How to Make your Shoebox feel like a Mansion

I’m not an expert on many things, but I definitely know a lot about shoebox living. I spent my childhood and teenage years in a glorified cupboard that was formerly used as a home brewery. My mother wanted to use it as an ironing room, but it was too small.

home decoratingWhen I moved to university, I wanted to find the cheapest accommodation out there, which meant box rooms. I ended up becoming a self-appointed box room queen, juggling capsule wardrobes and experimenting with under-the-bed storage. I finally owned my first normal sized room (and double bed!!) at the age of 24, alongside a spare box room to transform into a useable guest bedroom.

It’s a fact that with the rise of property prices, our living spaces are getting smaller. But there’s plenty of ways you can use every element of a room to give it the feeling of being an airer space. It’s all about tricks of the eye, lighting and (inevitably) clever uses of storage (a small room never needs clutter).

Here is my guide on how to turn your shoebox room into a palace!


Put a large mirror on the back of the bedroom door. The number one classic tip for decorating in small rooms is to include mirrors where possible, and it’s a classic for a reason! The same rule applies to glossy, reflective surfaces.

Keep an eye on your lighting. A well lit room will expand your space, and at least three strategically placed sources of light will really help your box bedroom look like a master bedroom. Recessed lighting which is built into your ceiling, lights above mirrors and tall bedside lamps are all great ways to introduce light and space into your home.

Living Room

Don’t be scared of large pieces of furniture. Large sofas can make a small living room feel bigger than it is. Making large, sweeping statements will give a little room a sense of grandeur – large rugs and one piece of focus furniture will really work in your favour. A tip is not to go big on everything, but just on one item which will draw focus away from the small size of the room.

Mix tall furniture with low furniture, expanding the size of your ‘middle ground’. A floor to ceiling bookcase will look great combined with low set chairs and a small coffee table. The same applies when fitting curtains. Getting curtains that hang high will give your ‘cosy’ living room a tall and airy feel. Always make sure that your curtain rail has enough space on either side so you can make sure the entire window can be seen when your curtains are open, take advantage of all of your natural light.


A small kitchen can be a challenge, which is why it’s important to make use of every inch of space you have for storage. Getting a custom fitted kitchen with lots of high storage units means less clutter and more space for making your favourite dishes. Use your high cupboards to store your best China and occasionally used gadgets, and take advantage of clever storage solutions that come with fitted kitchens such as curved units that fit into awkward nooks.

Invest in metal look or stainless steel kitchen equipment ton increase your amount of reflective surfaces.


What is usually the smallest room in the house can look much bigger with a few small tricks. Use clear glass for your shower wall, as treated/frosted glass may save your dignity but will make your bathroom feel tiny. Make sure you have a unified, light colour scheme and if you tile your bathroom, make sure the tiles go up to the top of the ceiling.


When decorating my first shoebox room, I bought a pot of bright pink paint, ready to make the boldest statement with the little space I had. However, I had second thoughts and painted most of the room a very light baby pink (in my defence, I was 13), and painted the one wall behind the bed my favourite shade of magenta. If you love dark and bold colours, you can still have them in a small room, just make sure you use them sparingly. For bedrooms, using darker colours for your bed covers and curtains will keep colour in your room without making it feel enclosed. Always make sure your ceiling is painted in a light colour, otherwise the top of your room will feel limited and crushing.

Alex is a freelance writer and interior design enthusiast who works alongside Lark & Larks