|The simplest and cheapest way to expand a room:|
Light walls and more light.
• First and cheapest: fresh paint. Dingy, yellowed paint makes a room seem much smaller. A nice bright coat of off-white can do wonders by reflecting reflecting a lot more light and thus visually expanding the space.
• For the same reasons, get rid of busy wallpaper and bogus paneling. Patterns of any kind make surfaces appear closer to the eye, making the room shrink visually.
|Busy patterns converge|
on the eye. Lose them
to gain visual space.
• If you have a non-asbestos sprayed acoustic ceiling, consider having it removed. Acoustic textures don’t reflect light well and also gather dust and smoke, making the ceiling appear low and oppressive. A plain white ceiling will look higher and reflect more light into the room.
If these nonstructural tricks don’t help, here are a few relatively inexpensive remodeling approaches:
|Heavy drapes are not the thing for tight spaces.|
If privacy is not an issue, get rid of
window coverings altogether.
The new windows needn’t be smack in the middle of the wall; they could be narrow vertical strips in corners, or a high horizontal band near the ceiling. Just make sure they won’t interfere with furniture placement; you should have at least one uninterrupted expanse of wall for bookcases and the like.
• Add skylights. Although they can get complicated depending on the roof’s pitch and construction, skylights are a good way to make a room look bigger. If possible, give them a nice, flaring light well to distribute the light and to make the ceiling look higher.
|A bow or bay window (a bow is shown)|
visually expands the room without
actually having to move walls.
• Finally, consider a bay or bow window. A bay (which has three faces) or a bow (which has any number of facets arranged in an arc) can add a lot of character to a room, as well as a lot of light. And by projecting outside of the wall plane, they literally make the volume of the room bigger. Bows and bays are available as kits from the major window manufacturers. See your local window distributor.