Tips to brighten up a room
Many homes have spaces that do not get as much light as we would like them to. And while a dark room in the house may be good for relaxation, spending too much time in darker spaces can have a negative impact on your mental well-being, with effects including low mood or difficulty remembering.
Besides experimenting with lighting ideas, you can brighten up a room with no natural light by using mirrors to bounce the light around the space or play with clever furniture placement and paint techniques to create the effect of a bright room.
Rooms tend to be dark for several reasons. They may be internal rooms with few or no windows, or they may be north-facing or be blocked by external features such as trees. Finding the perfect level of lighting for any room can be challenging. Here are some expert ideas to brighten up any dark room while also creating a beautiful space.
To use mirrors to their full potential, place them near or opposite a light source to reflect as much light as possible. You can also place them near windows for a similar effect. Mirrors reflect the light and create the illusion of a brighter space. Placing table lamps or a floor lamp next to a mirror can have a similar effect.
Consider lighter curtains:
In a dark room, heavy curtains can contribute to the dull look even when open. So, opt for light, breezy curtains on both sides of your windows. For blackout curtains, a very light gray, ivory, or beige is a great choice.
Bright white paint is the best solution to distribute light in a dark room or to create the illusion of an airy space. White walls send light bouncing around the space, reflecting back onto other surfaces and making the space look bigger than it is. You can also consider adding ornamental trims to the ceiling for added texture, or paint one side of the room in a different colour to add diversity.
Pick light flooring:
Opt for a neutral light-toned carpet, as white, ivory, yellow or some warmer combination can help distribute light around the room. To help expand the visual space, make sure the rug is of larger size. A light wood floor such as maple or birch can also help to increase the light in the space. Painting the floor a lighter colour can also help bounce the light around your room, and painting the floor of a north-facing room in a subtle off-white tone can also help fill it with warmth.
Use bright artwork:
Using artwork in a dark space can add some areas of colour and pattern without overwhelming the space, while frames and high-gloss finishes can add a reflective element and allow light to travel further in the room. Carefully chosen artwork can also invite warmth into the room through serotonin-boosting oranges and reds and prevent darker rooms from becoming too cool.
Mix playful patterns:
Wallpapers in light colours with an airy feel can give the illusion of space. A gentle use of gold or silver will add shimmer as the natural or artificial light hits them, creating little pockets of glamorous glow. Metallic elements can be incorporated through the use of a fully metallic paper or through metallic patterns for a more toned-down look.
Consider your furniture:
Stuffing an already dim room with oversized furniture will cast more shadows, leading to an even-darker feeling room. Set a maximum height for your furniture and make sure that each piece falls below it. Get rid of excess stuff, making the space look lighter and brighter. If you have to use darker furniture, consider keeping everything else in the space white and fresh to help create contrast.
The most obvious way of making a dark room brighter is to add lighting. Change the lamps to the brightest-possible option. Layer a mix of ambient, accent, and task lighting in the room to create an even, welcoming glow without adding to the shadows. Layer it correctly to ensure a balanced space that does not become overly lit. Think about adding lighting fixtures that will brighten the space and add a glow. Use long strings of fairy lights, a group of large candles, orb lights, or other ambient lights. Not only will they offer just the right touch of luminosity, but they will also add tremendous charm and a therapeutic feel.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 25 August, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.