Tips For Brightening Up Dark Spaces

Even rooms that are generous in square footage can seem dark. And with the days continuing to shorten and fewer daylight hours available to brighten things up, things can get pretty gloomy indoors.

If your space is particularly dark, consider implementing any one of the following tips to lighten and brighten your home, no matter what time of day it is.

Paint the Space in a Light Color

It makes sense that lighter colors tend to create a lighter space. Considering this fact, painting your walls in a light color will have the effect of brightening the room up. The lighter the hue, the better. In fact, white tends to work best for this effect, and it doesn’t have to feel like a doctor’s office when used properly with the right accents.

White is fantastic at reflecting the light that bounces off the surface, which instantly makes the surrounding area look lighter. If a lighter space is what you’re after, the first thing you should do is give your walls a fresh coat of white paint, or another light shade. It’s a fast and cheap way to obtain the effect you’re going for.

Paint the Ceiling White

Just like the walls of a room can make a difference when painted in a light color, so can the ceiling. A dark ceiling can act like a dark cloud hanging over a room and make it feel smaller than it really is. If your ceiling is painted in a color other than white or has some type of natural wood paneling or beams, paint them all white for a uniform look that will immediately lighten and brighten up the space.

Make Smart Use of Mirrors

You can double the amount of natural light that goes into your home by hanging mirrors in strategic spots. Ideally, you’ll want to hang them directly across from your windows so that the natural light coming in bounces off the reflective surface. The more mirrors you hang, the more light reflection you’ll get. Just try not to go overboard, as you don’t want to create a space that’s too overwhelming with reflection.

Use Matte Versus Glossy Paint

While the reflective properties of mirrors work quite well at reflecting light equally across a space and making it appear lighter and brighter, glossy paint can cause too much glare which generates more of a distracting light than a pleasing one. Instead, go for matte paint which is more effective at equally reflecting light in all directions.

Be Strategic With Your Light Fixtures

You obviously need light fixtures in your home to supplement natural light that will be lacking as the sun sets. But how and where you place your light fixtures – as well as the types you include – can make a big difference in how light your space will appear.

To brighten up the room, consider installing various types of fixtures and create a layered effect. For instance, the living room might do well with pot lights scattered across the ceiling, a tall floor lamp in the corner directed upwards to create an “uplighting” effect, table lamps on end tables, and even wall sconces beside the fireplace. In the kitchen, pot lights work well again for overall ambiance, while pendant lamps hanging over the island and under-cabinet lighting provide the perfect task lighting when prepping meals.

Wherever possible, install dimmer switches to provide some flexibility with the amount of light you want to infuse in your space at any given time. 

Go Light With Window Treatments

You might want some privacy at certain times of the day, but thick, opaque drapery can block out all that natural light during times when you really need it. Window curtains that cover up too much of a window can be replaced with less obstructive fabric. Something that’s sheer will let in plenty of light while still offering some level of privacy.

Install New Window Openings

If possible, install new windows in your home. This is especially helpful in rooms that have no windows or are only outfitted with a tiny window that lets a minimal amount of light in.

Obviously, this is a big and expensive job, which sometimes may not even be possible. Speak with an experienced contractor to see what your options are and what type of cost you would incur. Just keep in mind that you could end up saving a bit of money that would otherwise have been spent in electricity needed to power up more artificial lights.

Don’t Block the Windows

From the inside, make sure you don’t have any furniture pieces or large bookshelves blocking the window space. This will do little except limit the amount of light that’s trying to come into your home. The same goes for the outside: any trees or bushes that have become unruly should be trimmed so that the foliage doesn’t block any natural light.

If possible, consider moving any bushes further from the windows. If you are planning on planting new greenery, be mindful of where you’re placing them relative to the windows and the direction of the light coming in.

Give Your Windows a Good Cleaning

This might seems like a no-brainer, but it’s still worth mentioning. If your windows are filthy, they’re not letting in as much light as they should. The dirtier your windows are, the less natural light is coming in. If that’s the case in your home, it’s time to take a power washer to your windows and give them a good polish afterwards to maximize the amount of sunlight that comes in through these openings.

The Bottom Line

Dark spaces are not very inviting or comfortable, and they can make a space seem smaller and tighter than it truly is. Luckily, there are plenty of hacks you can take advantage of to brighten up your space and make it seem lighter, larger, and a pleasure to hang out in.