are ways to make a dark room feel lighter and
brighter, including changing the paint color and
home may be naturally dark, but thereís no need to
convince yourself itís more intimate that way. Bright
rooms can transform a home and uplift your mood. And
when it comes time to sell, light and airy rooms lend an
inviting atmosphere for home buyers.
are some simple and affordable design techniques to make
the most of limited light.
neutrals such as warm white, dove gray or light taupe
will make a space appear more open and airy, said
Jennifer Jones, principal designer with Niche Interiors
in San Francisco. But donít simply paint the walls,
Jones said. "If your ceilings are low, consider
painting the molding the same color as the walls to
elongate the room," Jones said.
paint the ceiling a lighter color than the walls,
preferably a bright white, said Tobi Fairley interior
designer with Interior Design in Little Rock, Ark.
"That gives you the feeling of space and height,
which really opens up the room," she said. "It
will also reflect any of the light thatís directed to
the ceiling from lamps or fixtures."
a paint with sheen. Painting in a flat, matte or satin
finishes will soak up light, while semi-gloss,
high-gloss and lacquer finishes tend to reflect light,
which make a darker room feel brighter and lighter, said
Edith Gregson, partner at DJ Ireland Interior
Architecture & Design, an interior design firm in
you choose a neutral gray, for example, make sure to
stay away from brown or black undertones, said interior
designer Meg Caswell of Chicago, a winner of "HGTV
Design Star." She said to choose a light shade with
a bright undertone. One of her favorite colors is
Benjamin Moore Shoreline.
with white matting creates contrast against darker
walls, Gregson said. She suggested creating a gallery
wall or a collection of artwork to make the wall feel
brighter, watching out for darker artwork, which ó
like painting a room a darker color ó can soak away
the light that would otherwise bounce around the room.
artwork in lighter colors or even in black-and-white can
make a space feel more spacious and brighter,"
rid of distracting personal objects. Less is more, said
Brian Balduf, chief executive and co-founder of
Illinois-based VHT Studios, which provides photography
and image management services to real estate
professionals. While the room technically wonít be
darker if there are too many accessories, it will feel
less open and airy, he said. Balduf recommends going
with a few central statement pieces that are carefully
shouldnít be in front of the glass, it should be just
off the glass, Caswell said. "It can cover the
frame, but make sure it keeps the natural light
in," she said. "Itís a design crime."
live plants will give your room a brighter and livelier
feel, said Cathi Lloyd, of Decorating Den Interiors in
Northwest Indiana. Some plants, such as ferns, are a
safe bet, as they can thrive for days in limited
sunlight, Lloyd said. "This is a perfect way to add
a dramatic effect to the dingiest areas of your
rooms," she said.
your windows are small, donít cover them with heavy
blinds or draperies. Instead, use sheer or lighter
fabric to offer an illusion of more space and light in
the room, Lloyd said.
and shiny finishes reflect the light and make the room
feel more alive, Lloyd said. She suggested adding
sparkly accents, a gold table or a metallic-finish wall
hanging to brighten the room and to add style.
artificial light for natural light can make a room feel
brighter, Jones said. "Instead of relying on one
overhead light, place table and floor lamps throughout a
room for balanced illumination," she said,
suggesting lamps with off-white shades and dimmer or
three-way switches for adjustable ambient light.
the corners and borders of a space arenít well lit,
the room can feel cave-like and dark, Gregson said. She
suggested placing recessed fixtures 24 to 30 inches out
from the walls on the ceiling to make those shadows
corner floor lamps or wall sconces in the room. These
could be a good option for those who are renting and donít
want to incur the expense of hiring an electrician to
install pricey recessed fixtures, Gregson said.
"Stores like West Elm, Design Within Reach,
Restoration Hardware and Crate and Barrel offer plug-in
sconces so illuminated wall washing can be achieved
without submitting to any permanent changes,"
sure you have an assortment of lighting types. Overhead
lighting (recessed fixtures, pendants and chandeliers),
task lighting (desk lamps, art lighting and table lamps)
and accent lighting (sconces and under-cabinet lighting)
should work in harmony so that a space feels layered in
light without feeling alarmingly bright, Gregson said.
"We strongly believe in the power of a dimmer
switch whenever possible," she said. "A room
should feel well lit without being blinding or
institutional in feel. Yes to the vibe of a beach house
on a summer day, no to the feel of a caustically bright
hospital waiting room."
decorative instead of full-length mirrors. "Try a
vintage mirror or mosaic mirror to bounce around light,
while avoiding the somewhat annoying side-effect of
seeing everything, including yourself before coffee
consumption, perfectly reflected in the clear
surface," Gregson said. "A vintage mirror,
mercury mirror or convex/concave mirror will assist with
scattering light throughout your space while feeling a
little less obvious than a wall of mirrors or an
oversized floor mirror."
renovated a dark row house, which only had two windows,
so she took two huge floor mirrors and hung them as
though they were mirrors. "I put the same drapes
over them and they mimicked the mirrors," she said.