Great Heights 9

Interior Designer Lauren Rautbord Shares 
Her Tips on Making Small Spaces Seem Larger

Short of moving, it’s virtually impossible to make a small space larger; unless you know all the right design tricks. Lauren Rautbord of Paul Lauren Design Consultants shares her advice on how to transform your tiny dwelling into a grand abode that you’ll love coming home to at the end of the day. Rautbord’s design firm prides itself on making homes feel serene, uncluttered and sophisticated, but never fussy. Now, discover all the secrets to making your small spaces feel bigger.


“Paint goes a long way,” says Rautbord. “A lot further than people think. It’s the biggest bang for your buck in changing a space to feel larger.” Her design rule? Paint the room all one color, including the ceiling. If you have crown molding, paint the crown molding and the ceiling white. If the crown molding is small, paint the crown the same color as the walls and ceiling. Never accentuate a skinny crown! A unified room color gives the appearance of one large space instead of a room that feels broken up. A lighter color makes a room feel larger, especially when the furnishings are in the same color family as the walls.


“If you have a smaller house, the simpler you keep the flooring, the more it just flows from room to room,” says Rautbord. As much as she loves hard wood flooring, she says there are also many great, affordable alternatives for enduring floors available that you should consider. She finds that people tend to over-invest in their floors, at the expense of rugs and drapes, which add so much texture and elegance.


“Rugs are a very important design element,” she says. A rug anchors the furniture setting and defines the space. The rule: at least two furniture legs have to be on the rug, but Rautbord prefers all legs to be on the rug with at least 3’6” to spare. If you fall in love with a rug that’s too small for the furniture setting, layer over a larger sisal. Layering rugs, especially hides, is key to style and can help a space feel larger.


“Drapery adds luxury and warmth to the space, and I love fine fabrics like cashmere, linen and silk,” she says. Don’t be afraid to hang drapery rods much higher than the window, making the space feel taller. If the drapes are in front of a window that faces the sun, you need to ensure that the drapes have a lining.


When it comes to furniture, Rautbord recommends that you mix and match pieces. Each and every piece doesn’t need to be expensive, and “matched-sets” should be avoided at all costs! She says you can have a great room that features an inexpensive cocktail table, one splurge-worthy piece and a splash of color with a pillow or piece of artwork.

Clear the Clutter

“Get rid of the stuff,” she says. “Clutter makes a room ‘noisy.’” Her advice on deciding what stays and what goes? Keep only what’s important. If you collect items, put all of the items together as a collection—not all over.

Don’t Be Afraid of Space

Each and every inch of your home doesn’t have to be filled with furniture. Let the space breathe, and don’t fear open space. She also advises that you never place furniture around the perimeter of the room.


When you look at a wall, try to imagine what it would reflect if you put a mirror there. Take advantage of Arizona’s gorgeous desert landscape and buy a “leaner” mirror (one that literally leans against the wall) to reflect Phoenix’s stunning vistas. “What you reflect is the outdoors, and that’s more precious than art,” she says.

Neutral Territory

Lauren Rautbord’s Top Design Picks for Timeless and Sophisticated Interiors

18th Century Venetian Glass Beveled Leaner Mirror

Prices start at $1,595;

West Elm Tall Nailhead Upholstered Headboard

$549 to $849;

Pottery Barn Faux Fur Stool

Prices start at $229;


Lowe Smoke Leather Bar Stools

$279 to $299; | Belgian Track Arm Slipcovered Couch

Prices start at $2,295;



Halo Ebony Round Dining Table with 48-Inch Glass Top