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How to Brighten a Dark Room

Lightening up a dark and dreary room will instantly make it more appealing. But if adding windows or making other structural changes isn’t an option, you don’t need to worry. There are plenty of easy ways to decorate a dark room and turn it into a lighter, brighter place you and your loved ones will want to spend time in.

Paint the Ceiling Bright White

By now everyone knows that a white ceiling helps make a room feel taller, but not everyone knows that it has to be the right white.

If you really want to brighten a dark room make sure it's the clearest, brightest, whitest white you can find. No cream, no ivory, and no versions of off-white. Clear and true is the way to go.

Maximize Light with Mirrors

Mirrors are perfect tools for brightening dark rooms. Whenever possible, place mirrors directly opposite windows to reflect as much natural light as possible. If this isn't possible don't fret. Strategic use of mirrors will always brighten a room - no matter where they're placed. Over mantles, over couches, placed on bookcases, or over side tables, mirrors are like little windows that open up spaces wherever they are.

Paint the Woodwork

Some people are totally against painting woodwork, but the reality is that if you want to lighten a dark room it's a surefire way to do it. If you have an oak staircase, dated wood wainscotting, or unattractive ceiling beams give them a coat of white paint.


It will instantly lighten, freshen and modernize a room. Once you paint woodwork it's very difficult to restore it so you need to be sure. If you can't decide if you should take the plunge read this article on the pros and cons of painting woodwork.

Slimline the Furniture

Overstuffed and heavily carved furniture will pull your room down, making it feel darker and heavier than it really is.

Try to stick with streamlined, lighter pieces that don't have a lot of frills. If you really love the style of carved or heavy furniture, try to keep them to a minimum. Choose one or two pieces you really love and keep the rest light.

Lighten the Lampshades

Lampshades are great because they help to diffuse light and provide a nice decorative element. But if your room is dark you have to be careful which shades you choose. Opaque shades are a no-no, even if they're a light color. Make sure you've got a light material (such as linen) that allows a good amount of light to filter through.

Avoid Heavy Light Fixtures

Large, heavy fixtures can be detrimental to creating a light and airy space. When choosing an overhead, hanging fixture make sure you opt for something visually light. Crystal chandeliers (as long as they're not too ornate) can be wonderful as the crystals (particularly if they're faceted) will reflect the light from the bulbs.

Streamline the Window Treatments

Window coverings are a must, but heavy drapes and embellishments are not. To keep a room light, avoid heavy drapes and valances. One streamlined panel on either side of the window is probably the way to go (make sure they kiss the floor and don't puddle or fall short).

Roman shades are another great option.

Put Down a Light Area Rug

Don't ignore what's underfoot. Flooring can set the tone for the whole room. A dark floor can make a room feel heavy, whereas a light floor can brighten it. The best way to take control (other than replacing your floors) is to put down a light area rug. It doesn't have to be a solid color, but if you opt for a patterned rug make sure the overall color scheme is light and bright. If you prefer a bare floor, consider painting it. It's not the right option for everyone, but it can be a lot of fun!



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