How to Make Large Room Appear Smaller

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Feel like the great room in your house is just too big to manage? Or you’ve gotten a good deal on renting a loft apartment or an old schoolhouse to live in, but when company comes over, everyone is shouting to hear each other talk? Try some of these simple solutions instead of moving or pulling your hair out. They won’t take much time or money and the results will give you a more manageable living space.

Things You'll Need

  • Hammer
  • Thumbtacks or small finishing nails
  • Curtain rods
  • Cup hooks
  • Sheer curtain panels long enough to reach floor to ceiling in your room
  • Good sturdy ladder
  • Large pieces of cardboard (like from a refrigerator or washing machine carton)
  • Wrapping paper to cover the cardboard
  • Household white glue
  • 10-lb. fishing line
  • Scissors
  • Move your furniture so it isn’t all lined up with its backs to the walls of the room. For example, turn your sofa so one arm is against the wall and the rest of it sticks out into the middle of the room. Then put end tables beside the arms and a coffee table in front. Add a couple of chairs for people to sit in facing the sofa, and you’ve created a nice conversation area. Use a rug under the coffee table to finish your "room within a room" look.

  • Think about what activities you do in this too-large room. If you listen to music and watch TV, and this is the room where your friends sit and talk, there are three activities which can be given separate areas. First create your conversation area like Step 1.

  • Hang sheer curtain panels behind the sofa and the chairs. Use thumbtacks or small finishing nails if you don’t plan on re-using the sheer curtains and nail them in place. If you’ll use the curtains again, hang them from the curtain rods suspended from cup hooks.

  • Set up your sound system in a corner of the room and close it off, using the sheers like a theater curtain. For a dramatic effect, pull them into a graceful drape and use thumb tacks to secure them to the wall.

  • Put your TV and favorite chair in another corner, with something to prop your feet on and a small table to hold snacks, the remote and a lamp. One activity per one area of the room means you don't feel like you're living in an airplane hangar anymore.

  • Got several people needing to do different things but all at the same time? Separate uses of the room and make it look smaller by using cardboard like sound baffles in a radio studio. The cardboard will separate the room visually and also help keep the noise from drifting over, whether someone is listening to music or watching TV or studying.

  • Cover those big pieces of cardboard with the wrapping paper (or even old magazine pictures if you have a stack of them). When the glue has dried, punch small holes along one side of each cardboard piece. Thread the clear fishing line through each hole in the cardboard and then tie the long loop to each cup hook fastened to the ceiling. Use the cardboard pieces like they were floating walls and put your furniture in front or on each side of them.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can also put a bookcase or bookcases with their backs to the room and make a corner into a nice-sized reading nook. Add a comfortable chair and a good lamp, even a footstool if you want. Enclose this area too with curtains or cardboard.
  • Use stacks of pillows placed around the room for more seating and to take up visual space. The more patterned fabrics used, the smaller the room appears.
  • With a big room, you can have that recliner you’ve wanted, and leave it folded out all the time. This takes up space visually too.
  • Avoid one lone lamp to light an area, as it makes the room appear enormous again. You could even use rope lights along the floor or ceiling to have soft lighting throughout the area and avoid the "lone streetlight in the dark" look.
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