How to Make Indoor and Outdoor Spaces Feel Larger

The Chicagoland area is full of homes of all shapes and sizes, from spacious new high-rise condominiums to efficient, vintage bungalows. From the largest Victorian mansion to the smallest worker’s cottage, it’s important to make sure that the space you have truly works for your needs. 

After all, even the biggest Chicagoland homes may have some elements that can feel a bit cozy. Throughout the city and suburbs, you’ll find homes built on small lots with limited outdoor space, or large buildings with a few surprisingly tight rooms tucked away inside. 

What can you do when your perfect place has one or two areas that seem to be skimping on the space? Try one of these tried-and-true tricks to make small rooms and outdoor spaces feel larger and more functional: 

Making Indoor Spaces Feel Larger

Tiny bathroom? A bedroom that’s a tight squeeze? A bonus room you’re just not sure about? Here are a few simple ways to help your home’s smallest indoor spaces look and feel larger: 

  • Be conscious of color.
    Color can make a big design impact, especially in smaller spaces. Light, cool colors can make a small room feel more open and airy. In contrast, darker colors tend to make spaces feel more closed off and intimate. Consider using a monochrome color scheme, and using the same color family throughout the space. Focusing on one central color for furniture, walls, and decor can make a room feel more cohesive and larger, letting furniture and other items blend in and feel less obtrusive.
  • Let the light shine in.
    Lighting can really make a smaller space feel larger and more inviting. Try to let in as much natural light as possible by making sure windows are clear and clean, and getting rid of heavy drapes and other obstructions. If the room has limited or no natural light, add new lamps and lighting fixtures to bring gentle, inviting light into the space. 
  • Cut out the clutter.
    Clutter can make any room feel more cramped and constricting. Regularly clean out small rooms, and make it a point to get rid of the extra objects that may be taking up valuable space. Donate or dispose of what you can, and find new storage solutions for what you want to keep. Try to keep surfaces open and accessible. If possible, try to streamline “visual” clutter, as well, by keeping loud or distracting patterns and textures to a minimum. 
  • Make use of mirrors.
    Reflective wall elements and decor items can help make a tight room feel far more spacious. Mirrors help reflect light throughout a space, and can create the illusion of a room extending much further than it actually does. Try experimenting with a large, oversized standing mirror; a hanging mirror; or furniture and storage items with mirrored surfaces. 
  • Add “see through” design elements.
    Transparent and translucent surfaces can make it easier to see all the way through a space, allowing for a clear line of sight that helps create the illusion of depth. In bathrooms, this may mean using glass walls or translucent shower curtains. Throughout the rest of the home, consider using glass or lucite tabletops, or sheer window coverings and fabrics. When it comes to furniture, try opting for pieces with exposed legs.  
  • Place furniture strategically.
    Thoughtful furniture placement is an easy and effective way to streamline a smaller space. Consider opting for a few larger furniture pieces, rather than many small pieces, which can make a room feel overloaded. You may also want to find ways to make use of “multifunctional” furniture items. There are plenty of dual-purpose design elements that help create hidden storage, or which may be folded up and easily stashed when company is over. Keeping furniture a few inches away from the wall can also help give the impression of extra space.
  • Use patterns and features to draw the eye.
    How can you guide a person’s view of the room, to make it feel larger than it really is? One method may be to employ a guiding pattern, such as horizontal lines, which can help draw a person’s gaze further into the room. Adding one significant piece of statement artwork or furniture can create a focal point, making the room seem more spacious. Adding tall plants, or storage near ceiling, can help draw the gaze upward, making a room feel both larger and more inviting. 

Making Outdoor Spaces Seem Bigger

Want to make sure your small front yard can still pack a lot of curb appeal? Looking for a way to make your tight patio feel larger and more inviting? Here are a few ways to make a home’s smallest outdoor spaces seem bigger: 

  • Draw attention upward.
    When your space on the ground may be limited, use strategic designs to help people look up. Add visual elements that can draw attention skyward, such as string lights or hanging lights, tall planters, hanging baskets, or climbing ivy. 
  • Create levels.
    Creating levels can help make a backyard seem significantly larger, and may actually help create more usable space. Consider adding elements such as a sunken patio or an elevated deck to create more entertaining space, or employ multi-layered flower beds for visual interest and depth. 
  • Use furniture and decor that’s appropriate for the space.
    If you’re using outdoor furniture, make sure it’s the right size and shape for your space. Avoid cramped, overly large furniture that feels out of place, and try to avoid having lots of clutter throughout your outdoor space. When it comes to outdoor furniture, muted colors and simple, minimalist design can help add dimension without sacrificing space. 
  • Extend your indoor style to the great outdoors.
    A surefire way to make your indoor and outdoor spaces feel larger is to make the interior and exterior of your home feel like parts of a whole. Creating a common design aesthetic and choosing unifying elements — such as pillows, rugs, or light fixtures — can help create the feeling of a continuous flow of space, making your outdoor entertaining area seem significantly more expansive.
  • Divide the space.
    Who says a backyard can’t be subdivided? Adding a few simple design elements can help create different outdoor areas, making the entire space feel significantly larger. Consider design elements like outdoor curtains, pergolas or trellises, low walls, hedges, or pavers to help visually divide your outdoor area into appealing, useful sections. 
  • Create a focal point.
    Add a bold color or design element to center a visitor’s attention, and help make the rest of the space fall away. An outdoor focal point could be a large fire pit in the middle of the space, a brightly colored entranceway, or a prominent statue, artwork, or natural element. 
  • Take care of routine yardwork and maintenance.
    When it comes to making your outdoor areas feel larger and more welcoming, a little routine maintenance can go a long way. Keeping grass trimmed, hedges pruned, and weeds pulled can all make a big difference, helping preserve the space you have while creating a more inviting atmosphere, no matter the square footage. 

Let Baird & Warner Help You Make the Most of Spring

Your home is more than the place you live; it’s the life you get out of it. Want to find a home with the entertaining space you’ve always dreamed about? Looking for a place with ample green space for gardening, gathering, or simply enjoying some time in the sun? 

At Baird & Warner, we get you. Our team of specialized, hyperlocal agents knows just what it takes to help you find the Chicagoland home you’ve been looking for. Whether your goal is a high-rise with a view, or a quiet house with a back porch to call your own, we can help you find your ideal Chicagoland home. And with mortgage and title services available in-house, we’ll make the dream of home ownership easier at every step of the way — from the day you start envisioning your next home to the day you’re handed the keys.

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