How to make small rooms look bigger


Small sitting rooms and snugs definitely have their charms – cosy spaces to kick back and relax, binge-watch the latest Netflix series, get lost in a favourite book. Choosing and using colours which make a smaller space look bigger means how ever modest the square footage, it’ll always feel spacious and inviting.

Paint at Holloways

At our Worcestershire showrooms, we stock paint from Edward Bulmer and Neptune, responsibly-manufactured paints inspired by nature and naturally suited to English light.

For 10 years, Edward Bulmer, based in Pembridge in Herefordshire – a stone’s throw from the Holloways showrooms – has been working with specialist manufacturers to create beautifully coloured, non-toxic plant-based paints that allow walls to breathe. You’ll find 111 of their signature shades upstairs in our Interior Design Studio.

Holloways is a Neptune partner store, and you’ll find their paint range in our Gallery Showroom. Every season, a new shade is released which, in turn, informs their fabric and accessory collections. You can read about each as they're released in our Journal.

Looking for inspiration? Our interior design team is always on hand to help and advise. Call us on 01886 884665 to book a design consultation, and one of our talented team will walk you through your colour project with you.

Neptune snow

White and airy

“White is the classic colour for making a room look bigger,” says Neptune by Holloways specialist Victoria Twinberrow. “It’s a blank canvas, so you can add other colours, and it reflects light. But old-school ‘brilliant’ white is too stark, too clinical. 

"We love Snow, one of Neptune’s original colours. It’s warmer than brilliant white – think white with added sunlight. It’s perfect with stronger colours like Ink, Olive or Walnut, or great on its own for creating a neutral base to build colour and texture in a room.”

Shell is Neptune's other go-to white. With no yellow tones, it's part of the Pebble collection and softens what might be too-cool colours in smaller rooms and looks great with Blakeney Blue and Flax Blue.

Neptune snow

Put it in neutral

White isn’t the only option for creating the illusion of space in a room. Pale neutrals are elegant and work equally well in contemporary and traditional interiors.

“Neutrals are a great backdrop for smaller sitting rooms,” says Annie Blackledge, one of Holloways Interior Design team. “You’ll naturally have more furniture in a sitting room than other spaces, and whether that furniture is brown or pale or metallic, a pale neutral like Edward Bulmer’s Milk White – as fresh as it is calming – is the perfect foil for a busy space.”

Neptune Salt

Neptune rhubarb

Add energy

Colour, there’s no doubt, is a mood-lifter. And brighter, light-reflecting shades of yellows, blues, greens and oranges – provided you use them carefully – can make a small room look bigger. But don’t overdo it.

“Balance brighter shades, like Neptune’s new-season Rhubarb, with white or light neutrals to avoid overwhelming the eye,” says Victoria. “Or try a compact sofa like the Oscar, upholstered in bold Sunny Flame or Sunny Kingfisher to add a pop of colour to a smaller room with neutral walls.”

Oscar sofa in Sunny Kingfisher

Oscar chaise sofa in Sunny Flame

Let there be light

Small rooms bathed in natural light are joyful spaces to decorate. Paint the ceiling and cabinetry in the same colour as the walls to increase the illusion of height and space. Full-length curtains in a stronger tone than your paint colour, an oversized light fitting and beautifully shaped and upholstered furniture will create drama and a feeling of fullness.

"We love French Blue, from Edward Bulmer, and Cactus – a rich, earthy green by Neptune," adds Victoria. "They're big and bold and add a real sense of fun to a scheme."

Edward Bulmer Azurite

Edward Bulmer green

North face

North-facing rooms can be difficult to decorate, but treating walls with bold colours can – counterintuitively – increase the feeling of space.

“Rooms which face north will never be flooded with direct light,” says Annie. “So don’t try to change that. Make an impact with bold shades like Azurite or Indigo from Edward Bulmer. Or if you’re feeling really brave, Malahide is a big-impact, pigment-heavy orange. It’s sensational with period furniture in rooms with high ceilings."

Edward Bulmer Indigo

Opposites attract

Creating a simple triadic scheme – three different colours on the colour wheel – brings harmony to a small room. Pairing height-adding Lavender – a smokey mauve – with the soft heather hues of Isabella and Rose Tinted White, all from Edward Bulmer, creates a warm, inclusive, feminine feel to a smaller space. Equally, combining opposite shades on the colour wheel – blues and oranges, for example – will build a dramatic scheme full of warmth.

Edward Bulmer Malahide

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