There are lots of well-known interior design tricks for making a small room look bigger – from storage cunningly built into furniture to huge mirrors on the walls or optical illusions like stripy rugs on the floor. But have you thought about the importance of lighting in helping to create a sense of space? Here are New Woman’s 9 top tips for using lights to make your rooms seem large and airy…
1) Spread the light around: First and foremost, don’t rely on a single light source in the centre of the room. One ceiling lamp will only cast a pool of light on the middle of the floor. Instead, use multiple light sources around the room to open it up, such as floor lamps in corners and table lamps on sideboards. This will spread focus across the full area of the room.
2) Use wall lights to enhance corners or recesses: On the theme of spreading light around, try using designer wall lights in awkward recesses or corners. For example, lighting the spaces on either side of a chimney breast will make the room seem wider.
3) Use long pendants to emphasise the height of a room: One of the most common tricks for making a room seem bigger is to utilise vertical space. If you lack square footage but have a reasonably high ceiling, you can focus attention on this with tall, thin furniture and high shelves – and for your lighting try a long pendant hanging from the ceiling. It will draw the eye up and down, emphasizing the room’s height rather than its small floor space.
4) Make a statement with a big flamboyant lamp: There are two (apparently opposite) schools of thought concerning objects and ornaments in a small space: either restrict yourself to proportionately small items, or just have one or two big ones. So you could try having a single big statement lamp with a flamboyant shade in an otherwise emptyish room…
5) Use tall, spindly lamps with small shades: If that’s not your cup of tea, go for tall, spindly table lamps with small shades. The general rule of thumb for getting the right size lampshade is that the height of the shade should be about three-quarters the height of the base, and that if in doubt you should go for a bigger shade. However, rules are made to be broken, and very thin and tall lamps can often suit smaller shades. This will give you more space and help to emphasise the verticals in the room.
6) Pick the right colour lampshades: Most colour schemes designed to give a room more space and air are based on light colours: white walls and drapes, light wooden floors and pale furnishings. So in many cases you’ll probably want to go for matching light, neutral lampshades for your floor and table lamps, perhaps made of linen or silk.
7) Bounce light off a mirror: Mirrors are the oldest trick in the book when it comes to creating the illusion of space. The classic method is to place a large mirror opposite a window, but if you can’t (or don’t want to) rely on natural light, place mirrors opposite your wall lights for a similar effect.
8) Use square shades to fit lamps onto small surfaces: If you want to place a table lamp on a very narrow table, a mantelpiece or an awkward little shelf, try using a square lampshade. This means you can push it right up against the wall, saving valuable space.
9) Dazzle with glass: This is another classic space-making interior design trick: use see-through furniture such as glass tables to remove barriers for the eye and open up a room.
Here are some examples of perfect lighting…