With the cold, winter season a distant memory and visions of hot, sunny summer days ahead, you’re probably noticing a little bounce to your step and a lighter mood as you stroll outside. But, what happens when you venture inside your home? Are you struggling to get that same illumination inside without knocking out a wall or doing some other major renovation?
Well, you’re in luck. There are several ways to brighten up your dark room without increasing natural light in your home or overwhelming your budget.
Keep it simply white
A simple way to scatter light in a room is by painting your walls and ceilings white. This non-colour is even more reflective than a mirror and will send light from surface to surface. Don’t stop there—paint your base moulding and door trim white, throw in a few white picture frames, sheer curtains and other accessories to maintain the rebound effect.
Add a warm glow
Even if your room doesn’t have a lot of windows or natural light supply, you can help it give off a warm glow by adding extra light sources like:
- Wall sconces: They’re not only decorative, choose ones with shades that can direct light up and down will brighten the room.
- Pot lights: Recessed ceiling fixtures are popular additions to any room. Install a few around the perimeter of the room that will cast light toward the walls.
- Under-cabinet lights: These are the perfect way to brighten a dark kitchen. Avoid costly electrical services and use LED strips or battery-operated lights to light up your workstation. You can also install some in the toe-kick area under a bathroom vanity or on a bookshelf to reduce dark, shadowy spots.
- Flush-mount ceiling lights: Give your laundry room or den a little extra glow. This fixture style will diffuse the light across the ceiling similar to a skylight.
- Crystal chandeliers: As long as it’s not too ornate or heavy, crystal chandeliers will create a light and airy feel to your two-storey foyer or formal dining room. Choose faceted crystals to reflect even more light.
- Picture lights: These may seem a little commercial for your home art collection, but they’ll illuminate a wall and make a favourite piece a focal point of the room.
- Rope lighting: Install rope lighting above crown moulding. The lights will be hidden from sight but will illuminate the perimeter of the white ceiling.
- Table lamps: They sit easily on any furniture piece and work perfectly in reading nooks for kids. They’ll spread light across a wall and will work best if you have a linen shade to allow as much light as possible to filter through.
- Floor lamps: Choose a style with an open top to shine light upward. It will bounce off the ceiling and bask the room in a bright radiance.
- Suspended pendant lights: These fit anywhere and don’t take up floor or table space. Select a style that throws light in all directions to create an ambient glow for an entire room or light up a staircase without the benefit of natural light.
Watts the problem
With extra light fixtures, you’ll be adding to your hydro bill, so you might want to consider replacing your old incandescent bulbs with LEDs. Look for bulbs with higher lumens (not watts) to give you a higher light output while saving big bucks on electricity. They’re also rated to last years longer, saving you even more money.
Offset with black
Sometimes all you need is a little contrast like a stark black wall among bright white to light up a room. Consider black or charcoal accessories with thin lines such as picture frames, patterned area rugs, simple chairs, or throw pillows to make the surrounding light areas pop.
It’s all about creating an optical illusion. Get rid of your heavy, overstuffed furniture that can overwhelm your room, making it feel closed in and dark. Replace them with sleek, modern pieces with light legs and solid colours. While you’re at it, clear out the clutter and only keep the bare minimum in accessories and knick-knacks. Too much “stuff” is a distraction that weighs a room down. Clean it out and feel how much brighter it feels.
Time to shelf It
Not only is open shelving a trendy option for kitchens, bathrooms and great rooms, it’s also a great idea for brightening a space. They can add depth to a small room and are not as heavy as dark, closed cabinets. Be careful what you display by limiting glassware and decorative accessories to just a few pieces. Baskets work great for storing extras without creating visual clutter.
Finding ways to brighten a dark space doesn’t always mean adding more windows and doors. While natural light is always a great illuminator, you can often create the desired effect with artificial light, neutral paint colours, streamlined furnishings and less clutter.
It goes to show that being a little creative with interior design elements can help any space feel brighter, lighter and more airy. Once you make the transformation, you’ll be amazed to find that your mood will improve and being inside will be almost as nice as being outside.