Paint Small Rooms These Colors to Make Them Feel Instantly Bigger

The most basic design trick in the book can make a world of difference.

living room with blue paint on walls colors that make small rooms feel bigger

We'd all like a bigger bedroom. Everyone under the sun wants a more spacious living area. And who in the world wouldn't want a more expansive kitchen? But without a sizable nest egg in your savings account, conjuring up extra square footage isn't usually a viable option. Thankfully, there's an easy, affordable solution: repainting.

Yes, it's one of the most basic design tricks in the book: Paint a room a new color, and it can instantly double in size (or at least look that way). But that doesn't mean slapping on a new coat of eggshell white. The key is to choose the right color—something that reflects light harmoniously and adds new layers of visual depth to your space. Here are the shades you should choose, according to color experts and décor gurus.

Light Neutrals

Neutral Interior Design Palette colors that make small rooms feel bigger

To make a small space feel physically bigger, use light neutral colors, like alabaster and gray with taupe undertones, suggests Cate Griffing, the co-owner of paint company Wow1day Painting in Bergen County, New Jersey.

"Using very light colors is a sure way to make a space feel and appear bigger. The lighter the color, the more light-reflective it will be, which, of course, is what makes a room feel bigger," Griffing says. "Another way to make a room feel bigger is with the paint finish. Using an eggshell or a satin finish will also help reflect light."

Dark Neutrals

room with dark navy walls colors that make small rooms feel bigger

If light paint colors don't do it for you—or don't fit with your décor—then a darker neutral might do the trick. According to Lanna Ali-Hassan, the co-owner of Beyond the Box Interiors, a full-service interior design firm located in Washington, D.C., darker paint colors can actually create an optical illusion—tricking the eye into believing that the edges of the room are nonexistent, thus making the room appear bigger.

"There are some darker tones that can make a room feel grand, such as Kendall Charcoal or Hale Navy, both of which are from Benjamin Moore," she says. "They actually make all of the edges of a room disappear, making the space appear larger."

What's more, you'll want to pick a paint color that's just a few shades darker than the one that you truly want—especially if the room you're planning on painting has an abundance of light (natural or artificial).

"As a general rule, light colors recede in a room, whereas dark colors advance," says Gail Mayhugh, interior designer, color expert, and owner of GMJ Interior Design in Las Vegas, Nevada. "Paint is a living color and reacts to all the things around it. It changes depending upon the amount of light in a room, whether artificial or natural. So what appears as a dark color in one room may lose all of its color in another. If you go too light, the paint colors can disappear."

Warm Blues

room with turquoise walls colors that make small rooms feel bigger

For those truly trying to make a statement in their home, a warmer blue tone can simultaneously make the room appear larger and give your home the bold pop of color that you desire, says Shawn Breyer, owner of Atlanta House Buyers.

"Blues, like turquoise, are relaxing, similar to deep ocean blues with hints of green," he says. "Most warmer blues are going to have green and yellow undertones to them. … When you have sufficient natural light flowing into the room, the warmer blues will reflect that light. The vibrancy from these reflections makes your rooms appear larger."

And if you're looking to add a contrast wall, Breyer suggests pairing those warm blues with oranges, reds, and browns.

Cool Colors with a Glossy Finish

room with light blue walls colors that make small rooms feel bigger

You can maximize the reflecting efficacy of light cool colors, like pale frosty blue or light lavender, by picking them up in a glossy sheen, says Cristina Miguelez, a remodeling specialist with home remodeling website "You want your surfaces to reflect light. This will make the room seem larger as well. So opt for a slightly glossier finish than you would ordinarily," she says. "Don't go full glossy, as this will seem odd, but a light sheen can work wonders."

If you have a small room that lacks a healthy source of natural light, Miguelez suggests going for a lighter cool color with a slightly glossy finish to help create light and texture in the space. And if you want to do more than a paint job to increase the size of your space, here are 30 Home Design Tricks That Will Make Any Room Look So Much Bigger.

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Ashley Moor
Ashley hails from Dayton, Ohio, and has more than six years of experience in print and digital media. Read more
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