6 Clever Ways to Make a Dark Room Brighter

Perhaps you have a north-facing room and you’re fed up with sitting in the gloom, or you find yourself relying on electric light in your home even on bright days.

Natural light has been shown to improve our physical health and mental wellbeing, and a bright room will often look bigger and more welcoming. It’s no wonder then that an abundance of daylight is a ‘must-have’ feature for a family home, something that people prioritise when house hunting.

6 Clever Ways to Make a Dark Room Brighter

If you’re one of the many people who wish they had more natural light in their homes, you’ll be relieved that this can be achieved without undergoing the trauma and expense of moving house! The six tips below will help you create a light-filled home that lifts your mood.

1. Use light colours

This is a bit of a no brainer, but a room decorated in lighter hues will make for a brighter space and the walls will reflect more natural light.

If you’re keen to keep your statement wallpaper, how about restricting it to just one wall? By ensuring that the walls directly opposite your windows are painted a light colour you’ll benefit from much of the available daylight being reflected off these surfaces.

Brilliant white paint will undoubtedly make for a brighter room, but it could make your room feel cold and sterile if used throughout. Apply it to ceilings but use off-white hues such as almond or antique white elsewhere. Very light greys are another alternative and are bang on trend, but any lighter hue will be effective.

Paints with a satin finish will typically reflect more light and it’s even possible to buy special paint mixed with light-reflecting particles, with manufacturers claiming that these particles can increase reflectivity by as much as 40%.

2. Select your window furnishings carefully

Heavy curtains or draperies can enhance the appearance of your space, help the room retain heat in the winter months and even help prevent your furniture from fading. But if you’re hoping to increase the amount of natural light entering your room, they’re not a great choice.

Window blinds can be folded away during daylight hours, and they offer better control of the amount of daylight that enters your room. Solar blinds might be the perfect solution if you’d like some privacy as they’re available in various levels of opacity.

Sheer curtains are translucent and are manufactured using lighter material, so allow more light to enter.

This may sound a little extreme but the perfect solution could be to change your window glass. If your frames are in good condition – whether timber, uPVC or aluminium – it’s possible to just swap the glazed unit with better performing glass. Modern glazing has been designed to keep out heat in summer, retain heat in winter and block the UV rays that fade furniture. Replacement glass for double glazed windows is also surprisingly inexpensive and much more cost effective compared to replacing an entire window, frame and all.

3. Clear the view outside your windows

Tree branches, bushes, hedges, ivy and other creeping vines can all obstruct light from entering your home. Even trees at the far end of the garden may have an impact if left to grow untended. While tree surgery is a specialist job that should be left to the professionals, there’s plenty you can do yourself to tidy the outside of your home for the benefit of the inside. When the greenery is on your neighbour’s property things can get a little complicated, but you may wish to offer to help with the cost of tidying the offending hedges or trees.

Garden constructions such as sheds and arbours may also reduce the amount of light reaching your rooms and it may be worth considering repositioning them if possible.

Clear the view outside your windows

4. Use mirrors or other reflective surfaces

We talked briefly about reflective paint, but there are many other ways to introduce reflective surfaces into your home to make the most of the available natural light.

A large mirror is an obvious choice and could be a statement piece, carefully positioned to reflect as much light as possible. Mirrors are available in countless styles and sizes and several could be hung on a single wall if your room is particularly dark. An eclectic mix of antique mirrors can look great if it suits your room, and it’s sure to be an effective way to brighten your home.

Other objects that can have reflective surfaces include furniture, light fittings and even things like door knobs. The addition of materials such as chrome, acrylic or glass can completely transform a room, but if you do prefer to use wood then a lacquered or high gloss finish can be effective.

5. Brighten your floor

When you think about how much of your room is floor, it stands to reason that changing it could dramatically transform your room. Replacing a dark carpet or dark wood flooring with something lighter will help reflect more light, increasing ambient light levels. 

Light oaks are an excellent choice if you’re able to install a hardwood or engineered wood floor.

Light coloured carpets can look great but may not be suitable for high traffic areas, as they’ll soil easily.

Light coloured or white tiles with a reflective finish would be ideal where they suit the room, but be aware that tiled flooring can make a room feel cold in winter and will also change how sound interacts with the room. Hanging heavy curtains and adding other soft furnishings will help but may also reduce the amount of natural light entering your home.

6. Add a skylight, roof windows or light wells

Now we’re in major overhaul territory, but if you have the budget – or if you’re thinking of adding an extension to your home and have concerns about your new rooms being too dark – how about introducing natural light from above?

Top lighting in the form of a skylight or roof windows can bring as much as three times more light into a room compared to vertical windows, and modifying a roof wouldn’t impact the amount of available wall space.

Most architects and experienced residential construction companies will be able to work with you to find a solution that best suits your home. Even if your room doesn’t seem suitable you may be surprised at some of the ingenious ways that light can be introduced. Light wells are often used in basement construction where natural light wouldn’t otherwise be available. As you can see there are ways to make a dark room brighter!

While we’re talking about radically refurbishing your home, opening up rooms can also help brighten them, and the addition of French or bifold doors is another option if you’re up for knocking down the odd wall!

Thanks for stopping by today, I hope you’ve enjoyed this post.

You can find my other interior tips here.

rachel bustin


*This is a collaborative post

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