How to Brighten a Dark Room

A bright, beautiful sitting room

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Lightening up a dark and dreary room will instantly make it more appealing. If adding windows or making other structural changes is not an option, consider other ways to decorate a dark room and turn it into a lighter, brighter place.

Make the Ceiling Bright White

A white ceiling helps make a room feel taller. If you want to brighten a dark room, make sure it is the clearest, brightest, whitest white you can find: no cream, no ivory, and no versions of off-white. True white is the way to go.

Maximize Light With Mirrors

Mirrors are a perfect tool for brightening a dark room. Whenever possible, place mirrors directly opposite windows to reflect as much natural light as possible. If this is not possible, any mirror—no matter where it is placed—will work. Over mantles, above couches, placed on bookcases, or hung above side tables, mirrors are like little windows that open up spaces wherever they are.

Paint Woodwork

Some people are totally against painting woodwork, but if you want to lighten a dark room, this is a surefire way to do it. If you have an oak staircase, dated wood wainscotting or unattractive ceiling beams give it a coat of white paint. It will instantly lighten, freshen, and modernize a room. Once you paint woodwork, it is difficult to restore it, so you need to be sure.

Slimline Furniture

Overstuffed and heavily carved furniture will make your room feel darker and heavier than it is. Stick with streamlined, lighter pieces that do not have a lot of frills. If you love the style of carved or heavy furniture, try to keep it to a minimum. Choose one or two pieces that you love and keep the rest light.

Lighten Lampshades

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

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 are not too large or ornate) can be wonderful as faceted crystals will reflect the light from the bulbs.

Streamline 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. In terms of length, make sure the curtains kiss the floor and do not puddle or fall short. Roman shades are another great option.

Put Down a Light Area Rug

Do not ignore what is underfoot. Flooring can set the tone for the whole room. A dark floor can make a room feel heavy; however, a light floor can brighten it. The best way to control this factor (other than replacing your floors) is to put down a light area rug. It does not 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. This may not be the right option for everyone, but it can be a decorative.