How to Lighten a Dark Room: Expert Reveals Enlightening Tips

modern living room

We can all use a little more sunshine in our lives! Unfortunately, some of us are living in homes that are lacking in windows with a plentiful source of natural light. To lighten these dark spaces, we must resort to creative interior design tactics.

Kimberly M. Stone, owner of the interior design firm Adore Your Décor and author of the FabJob Guide to Become a Home Stager or Redesigner, generously offered to share some of her favorite strategies for solving this common decorating dilemma with the readers of LoveToKnow Interior Design.

Start with Clean Windows

Before you get too far into your decorating project, Ms. Stone suggests taking the time to make sure your windows have been thoroughly cleaned both inside and outside. "You'd be surprised how grime on window glass can limit your light," she said. "Also, cut back any trees or shrubs that may be hindering your daylight."

Use Paint and Mirrors to Reflect Existing Light


When you're decorating a room that doesn't get much natural light, you'll want to choose your color scheme with this in mind. While still taking into account your own design preferences, you should choose paint colors that will help make your room seem brighter. "Use a light color that will reflect light back into the room such as white, cream, or yellow," Ms. Stone said. "Avoid dark colors or muddy earth tones because they absorb the light in a room. Another paint tip is to use a semi-gloss, high-gloss, or metallic finish to make the room glow when light is applied. Don't forget the ceiling!"

According to Ms. Stone, mirrors can also be used to create the appearance of a well lit room. "Try mounting a mirror on the wall directly opposite your window," she said. "The mirror should be the same size or larger than the window. This simple step will immediately double the light your room gets during the day."

Choose Window Treatments Wisely

living room

Window treatments can add color and texture to a room, but you must choose them carefully when your lighting sources are minimal. For a room where privacy is not an issue, you can leave the windows bare. If your room is a bedroom, however, you'll want some privacy. "Select a sheer or lace fabric which will allow a lot of light to shine through but provide some privacy at night," Ms. Stone said. "Another fun option is window film that looks like stained or decorative glass."

Add Additional Lighting

When all else fails, Ms. Stone recommends that you add more lighting fixtures to your room. "Halogen bulbs burn the brightest, but they do put off a lot of heat in the process," she said. "If your budget permits, try adding recessed lighting or track lighting all around the perimeter of your room. Make sure to include a dimmer switch or knob, so you can customize the light level."

Make the Most of Your Available Space

Even though you may be wishing for a room with large bay windows and a steady supply of sunshine, smart interior design choices can help you make the most of the space you have available. All it takes is a little time and creativity to lighten and brighten any room within your home!

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How to Lighten a Dark Room: Expert Reveals Enlightening Tips