Tips to Make a Narrow Room Appear Visually Wider

An optical illusion is something that fools the eye into seeing something that isn't real - and here is a trick you can use to make a narrow room appear visually wider.




In the narrow guest toilet above, the feature wall behind the toilet attracts the attention away from the narrow confines of the space.



Who hasn't come across at least one optical illusion in their lifetime. I am a personal fan of staring at designs filled with spots to find the hidden image hidden within. Perhaps you have been to a 3D movie where you wear special glasses to make the movie appear that it is jumping out of the screen? Optical illusions are everywhere in our lives, and we can use these to our benefit in our homes to make rooms feel smaller or larger, make a ceiling appear higher or lower or, as in this case, make a narrow room appear visually wider than it is.




We don't get the pick and choose when it comes to purchasing an existing build and you sometimes have to make a sacrifice on smaller things to get what you want or need. A narrow room might be what you end up with but there are more than a few designer tricks you can use to visually change the room. Let's look at designer tricks you can put to use in your home.




1. Narrow Passage or Hallway

A narrow passage through a house is the number one complaint for many homeowners. Mainly due to lack of light, these areas can feel downright claustrophobic and yet they don't have to. Most passages are so small that they only have a width slider widen than that of a door. The image above is a good example of this. The light flooring and neutral walls bring light into the space, but it is the addition of a small skylight that really lets the passage feel more expansive.



More ways to make a narrow passage visually wider:

  • Always use neutral colours for wall, trim, and ceiling in narrow passages, with the exception of where you want to draw the eye to the end of the passage to make it feel longer, in which case you can use a bold colour at the end.
  • The addition of a large mirror - or several smaller mirrors - will reflect light around the space and also provide the optical illusion of a wide area.
  • Keep decor to a minimum. The last thing you want to do is bring in accessories that only serve to clutter the space. A few select artworks on one wall is a great way to add interest and visual appeal, but don't overdo it.
  • Shop for rugs or runners with geometric designs such as diagonals or stripes. These are also great for creating visual illusions. If the area has dark flooring, choose rugs or runners in a light colour to overcome this.
  • If you can, look at installing a small skylight or tubelight to bring in extra daylight.









2. Narrow Entrance or Hallway

Much the same rules apply to an entrance hallway as to a narrow passage, although it is a nice idea to add a few select accessories to this space to create a welcoming entrance. To avoid cluttering the space, try to keep your decorating to the wall opposite the door or to the side wall that is visible when the door opens.



More ways to make a narrow entrance hall visually wider:

  • Light colours work best but if you want to add some accent colour, a feature wall opposite the door is the ideal solution.
  • Keep flooring light or use light coloured rugs to compensate for dark floors.
  • Hang a mirror on one wall to bounce light around the space but don't mount this on the wall facing the door, as this is considered to be very bad Fung Shui.
  • Any furniture you add to the space should be streamlined and narrow so as not to intrude too much. Even a floating shelf with a few select decor accessories will bring interest to an entrance hall.
  • Decorate the wall opposite the door with a feature such as large-pattern wallpaper or geometric designs to distract the eye.
  • Install a statement light fixture that draws the eye up and away from the narrow dimensions of the space.
  • If the area receives little or no natural light, look at replacing the door for one that has glass panels or panes down one or both sides.



3. Narrow Bathroom or Guest Toilet

Another common complaint for homeowners is a bathroom or guest toilet that is narrow. Like all other narrow spaces, there are a few ideas you can use to remedy the problem.



More ways to make a narrow bathroom or guest toilet visually wider:

  • Only use neutral or light colours in the room and leave the ceiling white.
  • Mirrors are essential in a bathroom and the larger the better. Installing a mirror on one of the side walls will reflect light and provide a visual illusion of more space.
  • Use decor that is eye-catching to distract attention away from the narrow space. In a white bathroom, consider black or darkly coloured accent pieces.
  • Try to steer clear of small tiles, unless you are installing mosaic tiles. Larger tiles will detract away from the narrow space and fool the eye. It is not so much the tiles themselves that cause the problem, more the grout lines that make the room feel busy and cluttered. Having said that, attractive designs of a repetitive nature can work in your favour.
  • Choose a wall tile colour that is not to far away from the paint colour used on the walls.
  • Tile from floor to ceiling rather than half or two-thirds up the wall.





back to top