Use your illusion: How to make a small property look larger

Mirrors help give an illusion of space

Mirrors help give an illusion of space - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

There’s a lot you can do to make a small house or garden seem more spacious.

Vertical planting is recommended for small gardens

Vertical planting is recommended for small gardens - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Buying even the tiniest St Albans or Harpenden property comes with a hefty price tag attached, meaning many of us have to think carefully about ways of making our homes seem more substantial. Here’s how to go about achieving an illusion of space, both inside and out.


Consistent flooring is the key to making a smaller home seem more spacious, according to St Albans-based interior designer Natalie Roukin.

“In a small space, it’s always nice for the flooring to be the same in every room,” she says. “It’s not as necessary in a large home, but in smaller ones, try to keep the flooring consistent. For example, the same hardwood floor running throughout the home will prevent rooms from looking disconnected.”

These’s no need for the rest of the interior to seem samey, however, as bolder touches can be added from this simple starting point. Natalie says: “You can add interest and colour with area rugs and runners – as long as the base flooring is the same throughout it will work. If the flooring is different and there’s nothing you can do about it you can try to create a connection by using rugs and runners that are the same colour or material, such as sisal or jute.”

Moving furniture away from the wall can make a difference

Moving furniture away from the wall can make a difference - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

If the floors are drastically different and area rugs aren’t an option, painting the rooms the same colour is another option. “It will soothe the different floors and create some sense of flow,” Natalie says.

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6 space-enhancing suggestions for indoors

1. Control the clutter – nothing saps space like piles of paperwork topping every surface

2. Use pale, neutral colours on the walls to make the rooms feel as big as possible

3. Be bold up top – a strong colour on the ceiling draws the eye upwards, giving an illusion of height, while also adding depth

Varied shapes will help things seem more spacious

Varied shapes will help things seem more spacious - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

4. Make the most of your mirrors – they’re an easy means of reflecting light and making a room feel larger

5. Maximise each room’s natural light – consider ditching curtains or blinds altogether for a lighter, more open feel

6. It may seem to go against instinct, but leaving a gap between furniture and the wall will give the impression of more space (honest!)


St Albans-based garden and landscape designer, Jane Thomas, recommends various visual tricks to make a small garden seem more spacious.

“Use a zigzag or curved path rather than straight central pathway to draw the eye from side to side, to make a garden seem wider,” she advises. “And rather than using square or rectangular pavers, use perspective illusion with long, thin pavers that lead the eye into the distance.”

There are also clever moves to be made with your plant choices. Jane recommends bold, hot colours – try Crocosmia – near the house as they appear to advance towards the viewer, and cool tones at the rear as they seem to recede further away. She also suggests using plants with finer foliage at the rear of the garden, and those with bold, glossy-leaves up front.

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6 tips for making your outside space seem bigger

1. Break your garden up into sections to clearly define each area (dining, playing, pot plants, and so on)

2. Have a path: cleverly-angled pavers will make the garden appear wider than it really is

3. Play with shapes – variety can help things appear more spacious

4. Keep it simple – overcrowding and a mix of themes will overwhelm a small space

5. Aim high – vertical planting adds interest without monopolising vital floor space

6. Cut out the clutter – a rule that holds true both inside and out!