How to Brighten Dark Rooms

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My friend Abigail wrote the other week and asked if I had any tips for how to brighten a dark room. I know that a lot of apartments can be pretty dark and gloomy with limited or small windows that make for a lack of natural light. I’ve lived in a couple of spaces just like this, and it can get a little depressing. Here are a few of my tips for throwing some sparkling star sprinkles around your place. (All of the following tips assume you can’t paint your place for whatever reason…)

Add some mirrors. They reflect the light that you do have and make the whole room seem brighter and more open. The best way to hang them for maximum effect is to put them on a wall opposite a window so that the light from the window is shining into them. Also try hanging a mirror behind a table lamp, either on a night table or a console, doubling the reflection you get from the lamp lighting. Another option is to strategically hang a mirror to reflect the light from a pendant or chandelier.

Brighten Dark Rooms
Sausalito Architects & Designers Urrutia Design Photo by Matt Sartain Via Houzz
Brighten Dark Rooms
Oakland Interior Designers & Decorators Laura Martin Bovard Via Houzz

Darker colors tend to absorb light while lighter and brighter colors tend to reflect it. Try bouncing some light around by hanging pictures with lots of white space. You can either hang one large picture with large areas of bright color, or your can create a gallery wall with pictures that have large white mats. (These kinds of mats are available at Ikea.)

Brighten Dark Rooms
Via Fifth Season Design
Brighten Dark Rooms

Lighting is really important for small spaces. You can combine table lamps, floor lamps, and even plug-in sconces to make sure your place is well lit and cozy. You probably need more lamps than you think. Just start layering the lighting as you find pieces that you like. Start noticing where the darkest areas of your rooms are and think about what type of lighting would fit there. Some experts say you should have three levels of lighting; overhead, wall (sconce), and table lamps.

Shiny, glimmering accessories can also brighten your space, because, like mirrors, they reflect light. White or light colored accessories will also do the trick, as will pearlized shells, glimmering geodes (like this or this), or a pillow with tiny mirrors all over it (like this one). Any metallic object will work, copper, silver, gold…

Brighten Dark Rooms

If you can, try to keep the fabric on the furniture white or bright. If it’s too late for that, you can easily disguise dark furniture with slipcovers or with light colored pillows and throws.

The last tip is this. If you have curtains, make sure you hang them high (above the window) and wide. You don’t want to obscure even one tiny ray of light coming in from the window. Select a light colored material so that the light extends and feels like it’s creating a halo around the window. Here is a very informative post about how and where to hang curtain panels.

Do you have any sure fire tips to brighten up a dark space? I’d love to know! Leave me a comment below!



P.S. One super inexpensive way to add pops of bright color into a space? Cover white art mats with pretty papers, like I did here! And here are a few more DIY Art ideas.

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