Darkness makes a space feel smaller and closed in. If you have a room with a big dark wall, you’ll instinctively believe that wall is closer to you than it actually is, and you’ll believe the whole room to be smaller too.
The same goes for dark corners, hallways, under stairs, under wall units etc. – dark is smaller than light.
To fix this you can use paint, wallpaper, hang curtains on the wall rather on the lintel or top of the window frame, keep the inside of the window box as pale and shiny as possible to reflect light into the room, add light fixtures and moving items, all bringing your awareness to your full square footage.
Light can also help you work, rest and play better: You can see what you are working on better, make less mistakes and save time, money and energy just because of better light. Light can help you relax and enjoy your hobbies too, and that improves both your sense of well-being and your actual well-being.
Like with light, height can play tricks on you: If you have tall units close by as you enter a room, or they tower over you once inside the room, it’s natural to not progress so readily. It means the area feels restricted and smaller than it is. Try holding a hand in front of your forehead, about a hands width away, shadowing light. Now try to move your hand down in front of your chin – feel the difference? Amazing, isn’t it? You want your interiors to help you feel bright and able to proceed into the space, so place high items out of immediate sight.
Noting the access you need, as you move round your place during the day, you’ll see there are certain areas not just blocked by darkness and items towering over you. There’ll be drawers and doors not opening fully and freely, even doors hung the wrong way ’round.
The same goes for tight spots, trying to get a chair at a table, opening windows, getting dressed, getting to your printer or anywhere where you physically have to bend or go sideways.
Once you’ve improved the feeling of the space, either by moving the furniture or the items to a more advantageous spot, it’s time to look at flooring:
Like with tall items, stripes of any kind are like tracks. And anywhere you see tracks you need to cross it’ll feel like you are being blocked – quite the opposite feeling to tracks guiding you straight ahead. So when you put down rugs, put them straight ahead for good movement.
4. Dead space.
Once you’ve looked at height, light and movement, you might still have a piece of furniture which leaves a few cubic feet inaccessible or just no use. This is most often due to backs, or tops, of furniture seeming to make a space ‘out of bounds’ or just uninviting.
Dead space can also be due to oversized furniture. Corner sofas are lovely – if you have the space to enjoy them – but it’s my experience they can do more damage than good to small rooms. It is also my experience that generally sofas which are more than 1/6 of a room are going to limit your options. If a bed take up more than 1/3 of your bedroom, the room will also feel crowded.