8 Ways to Make a Narrow Room Appear Wider

It's all about optical illusions

Updated 07/20/18

Long and narrow rooms can be a major challenge to decorate. If not placed properly, furniture can feel cramped in and other awkward corners are left empty and unused. Often, people instinctively work with the length of the room without considering other layout options or using visual tricks to make their room appear wider.

But interior designers and decorators have more than a few tricks up their sleeves. From drawing the eye up to visually blurring the lines of a room, there is a myriad of small tips you can use to make your narrow room appear wider. So before you despair at the sight of your narrow room that seems like an impossible puzzle to decorate, take a few hints from the clever rooms below. 

No matter how long or short your space is, we have the perfect trick to make your room feel a whole lot more spacious. Don't delay on a bigger, better, and more functional space—this is exactly how to make a narrow room appear wider. 

Draw the Eye Up

a living room with vaulted ceiling
Courtesy of Jessica Helgerson

Drawing the eye up will take the focus away from the width of the room and onto the height, giving it the appearance of spaciousness. If you have high ceilings or architectural features, emphasize them to make your room appear wider than it actually is.

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Build In Furniture

a living room with a built-in sectional sofa
Courtesy of Jessica Helgerson

Are you working with limited width? Building in furniture in a narrow room or hallway can save a few inches and make it feel like the furniture is part of the wall, opening up the space. For maximum results, keep the furniture in the same hues as the walls to create a seamless effect.

Use Mirrors

a bathroom with multiple mirrors
Courtesy of Jessica Helgerson

The more mirrors are in your room, the wider and larger it will appear. Consider installing a wall of mirrors or installing mirrors in opposite spots from each other to create an infinity effect.

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Respect Furniture Clearances

a spacious-looking kitchen
Courtesy of Jessica Helgerson

The worst thing you can do in a narrow space is trying to fit more furniture or choose pieces that are too big for the space. When planning your furniture layout, make sure there are two to three feet of space to walk in thoroughfares. For instance, in this kitchen by interior designer Jessica Helgerson, the island is extra narrow to make space for circulation.

Create a Focal Point

a bedroom loft with teal walls
Courtesy of Studio DB

An easy way to make a room feel wider is to create a wide focal point at one narrow end of the room. For instance, in this teal bedroom, a wide bright yellow cabinet draws the eye inward focusing on the length of the piece, creating the illusion of width. 

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Blur the Lines

a bathroom with wallpaper with curvy lines
Courtesy of Studio DB

Using a patterned wallpaper and continuing it on all walls can blur the illusion of where one wall stops and another one begins, thus making the room appear wider. In this petite powder room, a busy psychedelic wallpaper hides how narrow the vanity space actually is. 

Create Multiple Seating Arrangements

an open loft space with leather sofa and yellow kitchen cabinets
Courtesy of Jessica Helgerson

In a long and narrow living room, instead of trying to cram furniture along the length of the room, create multiple smaller zones that work with the width of the space, like two seating arrangements or a living space and a workspace. Creating multiple zones will make your space more functional while also making it appear larger than it is.

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Next up: This month, our editors want to solve your small space woes.

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