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Pinterest likes to tell us that small spaces are cute and cozy but, as we know, Pinterest rarely reflects reality. Those of us who have small rooms in our houses or small houses and apartments know the struggle of trying to make a tiny space look nice. The furniture always seems too big, there are too many things everywhere or the room feels way too cramped. Don’t worry. It sounds fake, but small spaces can actually look really good and feel almost spacious if you decorate them right. Here are some tips for getting your tiny rooms to look like they belong in a sprawling mansion.

Furniture

Make it double-duty

If you have a compact space, not only should everything you put in there have a function, it should have two. Get end-tables and coffee tables that also have room for storage. You don’t have room for a side table and a bookshelf, so make one item serve both functions. When you’re buying a bed, get one with drawers underneath or one that’s high enough off the ground to store things under. Maximize the space you have.

When you’re buying a couch, consider getting a pull-out so you can have a comfortable place for people to sleep if you have guests stay over.

Another tip on storage: go for things that have doors. Clutter can make even the biggest of spaces look cramped, so hide it all away with a smooth exterior. Open shelves look nice in magazines, but you just know they’ll look cluttered–and at the very least, dusty–within a week or two.

Buy full-sized

When you have a tiny space, it’s tempting to lean towards buying smaller furniture to conserve space. Don’t buy things that are too big for your room, but don’t be afraid to buy full-sized pieces either. Just because your room is small, doesn’t mean you or your life are. You still need seating that works for the people who will be sitting there. Also, if you ever move to a bigger place, your furniture won’t look super tiny in your new pad.

Think leggy

If possible, get couches and chairs that have legs and a little bit of space between the bulk of the piece and the floor. This will make the space brighter by letting light come through underneath and gives you extra storage space for keeping pillows, blankets or anything else you need out of the way.

Go Round for the Dining room table

Square or rectangular tables may fit into a dining space nicely (we all love straight lines), but they’re hard to get around if space is tight. A round table will allow more passing room around the edges, plus no sharp corners to hit your thigh on while you’re doing it.

Decor

Make your windows look bigger

Small rooms tend to have small windows too which can make the space feel even tinier than it is. Give the illusion of larger windows by using drapes strategically. Get a rod that’s wider than your window by a foot or two on either side. That way, you can open the curtains fully, but give the illusion there’s more window behind the rest of the curtains. Also try layering your drapes in different shades to give them a flowy, light look and stick to lighter colours to brighten up the room.

Choose your lighting wisely

Speaking of brightening up a room, be careful with your light fixture choices. Go for transparent fixtures that diffuse light over the whole room. Table and floor lamps might look cute, but they take up unnecessary space so try sconces instead. That way you can light up the corners of the room (taking advantage of every inch of it) without cluttering up the floor or surfaces.

Mirrors

If you want to hang something on your wall, artwork is nice, but mirrors are functional (and can be art in their own right). They’re the easiest way to trick the eye into thinking a space is way bigger than it is. Plus, they serve the double practical function of giving you a place to quickly check your hair. Just maybe avoid putting them near the TV, you don’t want to see what you look like while you’re binge-watching Game of Thrones. Trust us.

Rugs to trick the eye

If you’ve got dark flooring or a low ceiling, rugs can brighten up a room by reflecting light back up. Always go lighter when you’re shopping for rugs and try to stick to ones with abstract designs so dirt isn’t prominently displayed. If you’re doing an area rug, try going larger than the centerpieces in the room to draw out the space and give the illusion that it’s bigger than it really is.

If people can live in those tiny houses we see on Instagram, you can definitely make that small living space work. With these tips, you can totally say ‘good bye’ to cluttered and cramped, and ‘hello’ to cute and cozy.

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