Design Recipes: Expanding small spaces with glass

Cathy Hobbs
Tribune News Service

Small spaces present unique challenges that don’t exist in larger spaces. Not only are small spaces challenged by their spatial restrictions, but there are also visual challenges that homeowners may wish to overcome. When it comes to small spaces, there are ways to visually expand a space to make it appear larger. One of the main design techniques in order to achieve this is to creatively utilize glass and reflective surfaces.

Why glass?

The transparent properties of glass automatically create a sense of lightness in a space, as opposed to creating visual clutter. Surfaces that are solid or heavy by contrast tend to visually consume space, which may be desired in rooms that are large and cavernous, but is not desirable in smaller rooms.

How to use glass

Reflective surfaces in general are ideal for small spaces. When looking for ways to incorporate reflective surfaces, keep in mind that these surfaces reflect and bounce light, as well as reflect off other surfaces. If you have rooms with little light or few windows, glass and reflective surfaces will not only help to make the room appear larger, but will also help bring more light into the space.

Ideal glass home decor selections

When looking for the types of furniture pieces to incorporate into your decor, there are some core selections that will help enlarge small spaces, including:

■Glass dining tables

■Small glass side tables

■Large mirrors

■Frosted glass

■Colored glass

Alternatives to glass

Looking to enlarge your small space beyond the use of glass? While glass is an ideal solution, there are other reflective surfaces and design techniques that can be used as well.

■Metallic surfaces are a great way to bring reflective surfaces into your space. Metallic surfaces will also help you incorporate color into your space.

■If you have a space with few or no windows, consider hanging mirrors or reflective decorative wall hangings in a series. These decorative items will act like windows and visually enlarge your space.

■Reflective stone surfaces and materials such as lucite and lacquer can also help to visually enlarge a space.

Cathy Hobbs, based in New York City, is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Contact her at or visit her website at