Does This Color Make My Room Look Big?

Last week while touring a client’s home she told me she painted her guest room Benjamin Moore Cape May Cobblestone because she was told it makes a room look bigger. When I got home I did a little research and the Benjamin Moore website does indeed say “This classic, elegant gray confers a sense of spaciousness that makes it ideal for small bedrooms and areas like hallways and mudrooms.”

Wow…wouldn’t it be great if there was a specific color that when painted on the walls would make the room magically look bigger? Personally, I’m not convinced that Cape May Cobblestone is the answer but if you want your room to look bigger here are three ways to create a more spacious look simply with paint.

1. Use light(er) colors over dark(er) colors. Creams, pastels, and light cool colors (blues and greens)  generally make a room look and feel bigger over dark warm colors. Light, cool colors have the effect of reflecting the light around whereas warm and darker colors tend to absorb the light making the room feel cozy but smaller.

light colored living room


The dark walls in the living room below create a cozy but seemingly smaller space than if it had been painted in a light or pastel color.

dark walls


2. Choose low contrast over high contrast. Consider painting your walls the same color as your furnishings; this will give the effect of the large furniture items virtually disappearing into the walls and will create an open feeling in the room.

Tobi Fairley

Tobi Fairley

Even dark colors when used in very low contrast can make a room appear larger. Notice how the trim is painted the same color as the walls keeping the contrast down making this seemingly very small room appear bigger than it actually is.



In comparison, high contrast colors act to break up a space, and can make the room look cluttered and smaller than it is.

Mary McDonald

Mary McDonald

Even though the room below is high contrast look how the wall color matches the biggest piece of furniture in the room, the sofa. Try if you will to imagine how much more chopped up and smaller the room would look if the sofa was yellow like the chair or orange like the ceiling.

high contrast den


3. Paint a horizontal stripe around the room.  Just like with clothing, horizontal stripes tend to trick the eye into thinking something is wider. A horizontal stripe, painted on one wall or all four, will carry your eye around the room, making it appear wider.

horizontal stripe


I’m guessing this room below looks as big as possible since it incorporates all three tips: light colors, low contrast with horizontal stripes.



As a  final note: be careful not to confuse making a room look and feel bigger with making a dark room look and feel brighter.  Maria Killam wrote a great blog post about this and you can read it here.

So how about you? Do you have a small room that you used a paint color or technique to appear  bigger?

If you need help with finding the perfect color, decorating, or home staging give me a call at 617-965-3342.


9 Responses to Does This Color Make My Room Look Big?
  1. Kelly Reply

    Great examples! Love the first and last picture. So pretty and all so true!!

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Thanks Kelly, I have always been partial to light colored walls myself and who couldn’t use a bigger looking room?

  2. Barbara @ DIY Home Staging Tips Reply

    Great advice. Thanks for all the clear thinking and good ideas. I like this post so much I pasted a link to it on my Facebook Group page and tweeted it.

    • Linda Holt Reply

      thanks so much Barbara! I greatly appreciate the comment and the sharing.

  3. Sarah @ Redesigning Sarah Reply

    Great post – really like how you simplify the concept into three tips!

  4. Sheila Zeller Reply

    Great examples and explanations, Linda! I think the best tip is low contrast over high contrast, and I honestly think it’s the one people understand the least…

  5. Chez Reply

    Great post! So how to make a dark and small room look bigger and brighter? Maria Killam says light paint color can’t lighten a room really – so how best to combine these two issues to choose the right paint? I was thinking about a light gray?

  6. [...] everyone has a different opinion about the best color to paint a small space. Like I wrote about in this...
  7. new paint in house Reply

    the stripe is a really cool idea. never would’ve thought of that but i’ll give it a shot

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