Feel as though the walls are closing in on you? Make compact rooms feel bigger with our space-enhancing ideas


Realising that a flat-screen TV would be an eyesore in an open-plan living area, interior designer Jaco du Toit created a recess for it, making it disappear against the dark wood background. “Cables are concealed in the recess, while a floating wall unit hides the other home entertainment systems,” explains Jaco.

TIP: Dark panelling or paint can also be used in any small room to make a wall recede for a more spacious feel.

living area


Nothing creates a sense of space like light, so in this apartment’s tiny kitchen interior designer, Jaco du Toit incorporated various reflective surfaces: a high-gloss finish on the cabinetry, frosted glass doors for recessed shelving, porcelain floor tiles and Caesarstone countertops. Says Jaco: “Cupboards extend all the way to the ceiling to maximise storage. While tiny, the kitchen is fully functional thanks to undercounter slim-line appliances like an extra-small Smeg dishwasher.”

TIP: Glossy finishes add to the sleek look, which is essential in a small, open-plan space.



For this bijou living room, interior designer and owner of The Trend decor shop, Jaco du Toit opted for furniture that appears to float weightlessly. “The dark bases of the white sofa makes it look lighter, creating a sense of space. I chose each piece with space-saving in mind, like a side table that fits snugly over the couches, and an oval coffee table. The ottoman is multifunctional: It can be a footstool, extra eating or a side table,” says Jaco.

TIPS: In a bedroom, white bedlinen on a dark bed can have the same effect. Ottomans that incorporate storage are also handy.

bijou living room


Carefully selected oversized furniture can trick the eye. “This large mirror makes my entrance hall seem spacious and light, while disguising the angled wall behind it. It also adds depth to the large vertical volume created by high ceilings,” says property developer Peter van Wyk of Maxim Property Development Group.

TIPS: A single oversized sofa or armchair will make a small lounge look bigger than various smaller pieces. Cabinetry or shelving that extends to a low ceiling can make it seem higher

oversized furniture


A chequerboard floor is not only timelessly stylish, but it can also be used to create the optical illusion. Peter van Wyk of Maxim Property Development Group explains: “Since my dining area and kitchen are essentially one room, the diagonally-laid black and white tiles give an illusion of space. I like the way the painting mimics the tiles; by continuing the square pattern it adds to the trickery of extending the space.”

TIP: Increase storage space by placing baskets under a server.


When stylist Marianne and publisher Andrew Burke bought their compact home, both the bedroom and bathroom were cramped and dark. “We demolished the wall between the two rooms to maximise natural light and replaced the bath with a shower to increase the floor space. Although our new room has the same dimensions, it feels much more spacious,” Marianne explains.

bedroom and bathroom


In Judie and Jean Smit’s apartment, floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors extend the sense of space. Minimalist window treatments, like blinds, allow for maximum natural light. “An all-white decor scheme reflects light, adding much-needed centimetres to the interior. White furniture with light steel frames also make this space feel bigger,” says interior designer Bobby Breen. Add bright accents and see how they pop against the white backdrop.

TIP: If you don’t have a great view, create a pretty green focal point with plants and a water feature in front of your window