How to Make Dark Rooms Feel Brighter

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Get easy ideas to make dark rooms feel brighter. These simple ideas will make even the darkest room feel bright and sunny.

candlestick on glass table

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My last house had so much natural light that sometimes I wanted to wear sunglasses inside.

Our new house is a bit darker. It has a porch and is surrounded by trees, which I love. But the rooms can feel darker than I like because I love spending time in a light-filled room.

Luckily, there are some easy ways to add light to a room.

How to Make Dark Rooms Feel Brighter

Here are some ways that I’m using to make the rooms in my new home feel brighter.

Light Paint Colors

Light paint colors go a long way in making a dark room feel brighter.

I use a lot of pastels and white paint in my home. Pastels add a bit more life than white.

pastel paint swatch cards

My living room was painted a cream color with dark brown trim. Painting it pale blue makes it feel so much brighter and happier.

living room
Fireplace makeover | Porch Goose

White walls can appear gray in darker rooms, so they’re not always the best solution. I like to use white in rooms with natural lighting.

Our TV room was originally my office space, so I painted it white to photograph crafts without weird reflections. Now that it’s the TV room, I’m considering painting it a darker color.

My new office space will be pale blush pink. It’s light enough to make the room bright, but the color makes it more fun.

Recently, I painted my bedroom a pale aqua. It was originally a pale gray that made me feel depressed every morning. The aqua color is still light, but it makes me happy.

Another thing to consider is the LRV, which stands for Light Reflective Value. I wrote more about it in this post about picking paint colors for dark rooms.

As the name implies, it’s a number that represents how much light is reflected. Darker colors have a lower number, and brighter colors have a higher number, so you’ll want a color with a high LRV.

Finding the LRV for paint colors can be hard, but the paint company’s website may list it. Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore, and Behr all list the LRV in the paint description.

You can also search for the exact paint color to see if anyone has written a post about the color you want to use.


It’s crucial to have adequate artificial lighting in a dark room.

When we sold our house in Maryland, we were advised to add more lamps to the basement to provide more light. It looked amazing with all the extra light, so I’m also trying to keep that in mind for this house.

Here are some things to keep in mind when adding lighting.

lamp and decor in living room

Every room needs at least three sources of light.

Don’t rely on overhead lighting alone. It’s harsh, and most rooms don’t require it. Overhead lights are useful in kitchens and bathrooms, but I don’t like them in living rooms, bedrooms, or even offices.

Other lighting sources, like lamps and sconces, should be added to provide ambient lighting.

Did you know that you don’t even need to wire sconces anymore? These battery-powered/rechargeable lightbulbs work with sconces without needing to hire an electrician. You can even change the light temperature and color with your phone!

Candlelight can also provide a nice ambiance at night. If you’re uncomfortable with lit candles, try a candle lamp. The light is so soft and pretty!

Lighting has a spectrum from warm to cool. They have their purposes.

Try warm-temperature light bulbs for a nice, gentle light. Avoid going too warm, or it will cast a yellow glow over the room.

Cool-temperature bulbs make a room feel sterile and cold, so avoid them in rooms where you want to feel cozy. I don’t hate them in a kitchen where you need light.

Just make sure that you don’t buy bulbs at their extremes. You don’t want overly yellow or blue light.

It’s also important to remember not to mix light bulb temperatures. It makes the room look weird. We’re slowly changing out the mixed-temperature bulbs in our home.

Light Colored Furnishings

In most cases, your furniture is the largest item in the room. When you choose light-colored furniture, it can make the room feel brighter.

Add light-colored pillows and throw blankets to cover the dark upholstery if you have a dark sofa.

sofa in living room

Dark floors can be covered with light-colored rugs.

light rug on dark floor

In bedrooms, use light-colored bedding since the bed covers most of the room.


Mirrors are great for adding extra light to a room.

Add decorative mirrors across from windows to reflect light into a room. If you don’t have a window, you can reflect light into a mirror to make a room feel brighter.

Feel free to add as many mirrors as you want. It’s an easy way to cover a large wall and increase the light in a room.

Reflective surfaces can also be used to bounce light around a dark room.

Metallic Elements

Metallic elements can be used to add more light.

vintage candle holder on wall

Incorporate metallic decorative items, or you can add metallic elements through the hardware in your room.

Furniture can also be metallic.

Glass or Acrylic

Glass pieces also work to brighten a room because they reflect light and let light pass through.

Think of a glass coffee table. A wood coffee table blocks the light, but a glass coffee table lets you see beneath it.

glass candleholder on glass coffee table
Candlesticks (similar)

If you dislike glass furniture because it’s difficult to clean, you can also try crystal candle holders or glass vases.

Window Treatments

When we bought our current house, the first thing we did was remove the window treatments. It made such a difference!

Having no window treatments isn’t the right solution for most houses, so here are my tips for choosing better options.

If you want a sense of privacy but want your windows open, opt for a double rod and use light-filtering curtains. I had these on our front living room window at our last house.

Adding light-filtering film to doors with windows allows the light in but gives you privacy.

Buy blinds that open as much as possible. We love these blinds because they are easy to install and only take up a few inches when opened.

bedroom with aqua walls and colorful bedding

When you install curtain rods, hang them as high as possible and wider than the window. This makes your ceiling look higher, makes your window look larger, and lets in more light.

Lastly, open your blinds or curtains every day. If your windows are covered, the room will feel dark.

Add Furniture with Legs

Like the glass coffee table, furniture with legs can make a room feel brighter because it shows more of the room. It will also make your room feel larger.

Embrace the Darkness and Make it Cozy.

If none of these solutions work for you, why not embrace the darkness and create a cozy room?

This works best in bedrooms, offices, living rooms, and dining rooms.

In our last house, I painted my office dark, which was so relaxing. It was also easier on my eyes because the other rooms were too bright.

green office with wallpaper behind computer

In Maryland, our primary bedroom was painted a darker color and was so cozy.

Our dining room at the back of the house feels so dark. Instead of fighting it, I will paint it a dark green to make it cozy.

Shopping Ideas for a Bright Room

What are your favorite ways to make a dark room feel brighter?

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living room sofa and mirrors

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