Sizing up your space for colour


By Kate Smith, CMG, CfYH

One of the most frequently encountered design challenges is a space that feels too small (or occasionally too large) for its purpose. Choosing the right colours won’t change the actual size of your space but it can change how spacious or snug it feels.

You have an idea of how you plan to use the space, so now you need to look at it objectively. Do you feel cramped? Does the room feel cluttered? If making a room feel larger or smaller is one of your challenges, use design and colour to alter perception of the room.


Use colour to make a room appear larger

1. Lots of light. You don’t need to paint everything that’s not nailed down stark white, but opt for pale hues to reflect light and open up small spaces.

2. Cut contrast. Sharp colour differences – say between a navy blue wall and white trim – stop our eyes as they travel around a room. Subtle contrast among your wall, trim, and ceiling colours encourages your eyes to keep moving, making a room feel more spacious.

3. Simplify. Too many patterns, too much furniture, or too many colours in a palette will inevitably shrink a space. Streamline the contents and the colour selection, and you’ll make any room feel larger.


Use colour to make a room feel cozier

1. Think warm. Sunny yellows and cheerful oranges can help make expansive spaces feel more inviting.

2. Spice it up with colour variety. Contrasting colours help break up large spaces, and using a broader range of colours in your palette lets you give the eye many different places to comfortably linger.

3. Go for depth. Your warm, sunny colours may call for neutral elements to keep a room in balance. Choose deep, rich neutrals – mahogany brown or a saturated, complex gray to pull together your palette for large spaces.

Think about your colour placement in terms of where you want to draw the eye to create the illusion of space. Draw the eye into the room to create a more intimate setting; to the edge of the room and beyond for a feeling of spaciousness.

Terms of Use


Contact Us