How to Brighten Dark Rooms

Many homeowners often complain about how dark their house or certain rooms in their house are. Not really knowing how to fix this problem, some simply accept it, while others seek help. If you are reading this, it is highly possible that you are one of those who are searching for a remedy. Did you know that apart from the architectural layout of your home, your choice of interior décor is the other culprit behind your dark, gloomy rooms?

In every interior design style, lighting plays some sort of role. As a matter of fact, in the modern interior design, natural lighting is greatly celebrated. So, in implementing this design, it is essential that your rooms are not dark and closed in, but bright, airy and welcoming.

I have compiled a list of ways in which you can effectively brighten your dark rooms, no matter their sizes. And, you can even use this list if you are house hunting or simply looking for a place to rent.

Paint Walls and Ceilings White

When trying to brighten a room you can never go wrong with white. Do not neglect you ceiling! Dark walls and ceilings can make a room feel extremely small and closed in. White surfaces tend to reflect light unto other surfaces making a space brighter. To paint your ceilings and walls white means that you are allowing your room to maximize on both natural and artificial lighting. Additionally, it makes your room appear larger, and your ceiling higher. White represents a number of things including purity, cleanness, and safety, so using this non-hue doesn’t only enhance your room, but it also brightens your mood.

White walls and Ceiling
The white walls and ceilings brighten this modern kitchen, giving it a clean, sterile, and welcoming feel
White Kitchen
White Entryway
Home office with white walls and ceiling

Choose the Best Window Treatments

Your objective is to maximize on the most natural lighting possible. This means, you may have to sacrifice any type of window treatment. ‘Bare windows’ is a characteristic of the modern interior design style because optimum natural lighting filters into your room, undeterred by curtains, blinds, or shades. On the other hand, if you do not wish to make this sacrifice, for the sake of privacy, you can always opt for sheer, beige, or white curtains. Also, certain blinds and shades can be used to provide privacy, while still allowing an inflow of light.

Bare Windows opted for in this open layout design
Window Shades used in this Kitchen/Dining Space
These sheer curtains allow natural light to filter into this bedroom

Maintain a Minimalist Clutter-free Design

Clutter represents different things to different persons. What may look like clutter to your guest may very well be things you prefer to have on display. However, in order to achieve a brighter room, you need to pare down on your stuff. Having too many items in a room makes it stuffy, dark and small. Remove excess ornaments and photographs. Keep your walls bare, accentuating just one of them with wall art, or a collection of a few cherished photographs. Bare walls (especially white ones) allow more light to penetrate your room, thus brightening it.

Living room containing only essential decor
Minimalist kitchen
Clutter-free laundry room

Incorporate Few Non-Bulky Furniture

Incorporate only functional furniture pieces. Just take a good look around your room; it shouldn’t be too hard to omit those unnecessary furniture pieces. Avoid – at all cost – using bulky, dark coloured furniture. It will only make your room dark and gloomy. Opt for neutral coloured, lightweight, sleek, smooth furniture with slender legs. Avoid using sofa and armchair skirts; this only limits the flow of light unto other spaces. Instead of a dark wooden coffee table, opt for one with a glass top. The transparency allows light to be reflected more easily and it makes the room look bright and spacious.

The lightweight non-bulky furniture used create an airy feel in this living room
These white sofas play a major role in keeping this living room bright
Glass coffee table reflects and transmits light
Furniture with tapered legs permit light to freely penetrate a higher percentage of a room

Select Efficient Light Fixtures

Artificial lighting is a solution which you can greatly exploit to brighten your room. Consider installing recessed lighting in the darkest rooms of your home; this type of general lighting distributes light into every corner, without being a hindrance to your eyes. Use brighter, energy efficient, true white light bulbs; these diffuse clean, bright lighting over wider areas. Try infusing light into corners, upon walls, onto floors and ceilings with up down wall sconces, table lamps, and floor lamps. Over your dining table and kitchen island elect for decorative pendant lights because while they provide sufficient illumination, they also create a touch of elegance. Also, use under cupboard recessed lighting to omit shadows and provide adequate illumination to your prepping areas.

Ceiling recessed lighting floods this room with a great deal of light
Under Cupboard recessed lighting illuminates kitchen countertops
These Up & Down Table Lamps illuminate floor and walls
This up down floor lamp diffuses light unto walls, floor, and ceiling
Wall sconces illuminate their immediate areas, and also bring an elegant touch to any design

Integrate Neutral Colors into Kitchen & Bathroom Designs

Brighten your kitchen and bathroom with light colors. There are beautiful all-white kitchens and bathrooms which have a clean look and feel. Their white designs cause light to freely illuminate every corner. If white is not your preferred choice of color, then, you can use a combination of neutral colors (white, beige, gray, ivory, taupe, black,) or their various shades for floors, backsplash, walls, and furnishings to brighten your rooms.

White Kitchen
Majorly White Bathroom
White and Black Bathroom

Lighten Dark Floors

Dark floors make a room feel small and gloomy. But you can fix this by swapping them with light coloured hardwood, laminate, or tiles. If you cannot change your flooring, the next best option is to cover the dark floors with large lightly coloured (white, off-white, or ivory) area rugs or runner rugs; light coloured carpeting is equally a great idea. This will instantly brighten your space.

Neutral floor tiles help brighten this Dining Space
Neutral Area Rug further brightens this modern bedroom
This light coloured carpet plays a role in the brightening of this bedroom

Extra Tips:

  1. To keep your room from looking and feeling too bland, accentuate the design with either throw pillows, an accent wall, an accent chair, wall art, or a combination of at most three of these.
  2. Swap your huge cumbersome television stand for a sleek, lightweight one, or even better, consider mounting your television on a wall.
  3. If you are trying to achieve the modern design look, make sure your choice of décor items (rugs, light fixtures, wall treatments, furniture) are in harmony with the overall room design.
  4. Use white or beige bed linens, and furniture upholstery.