How can I make my small house look beautiful? 8 space-enhancing tricks

Size definitely isn’t everything. Here’s how to make a small house look beautiful from the experts

How to make a small house look bigger
(Image credit: Future)

Wondering how to make a small house look beautiful? We’re here to reassure you that a large square footage definitely isn’t a prerequisite. A small home can be just as attractive as its larger neighbors.

The key to beauty in a small room? Adopt the strategies interior designers do when asked to work on small homes and you can give yours the style you love, and make it feel open and uncluttered to boot.

We’ve asked the experts to provide the inside track with interior design tips that will make a small house look beautiful.

How can I make my small house look beautiful?

There are a whole host of ways to style a small house – petite proportions are no impediment to style – but there are approaches you need to know about that aren’t always required in larger homes. 

Editing is key when it comes to interior design, but especially when it comes to a small house, and one key when making a small house look beautiful is always going to be to make a small room look bigger.

‘A beautiful interior is first of all an ergonomic space,’ says Alime Karimova, architect and interior designer. ‘Furniture needs to be located within a comfortable distance, on the correct height – this eases the perception of the room.

‘Get rid of the things and objects you don’t need, creating an area for functionality. Decorate the interior using the objects that remind you of pleasant emotions and memories. Harmony of the space creates coziness, which is the key element of a beautiful interior, especially within limited dimensions such as a small house.’

1. Make it appear see-through

Living room with blue patterned armchair, clear console table and ottomans

(Image credit: K Kong Designs Photograph: Mali Azima)

In order for a small house to look beautiful, its rooms should create the impression that they’re spacious even though, in reality, the proportions are far from grand. 

Kristin Kong of K Kong Designs recommends, ‘Include ghost furniture (clear acrylic pieces) and glass because you can see the floor, and this creates an illusion of more space in a small living room.’

2. Size upwards

Double bed in neutral room with large mirror above headboard

(Image credit: Emma Green Design)

It’s tempting to choose small pieces all round for a small home, but this isn’t the rule.

‘Use overscale pieces in smaller homes to play with the illusion of scale so that rooms actually look bigger than they are,’ advises BIID registered interior designer Emma Green. ‘Here, I’ve used a very large brass mirror over a bed as a feature and to distract from the client's existing low headboard in this small bedroom.’

This can work whether you are looking for bijou bedroom ideas or hope to make a small bedroom look bigger.

3. Think pattern repeat

Mural wallpaper with black swans next to fireplace with arm chair in front

(Image credit: Avalana Design)

A patterned wallpaper can make a house beautiful, but pay attention to the design to achieve the effect you want in a small room.

‘In a small room, a large-scale pattern may not repeat more than once before it meets the baseboard,’ explains Avalana Simpson of Avalana Design. ‘This would be rather like seeing only half of a painting. Instead, try a smaller pattern with a shorter repeat or go for a mural on one statement wall. 

‘If you have a small room, but prefer a large print, make sure it has lots of lighter colors or space to balance the effect,’ she continues. ‘While maximalism is a key trend, eyes do still need “resting places” so muted accents and white space are still key to complement busy and bold designs.’

4. Work the corners

Living room corner ideas

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

Use all the opportunities a small house presents to maximize its beauty.

‘When decorating think about every corner of your home to elevate the interior,’ says Juliette Thomas, founder and director of Juliettes Interiors. ‘If you have a corner space in a living room or bedroom, for example, that is too small for furniture, opt for a decorative approach with either a statement floor lamp, tall decorative candelabra or a few indoor plants. This can really brighten a room and add a level of intrigue. Group in odd numbers to ensure your scheme is balanced.’

4. Create a feature wall in a bedroom

Small bedroom with black and white tropical mural

(Image credit: Future)

A feature wall can lift a bedroom to new heights. ‘I think that the easiest way to make a small bedroom feel special is a feature wall of chinoiserie or statement wallpaper behind the headboard,’ says Katharine Pooley

‘We recently used a light blue toned botanical design from Fromental and the vertical scrolling lines of the trees make a smaller space feel much bigger.’

5. Plan for two functions

Living room with media wall and built in desk in neutral colors

(Image credit: Hubner Studio)

When a room has to meet more than one need, careful planning of the furniture can avoid compromising its style.

‘Small houses often require multi-use rooms, so looking at clever ways to integrate furniture that has multiple uses is a good idea,’ says Jessica Hubner, founder of Hubner Studio

‘We created a media wall with an integrated desk and storage for one of our clients who needed his work space to be in the open plan living room. We concealed power points within the desk space to keep everything clean and avoid cables being on show. Integrated furniture always helps to make the most of small spaces.’

This is a great ideas if you are looking for small living room TV ideas for the entire family to enjoy.

6. Consider custom designs

Blue wallpaper and curtains, glass dining table

(Image credit: Ward & Co.)

It’s worth thinking about specially made pieces to make a small house look beautiful. ‘Traditionally, most off-the-floor furniture is not scaled for smaller floorplans,’ explains Kristin Kong of K Kong Designs.  

‘If your budget allows, consider working with a designer or workroom to create custom pieces that are tailored to fit the room. It could just be one signature piece that lays the perfect foundation. Note, custom can be achieved at a variety of price points so don’t be put off by the word custom.’

7. Allow room for decorative objects

Bedroom with built in joinery around bed

(Image credit: Q Design House)

Plan in space for the decorative objects that give a room detail and individuality to elevate a small house.

For this Chelsea mews house, Q Design House designed the storage the home required and made room for other pieces at the same time.

‘To do this we created extra joinery around all of the beds to store books and sculptures in addition to the wardrobe wall. This can also create a very striking visual rather than just a headboard, says Michelle Katz, managing director.

8. Experiment with a single color

Living room with upholstered bench and chocolate colored walls, baseboards and trim

(Image credit: Crown)

Contemplate a color scheme that will make a striking impression. ‘To make an impact use one color or tones of one color in a room,’ says Justyna Korczynska, senior designer at Crown

‘If you paint walls, baseboards, doors, cupboards, radiators – and even window frames – in the same color it will look thoughtful and sophisticated. This works particularly well with soft grayed blues and greens as well as any neutral paint. However, if you want to make a dramatic statement using a bold bright color, such as a red, orange or yellow, will make the space pop, bringing it to life and adding character.’

Color drenching', as it is known, is also a simple way to make a small living room look nice

Sarah Warwick
Contributing Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.