You can use both design concepts and space-enhancing gimmicks to make your home look bigger than it is, reports Hema Vijay

It is a con act, but one with benign intentions. And the intention is to create a sense of space, even when the room is not so spacious. There are design concepts — both in architecture and interior design — which can make space look and feel bigger than it really is.

Integrating living spaces like the kitchen, living, and dining areas into one unbroken space rather than walling them off creates a huge, unbroken space and additionally, the wall space area is saved.

You can allocate specific corners or areas for each utility and demarcate the areas by using different colours on the walls behind or the floor beneath.

“If you do need dividers, try glass dividers with curtain options”, says architect Sriram Ganapathi, KSM Consultants. Moving on to the floor, use large tiles on the floor to give an unbroken impression of space, and place them diagonally. “This virtually pushes the walls out and enlarges the sense of space”, design consultant Sujatha Krishnan.

Beams are necessary for construction, but don't let them project out. “When it comes to walls, try 45 degree walls which open out, thereby not cutting the view. And inset door frames into the wall, rather than having them project out of the wall”, suggests renewable energy consultant L. Vasudev, who has incorporated these features in his house designed by architect K. Jaisim. Use of parliamentary hinges on the windows ensures that they can neatly lie against the wall rather than jut out into space when the windows are opened.

“Tall windows going from floor to ceiling throw more light on the ceiling and floor and enlarge the sense of space. Likewise, full height corner windows widen out space because they ensure that the room edge is not defined. Skylights, high ceilings, and windows distributed around the room rather than one monolithic window too generates an impression of spaciousness”, says Ganapathi. Up-lights placed in room corners too make the walls look blown out, in effect making the place look bigger.

Stick to smooth finishes and light tones for the walls. The best options remain sophisticated pure white tones. “They make the space feel big as smooth surfaces and light tones are more reflective. On the other hand, dark colours absorb light and make the room look smaller”, architect Gautam Seetharaman, Centre for Vernacular Architecture.

If you do want colour, go for pale blue or pastel shades. And even then, you need to paint the cornices, wall trims, and moldings in a lighter shade than the background.

This makes the wall appear set further back, in effect enlarging the feel of the room. Limit the knickknacks on the wall. Overcrowding diminishes the sense of space. Use one large artwork, rather than many small ones. And, no wall papers please.

Choose furniture upholstery to match wall colour, which blends in and maintains the progression of space. Use translucent sheer curtains, rather then heavy drapery which cut off light.

We don't really need to panel entire walls with wardrobes. It eats up into space. “We never really need to use so many lofts and cupboards. In any case, it is smarter to overhaul the stuff in our cupboards and lofts once in a while and give away the stuff we don't need”, says homemaker M. Lakshmi.

Rather than floor-to-ceiling wardrobe panels, try shorter storage racks and chests of drawers in strategic places.“This would largely retain the volume of space in the room, as it leaves the space above it open for the eye's glance”, points out Sujatha Krishnan.

Likewise, rather than one monolithic bookrack/showcase, strategic ledges on the wall at places which don't obstruct movement gives an impression of spaciousness.

And then of course, maximize on the space-saving furniture available in the market, such as the sofa-bed-storage combo, cot-storage combo, extendable/foldable dining table, storage trunks that could double up as stools or centre tables, armless furniture that allow free flow of space, triangular furniture/storage for the corners, etc.

Opt for smaller, sleeker furniture. Align the furniture along the walls, to ensure that open space is not broken up. In a small room, design a focal point in the farthest corner, with furniture arrangement leading up to it, to establish the line of sight along the longest trajectory.

Spaciousness does not just make for elegant aesthetics. When the eyesight is not curtailed, we experience a calming effect and a sense of freedom.