Firstly, know the limitations of the room and be disciplined as to how you fill it: it’s simple to say, but don’t stuff a smaller room with too much furniture. Your eyes, and your bruised shins, will constantly pick up on it. Less furniture also means more options for arranging the furniture that does make the cut. Believe it or not, pulling furniture out from the walls creates a sense of space despite narrowing the throughways. This is your perception at play! Likewise, lighting can make a room seem bigger without actually creating more space. A single overhead light will flatten much of the room but leave the corners dark: instead, use two or three lamps to open up the corners and give the room some shape.
When it comes to colour and pattern, there are also tried and tested principles to trick the eye. Stay away from dark walls if you want to make a room feel bigger – if you must opt for a dark colour, try to save it for a single, feature wall. Be wary of overusing the same pattern across your upholstery, as this can also shrink a room: try contrasting cushion covers or a different covered throw to break up the pattern and give the illusion of space.
Many of us would love to live in a larger place, but wherever you end up it is likely there will be a room or two that feel cramped before you even start. Take a look at this fab new infographic that outlines some more tips and tricks for expanding such a room – without the need to reach for that sledgehammer.