If you’re like most people, there’s at least one room in your home that you’d prefer in a larger size. But unless you’re willing to do some rather massive renovations, it’s impossible to physically turn a small room into a large one. That said, by taking advantage of well-chosen décor and some rather convincing optical illusions, it’s easy to make a smaller space feel bigger if you know how. Today we’ll talk about how to use wall-to-wall broadloom carpeting or simply area rugs to make small rooms seem larger and more enjoyable.
Start with broadloom, as it smooths the visual field
Aside from removing furniture and choosing smaller replacement furniture, the single most effective step you can take to make a small room seem larger is to install wall-to-wall carpeting in it. The reason carpeting is so effective at creating a sense of space is because it gives continuity to the area. When a floor surface is constantly changing, such as through tiles, planks, or other repeating (or unique) patterns, the eye is naturally drawn to stops and starts, which creates a smaller sense of space as the brain can more quickly categorize the room. In contrast, when a carpet stretches from one wall to the other, the eye moves from one extent to the other seamlessly, which results in a calmer, larger sense of space passed on to the brain. It’s the difference between looking at a city and an ocean.
Use area rugs, but choose the right sizes
If you don’t want to take the trouble of fully carpeting a room, you can get a similar visual effect through a well-chosen area rug. However, for the rug to be convincing, it has to be the right size. Studies have shown that when choosing area rugs, people are far more likely to choose rugs that are too small than those that are too large. Of course, the best solution is to choose rugs that match the living space correctly, Goldilocks-style.
Too small rugs add to the disorder of a room, and a disordered environment stimulates the visual field, overstimulates the brain, and creates feelings of anxiety. As a result, a room will look smaller. The right size rug will depend on a number of elements, including how you’ve arranged your furniture. Ideally, you’ll want to place all of your room furniture on top of whichever area rug or rugs you choose, as this will create the sense of continuity the brain is continually seeking. If you can’t fit all of your furniture on a rug, either combine rugs or aim to place the front legs of sofas, chairs, and other key pieces on the rug.
Keep color in mind (lighter is better, and here’s why)
Beyond the carpet and rug combinations you choose to broaden your small space, you’ll also want to keep colors in mind. Many people have already heard in one place or another that lighter colors tend to make spaces seem larger than darker colors. However, you don’t need to take this advice to the extreme; it’s not necessary to buy a white carpet or rug to keep your spaces from seeming tiny.
On the other hand, using lighter tones of whatever colors you prefer is an easy and effective way to make the space seem larger to the eye–and by extension, the mind. Spaces become visually larger when brighter because they remind our subconscious mind of being outdoors, where light levels are naturally greater during the daytime than indoors. Lower light levels, in contrast, remind us of night time and our ancestral roots in caves, which we associate with nesting in small surroundings. More practically, a lighter palette will be more apt to reflect both sunlight and artificial light than a set of darker colors, adding to the psychological openness already mentioned above.
Which vacuums are particularly suited to cleaning carpets and area rugs?
Regardless of what combination of carpets and area rugs you choose to make your small spaces seem larger, you’re going to need a vacuum. We recommend models that are a.) highly reliable, and b.) highly capable. Highly reliable vacuums are those that you can count on to last for at least a couple of decades instead of a couple of years (which is all you’ll often get out of budget, box-store models). Highly capable vacuums are those you can trust with any pile and style of carpet as well as with bare floors. Unfortunately, very few vacuums meet both of these qualifications. Two that do are the Miele Complete C3 Cat & Dog (reviewed here and here) and Miele Compact C2 Electro+ (reviewed here and here).
If you find our research on PMC helpful, you can follow our efforts to keep maniacally reviewing home cleaning tools by shopping through our links above. We promise to keep fighting the good fight against every horror children, animals, and grown, yet messy humans can inflict upon a clean home.