5 Ideas to Make Small Rooms Look Bigger & Brighter

A modern kitchen with a navy blue and white striped floor runner and a bright yellow-painted accent wall. A modern kitchen with a navy blue and white striped floor runner and a bright yellow-painted accent wall.

5 Ideas to Make Small Rooms Look Bigger & Brighter

From favorite paint colors to specialized design advice, Benjamin Moore’s color and design experts have the answers to a common homeowner question: How do I make a small room look bigger and brighter?

Lighter paint colors like off-whites, light neutrals, pales, and pastels give the illusion of larger, brighter rooms. Here, we dive deeper into this topic with 5 specific painting techniques to make rooms look bigger, brighter, and more beautiful.
Off-white bedroom walls with a light blue-painted ceiling and matching bed frame.

What Colors Make a Room Look Bigger?

“For a small space, nothing beats airy blues and crisp whites,” says Nivara Xaykao, Benjamin Moore color and design expert.

“Blues recede, which can give the illusion of opening up a space,” she explains. A light shade of blue, like Smoke 2122-40, shown here on the ceiling, is ideal for dimmer spaces.

How do you make a room without windows look brighter? “To brighten up a room that doesn't get a lot of natural light, consider a clean white paint with warm, sunny undertones like Swiss Coffee OC-45, Acadia White OC-38, and White Chocolate OC-127.”
White kitchen cabinets with black countertops and a vibrant, red-painted accent wall.

Use Accent Wall Colors to Make a Room Look Bigger

“For smaller spaces, I always recommend using a bright color to create a focal point, says Hannah Yeo, Benjamin Moore color and design expert. “I then use lighter hues for the rest of the space. I also recommend minimal décor when it comes to smaller spaces.”

Here, a red accent wall in Tomato Tango CSP-1145 instantly draws the eye’s attention and creates the illusion of depth.

“In this kitchen, the off-white wall color and cabinets make the narrow space look wider and brighter,” Hannah adds.
Dusty soft peach room with an alcove window featuring an off-white bench with throw pillows and a white side table.

Lighten Up Alcoves, Nooks and Windows

If you have windows tucked into dormers or alcoves, the right paint color can help brighten and heighten spaces, from furnished attics to cozy corners.

“Consider a pale paint color for this type of space,” suggests Andrea Magno, Benjamin Moore color and design expert. “Paler colors work well because natural light will reflect from the surface, providing the impression of light.”

Opting for paint colors like Silken Pine 2144-50, Summer Shower 2135-60, and Raleigh Peach CW-205, pictured here, helps a room take on a lighter, airier look.
A cream laundry room with built-in shelves and cabinets in a midtone yellow color.

Opt for Soft, Yellow-Painted Walls

Yellow is highly reflective, so it is great for spaces that lack natural light,” explains Sharon Grech, Benjamin Moore color and design expert and regular on Canada’s Cityline. Basements, laundry rooms, or any windowless space can benefit from yellow paint colors, but be sure to follow these two top tips:
  • Save deeper, more saturated yellows for design accents. The laundry room shown here features Angel’s Trumpet 278 on built-in shelving. These golden accents add a touch of whimsy that animates this workspace, adding a sun kissed glow.
  • Lighter, more muted yellow paint colors are better for room walls. Here, Cream Silk OC-115, a soft yellow, works a little wonderment into this windowless room.

“Yellow is a happy, warm, & luminous color that lifts the spirits,” adds Sharon, “It lets the sun shine in, wherever it’s used.”
A bathroom with floor-to-ceiling plum wainscoting and a matching plum ceiling featuring a white sink and wall sconce.

Selecting Sheen for Smaller Spaces

The right sheen can add light and depth to your room. Using a semi- or high-gloss can help enhance your space. Higher sheens are more reflective, giving the illusion of more light.

Learn more about choosing a paint finish for your space.

Soft green dining room walls with white-painted wainscoting 3/4 of the way up the wall.

Low Ceiling? Look on the Bright Side!

“With a low ceiling, the trick is to draw the eye up to create a sense of openness with an engaging, light color,” says Arianna Cesa, Benjamin Moore color and design expert. “It creates the illusion that the ceiling is higher.” In this dining room, Crystalline AF-485, paired with Pure White OC-64, presents a winning example.

Adding wainscoting? Consider building it three-quarters up the wall, instead of the traditional halfway mark. This approach will add height and levity to any room.

Helpful Tip

To add height to any room, color expert Arianna recommends, “Try using soft pales on the upper part of the wall, and off-white paint colors on the lower part of the wall.” Great pairings for an airier, roomier look in any space include:

Visualize Paint Colors Before You Buy

‘Trying on’ color at home in different lighting conditions is essential, whatever size your space is. Order paint color samples in our online store or from your local Benjamin Moore retailer. To test out paint colors immediately, use the video and photo visualizers found on our free Benjamin Moore Color Portfolio® app.

A selection of Benjamin Moore paint color samples.

Buy a Paint Sample

Test your paint colors from morning to evening, under both natural and artificial lighting conditions.

Screenshots from the Benjamin Moore Color Portfolio® App.

The Benjamin Moore Color Portfolio® App

Envision your paint colors using our photo and video visualizers.