How to Lighten a Dark Room – 14 Tips

Make the most light out of little natural light.

How to Lighten a Dark Room

How to Lighten a Dark Room

Not every room is flooded with natural daylight and some dark rooms with small high-up windows can feel small, dark and gloomy. Bright rooms feel instantly more appealing and can transform a home and have an instantly uplifting impact on your mood.

After all, daylight is an essential part of our lives, we need it to feel good and to make vitamin D. Without it we can become depressed and anxious, especially during the short dark days of winter. This is why making the most of natural light in any room is so important.

Luckily, there are several things you can do to brighten up a room that has little or no natural light so read on to learn how to lighten a dark room with a few simple touches.

Getting More Natural Light into a Dark Room

1. Install natural light bulbs instead

Lighting is perhaps the most important aspect to consider when dealing with a dark room. Choose natural light bulbs that produce a clear white light much closer to natural daylight than soft and warm white bulbs.

A natural light lamp – or several dotted throughout the room – is an instant way of adding more light to the space and is a good solution for a room with a small window.

Light coloured shades will help to diffuse the light across the room. Avoid harsh overhead lighting as it can actually emphasise the fact the room is dark. Instead, think carefully about the strategic placement of perimeter lights and standard lamps. Use recessed light fittings to open up a dark ceiling; LED lights on a dark ceiling can be a highly effective way of introducing light.

2. Use mirrors to reflect light

This is a trick that always works. Place the mirror on the wall opposite a window and it will reflect the natural light and possibly a nice view if you have one! Why not experiment with different sizes and placements of mirrors? The more you have the more you can enjoy the illuminating effect of light bouncing around the walls of your room.

Dark Furniture in Bedroom
It may look nice, but dark furniture in a room with little to no natural light makes it even more gloomy and depressing.

3. Avoid dark coloured and bulky furniture

You might love that massive dark oak sideboard you inherited from Great Uncle Ernest, but large pieces of bulky furniture always add so much dominant visual weight and help to darken all the but the largest and brightest of rooms. Think about swapping large, dark coloured pieces of furniture for lighter and slimmer versions and you will be amazed at the difference.

4. Pay attention to the outside of the windows

To make the most of the natural daylight that can actually enter the room, it’s important to keep adjacent bushes, trees and plants neatly trimmed back. It’s also a good idea to keep the windowsills clear of ornaments and clutter.

5. Use white paint, especially on the ceiling

This is simple and obvious but it really does make a difference especially if you use the tight white paint. Opt for paint with ultra-reflective properties- Dulux does a good selection. Avoid contrasting colours and heavily patterned wall papers which can make rooms feel small and crowded.

6. Keep your windows clean from dust and grime

This simple measure will make a huge difference to the amount of light that is let in. If your windows are high or awkward to reach, hire a window cleaner – otherwise grab a micro fibre cloth and a bucket of warm water and do it yourself!

Acrylic Furniture
Acrylic furniture looks stylish and allows light to beam through it.

7. Discover transparent acrylic furniture

Light travels through transparent acrylic furniture which is growing in popularity. It looks stylish and modern, as well as being a useful way of making the most of the available light.

8. Add a side window

Think about adding a side window if this is a possibility and you have the budget. Skylights and French windows are also highly effective ways of adding amounts of natural daylight. Don’t forget to check if you need planning permission before doing a renovation especially if you live in a listed building.

9. Declutter

An untidy room filled with clutter and mess will look small and dark, as well as uninviting. Embrace the ethos of KonMari – if an object isn’t useful or doesn’t fill you with a sense of joy, ditch it.

10. Use blinds rather than heavy curtains

Heavy or dark curtains can make a north facing room feel gloomy and cave-like. Opt for vertical or roller blinds in a light neutral colour – or if privacy isn’t an issue, you could even have an undressed window. You can buy frosted window film to prevent random passers by from peering in; it’s a contemporary alternative to an old-fashioned pair of net or lace curtains.

11. Use metallic and glass finishes to add a touch of sparkle

Bounce light around the room by adding metallic picture frames and vases in gold, bronze or silver. A few vintage crystal bowls and vases, or a little chandelier or two will also reflect light making the room seem light and bright.

Sun Tube
Installing a sun tube – before and after.

12. Install sun tubes

If your room doesn’t have any access to natural light, you might want to consider installing some sun tubes. These innovative winding pipes can transport daylight from thirty feet and are an intriguing alternative to skylights.

Apart from being a fantastic source of light, they also don’t have any of the disadvantages of windows such as heat loss in the winter and too much light in hot weather.

13. Don’t forget the floor

Think about the flooring. If you have a dark carpet and don’t want to replace it, you could add a large pale coloured rug, which will give the room a surprising face lift. If you have floorboards, painting them white is an effective way of creating a sense of space and light.

14. Remove a dividing wall

This is a drastic solution but converting two walls into one by removing a wall is a good way of getting more daylight throughout the day. If one window is east facing and the other west, you will have some sunlight in the morning and afternoon.

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