How to Brighten a Dark Room - 14 Top Expert Tips & Tricks

How to Brighten a Dark Room - 14 Top Expert Tips & Tricks

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The home in general, and especially the kitchen and living room, as the main focal points of the home should offer an inviting place to gather with friends and family and not be dark or depressing. In my opinion, one of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to arrange the furniture so that it delivers a bright and appealing space to enjoy a conversation, read a book, or indulge in some TV viewing.

Feel free to use as many of the following interior home decor ideas to brighten your homes appearance, without the need to completely replace the furnishings, fixtures and fittings.

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1. How to Reflect Light into a Dark Room


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Using metallic elements in the home, which are made from highly polished metals, such as chrome and silver are great at reflecting light and can add a feeling of spaciousness, while also creating a brighter environment.

This can be seen to great effect in the example above, with the highly polished modern radiator, which not only serves its practical purpose of heating the room but also effectively bouncing light off its reflective surface to supplement the natural light from the windows. Glass and metal surfaces are ideal for adding light indirectly to any room, by bouncing it from one polished surface to the next.

To additionally lighten your dark space and add even more light to the room, you can also include metallic finished lighting fixtures, to further reflect light. These light sources will not only add light from their light bulbs but also from the shiny reflective surfaces.

2. Getting Natural Light into a Dark Room


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Strangely, adding windows or skylights is not the first thing we think of when it comes to adding light to a dark and dreary room, but when you think about it logically, it is probably the best way to add extra natural daylight and airiness to any room.

There is an obvious downside, of course, the cost! So if the expense of adding a window or skylight is an issue, it is best to steer clear. However, if there is room in the budget, it is something to seriously consider for generously adding light, which will make a huge difference to a dim room.

3. Lighting for Dark Rooms


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Combining ambient light, task lights, and accent lighting in any room allows you to create a brightly lit space that readily accommodates each activity that will take place. When used properly, multiple light sources complement each other in a way that creates a comfortable and multipurpose space.

An interior designer or decorator can assist you in layering your lighting sources for the best results, or you can read up on lighting strategies intended to accentuate your room's appearance.

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What Lighting Should You Begin With ?

In general, you should begin with ambient light fixtures i.e. overhead lights, and any other overhead lighting fixtures. These are used to illuminate the entire space, as it is for general use. Next, you might want to add in several sources of task lighting in key locations, such as a floor lamp near the sofa or chairs, or table lamps on sideboards.

Finally, you can include accent lighting fixtures to highlight decorative architecture and/or artwork such as picture lights, wall lights, LED lights and fairy lights.

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4. Choose Bright Wall Coverings


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Whether you choose wallpaper or use vibrant paint colours to brighten a dark room, the colour and tones of your walls influence the brightness of the room.

In addition to natural and artificial light, lighter colour choices will further help to enhance the brightness of your whole room, whereas darker hues will work against any efforts and hard work that you have made in making the dark room brighter in other areas.

Although the blue wall colour in itself does not lighten the look or feel of the room, the white of the floors, light furniture and accessories is taking on that role. The blue simply adds a cool warmth and interior design edge to the space.

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5. Optimise Windows for a Brighter Space


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Opening up your room to outside illumination can be accomplished in several ways. The easiest strategy is to simply open the blinds, drapes or other heavy window treatments each morning, allowing the natural sunlight to fully enter and not limit visibility.

If your windows or frames have seen better days and it's time to upgrade your windows, you might want to select larger window sizes, instead of sticking with the same sizes that were originally fitted.

A bay window is a great option for allowing as much light into a dark room as possible. It provides the illusion of bringing the outdoors in, due to its large size and multi-aspect arrangement. A large picture window can also accomplish the same or similar impression, allowing more light into dark spaces.

6. Select Light Colours for Drapes and Blinds


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If you aren't in the market for new windows, why not consider updating your window treatments, for instance, draperies and blinds?

Selecting light colours for draperies and blinds helps to keep the room looking as bright as possible, while also infusing a sense of cheeriness into the living space. As a bonus, they also help to keep the heat out on hot summer days, so you are getting not only one but two great benefits.

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7. Hang Wall Mirrors


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Large mirrors not only make a room feel bigger and more open but due to the amount of natural or artificial light that they reflect back into the room, are a great way to make any existing light work much harder for you. A simple and very effective way of lifting a darker space.

To achieve the best result I advise that you place mirrors directly across from a window, this helps to bounce light as much as possible around your space. If this idea has piqued your interest and you are now considering purchasing a mirror or two, but are wondering how to hang them, check out my how to hang a wall mirror guide.

8. Add Bright Colourful Wall Art


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Adding large colourful wall art is sometimes all you need to turn a drab dark room into a beacon of colour and a simple solution for brightening a dark room. Although certain artwork, especially large pieces, can often be expensive, you don't always need to spend lots of money on it.

There are many DIY ideas online to show you how to create your very own bright artwork on a budget, whether that be by painting your canvas, framing large samples of wallpaper or creating a beautiful wall hanging.

9. Paint Ceilings, Doors and Trim White


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One of the most simple ways to brighten a room is to paint the ceiling bright white, assuming it isn't already of course. It is such a large expanse of any room, that it will make a big difference just by covering it with a quick coat of white paint.

Painting doors, skirting boards and architraves in gloss white is another relatively quick and simple fix that can brighten up a room instantly and stop it from being such a dark space.

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10. Lighten Dark Flooring


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Floors are often forgotten about, yet the flooring can affect the entire room. Dark floors will make a room feel small and oppressive, while a lighter floor colour can open up a dim space completely. If you cannot afford to replace your existing dark floor, the simplest and quickest way to brighten a dark room is to put down a large light-coloured rug.

Another cost-effective option, if you have wooden flooring, is to simply paint over it with a heavy wear white paint or other natural light-coloured coating. Do you have a dark carpet or a dark wood floor in your room? Simply swap them out for a lighter carpet, or choose light wood flooring alternatives.

11. Use Furniture to Your Advantage


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Dark furniture is always going to make a dark room feel like a dark and dreary space. Therefore replacing the worst offenders with modern gloss white pieces, mirrored sideboards and glass-topped tables will all help brighten a dark space and bounce light around the room.

If you are adept at upcycling or know someone who is, why not save money by creating a shabby chic look, using any old furniture you have lying around? You could even check on local sale sites or car boot sales for interesting pieces that you can use.

12. Replace Light Sapping Lightshades


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Some lightshades are made using a thick, light-restricting material, while others fully surround the lightbulb to deliberately diffuse light. These are great if you want to lower the light levels to create a certain mood in a space, but both of these will ultimately restrict the amount of light that is emitted into the room.

A tip that I like to use is to go for glass dome lights, pendant light fixtures, or even take the shade off completely for the most dramatic change.

13. Consider Glass Doors


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Many new builds are fitted with full or half-glass internal doors. This is because building companies are fully aware of what a difference it makes to the amount of added natural light that each room benefits from. This is especially true with show homes, at the end of the day no one wants to view dark rooms when making a big decision such as buying a new home.

With this in mind, you may want to consider replacing your solid wooden doors with new glass-panelled ones, or possibly add glass panels to existing ones as a cheaper option.

14. Go All Out White


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The last dramatic option, if you're feeling brave, is to start by replacing all of the furniture with modern white alternatives. Then fully de-clutter the whole space, going completely minimalist and just keeping essential items on show whilst hiding the rest away.

Next, paint all of the walls, ceiling and woodwork in pure white and make the flooring as light as possible, either by painting, adding carpet or laying a large light-coloured rug. Finally remove all light shades and window coverings, only leaving white slatted blinds, or adding them where necessary.

If all of those white walls, white ceilings and lighter colours don't make a huge difference to your room, nothing will!

My Final Thoughts

Whether or not your home is shrouded under the shadows of tall trees or surrounding homes, or just doesn't let as much light in as you would like, you may be interested in brightening its appearance and want some tips on how to brighten a dark room.

Lots of strategies can be used to do this, and as I have explained, most of them focus on the inclusion of lightly coloured fixtures and furnishings, a varied selection of lighting fixtures, adding gloss and metallic surfaces and making optimal use of your windows.

Every one of the tips that you use will help to increase the amount of light that your room benefits from, so don't be afraid to go all out. You can always pull back on certain elements, should you feel that you have gone too far into the light!

Author: Matthew Chiappini

Author Bio: Matthew studied art and design at Stamford college, including interior design and colour theory. He still has a great love for art, home decor and interior design and is a keen DIYer, having worked as a carpenter after leaving school. Matthew has been writing home and home decor articles since 2020.

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