Tricks to Brighten Up a Room

I am often asked to “brighten” up a room. Believe it or not, there are simple things you can do to brighten a room without having to knock a hole in the wall and add another window. Many are simple tweaks that can be done in a few minutes or with minimal costs. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Look at the furniture. If you are surrounded by pieces that are dark or bulky, they are absorbing the light in the room. Light furniture, metallic features (more on that later), and glass tabletops or shelving will help change the whole feel of the room and create a lighter space.
  • What color is on the walls? Is it a dark, rich color? That could also be the culprit. A light color is especially important in rooms that have little or no natural lighting. Evaluate what is on the walls and consider changing the color if it is a problem.
  • If the room has windows, evaluate your window treatments. Are you using heavy brocade drapes? You could be unintentionally blocking your greatest source of light. Try using a lighter material, or pushing the heavier material to the sides and putting something sheer in the middle. There are plenty of options that allow light but are not see through. If you have blinds, think about replacing them with a shade that allows some light pass-through.
  • Next,evaluate your light sources. This includes any hanging lamps or wall fixtures, as well as free standing wall or table lamps. Turn them all on. If there are still dark corners, you need more lighting. If they cover the whole room but not well, you may need different bulbs. Check the lumens and increase them accordingly (lumens are light output, which is different than wattage because of things like energy efficient bulbs). I like to have softer lighting in table lamps and brighter bulbs in ceiling lights. Three-wayor dimmable bulbs are also a good idea if your fixture/switch supports them.
  • Add mirrors strategically. I don’t mean that you have to add a tacky mirror wall, but even something with metallic features will help. Place them opposite a window and they will reflect and multiply the room’s natural light. If you have two windows on the same wall, put a mirror (preferably around the same size as the windows if you can swing it) in between. It will trick the eye into thinking it is another window in the room and it will feel brighter. If you don’t have any windows or can’t put a mirror across from one, put it on the wall directly behind a table lamp. Whenever the lamp is on, it will reflect the light.
  • Is the room cluttered? That can also make a room feel cramped and dark. Do a sweep of the room and relocate things that don’t need to be in the room. If there are open spaces, the room will feel airier and lighter. If you must have tchotchkes laying around, make sure that they are white or light colored and that their proportions don’t overwhelm the room.

So go through your room with a discerning eye and see what you think can be tweaked a little here and there. You would be surprised at what some new curtains, a quick coat of paint, a new bulb, or some decluttering can accomplish!