How to Make a Dark Room Look Lighter & Brighter
Whether you have a north-facing room, small windows, or a neighbour’s new extension blocking the sunlight, dark rooms can darken your mood. Here’s how to make that shady room shine using mirrors, paint and more so every room can look inviting and uplifting.
3 Starter tips for making your room look lighter
Need some quick fixes? Read our top three starter tips for making any dark room lighter.
1. Don’t cram too much in
Space is important. When it comes to interiors, size and light levels are interwoven so you have to consider them together. Large rooms are often naturally lighter and small rooms naturally darker, so controlling how big a space feels is essential for making it look bright and inviting.
Cramming a lot of furniture, soft furnishings or items into one space can make it feel more claustrophobic and will limit the way light can move through the room. Keep dark rooms as open and minimal as possible.
This works for the size of the furniture you add into the room, right down to how much is on your bookshelves.
Looking for some simple shelves to open out your
space and make it look lighter? Try these!
2. It’s curtains for heavy curtains
Give heavy curtains the curtains! Windows are essential when it comes to making a dark room lighter and while you might not have control over the size or the number of windows in your room, there are ways to better control the light levels.
Heavy curtains restrict the amount of light that can enter a room. They also impact how you perceive the space: they are often associated with darker, more gothic settings and therefore make a room feel even darker than it is.
Opt instead for sheer curtains that help to protect your privacy while still letting light into the room. Alternatively, you can skip the curtains altogether and choose blinds.
3. Choose a lighter colour scheme
A dark room won’t benefit from dark colours. When you’re choosing your colour scheme, consider lighter colours like whites, creams or pastels.
Dark colours are often popular for making a room seem more cosy. However, they are best suited to bigger rooms that have a lot of natural light. While they can help to create a cosy atmosphere, they are harder to get perfect and can end up making a room feel dark and claustrophobic.
Lighter colours reflect the light and will help a room to seem brighter, even if the natural light is minimal. They’re the best option for smaller spaces and will help to make any dark room lighter.
Those are our three simple tips if you need quick answers, but there are even more ways that you can make a dark room lighter...
Use mirrors to create more light
Making a dark room lighter is all about controlling the way light interacts with space. The key is to increase the amount of light reflecting through a room. For example, lighter paint colours reflect more light, which is why they help a space to feel brighter.
The ultimate way to increase light is through mirrors.
In order to use mirrors to create more light, you need to place them in the best positions so they reflect as much light into the room as possible. If you get it right, a room will feel a lot brighter, as though there are more light sources.
The best positions are opposite or directly next to the window. This allows light to enter and bounce from multiple positions around the room to enhance the sense of brightness.
These mirrors are even designed to mimic the look of a window:
How to put a large mirror on the wall
Large mirrors are often best as they can reflect the most light, but it will depend on your room as to what suits it!
It’s important that mirrors are put onto the wall securely as they can be damaged if they fall.
- Ensure the wall is painted already as hanging the mirror should be one of the final elements of decorating.
- Clear the area where the mirror will hang, including moving any furniture out of the way temporarily.
- Clean the wall if it’s dusty or dirty as you won’t be able to clean behind the mirror later!
- Use a wire-finder to check that the area where you need to add the hangings is clear. You need to avoid wires so you don’t damage any electricity supplies!
- Use a stud-finder to locate the studs in the wall. It’s important that the screws or nails for heavy mirrors are driven into studs so they are fully supported.
- Use a pencil and measuring tape to mark where the nails and hangings need to be placed. Aim for the centre of each stud as this will offer the most support.
- Fix a hanging wire securely to your mirror using screw eyes and strong wire designed for hanging.
- Check the mirror will hang straight and adjust any markings.
- Drill two heavy-duty hanging fixes into the wall where you have marked it. Ensure that you drill a hole that’s narrower than the fixes so they are secure.
- Hang the mirror up on the hooks - it can be a good idea to get a friend to help you if it’s particularly heavy.
- Check the mirror is hanging straight and enjoy a lighter room!
It’s not just wall mirrors that can make a dark room lighter; mirrored furniture is becoming increasingly popular. it works extremely well for brightening a room as it increases the amount of light reflecting in the space.
The Mayfair Mirrored Furniture range has furniture appropriate for every room of the house.
Strategic ceiling lights and lamps
Type of lighting
When natural light is limited, opt for lighting options that mimic it as much as possible. White light is most like bright, daytime sunshine, while yellow light will make a room feel cosier and darker.
Choose white light over yellow to create a lighter room. It can be a good idea where possible to select dimming bulbs so you can make areas cosier in the evenings. Alternatively, select primarily white lights, with a couple of yellow-light lamps that can create ambience when you want it.
Place lights so even the darkest areas of the room can be lit up and ensure that the places where natural light can’t reach have lamps or ceiling lights nearby.
How to make dark furniture look lighter
In an ideal world, you’d select lighter furniture to go in your room as this will help it feel brighter. However, you can’t always change your furniture whenever you want to! Here are some tips for making dark furniture look lighter to help your dark room seem brighter.
Add soft furnishings and cushions
A dark coloured sofa, for example, can look fantastic with contrasted cushions. Light-coloured cushions not only help a dark room look lighter, but can create a beautiful high-contrast aesthetic.
Similarly, in dark dining rooms, you can place a cream or white tablecloth over the dark wood and use matching cushions for the dining chairs. When combined with our other tips like using mirrors, the room will look bright and welcoming.
Painting furniture in lighter shades
Wood furniture can be painted in lighter shades. This not only helps add brightness to your room but can improve old furniture, giving it a new lease of life!
The furniture should be first sanded down to remove the old glossy layer and prepare the surface for paint. Be sure to find paint that’s specifically designed for wood furniture as this will leave a good and long-lasting finish. Use a layer of primer on the furniture and then, once dried, paint a few layers of your furniture paint. Be sure to let each layer dry before applying the next.
Finally, finish the furniture with a specialist furniture gloss, wax or finish. This will seal the paint and create a fantastic final look.
If painting your furniture is too much work, check out these white wood options from House of Oak.
External factors you can change
To make a dark room lighter, it’s often not just the room itself you need to improve.
Trim outside foliage
When trees or bushes get too big they can start to block sunlight and make a room darker. Be sure to trim back any trees in your garden, or politely ask the neighbours if they could trim any trees that are blocking light to your rooms.
Clean your windows
If you don’t already, clean your windows. Dust, rain and other grime can build up on the glass and gradually limit the light entering your room.
A lot of window cleaning services will offer periodic appointments so you don’t have to remember to do it yourself!
There are loads of ways to make a dark room lighter. If you’re looking for white or light-colour wood furniture to brighten your interior, explore House of Oak!