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14 Designer Tips For Lightening Up A Dark Room

Depending on your style, you might want to have a light and breezy home decor, but maybe you’re working with a room that is dark, doesn’t have natural light and just doesn’t feel right. Thankfully, we’ve gathered 14 designer tips that will help you lightening up that dark room that became the black sheep of your home!

01. Paint Your Floor White

14 Designer Tips For Lightening Up A Dark Room

Dan Mazzarini

“White painted floors reflect light around the space,” Mazzarini says. “I like Armorseal Rexthane by Sherwin-Williams.” Here, the designer juxtaposed snow-white floors with black furnishings and accents for an edgy, graphic look.

02. Choose A Bright Rug

14 Designer Tips For Lightening Up A Dark Room

Ricardo Labougle

A large, multicolored area rug, like this one in Juliana Lima Vasconcellos’s pied-à-terre, is not just a solution for defining a specific area in a home. “I love colorful carpets,” McBournie says. “They have the ability to both draw you in and create a distraction.”

03. Ditch The Heavy Curtains

14 Designer Tips For Lightening Up A Dark Room

Douglas Friedman

“I will opt out of using draperies and instead use a solar or Roman shade to give the appearance of less fabric while still finishing the windows,” Schuster says. To wit: Get rid of heavy, dark curtains that absorb light.

04. Select Bright Art

14 Designer Tips For Lightening Up A Dark Room

Douglas Friedman

While dark rooms can be cozy, adding vibrant artwork will elevate the mood and look of the space. For added brightening properties, McBournie says: “Don’t forget to add some picture lights or spotlights.”

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14 Designer Tips For Lightening Up A Dark Room

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05. Hang A Mirror

14 Designer Tips For Lightening Up A Dark Room

Stephen Kent Johnson

Double the amount of sunlight in your room by bouncing the light off reflective surfaces. “It helps to completely mirror a wall or to add a decorative mirror opposite the windows to bring in the light,” Schuster say.

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06. Try A High-Gloss Ceiling

14 Designer Tips For Lightening Up A Dark Room

Roger Davies

One of the best ways to bring more light into a room is with a high-gloss paint color, and a ceiling is the perfect spot to experiment with this design choice. “High-gloss paint can add another reflective surface to a dark room,” McBournie says.

07. Take Your Room’s Temperature

14 Designer Tips For Lightening Up A Dark Room

Stephen Kent Johnson

When it comes to lighting, color temperature matters a lot! “If budget allows, use a warm-glow technology dimming bulb,” he adds.

08. Incorporate Metallics

14 Designer Tips For Lightening Up A Dark Room

Annie Schlechter

Using shimmery gold or silver accessories is an easy way to transform a dark and dreary space. “I have successfully used metallics on the walls, ceilings, light fixtures, and accents of furniture,” McBournie says. “Just be careful—too much of a good thing is too much of a good thing.”

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09. Choose Light-Wood Floors

14 Designer Tips For Lightening Up A Dark Room

Nick Glimenakis

When a space is in need of additional light, it’s best to choose light-wood flooring to brighten up the room. “A lighter floor contrasted with a colorful wall can help to ‘push the walls out’ and make the space feel larger,” McBournie says.

10. Embrace A White Lampshade

14 Designer Tips For Lightening Up A Dark Room

Philippe Garcia

White paper wraps rock…and everything else when it comes to lightening a room. “White paper is your friend,” Mazzarini says. He suggests not holding back from bringing white paper lampshades, lanterns, and pendant lights into your dark space.

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11. Opt For A White Or Neutral Color Scheme

14 Designer Tips For Lightening Up A Dark Room

Silvia Foz

A dark room isn’t the place to try out a moody, dark color palette. “Light hues on the walls and ceiling can really help lighten a naturally dark space,” Schuster says. If your walls are neutral, paint the ceiling a shade lighter to help light bounce around the room.

12. Supplement Your Daylight

14 Designer Tips For Lightening Up A Dark Room

Joshua McHugh

Indirect lighting aimed upward can make up for lack of light on the ceiling, especially toward the end of the day. “This is an opportunity to be creative,” McBournie says. “For the interior library of a New York apartment, I created and strategically placed a faux light shaft with an iron grate on a focal wall.”

13. Clean Your Windows Regularly

14 Designer Tips For Lightening Up A Dark Room

Amy Neunsinger

Yes, we know. This one seems a tad obvious, but simply cleaning your windows will have a major effect on how much sunlight streams into the room. “It is amazing what clean windows can do for a room,” McBournie says. “I recommend doing this every spring and fall, or more often.”

14. Hire A Lighting Designer

14 Designer Tips For Lightening Up A Dark Room

Those sad fixtures your landlord likely pulled out of a Dumpster aren’t doing you—or that dark room—any favors. “Often, a lighting designer can trick the eye to make the light feel more voluminous in a darker space,” Schuster says.


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