5 Ways to Brighten up a Dark Room

I have come to believe that most homeowners suffer from a lack of light in their homes. In my area of New England many homes (mine included) do not have any ceiling lights except in the kitchen and baths. Dark, poorly lit rooms seem to be the norm. Obviously the best way to brighten up a room is to add more lighting. Adding ceiling lighting if non currently exists can be expensive so besides floor and table lamps here are my 5 favorite tricks to lighten up a dark room.

#1. Add a mirror. Mirrors trick the eye into thinking there is another window in the room as well as bounce whatever light there is around the room. Placement is important so place the mirror where it will reflect whatever light there currently is; either adjacent to or directly across from a window is the best spot.

ornate mirror with farm house style table

 Mirrored furniture does the same thing as wall mirrors and will do wonders to lighten up a room.

mirrored chest will brighten up a dark room

#2. Keep the furniture light or bright. When lightening up a dark room stay away from dark fabric and furniture which will only make the room seem darker.  Look how light this bedroom appears filled with pale furniture in a very soft gray/blue even though there appears to be very little natural light in the room.

John Saladino

Conversely, bright pops of color will also lighten up a dark room. The turquoise armoire below adds the needed jolt of brightness to wake up this dark dining room.

Veranda

as does this bright green chest in the corner of an entry.

#3. Add a light area rug. Covering the floor with a pale colored rug will lighten the room, especially if the floor is dark.

Amanda Nisbet

#4. Light or Bright walls. Keeping the walls light seems like a no brainer but painting the walls white is usually not a good solution. When there is insufficient light in a room white walls appear gray and the room will feel dark, dingy and cold. Much better to paint a soft light color like in this attic bedroom below.

attic bedroom

Candace Olson

or else completely embrace the lack of light and go bright and bold like this lime green hallway.

Powder rooms are an especially good room to go bold as designer Andrew Suvalsky did with his turquoise bathroom at this years  Kips Bay Show House.

Andrew Suvalsky

#5. Hang curtains high and wide. In a dark room whatever window light you do have is precious so don’t block any of it with window treatments. Panels should be hung as high as possible and completely off the sides of the window so no light is blocked.

Gideon group

These are my favorite ways to lighten up a room, what are yours?

7 Responses to 5 Ways to Brighten up a Dark Room
  1. Kristie Barnett, TheDecorologist Reply

    Great tips, Linda! I think you covered all the best ones 🙂

  2. Jann Newton Reply

    Great tip Linda! Especially keeping window treatments away from the glass area of the windows.

  3. Jil Sonia Interiors Reply

    Great post! I liked how you pointed out that there wasn’t a lot of natural light coming in. When first viewing the photos, I just assumed there were a lot of windows, but after closely looking, there were not. Great tips and photos to demonstrate your points!

  4. Kelly Reply

    So true about no ceiling lights in New England. This are great tips and examples. Love all of your pictures! I don’t know how long I could live with that bold bathroom though! Yikes! Great helpful post Linda!!

  5. Siobhan Farrer Reply

    Enjoyed this posted! Great tips.

  6. Nancy Reply

    Great post Linda!

  7. Alison Reply

    Mirrors are great for brightening up a space but having them outside is even better! Then they can reflect more sunlight inside, heliostats are great for daylighting.

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