By: Kenneth Gordon
When it comes to getting a good night’s rest, the darker your room, the better. Light can actually disturb your circadian rhythm by disrupting the brain’s production of melatonin. But, what if your room is dark all the time, even during the day? This is a common problem for homeowners and it’s one that’s difficult to fix because the typical causes—such as windows that are shaded by outside trees, windows facing north or having too few windows—require structural changes and major renovations. Lightening up a dark and gloomy room can instantly make it more appealing, but if adding windows or remodeling isn’t an option, never fear. Here are eight easy design solutions that will brighten up a room with poor lighting.
1. Add Extra Lighting
If your room isn’t receiving enough natural light from your windows, then the easiest thing for you to do is to provide more light for yourself. Unfortunately, you can’t just place a lamp anywhere in the room and consider the job done. Having only a single source of light can create shadows. Instead, add two or three additional light fixtures to thoroughly illuminate your space and avoid casting shadows. If it’s your bedroom that has poor lighting, start with placing a lamp on your nightstand or mount a light fixture to the wall near your bed. If you share your bed, put a light on both sides. Add a floor lamp and install a ceiling fan with a light fixture if you can as this offers the benefit of a brighter and more comfortable room. Avoid large, heavy light fixtures as they can make a room feel dark and heavy.
2. Paint the Ceiling White
Painting your ceiling white can not only make a room feel taller and larger, but it can also make it feel brighter and more open. The key is to make sure that you’re using the correct shade of white. If you really want to brighten a dark room, make sure you use the clearest, truest, brightest white you can find and avoid cream, ivory and off-white colors.
3. Use Mirrors
Many people don’t realize this, but mirrors are actually perfect for brightening dark rooms. The best practice is to hang your mirror directly across from the windows to reflect as much natural light as possible around your space. If you can’t do this because of the way your windows are positioned in the room, don’t worry. No matter where you place your mirrors in a room, they can help open up any space.
4. Swap Out Window Treatments
Window treatments are a must for any room, but if your goal is to brighten up an already dark space, then you’ll want to avoid heavy blinds and shades that are intended to filter or block out natural light. Instead, opt for window treatments that are light and sheer and can be easily lowered for privacy at night. Roman shades are a great option for this purpose. If you have small children or pets, consider having cordless blinds installed to keep them safe and prevent choking.
5. Choose the Right Color
If you’re going to paint the walls in your room, then it’s important to select the right color. In a dark and dreary room with little natural light, the color you choose will make a tremendous difference in how bright and open the room feels. Avoid dark or rich tones and opt for lighter, paler shades that will reflect the room’s artificial light and make your space feel brighter and larger. Pastel shades, such as mint, mauve, lavender, periwinkle and butter work well for this purpose and also create a soothing and soft atmosphere.
6. Add Contrast
If you aren’t careful, your furniture, bedding and accessories can disappear in a dark space. Add contrast to your room by replacing your overstuffed and heavy furniture with lighter pieces that have a medium finish and swapping out your existing bedding and accessories with something new in a color that complements the color of your walls but gives enough contrast so that they don’t vanish into the gloom.
7. Lighten Up Dark Floors
Don’t forget about your floors! Flooring can set the tone for an entire room. A dark floor can make a room feel small and heavy, while a lighter colored floor can open it up. If you can’t refinish or replace your dark flooring, then the best way to brighten up this space is by putting down a light-toned area rug. It can be solid or patterned, as long as the overall color scheme is light enough to bring instant brightness to your space.
8. Add Greenery
When it comes to compensating for a lack of natural light, using natural elements—such as potted plants and flowers—can help transform even the most cavelike room into a brighter and more cheerful space. Choose pots in bold, vibrant colors to display your flowers and greenery and make sure to use plants that thrive in low light, such as ferns, pothos or spider plants, so they don’t die on you. If you’re not a plant person and prefer something low-maintenance and easy to care for, artificial plants are a great alternative.
Just to be clear—a room that doesn’t receive a lot of natural light isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It stays a lot cooler in the summer than rooms with a lot of windows do and you’re less likely to be awakened by the glaring sun when you want to sleep in on the weekend. However, a lack of light can make a space feel dark, gloomy and uninviting. If remodeling isn’t an option, try these eight tips to improve the brightness of your room.