How to Change the Size of Your Room With Paint

Paint is a powerful tool. It can change your mood, your style, and even the size of your space. Now, it can’t alter the measurements, of course. But used correctly, color can fool the eye into believing your room is larger, smaller, taller, or wider than it is. Here are nine ways to change the size of your room with nothing more than a few cans of paint.

Expand the Space

expanding space with paint

Small-space dwellers often wonder: How do I make my space look bigger? Of all the pro paint tricks we’re about to share, this one is the easiest because it only requires one paint color.

The paint can be any pale hue, though, for maximum impact, we recommend something in the white family.

To give the feeling of expansive space, no matter the size of the room, paint the walls, trim, and ceiling the same color. Keep the floor light, too, by adding light rugs over dark wood, linoleum, or tile. Then step back and watch your room expand.

Make It Taller

make space taller with paint

To make a room look taller, you’ll need two cans of paint, a white (or very light hue), and a dark gray (or another deep tone). Paint the ceiling, the light color, and the walls the dark.

This draws the eye toward the light color and, since dark colors recede, makes the room feel taller.

Close It Down

If you have a big room but want it to feel cozy, here’s a tip. Paint your ceiling and one wall white (a short wall, if the room is rectangular), and the other walls dark. Doing this draws the eye down the ceiling to the white wall. The other walls close in on the white area, making you feel like the room is hugging you.

Highlight a Wall

We’re all familiar with focus walls, a bold wall color juxtaposed against a neutral space. Highlighting a wall is a focus wall in reverse. Rather than paint one wall bold, paint it light and paint the rest (including the ceiling) dark. Doing this makes the one, white wall pop. This is great for rooms where you want to feature a piece of dramatic artwork or ones where you want to put all the attention on the furniture arrangement.

Make It Smaller

If you have a large room or a room that’s bright that you want to tone down, try this trick. Paint the walls and ceiling all the same, dark color. This creates a cave effect that’s perfect for rooms like bedrooms or libraries, where you want to minimize light.

Elongate It

To elongate a short room, paint the ceiling and one wall dark, and the other walls white. The white walls expand the room out, while the eye follows the long line created by the dark ones.

Stretch Space Horizontally

This is probably the trickiest of all the paint options. To make your space look wider, paint the ceiling and the bottom half of the wall white. Then paint the upper half of the wall dark. This will sandwich the dark color between the white, which makes the room look wider.

Lower the Ceiling

For tall rooms, paint the ceiling dark and all the other walls white. Bonus: A finished ceiling makes a room look professionally designed.

Shorten the Room

Got a long room? Condense it visually by painting the ceiling and three of the walls white. Then paint one of the short walls dark. The dark wall seems to advance, visually shortening the room.

If you love these painting tips, you’ll like our Color Tool. Upload room photos to try on paint colors, browse trending colors and get free 8’ x 8’ paint samples.


Kelley Rebori

Kelley Rebori has written for national brands like Paintzen, HGTV, the DIY Network and Trulia for more than a decade. She loves home renovation projects, chocolate icing and small poodles. She and her husband split the year between their homes in Tennessee and Italy.