How to Brighten Up a Dark Room without Breaking the Bank

Do you have a room in your house that makes you feel like you’re meditating in a Jedi temple? Don’t worry, there are ways to brighten it up that don’t involve installing more windows or tubular skylights, or making other major structural changes. Just apply some of these techniques and your room will be taken from the Jedi Temple on Lothal to the gardens of Naboo.

Okay, maybe not completely, but it will certainly be brighter!


1. Repaint the Walls

Repainting the room a light color is the first step in brightening up a room. Dark colors, even accent walls, can make the room feel smaller and darker. You don’t need to go stark white, but keep it a light shade. If you want to make the room look even larger, make two parallel walls the same, slightly darker color than the others. This creates depth.

Need color ideas? Check out this great blog post from Kylie M. Interiors – 7 Great Colours for a North Facing or Northern Exposure Room.

2. Paint the Ceiling White

If the room has dark beams, a dingy white coloring, or some other color of the rainbow, painting it all white will make the ceiling feel higher and help brighten the overall look of the room. It will also help reflect light better than a dark or faded ceiling.

3. Lighten Up Your Window Coverings

Dark drapes and brown blinds can block much needed natural light from coming in. Instead, change out your window coverings for white blinds, light colored roman shades, or sheer drapes. The right option will award you privacy while not overtaking the windows.

4. Improve Your Light Fixtures

Depending on the current state of the room, you may want to completely change out some light fixtures with ones that allow more light to shine through. That includes getting rid of opaque glass, thick frames, and oversized fixtures that block light. If you’re lucky, you may be able to get away with just changing out some shades for lighter ones and/or painting the ceiling fan white.

5. Change Out Your Lightbulbs for Something Brighter

Switch out your old bulbs to something with a higher number of lumens. This doesn’t mean you need to change the color of your bulbs. If you prefer a soft white over a bright white, you can still choose that. Higher lumens just means that the bulb emits more light. LEDs provide a wide variety of high lumen bulbs to choose from and they use less energy, so less money out of your pocket.

6. Optimize Your Lighting Plan

Where it’s possible, direct light fixtures toward walls and ceilings. This will make the light bounce around the room rather than just shine straight upwards or downwards. Also, try to decorate with metallics. They naturally reflect light and will expand how far light reaches.


7. Declutter and Remove Bulky Furniture

“Stuff” can absorb light and block it from spreading around the room. Keeping décor and furniture minimal will help keep the room from feeling like a cave. If you can, clean out whatever you don’t need and replace bulky furniture with pieces that you can see through – think skinny legs, glass tops, open shelves, etc. Light colored finishes also help.

Scandinavian interior design is a great source for furniture and decor ideas for dark rooms, because Scandinavian countries have adapted to long, dark winters. Just check out this Scandinavian apartment on MyDomaine and you’ll see why.

8. Cover Dark Floors

Dark floors, like dark paint, can absorb light; however, refinishing floors can be expensize and painting over them with paint may not be the best option for you, especially in a high-traffic area. Instead, try to break up the dark flooring by covering it with a light colored rug or two. It’ll not only give the room some style, but the light colors will reflect the light.

9. Add a Mirror

Hanging a mirror on a wall helps to reflect light around the room. Now, when it comes to mirrors, bigger isn’t always better. That means installing a floor-to-ceiling mirror won’t necessarily make the room feel huge or incredibly bright. It may just mean you’ve set yourself up for a future of chronic headaches. Still, a mirror with a really nice frame can have a positive impact on the brightness of a room.

These are just some tips for brightening up a dark room. Have a good idea to share? Leave it in the comments!

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About the Author
Meghan Henderson
Meghan is the Marketing Specialist for The Cameron Team and a published author of two young adult books. She also creates digital and printable planners and trackers, as well as coloring pages for Larkspur & Tea.