How To Brighten Dark Rooms

How To Brighten Dark Rooms

Adding light to dark rooms is one of the quickest and cheapest ways to alter a space. But, if you’re not blessed with floor to ceiling windows. Or have masses of daylight pouring into your home, this post will give the tools showing how to brighten a dark room, in three simple ways.

Mr D and I have lived in various houses over the years — some rented but mostly bought.

Buying a house is sometimes fraught with worry. Although, despite all that, for me, it’s one of my favourite things ever.

Getting that phone call to say you’ve exchanged, followed by another to say the money’s in and you’ve completed. Then the house is yours, which is SO exciting.

Picking up the key, turning it in the lock for the first time, and then walking into the building that you will call home is one of the best feelings in the world.

I can’t quite put my finger on that magical element that makes us want to buy a property.

Sometimes — when everything looks good on paper — you walk through the door and it just doesn’t feel quite right.

Although I’m pretty sure that ‘light’ plays a major factor in why we’ve fallen for most of the houses we’ve bought over the years.

How To Make a Dark Room Brighter?

Ever wondered how to make a dark room brighter? Some properties are filled with natural daylight, whereas others seem to be dark and gloomy, even on the brightest of days.

The cottage we live in now has fairly decent light; considering the windows aren’t huge and the ceilings are fairly low.

I remember so clearly, the first day we ever walked inside. It was pouring down outside. A grey, wet miserable day in March.

Yet the light in the little cottage — that was to become our home — was lovely. For such a dull day outside, the cottage felt bright and welcoming.

But what to do if the house you live in doesn’t get its fair share of daylight?

Don’t despair — I’ve got a few tricks for adding light to dark rooms :)

How To Light a Room Without Natural Light?

Spaces that aren’t blessed with natural daylight don’t have to be dark and oppressive.

Whether you have a converted basement or cellar, or a windowless box room or bathroom, there are endless solutions to brighten dark rooms.

First off, you can celebrate the lack of light. Use it to your advantage, colour-drench the space and instead of working against the darkness, work with it as we did with our downstairs toilet.

How to brighten a dark room
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

This tiny, windowless room has no natural light of its own. But we worked with this, painted the panelling and walls the same colour dark green, and added interest with the patterned tile floor and William Morris floral wallpaper.

The spots in the ceiling add light without being too glaring. And this, in turn, bounces off the vintage mirror and the gold-toned brassware.

But if you’re not ready to move over to the dark side, here are three foolproof tips to brighten dark rooms.

How to Brighten up a Dark Room Without Painting

Lighting

Firstly, invest in decent lighting! It might sound obvious, but lighting your rooms properly will make a world of difference. Specialist lighting companies have everything you need for perfect lighting in the home.

Twinkly pendant lighting in this beautiful Brighton townhouse add light to a dark space
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

There are three key things to think about:

GENERAL LIGHTING

The main lighting in your room.
Pendant, wall, side-lamps; use sufficient general lighting to make sure the room is well lit enough for you to do day-to-day (and night) tasks with ease.

TASK LIGHTING

Great for shedding a bit of extra light on activities;
reading, cooking and crafts etc. Desk lamps and spotlights are perfect for this.

ACCENT LIGHTING

Basically a light source which is specifically trained on something you want to draw attention to. Paintings, plants or sculptures can all benefit from a little bit of accent lighting. Plus it has the added benefits of making a room look larger, if it’s done well.

The beautiful glass light fittings in my friend’s Brighton Town House (above) have been carefully planned to give light even when they’re off!

They catch the light wonderfully and add another dimension to the room.

Mirrors

I’m a HUGE fan of mirrors. These light catchers are the simplest way not only to increase light but also to give an illusion of space.

Place just one opposite a window and watch how the light bounces round the room but adding a whole collection will really maximise the light, in even the smallest, darkest space.

Mirrors add light to a dark rooms
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

The same can be said with glass-fronted pictures, plus metal and glass accessories. Get that light twinkling on lots of different surfaces in your room and see how much lighter and brighter it feels.

How Do you Lighten a Room with Poor Lighting?

Light Reflective Paint

It goes without saying that fifty shades of white can often make a room feel brighter. A carefully chosen colour can give the illusion of space. But did you know that you can actually buy paint that is specially formulated to bounce even more light around a room?

Adding light to dark rooms using specialist paints
Image credit: Pinterest.

Dulux Light and Space has a patented formulation with light-reflective particles that reflect light back into a room. Perfect for opening up small, dark areas.

When I have time, I’ll give our guest bedroom a lick of the white Light and Space paint. I wallpapered the ceiling in there and it’s given the room a new fresh look. But — as there is just one small window — it could do with a little more help to make it feel light and airy.

There we have it! Three easy ways to brighten up a dark room and ensure your home is as light and bright as possible.

So even if your cottage in the country isn’t bathed in natural daylight or your flat is less ‘pied-à-terre’ and more ‘gloomy cave’, there are always things we can do to shed a little more light on the situation.

Caro Davies editor of The Listed Home
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Caro Davies is a former art-director turned writer and content-creator, and editor behind UK lifestyle blog The Listed Home. She writes about home-related topics, from interiors and DIY to food and craft. The Listed Home has been featured in various publications, including Ideal Home, Grazia, and Homes & Antiques magazines.

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40 thoughts on “How To Brighten Dark Rooms”

    • Thanks so much lovely — the mirrors are gorgeous aren’t they? I’ve seen something similar with handheld mirrors, which worked equally as well. Light in a property is SO important and however we can beg, borrow or steal it is a must!! Although I’m all for a stylish solution ;) xx

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  1. I love some good natural light, but our flat certainly doesn’t have it. Thanks for the good advice – I hadn’t thought about getting the light to reflect with mirrors and picture frames and I didn’t know about the Dulux Paint. I’ll definitely be adding those ideas to my decorating plans.

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    • Aaah me too Shannon — light definitely affects my mood. The lighter and brighter a room is, the happier I am — and if it’s gloomy, I feel the same way! Thanks so much for stopping by lovely xxx

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  2. I’m a huge lover of light too, in fact it was pretty much what sold the house to me! I don’t really love ceiling lights though so am much more of a fan of ambient lighting. Those mirrors are fab x #brilliantblogposts

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    • Totally agree! We haven’t got many pendant lights in our house at all, because the ceilings are so low!! That said, in our old house we had 12ft high ceilings and could get away with GIANT, statement pendant lights, which I LOVE!! They’d be on the ground here — and take up half the room!! Thanks for stopping by lovely xx

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  3. GREAT ideas. I also have a lot of mirrors in our home, and lights and lamps. Our cottage is quite dark – the kitchen in particular even though the room is large. I always need the lights on! Our new home will be much lighter and I can’t wait!! Great post and thanks for sharing and linking up to #SundayStars Jess xxx

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    • So excited for you at the prospect of moving!! It is one of my fave things — I know it’s all boxes and stress at the mo but just think how exciting it’s going to be once you’re in and settled!! :) So exciting xx

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  4. Stunning pics, I’ve worked with Lampcommerce before and their lights are just dreamy, I adore our home and have worked with my Mum and an interior designer to create a warm but chic house with chaise longues, big lamp shades and it’s a real mix of Habitat, Lloyd Loom and family heirlooms but overall it’s modern and a real sun trap, everyone says they feel like they’re on holiday here, now I just need to convert the garage into a gym come photo studio…definitely not something for soon though! Loved this. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts x

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    • Thanks so much Vicki — it’s funny, people say the same when they come and stay with us! Our house is the favourite country bolthole for our London friends! They always say it feels like coming away on holiday!! :) I love that — means we always have a houseful of visitors! Thanks so much for hosting lovely xx

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  5. Ha! I have a post prepared for tomorrow about lighting, I will have have to rethink quickly! I am a huge fan of big oversized mirrors, I have them all over our house. Lovely post Caro and thank you for hosting xx

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  6. Love this – light is so so important! Our dining room can be a bit gloomy so it’s full of mirrors to bounce the little light there is around. Did not know about the light reflecting paint – gonna check that out! x

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    • Amazing isn’t it? Without lots of light, a room feels flat and gloomy. Having glass — in any form — to bounce the light around is so important. The paint looks space-age doesn’t it?! x

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  7. Great post – thanks! My sons room has only a sky light and feel incredibly dark. I’ve read that putting a mirror to the left wall of a window works well for bouncing light – no idea why though :) #homeetc

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  8. Wow, I love the wall of mirrors. I bet that makes the room look amazing. Would love to be brave and try something like that

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    • Aaah do it Sam! It’s a simple fix — have a look in charity shops or Ebay for some lovely mirrors and give it a go! I’ve also seen a similar display of ornate, vintage handheld mirrors before and that looked amazing too! :)

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    • Lighting is such a simple thing isn’t it but so often it can be overlooked. I love different layers of light in a room… multiple light sources really give a room some ambience. Thanks for linking up again with us lovely — I always love your posts! x

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  9. Great tips – thank you! I love the mirror wall. Despite having big windows our terraced house can be very dark at times. The kitchen, which has light coming from different directions is the one truly light room. My husband bought about 10 year’s worth of traditional lightbulbs before they were banned – we have nearly run out, sob! I can’t stand horrible dingy energy saving lights in a dim house. We will have to investigate something different when our stocks run out! #HomeEtc

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    • Aaah thanks so much Lizzie. I did the same!!!! I bought STACKS of them from Wilko!! We’ve still got quite a few but they are beginning to run low now… not sure what I’ll do when my stocks have depleted! x

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  10. It is amazing how adding a mirror brings light to a dark room as well as making the room look bigger. My mother-in-law has a long dark dining room, so I added a large mirror on one wall, which reflects the light off her chandelier lights – it makes the room so much brighter! #HomeEtc
    Sabrina xx

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    • It literally can double the space too — as well as increase the light! Such a simple thing to do but SO effective. I’ve got SO many mirrors in this house — the only thing is, they’re a nightmare to clean!! LOL!! ;) x

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  11. I love these ideas and completely agree that the light in a home can make or break. We have used glazed doors in our last two homes to allow extra light to flow around the whole floor. We also always make sure to have slatted blinds on them for those times when you want a bit more privacy. Frosted glass is also great (as long as it’s not on the loo!!) xx

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    • Aah thanks for stopping by Sue! I think it’s the key factor for me and my boy buying all of our homes — bar one that was fairly dark but had the most amazing, calm, ambience as soon as you walked though the front door. Glazed doors are SUCH a great idea — that’s a fab way of stealing light from other areas! :)

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  12. Really useful tips and ideas! I love the mirrors (and the beautiful bath) in the bathroom photo. Light is so important and makes such a difference to the feeling of a room. Jemma x #HomeEtc

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    • Thanks so much Jenna — light is key isn’t it? I really find that dark oppressive spaces really play havoc with my mood!! Light and bright rooms are lovely and can be achieved so easily by a little bit of cheating, if they’re not blessed with too much natural light of their own :)

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  13. Those mirrors look great. I read once that every room should have six different light sources to make the lighting work – and in our main room and our bedroom we have just that, and they’re my favourite rooms. So it must work ;) thanks for hosting lovely xx

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  14. Great ideas! We suffer from dark small rooms and have used mirrors and colour to help and they gave made a huge difference! X

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    • It really does make a difference doesn’t it? Such a simple thing to do… in out top floor shower room, there’s no natural light at all and I’ve put a HUGE vintage mirror on the wall. As well as making it brighter it’s also doubled the space! x

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  15. Great ideas! We suffer from small dark rooms and have used mirrors and colour which have worked well x

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  16. Absolutely the correct lighting and mirrors really can transform a dark room in a home. Love the wall of mirrors above the bath – must be a nightmare to clean though ;)

    I’ve just taken delivery of a rather large mirror that is destined to add light and dimension to a darker corner of my dining area. I’m sure once its hung I will be sharing it with #HomeEtc

    Angela

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  17. Adding more lights is the easiest and most obvious way to bring more light into a room. You’ll want to be careful though, add to much lights and they will probably start short circuiting each other. I would suggest talking to an electrician if that is the route you want to take.

    Reply

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