Nothing puts a damper on great home decor like a dingy and dim room. Even if your home is great in every other way, if it’s wanting for windows or overhead light fixtures, it’s hard to make your interior design choices pop in the way that you want.
Low light can make a room feel smaller, and can really get in the way of creating a comfortable, welcoming vibe no matter what you do with your decor. If you’re struggling with how to brighten a dark room or a room with dark furniture or a dark floor, there’s a long list of things you can do to help improve the look of your space.
Here’s a list of all the tactics you can use to amp up the brightness of your space, whether it’s a bedroom, kitchen, living room, or just an overall lack of natural light in your home.
1. Look for Lighting Solutions
While you can’t replicate natural light, you can definitely rethink the light sources in your room to help brighten up your space. It’s important to consider what kind of room you’re decorating, even if you’re just generally looking to add light to your space.
If it’s a bedroom, you may want to stick to a warmer hue to keep your room cozy, so be selective when choosing your lightbulbs. Light sources like table lamps will make a big difference, but keep the light from being too harsh and casting too many shadows, as with overhead lighting solutions. Shadows can make a space appear smaller. Ambient lighting like candles, fairy lights, and similar options can help brighten your space without being harsh or overbearing.
On the flip side, if you spend most of your time in your living room, and want to make sure it feels bright and energetic, consider more substantial light sources. Floor lamps are a great option here, as are statement-making overhead lights such as a chandelier.
If you’re working with a small space, a light sconce is a great way to brighten up your room without taking up valuable floor and surface space. Nothing can broaden a small room like some bright light! That said, if it’s your bedroom, don’t make it too bright. Sleeping in too bright of a room can actually be bad for your health, so this is one way in which your dark room puts you at an advantage.
2. Make the Most of Accent Pieces
Once you’ve got your lighting situation down pat, you can use those lights to help brighten your room even further. When it comes to decorating ideas, consider reflective surfaces like mirrors to help keep your room feeling bright and airy. Particularly if you set up your mirrors so that they’re opposite a light source, you can magnify the effect that light source has on the room.
If you have doors dividing your rooms, you could also replace solid wood doors with something airier, like a french door with windows — or even a mirrored door. The whole goal here is to make sure that every focal point in your home helps to bring in some light, or draw your eyes to the artificial light you’re adding to your space.
That said, while accent pieces and decorations are a key part of making your home feel like your home, don’t overdo it. You’ll want to keep your space from feeling cluttered, so if your space is particularly dark, now may not be the time for a gallery wall, or to embrace your most maximalist impulses. Stick to a more minimalist sensibility, and your room will quickly start to feel brighter.
3. Choose Your Furniture Carefully
When it comes to furnishing your space, you may need to step away somewhat from your personal taste to select pieces that are most likely to help brighten your room. After all, it’s not just about looks — some studies have shown that living in the dark can have a negative effect on your health and sleep quality. Brightening your space may be a pretty big deal!
Rather than leaning into dark pieces, seek out furniture in light or pastel fabrics and white or light wood. You could even look into transparent furniture, like a glass coffee table, or a ghost chair. It’s also a good idea to keep your furniture fairly compact. Remember, the more spacious your room feels, the less dark it will seem.
4. Select Brighter Paint Colors
If you’re lucky enough to rent from a landlord who allows you to paint your walls, or if you own your home, your color palette can make a huge difference in how your room looks. Sticking to a lighter color as opposed to rich or dark tones will allow more light into the space. While a black wall may feel statement-making and appealing, you’ll truly be better off with something white or pastel, as it will keep your room feeling bright.
In fact, overall, keeping your color scheme oriented around light colors — or even neutrals like white, cream, and gray — can work wonders for a dark space. Particularly if you're renting and you aren’t able to paint your walls, keep this in mind when it comes to decorating your space, too. If you can’t paint your wall, you may be able to paint a dresser to brighten things up or find a light-colored tapestry or curtain to drape over an otherwise light-stealing surface.
And not only is lighting important for helping to make your space feel better overall, but it’s also good for your eyes. Working and living in dark rooms can be linked to vision problems, so it’s important to make sure you’re adequately lit — this goes double if you work from home.
5. Go for Large, Bright Area Rugs
This is even more effective if the flooring in your dark space is dark, like deep stained wood or dark tiling. Remember, any dark color can really make your space feel smaller and dimmer, so if you’re trying to brighten things up, you should be doing just about everything you can to replace dark colors with light ones.
Go for an area rug in bright, vibrant colors if you want to infuse your space with a sunny vibe you can’t get with natural light alone. Because the rug will be on the ground, it’s not as likely as other pieces of furniture or decor to make your room feel cluttered, so this is where you can really express yourself if you’ve been restrained in decorating your space otherwise.
However, even if our Flora Rug is calling your name, opt for the ivorybackground rather than the navy. The sunny pattern will help brighten the mood of your space, and the light colors will help brighten it overall.
If you tend to appreciate more neutral decor, something like our Canyon Rug in Oatmeal and Grey is perfect for adding some texture and interest into your room, all while brightening up your floorboards and keeping your space airy.
If a large, 8x10’ area rug suits your space, then go for it! But if you need something smaller for a cozier room, our Petra Rug in 3x5’ will be perfect for creating a bright yet serene space. And best of all, all Tumble rugs are machine washable — so even if you pick the lightest color you can find, you don’t have to worry about it being a pain to keep looking clean. Just remove it from the rug pad, pop it into your washing machine and you’re good to go!
If your living space doesn’t quite meet your standards when it comes to natural light you don’t have to consider moving just yet. There’s actually a wide range of ways in which you can decorate your space to create the illusion of more light!
Fact of Fiction: Screen Use in the Dark Can Harm Your Eyes | Morning Sign Out
Impact of Windows and Daylight Exposure on Overall Health and Sleep Quality of Office Workers: A Case-Control Pilot Study | Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine