interior design: how to use lighting to make a room look bigger

There are plenty of well-known interior design tricks for making a small room appear more spacious – from clever storage solutions integrated into furniture to large mirrors adorning the walls or optical illusions like striped rugs on the floor. 

However, have you considered the significance of lighting in creating a sense of spaciousness? Here are Pooky's nine top tips for utilizing lighting to give your rooms a sense of size and airiness...

Spread light evenly

First and foremost, don't rely solely on a single light source in the center of the room. A lone ceiling fixture will only illuminate the center of the floor. Instead, use multiple light sources throughout the room to create an open feel, such as floor lamps in corners and table lamps on sideboards. This approach distributes focus across the entire room and grants you greater control over creating different moods in the space – for more insights, see our guide to layering light in the home.

Wall sconces

    Enhance corners or recesses with wall sconces

    In the spirit of spreading light evenly, consider employing wall sconces in challenging recesses or corners. For example, illuminating the areas on either side of a chimney breast can visually widen the room.

    Pendant lights

      Emphasize height with long pendant lights

      One of the most common techniques for making a room seem larger is to make the most of vertical space. If your square footage is limited but you have reasonably high ceilings, draw attention to them with tall, slender furniture and tall shelves. When it comes to lighting, consider a long pendant light suspended from the ceiling. It will draw the eye upwards and downwards, accentuating the room's height rather than its modest floor space.

      Dramatic table lamp

        Make a statement with a bold, dramatic lamp

        There are two opposing schools of thought regarding objects and décor in small spaces: either stick to proportionately small items or incorporate one or two large, eye-catching elements. You can experiment by placing a single striking, oversized lamp with a flamboyant shade in an otherwise minimally decorated room.

        Compact lamp shades

          Opt for tall, slim lamps with compact shades

          Alternatively, if you prefer a different approach, choose tall, slim table lamps with compact shades. The general rule of thumb for selecting the right lampshade size is that the shade's height should be about three-quarters of the base's height, and when in doubt, go for a larger shade. However, rules are meant to be broken, and very slender, tall lamps often complement smaller shades. This arrangement not only creates more space but also accentuates the room's vertical elements (for more information, refer to our comprehensive guide on choosing the right lampshade).

          Lamp shade colors

            Select lamp shades in appropriate colors

            Most color schemes aimed at enlarging a room and enhancing its airy feel revolve around light colors: white walls, drapes, light wooden floors, and pale furnishings. Therefore, in many cases, it's advisable to opt for matching light, neutral lamp shades for your floor and table lamps, possibly made of materials like linen or silk. However, this is a rule that can be flexible in certain situations. A dark, opaque shade, perhaps in parchment, can be ideal if you want to direct light upward to highlight a particular feature or corner rather than using lamps for general ambient lighting.


              Bounce light off mirrors

              Mirrors are an age-old trick for creating the illusion of space. The traditional method involves placing a large mirror opposite a window, but if natural light isn't readily available or desirable, positioning mirrors opposite your wall lights can achieve a similar effect. As a side note, one of the most effective mirror tricks involves installing a floor-to-ceiling mirror behind a piece of furniture like a side table or cabinet. This gives the illusion of an entirely new room opening up behind it.

              regular wisteria table lamp in antiqued brass and clear glass

              Create impact with glass

              This is another timeless interior design strategy for optimizing space: incorporate transparent furniture, such as glass tables, to eliminate visual barriers and open up a room. However, you can also introduce glass into your lighting for similar effects. The Wisteria table lamp (above) ingeniously incorporates a glass base, while a colored, recycled glass pendant light (like the eider, below) is an excellent way to inject a splash of color onto a wall, particularly in a predominantly white-based color scheme.

                eider pendant light

                At Pooky, we don't just offer beautiful lamps – we're passionate about using light to craft exquisite interiors. Discover more tips and inspirational ideas on our interior design blog.