How to Brighten a Dark Room or Home, Part II

08 Apr

 Photo: courtesy of @SmitBruins 

How to Brighten a Dark Room or Home, Part II

Whether you live in a large home with dimly lit rooms or a small condo with only one window, dark spaces feel cramped and depressing. However, the fix is easier and more cost-effective than you might expect. Making simple changes to your windows and lighting will immensely brighten your space.  


Clean your windows. Giving all of your windows a thorough wipe-down inside and out will do wonders for brightening your space—dirt, dust, fingerprints, and water spots all obscure incoming light. Like wearing glasses with smudges on them, a room with stained windows will feel dirty, and the vibrance of the outside world will be limited (  

Rethink your window treatments. Remove heavy valances and draperies. Decorative valances cover up the top part of the window and prevent a good amount of natural light from streaming in. Likewise, drapes, even when open, block a significant portion of light. Instead, go with sheer or semi-sheer window treatments. Choose light colors: white, beige, or light grey. When open, opt for a streamlined panel on either side of the window with the bottom of the fabric just brushing the floor (  

Another option is to go with blackout blinds, as they can be pulled up all the way leaving just a small footprint at the top. Roman blinds are another possibility. Or, if you can go without any window treatments at all, completely bare glass will let in the most light.    

Clean up and brighten the outside. Trim back shrubbery and spruce up what is outside of your windows. Trees and overgrown foundation shrubs can block natural light ( Also, plant greenery with variegated or silver leaves in your landscape to reflect light indoors (  


Eliminate the glare. The quality of light is just as important as the amount of light. While overhead lights brighten a room, their effect can be harsh—akin to the noonday sun ( Instead, you want to replicate the diffused, indirect light of early morning. Place lights near the walls so that you can use the walls and ceilings as reflectors to maximize your indirect light (, Affixing LED strips under cabinets will also cast light onto the walls in a soft glow (  

Arrange lamps and light fixtures so that they shine onto other surfaces to increase the room's ambient light ( "If you plan to install pot lights into your ceiling, always add a few at the very edges so that you can elegantly cast light down the walls" ( Of course, you will want to include task lighting wherever you need to read and work (  

Add a touch more lightDecorate with some long fairy light strings, a group of large candles, orb lights, or other ambient lights ( Make sure they have warm, yellow bulbs, and not only will they offer just the right touch of luminosity but also a hint of charm and style (  

Redirect the light. Aim the light upward. Torchier floor lamps and wall sconces work well to infuse every corner of the room with a warm glow (  

Replace your lightbulbs. It is important to keep in mind that lumens, not watts, are the unit you want to pay attention to for light. "Swap your light bulbs for some with higher lumens, and you'll up the intensity of light in the room" (  

Be intentional about the color of your bulb. According to HuffPost, choose not only a brighter output but consider selecting a cooler "daylight" color tone. Or if you prefer a warmer, more intimate atmosphere, choose yellow lights. If you like a brighter and fresher look, try a "true white" bulb ( 

Lighten your lampshades. Choose lampshades made from a light linen material, which will help diffuse the light without blocking its glow. Do not go with opaque, as those block the light (  


With a few adjustments to your windows and lighting, you can brighten up your rooms and home and improve your space's overall ambiance. 



Michelle Warner

Michelle Warner is an award-winning writer and editor. She is a published poet and has worked in the book publishing industry. She has an MFA in creative writing from The University of Arizona.