Having a dark room in your home can leave you reluctant to decorate it. You can’t change it, so what’s the point in trying to make it look nice, right? Wrong! There are some really simple ways to brighten up a dark room and make it look less cave-like. Here are some of the best tips to make the most of a dark room.
Take the first step
If you’ve been living in your home for a while, you’re probably used to the dark areas. It could be that one room just doesn’t have enough natural light, whilst another has dark furniture which makes it look gloomy. Before you can brighten up a room, you need to walk through it and assess what is causing the darkness – is it the furniture? Is it the walls? Or do you need more windows?
Paint the ceiling white
If a ceiling has wooden beams or is painted a dark colour, this is probably what is making the overall vibe of the room so dark! You can combat this by painting your ceiling a nice, bright shade of white. You’ll be surprised at how much this simple trick lights up the whole room.
Limit accent colours
In a room that is already dark, dark coloured paint won’t look good. If you do want to use a dark colour such as red or green, limit yourself to just one accent wall. Another good way to add an accent colour is to paint the ceiling, door or sideboard trims. This way, you add the contrast of light and dark without contributing to the overall darkness of the room.
Neutral colours such as a light mushroom, camel, espresso brown or warm rust add a level of warmth to a room, so they make an ideal paint colour for the walls of dark rooms. Brown, tan and white colours in particular look good next to wooden floors and furniture.
Make use of any natural light
If you have a dark room, you probably won’t have much natural light anyway, but it’s important not to obstruct the lighting that you already have. If you cover your windows with dark blinds/curtains, you’re going to block out the little light you have, so opt for cream linen canvas curtains as an alternative.
Replace harsh lighting with soft lighting
Using overhead lighting can highlight the darkness of a room rather than hide it. So, avoid harsh lighting by replacing it with warm, soft lighting – avoid fluorescent as it is often the harshest form of lighting.
Use diffused lighting
If you have a particularly dark corner in your room which is difficult to reach with light, point several lights at the wall and the reflection will create an overhead glow which will light up the whole corner. You can also use floor lamps with light coloured shades all over the room to diffuse light.
Place custom lighting
If your dark room has been designed for a specific activity, consider adding custom lights in different areas. For instance, in your bedroom you could add lights to the inside of your wardrobe, and in the kitchen you could add them to your cabinets.
If you haven’t got any already, try adding a few mirrors to the room. The mirrors will reflect the little amounts of light that leak into the room, which will make it seem a lot brighter. Additionally, if you choose mirrors with light frames, this will give the room an airy feel.
If you have wooden bookshelves, a wooden bed or a wooden TV cabinet, chances are that they are probably contributing to the darkness of a room. If you opt for wooden furniture, try to choose a lighter wood as this will help the darkness alleviate.
Reflective ‘subway’ tiles
There is a reason why the classic white ‘subway’ tiles are such a popular choice for kitchen and bathrooms. It’s because they add light! The white tones reflect natural light and brighten up the room completely, so if your kitchen or bathroom is dark, consider adding a subway tile wall.
A really simple way to make a dark room seem brighter is to tidy away any black wires. It sounds silly, but they contribute to the darkness and they can make a room feel cluttered which doesn’t help. Try to keep them tidy or tape them against the baseboard with light tape – you’ll see the difference when you do!
If you have dark floors, a cheap way to brighten them up is to use rugs. It’s a quick fix but it works. If you have the time and the budget, change the floor itself. If hardwood floors have been painted a dark colour, refinish them to expose the lighter wood. Concrete floors are also a good choice as they can be polished until they appear glossy, which reflects light. Tiles are a great choice for kitchen and bathrooms.
An easy way to bring light into an internal room is to replace the current door with a glass one. If you don’t like the idea of a full glass door, try a door with a large window. Alternatively, just paint the door a lighter colour to lift the whole room.
Remove extra walls
If your room has an extra wall which is blocking the light, try and remove it. Taking out the wall will let in more light and the room won’t feel as closed off as it did previously. However, you should always hire a professional to look at the room before you knock the wall down, as some walls can’t be knocked down for structural reasons.
Adding windows or a skylight to your room is an expensive option, but it is the one that is the most effective in the long run. If you plan to live in your home for a long time, it can be a worthy investment to make it into a bright space that you can enjoy.
Go dark and cosy
If you have exhausted all the other avenues, embrace the darkness! If there’s no way around it, paint the room in rich colours like blue and charcoal, and add warm lighting to make the room feel cosy.
Leila Jones is a content writer for First Lighting. She is a Public Relations graduate from Sheffield Hallam University in the UK.