How to paint & wallpaper a small room to make it look bigger

Many homeowners will tell you that there is at least one room in their home that is too small. Many people struggle with decorating small spaces, trying to find ways to make them appear larger. Even though painting and wallpapering a room can't truly change the dimensions of a small space, if it is done correctly it can create the illusion of a larger space. One way to create such an illusion is to layer the wallpaper and wallpaper border on top of colour-coordinated latex paint.

Choose a colour scheme for the room. Be sure to chose a colour that will complement the existing furniture. Pale or light colours should be used in small spaces. Light colours reflect light, making a room appear larger, whereas dark colours absorb light, making a room appear smaller.

Select an appropriate latex paint with a semigloss or glossy sheen. Shiny surfaces can help to make a room appear larger since they reflect the available light throughout the room, whereas flat, dull paints do not.

Select a colour-coordinated latex wall paint, wallpaper and wallpaper border. Wallpaper prints that have small, nonrepetitive patterns work well in small rooms. One suggestion is a small pastel flower printed wallpaper with a coordinating wallpaper border. Avoid prints with large flowers or designs as these tend to make a room look smaller.

Apply paint to the walls from the floor moulding to the ceiling. Be sure to allow time for the paint to dry completely between coats if it is necessary to apply a second coat for complete coverage. The paint will typically be ready for a second coat after a few hours, depending upon the level of humidity in the room.

Determine the amount of space at the bottom of the walls that you would like to cover with the wallpaper and border. Dividing the wall space between paint and wallpaper helps to visually add height to the room, making the room appear larger. You may consider placing the border at the height of the bottom of window casings for a uniform appearance throughout the room.

Apply the wallpaper and border to the bottom section of the walls.


Many home and garden stores have trained personnel to assist in the process of selecting wallpaper and coordinating borders, as well as determining how much of the product is necessary to complete the project. Be sure to check the application process of the wallpaper and border at the time of purchase. Some materials come pre-pasted, while others need additional glue added prior to application.

Things You'll Need

  • Latex paint
  • Wallpaper
  • Wallpaper border
  • Pencil
  • Yard stick or leveller
  • 1 1/2-inch paintbrush
  • Paint roller
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About the Author

Nichole Keffer is a life-long resident of Ohio. She has earned her Bachelor of Science in middle childhood education from Kent State University with concentrations in language arts and reading, and social studies.