Bulky fixtures, scarce outlets, and a lack of ceiling and wall fixtures can hinder good lighting in any space, but they can make things especially tricky in a small room.
Lighting is key to making a small space seem bigger than it is, as well as for creating a cozy and comfortable atmosphere. Shine some light into your cozy nooks, your vertically-challenged loft spaces, your tiny cubbyhole of a bed-, powder-, or living room with these tips:
1. Utilize low-profile wall and overhead fixtures
In tight rooms, and especially those with low ceilings, limit your lamp selection to slim fixtures that add illumination without intruding too much into the space. Low-profile wall and ceiling lamps such as recessed lamps or downlights, track lighting, LED panels, wall sconces and LED light strips are ideal for this, as they are often capable of providing a high level of light without too much crowding. They also save you the effort of trying to create space at floor level for fixtures.
LED light strips or rope lights work best when they are concealed under coving, cabinets, toe kicks, and furniture. These type of lights take up very little space and provide excellent ambient lighting to the room:
Recessed or downlight lamps are so low-profile they don’t even trespass into the vertical space of a room. This lack of intrusion makes them ideal for small spaces, just make sure you include other sources of light as well. If downlight lamps are your only source of lighting, they can create unflattering shadows.
Learn more about recessed lighting.
LED panels are another low-profile ceiling lamp option. These bright lights are best suited to areas that require task lighting, such as garages, over work benches, and craft rooms.
2. Draw the eye up with ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, and floor lamps
Overhead lighting on its own can create harsh, unpleasant shadows, especially in small rooms where there are limitations to the number of fixtures you can add. Incorporate wall fixtures as well as floor and table lamps to create a more open space.
In small rooms that have lots of vertical space but lack square footage, a good way to create the illusion of a larger room is to draw the eye upwards with an impressive ceiling fixture or pendant lamp:
Torchères floor lamps, also called torch lamps or simply floor lamps, are another great way to draw the eye up, creating the illusion of a more spacious room. Their thin profile makes these fixtures well-suited to brighten up small rooms and dark corners that shrink the space.
3. Don’t skip dimmer switches
No matter how large or small a room is, dimmer switches provide you with a level of flexibility you wouldn’t have otherwise. This comes especially in handy in small spaces with fewer fixtures–you can brighten and darken the room as needed using the dimmers instead of by turning lamps on and off.
4. Consider the aesthetics
In a small room, you have to carefully consider each piece you add. After all, it is going to take up valuable space and should only be added if it will enhance the ambience of the room. Thin, low-profile lamps and fixtures are preferred, but don’t be afraid to include a larger lamp if it is a decorative piece that fits with the theme of the room and helps tie it together.
PRO TIP: When shopping for lampshades, something light in colour that isn’t too opaque will help keep the room bright and make it seem larger.
For maximum light, consider including bare bulb lamps. These lamps typically take up very little space. If your light bulbs are going to be on display, look for bulbs that add visual interest, such as incandescent or LED carbon filament bulbs, coloured bulbs, or crown mirrored silver top light bulbs:
Incandescent Carbon Filament Bulbs
LED Filament Bulbs
Crown Mirrored Silver Top Light Bulbs
PRO TIP:Crown mirrored bulbs are designed for areas where you want the bare bulb look but don’t want to worry about glare, such as table lamps and other eye level fixtures.
5. Decorate the room with a mind for the space
To make your room appear larger, there are more tools than just lighting at your disposal. Add some of these options:
- Mirrors – To open up a space and create the illusion of a larger room, place mirrors on the wall, especially directly across from any windows.
- Paint colour – Light paint colours will help to make the space seem bigger. Select neutrals, shades of white, or light pastel tones for the walls, floor, and ceiling of your small rooms.
- Colour scheme – Another way to create the appearance of a bigger room is to opt for a monochromatic color scheme. Using the different tones of the same colour throughout the room and its textiles helps them blend better and tricks the eye into believing there’s more space.
- Declutter – Cut down the number of furniture and decorative touches to make your space feel less cluttered and more spacious, and be careful with your wall art choices. Stay away from bright or oversized pieces, as well as a large number of small ones. Instead, try to limit yourself to one or two medium sized artworks.
- Scale back on furniture – In addition to cutting back the amount of furniture you have in the room, scale back on the size. Opt for a smaller loveseat instead of a full-sized couch.
PRO TIP: Glass coffee or side tables allow you to keep the function of those tables and creates the appearance of more space—just remember to watch your shins.
With limited space to work with, it can be difficult to properly illuminate a small room. Whether creating the illusion of a bigger room or embracing the size and making a cozy space, there are many ways to light even the tiniest room in your home:
- Draw the eye up using ceiling and tall floor lamps
- Utilize wall and overhead lights
- Include dimmer switches
- Factor in lamp aesthetics
- Enhance the effects of lighting by decorating the room
Learn more about home lighting in our room by room guide to lighting your home: