: Place the Bed Away From the Door

If it’s a double/queen bed, you’ll want to place it away from the wall (so that you can go around it to sit).

But if it’s a one-person bed, it can also be placed next to the wall.

A good rule of thumb is to not place the bed facing the door.

This has more to do with a feeling of privacy, as there is a tendency to feel a bit vulnerable when the bed is the first thing you see when opening the door.

If the bedroom is for a single person, consider using a pull-out sofa/futon, which can act as a bed, a seating area, and provide storage.

This is an excellent option in small rooms and can increase the flexibility and usage of the room.

Find one with a more simple texture, not too elaborate.

And a good quality Murphy bed is a great way to bundle functionality whilst also saving space.

I would also recommend finding one with a sturdy mechanism as it will be in use a lot, and will have to resist wear and tear.

Check out my list of the best Murphy beds to buy online in 2021 here.

7: Be Selective With Other Furnishings

To make your small bedroom bigger and more spacious, you should only include non-storage based furnishings that are essential to the use of the room – such as a desk if you’re using your bedroom to study.

More specifically, depending on who will use the bedroom, it’s time to consider what else will be required.

Some of the most popular ones are a seating area or a TV.

For example, if the bedroom is for a student, you might want to consider a desk, with a chair.

The good news is that you can find some small desks that will do the job quite well.

7.1: Place Desks and Chairs Near the Window

Rule of thumb: place the desk as close as possible to the window, as light plays a big role in our work habits.

Make sure to find a chair with the proper support, is not too big – avoid the large office ones and get one that uses mesh instead of leather or any solid material. 

The simpler the chair and table combo, the better. 

A seating area in a small bedroom can be a luxury, but if you have the room you may consider a lazy chair with a very small side table.

7.2: Avoid Large Shelves and Storage Furnishings

Although functional furnishings can help you to maximize your space, you should stay clear of large wall shelves, or complex storage solutions in order to maximize space unless you have a lot of extra items to store.

This is why the wardrobe is so important, as it should be the main storage option in the room.

If you wish, one or two simple wall shelves could be useful for additional storage, finished in either white or light wood.

Place these in one place, instead of all over the room, as it will make the space feel free instead of cluttered.

7.3: Select Lighter Tones

As for the finishes of the extra furnishings, go with either white, off-white, or a light wooden finish to bounce the light around and create the feeling of spaciousness.

An excellent trick would be to match the texture of the top of the desk (just the top) with the texture of the floor whilst keeping the rest white (or off-white like gray).

8: Coordinate Your Carpets, Windows, and Curtains

To make your small bedroom feel bigger, you should opt for individual narrow curtains if you have multiple windows, or one ceiling-to-floor curtain if you have just one window, and have just one carpet instead of several segments that could otherwise make the room feel too busy.

8.1: Use Longer Curtains to Create the Illusion of Height

When it comes to curtains, there are 2 options, depending on the type of window you have.

If you have several small windows in the room, then the best way is to have individual, narrower curtains for each window – with the full height of the room, from ceiling to floor.

What this does is enhance the height of the space, making it feel taller.

Regarding the color, one of the best solutions would be to coordinate the curtain with the wall.

So white walls, white curtains, etc.

This will create a more coordinated room and make it feel more spacious. 

If you have one large window for the whole room, then have one curtain from ceiling to floor for the whole room.

Again, avoid very visible textures and patterns, and stick with clean, minimalistic ones.

You can also have curtains and no drapes, if there are no privacy concerns.

This will remove clutter from the room.

8.2: Avoid Multiple Carpet Segments

Adding a single, continuous carpet can also help with making the room feel bigger.

Having one large carpet in the room works much better for this, rather than having multiple carpets.

This is also where you can be a bit more creative, choosing a more decorative pattern.

Same goes for colours, with many more colours working, as long as that is not a strong bright colour, like red, for example. 

9: Use Singular Wall Art to Draw the Eye

To make your small bedroom feel bigger, you can selectively place single or clustered pieces of wall art on a specific wall to draw the eye into an area with more space – such as the longest wall in your bedroom.

Ideally, you would go with one larger piece, rather than multiple smaller pieces. 

However, if you have multiple smaller pieces that you wish to display, arrange them all close together, creating a simple geometric shape such as a rectangle.

Avoid putting them all around the room.

If you have other smaller pieces such as sculptures or photos, group them all together in one spot in the room – do not spread them around, as this will lead to clutter.

So, if you have multiple smaller wall pieces, group them together in a clear geometric shape.

If they are somewhat larger, space them a bit.

A good trick is to place three pieces over the bed that span the full length.

Avoid overly large pieces, or overly small ones, and you should be good to go.

Also, avoid very visible embroidered frames.

Simple frames with solid colour – either white, or black or wood – work great.

Conclusion: Leverage Light, Colors, and Storage

When it comes to making your small bedroom look bigger, the most influential steps that you can take is to arrange your furniture spaciously, only include essential furnishings and those with storage that can free up space, and use lighter colors and mirrors to reflect light to create the illusion of more room.

These are the fundamental principles I use when I have interior design projects for small bedrooms, and they are the ones that I believe anyone can use to give their smaller bedroom a more spacious feeling.

These rules can also be used with furniture from any supplier, so you don’t have to go out of your way to find certain furnishings or pieces that would work with this guide.

Plan ahead, stick with simple colors, keep in mind the proportions of the furnishings, and decorate carefully.

And above all else, remember not to clutter.

If you really want to save space in your small bedroom, then a functional Murphy bed is a great option – click the button below to see the best Murphy beds to buy online in 2021 now.


Image Licencing and Attribution

Main image: ‘Modern Minimalism Style Bedroom Interior in Beige Tones’ by Photo_HamsterMan (Getty Images) – used with permission under the terms of Canva’s One Design Use License Agreement.

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