5 Trompe L’Oeil Tricks to Make Your Home Seem Bigger


Trompe L’Oeil is an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion often employed in murals. Artists have been practising it for centuries to create stunning illustrations and fool their audience.

Times are tough and it’s a hard market for any home seller right now. Buyers are on a budget but that doesn’t mean they’re going to settle for less – everyone likes to feel their money has been well spent, and when it comes to a major purchase such as a new home that’s truer than ever.

So how do you sell your delicately proportioned home? Do you lower the price? You certainly could, and you might get a sale but dropping the price should always be a last resort.

Luckily, there are some things you can do to make your home appear bigger than it really is, and it needn’t be expensive. Here are my top 5 clever tips to fool the eye with Trompe L’Oeil techniques.

Key Rule: A dark room is a small room

1. Double Up

Have you ever walked into a shop and headed towards a rail of clothing at the back, only to find yourself up against a wall-sized mirror? Retailers are well aware of this Trompe L’Oeil trick, but it works just as well in homes too.

Invest in the largest mirrors you can afford and place them in an area where they’re visible from the moment you step into the room, and where they catch the natural light and reflect it back into the room. It’s a simple trick, but one that works to great effect!

2. Furniture is King

A good rule of thumb is that the less floor space is seen, the smaller the room appears. So if you have the budget for it, consider replacing your chairs and tables with thinner-legged versions, and go for glass tops rather than solid wood.

Furniture that blocks entrances and walkways is just as bad, regardless of size or style. Visitors to your home will expect to see a wide, open space they wander around with ease, not a maze of chairs and tables they have to consciously navigate around! Ensure there is a clear and obvious path from the entrance of the room right to the other end – get rid of less important furniture.

Key Rule: Keep furniture minimal to expose maximum floor space

3. Clear the Clutter

I can’t stress this point enough – nothing makes a room seem small like mess. If you’re not the most organised of people, it can be tough to keep your home clean and tidy for months on end whilst waiting for that sale, but you’ll reap the rewards in a higher sale price.

Take a quick flick through any home interiors magazine – do you see kids’ toys on the floor and stacks of unread mail on the tabletops? Of course not! Perfectly clear surfaces with perhaps an artfully placed decoration or two make the space seem more spacious and give clean lines that are pleasing to the eye.

Throw out those cards you’ve kept on the mantelpiece since last Christmas and make sure trailing cables or electrical supplies are hidden behind furniture.

4. Light it Up

Even the tidiest of rooms will feel claustrophobic if it’s dark. If you’re lucky enough to have large, South-facing windows, fling them wide and make sure the curtains are fully open, or the blind fully up. By flooding the space with natural light it will instantly seem more welcoming and, yes, more spacious too.

For rooms that don’t get a lot of natural light you can still fake it with the help of Trompe L’Oeil  – invest in some good quality lighting and make sure no corner is left in shade. A bright ceiling light along with some decorative lamps or recessed wall lighting should do the trick.

It is also important to think about the temperature of the room. With the variations of natural light a room will get, it may be useful to think about a portable air conditioning unit to keep the room at a comfortable temperature – stuffy air subconsciously makes visitors feel cramped, and the room feel smaller!

Key Rule: Pale decor creates a sense of light in a dark room

5. Consider Colour

Last but not least, have you considered how the colour scheme of your decor affects the room size? It’s pretty simple – the darker the colour, the smaller the room will appear. A fresh coat of paint is not a big investment and can make all the difference. Opt for light but homely hues – think warm beige, not clinical white.

If you don’t have the time or the money to re-paint, small changes to the soft furnishings can still go a long way to enhancing the overall appearance of the room. Invest in some paler cushion covers, cover a dark tabletop with a fresh, white tablecloth and adorn it with a bouquet of lilies to finish!

Do you have any tips of your own on making a small room seem bigger?

Blog by Estelle Page, a UK based interior designer intent on making the world a better place to live in, one home at a time!
(Images via Plage Vinilos, UggBoy, Sofitel and Mirage Floors)

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