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Designer Tricks for Living Large in a Small Bedroom

By: Davida Sidrane Hogan

Is your small bedroom cramping your style? We have 15 can't-fail insider tricks from top designers and architects to make your small bedroom feel larger — no contractor required.

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Photo: Photography by Tracey Ayton

Bring the Outdoors In

So your bedroom has access to outdoor space? Lucky you! Maintain the connection to the outdoors with drapery panels and window treatments that frame the view instead of distracting from it. "Use window treatments made from fabric with subtle details and texture, and make sure you can pull the panels all the way back," explains Karla Amadatsu, founder of the British Columbia design company Kerrisdale Design. The length of the draperies should just barely touch the floor; this allows you to see the continuity of the floor under the drapery panels connecting the indoor space to the outdoor space. When window treatments break and puddle on the floor, she explains, they give your eye a place to stop and create a division.

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Think Horizontal

Minimizing color distraction on the walls, floors and furnishings is one of the ways that Linda McDougald, lead designer at the South Carolina-based firm Postcard from Paris, made this tiny bedroom feel bigger. The other major visual trick she employed was to add horizontal wood planking to the walls. "The room already had a lot of height," McDougald says, "so to balance it out we added planking, which fools your eye into thinking the space is wider than it is."

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Photo: Photography by Stacy Z Goldberg

Get to the Art of the Matter

Strategically hanging art is one of the easiest ways to make a room look bigger. The art gives your eye something to focus on beyond the physical perimeter of the room and has the effect of expanding space. "Don't overload the walls," cautions Allison Marvin, an art consultant whose business, Sightline, is based in Washington, D.C. "The more you put on the walls in a small room, the smaller the space will feel." Instead, choose a few larger pieces and place them on different walls around the room. Doing so makes your eye move around the space and you notice the architectural constraints of the room less. When hanging art above a bed, Marvin recommends keeping the art within the width of the bed itself and hanging it about six to eight inches above the headboard. Design by J.D. Ireland Interior Architecture+Design

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Emphasize Height

If you are blessed with high ceilings, take full advantage of them and choose a tall bed to anchor the room. "The height of the bed calls attention to the volume and height of the ceilings," explains Melanie Miller, ASID, president and founder of The Design Atelier in Atlanta. To pull off the effect, choose a delicate bed with a lot of architectural interest to add height. A bed without a footboard, which visually marks the end of the bed, ensures you won't be adding heft to the space. "A wooden four-poster bed would look heavy and command too much attention," she explains.

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