10 Creative Ways to Light Up Dark Rooms

in Apartment Living, General on by
This living room may be windowless, but ample lighting and sleek decor make it airy and enjoyable all the same.

Living in a space where sunshine bathes the walls every day is ideal but not likely. Most homes and apartments have at least one room that receives minimal natural light or, in some cases, none at all. !–more–>But before you slam the door and declare the space a walk-in closet, try out a few of these decorating tricks to lighten it up and perhaps even make it your favorite room of all.

Whiten Things Up

The first and easiest step to make a dark room brighter is to paint it white. You’ll be stunned at how a simple coat of paint lights up the space. Instead of using a flat or eggshell paint color on the walls and ceiling, use a semi-gloss on the walls and a full white gloss on the ceiling. The glossy finishes bounce off each other and add a lovely glow to the space.

A Place for Reflection

Mirrors also add leaps of light to a dark room. Strategically place several sizes and shapes of them around a windowless room so they reflect off one another, as well as catch the light of a few nearby lamps and light fixtures. Lamps with metallic frames add nice reflections to the ambiance, and if you place fabric swatches on either side of a wall mirror, it sort of resembles a window to the outside. Mirrored tables and tiles and shiny wall art also work wonders for lightening up dark rooms.

The Artful Lodger

You don’t have to be an art connoisseur to decorate your home. Simply choose art you like — i.e. styles and subjects that make you smile, soothe your soul, or inspire deep thought. Of course, bright colored works are best for a dark room, but you can still sneak in a few black-and-white selections using mirrored or light-colored frames. Mix mediums, too. Abstracts mixed with prints of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, the iconic Yellow Submarine album jacket, and even a framed Tupac image make for a fantastic display.

Dare to Go Bare

Soft light bulbs (the kind that are coated on the inside to decrease glare) are fine for most rooms, but not for the one you need to lighten up. For that room, you’ll want to seek out several different shapes and sizes of clear bulbs and use them in lamps, wall sconces, and ceiling light fixtures. Even the darkest room glows in the light of these bulbs.

It’s All in the Numbers

Unless you’re a certified lighting contractor or interior designer, it’s hard to determine what size overhead light fixture is ideal for your space. Here’s a simple way to determine that figure: take the dimensions of the room, add them together, and change the sum to inches. For example, if your room is 12 feet by 14 feet, that’s 26 feet. Convert that to inches, and you know that a 26-inch-diameter overhead light fixture is the right size for the room.

Try Some Therapy

Since a lack of natural light seriously affects some people, there’s now a light therapy box available for sale that treats symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Ask your doctor what specs work best for you and you’ll be amazed how just 30 minutes in the bright light of this tool brightens your outlook on life.

Go Toward the Light

Light-colored furniture pieces like these make for lighter feeling rooms.

Dark wood furniture not only adds warmth to most rooms, it also forgives spills and stains. Unfortunately, it also makes dark rooms darker. For that reason alone, you’ll want to opt for white end tables, chairs and sofas in soft pastels, and shell or white shades for carpets and rugs. To ease your fear of ruining these light colors with mishaps, treat surfaces with stain-resistant applications such as Scotch Guard and use doilies to protect tables and the overstuffed arms of chairs and sofas.

Go for the Greenery

As with most rooms in your home, plants enhance the atmosphere of dark rooms. Just be sure to choose plants that thrive in low light and monitor them closely for signs of distress so you can give them a shot of full light every now and then to keep them healthy. Oh, and go for light-colored ceramic pots instead of terra cotta and use pastel or light, naturally colored plant hangers or stands.

Casting Colors

To make the light furniture pop, add splashes of color with accessories in bright hues. Small rugs are ideal, a few bright throw pillows lighten the room, and lamps and vases in brilliant colors overpower the darkness in even the darkest parts of your apartment.

Turn Up the Watts

One of the most obvious, and easiest, solutions to a dark room is lights, lots of lights. Flank a sofa or overstuffed chair with metal tone floor lamps equipped with high-wattage bulbs. Hang a lamp in a corner or two and place one on an end table. When all the lamps glow at once, you won’t even notice that your room lacks natural light as you bask in the rays cast by the lamps.

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