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How to lighten a dark room

Dark rooms feel cramped and depressing to some people. Lack of windows, the wrong colours and furnishings often cause rooms to look darker than necessary. Whether you are renting an apartment or decorating your home, using the correct colours, furnishings and lighting makes a large difference in the brightness in the space. Lightening the room helps add a bright and sunny ambience to the room.

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  1. Paint the walls, if possible, with a white or pale, neutral colour. Light walls appear to enlarge the room and add brightness.

  2. Install carpeting or an area rug in a white or pale shade that coordinates with the colour of your decor. For instance, if you have warm tones in the room, use off-white or beige floor coverings. If the room has cool colours, such as blue, add white rugs or carpeting. Another idea is to paint the floor white or an off-white shade. This visually brightens and enlarges the look of the room.

  3. Hang decorative mirrors on the wall. They bounce any existing light around the room and lighten the space. This is particularly effective if you place it opposite a lamp or other light source.

  4. Toss a white or pale, neutral-coloured afghan over the couch, bed or other main feature in the room. This is quite helpful if your bedding or upholstery fabrics are dark. Throw pillows come in a variety of colours, so purchase light colours to brighten the sofa or chair areas.

  5. Place table or floor lamps around the room so you can turn them on to dispel the darkness. This is especially helpful in dark corners. Change the lampshades to light-coloured, semi-sheer shades. This allows more light to illuminate the space. Another idea is to use wall sconces if your floor or table space is limited.

  6. Purchase light bulbs that mimic sunlight, such as "pure," "true," or natural bulbs. They provide a brighter glow to the room than incandescent or "warm white" fluorescent bulbs.

  7. Hang sheer or airy-looking curtains, such as white eyelet or lace. Another idea is to not use any window coverings or use blinds or shades you can open to allow sunlight in or close for privacy.

  8. Tip

    Purchase light-coloured slip coverings for your dark upholstered furniture. They come in a range of colours, styles and prices. If the fabrics are dark-coloured, they make the room seem dimmer.

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Things You'll Need

  • Wall and floor paint
  • Light carpeting or area rugs
  • Decorative mirrors
  • Light-coloured afghans or throw pillows
  • Lamps or wall sconces, light-coloured lamp shades
  • "Natural," "true," or "pure" light bulbs
  • Sheer curtains, blinds or shades
  • Slip coverings

About the Author

Chelsea Fitzgerald

Chelsea Fitzgerald covers topics related to family, health, green living and travel. Before her writing career, she worked in the medical field for 21 years. Fitzgerald studied education at the University of Arkansas and University of Memphis.

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