These Strategies Will Make a Dark Room Look Brighter

While there’s nothing better than a room bathed in plenty of natural sunlight, we’re not all blessed with this advantage, Besides, almost every home also has a shady or north-facing side that isn’t as bright. In any case, there are many ways to brighten up a space that tends to be gloomy or dark, whether that’s because it gets little daylight or just happens to have small windows. While you can embrace the dark and create a cocoon-like room, many people prefer to find ways to make it brighter. Here are some great ideas for solving the dilemma of a gloomy room.

Use More Lighting

View in gallery

This is the most basic step for making a gloomy space brighter. The key is to look beyond simple ceiling fixtures and standard lamps for creative illumination. Incorporating lighting into shelving is an easy way to brighten it as well as put the focus on a particular part of the room. Backlighting can also be used in alcoves, behind furniture or other spots that need more light.

Add Big, Bold Artwork

View in gallery

Decorating a dark room is not the time to opt for a wall full of small pieces of art. Going for something really large and bright will bring a dynamism to the space that will be missing if you choose smaller artworks. These blue and white abstract paintings by Marina Anton are a great example of the type of art that will enliven a gloomy space. Not only are they light and bright, but they convey a strong sense of movement, which also brings life to the room.

Hang a Bright Suspension Light Fixture

View in gallery

Put lighting center stage in a dark space and you’ll not only brighten it but you’ll add a big element of drama. Whether your style runs more toward old-school chandeliers or modern minimalist fixtures, you can find a suspension light that works for your living space. The most important thing to remember is to layer your lighting and combine the central fixture with lamps or other kinds of lighting at different levels.

Color it Yellow

View in gallery

Adding sunny hues to a room can do wonders for a dark space. If you can’t have the real thing, then paint and textiles can stand in for the warmth of the sun. Paint the walls any shade of yellow or add splashes of orange, peach or rose for a bigger dose of vibrancy. Combine these bolder brights with a pale base of neutrals or white to create a space that has a much-improved mood.

Choose Energetic Decor

View in gallery

If you can’t flood a space with light, upping the energy level of the decor can also bring a new vibe to the room. Choosing some items — or even wall decor — that’s unexpected and projects a high level of movement or emotion brings about an energetic feeling. This living room, which was in a recent New York City Holiday House, is highlighted by a rug pattern that swirls with dramatic colors at its edge. On the walls, a bold graffiti design is combined with staid vintage portraits for a very avant-garde look.

Add Some Shine

View in gallery

Amplify what little illumination a room might have by adding some metallic elements to the mix. The piece can be as large as this gleaming, artistic chaise from the Priveetkollektie Gallery or as small as a collection of metallic accessories. Anything reflective can do the trick, even a glass top on a coffee table or side table.

Lighten up the Floor

View in gallery

One sure way to lay a lighter base for a room is to choose a pale floor covering. Of course, a pale wood floor is ideal but if you can’t replace the floor in the room, you can still brighten up the area with a light-colored rug. This doesn’t mean that you need a white rug, which is far from ideal in high-traffic areas or in rooms that need to be family-friendly. Light neutral colors with a slight pattern or texture can bring a lighter feel than a dark rug or heavily-patterned one.

Use Mirrors Strategically

View in gallery

Mirrors are another go-to strategy for making a space feel brighter and for good reason. They are the easiest way to reflect the available light in a room on a larger scale. While a fully mirrored wall can look like a relic from the 1970s and 1980s, using large, leaning mirrors or arrangements of medium-sized mirrors can achieve the same goal with more style. Plus, individual mirrors are flexible to move if you change your mind.

Skip Heavy Window Coverings

View in gallery

In a room that already feels heavy and dark, full and substantial draperies can make it feel even more oppressive. Instead, opt for something less overwhelming like these blinds, or for some pale, floaty sheer curtains. Clearly, the decorators of this game room opted to embrace the dark and paint the walls black for drama, however, they included other elements that help lighten the look like the bold blue sofa, colorful artworks and plexiglass table. The streamlined window coverings let in the maximum amount of light from the windows, which are located only on one wall.

Keep Windows Clear and Clean

View in gallery

Speaking of windows, no matter what type of window coverings you choose, if the glass is dirty, you’re not going to have bright, sparkling daylight entering your space. Keeping the windows clean will let in the maximum amount of daylight and preserve your view of the outdoors. This means maintaining not only the inside but also cleaning the exterior of the windows — or having them cleaned if you have windows on an upper level that you can’t easily access.

Skip the Dark Decor

View in gallery

A space that’s already dark doesn’t need dark decor. Even if you lighten the floor with a covering like this natural woven rug, light-colored furniture will make a significant difference. These pieces from the Todd Merrill Studio are crafted from a pale wood and would brighten up any space. The same concept holds true if your tastes run to a more traditional style of furniture or if you want to include more upholstered pieces: Keep the textile choices light!

Paint the ceiling

View in gallery

Sometimes putting the focus on the ceiling can lighten a dark room, especially when you do it by painting the ceiling to look like the sky. This stunning design is by Kimberly Wohlfarth of Distinctive Applications, who is known for her hand-painted decor. This concept also works in children’s rooms, where the design might be a little more fanciful or playful. In any case, it draws the eye upward and, at least subconsciously, makes the room feel lighter and more open than a plain ceiling.

While most of these strategies will work for brightening up any space, the ones you choose have to be tailored to your style and what you are looking to achieve in a particular room. Moreover, many of these ideas can be easily changed or swapped out, so they aren’t necessarily a big financial commitment in case you change your mind.