How to brighten a dark room — 7 tips and tricks

White living room
White living room (Image credit: Shutterstock)

When you have a room that doesn't have enough natural light or windows, it can often feel dark and gloomy. Whether it’s a bedroom, living room or home office,  a dark space can also make the room feel smaller and less inviting.

But, you can learn how to brighten a dark room with some clever tips and tricks. Be it savvy lighting or style solutions, there are plenty of creative ways that you can achieve this. Best of all, you don’t have to spend a fortune on a complete renovation, and it will take you no time. So if you want to light up your lifeless space, here’s how to brighten a dark room and instantly make it light and airy.

Also, here are 7 hacks to make a small bathroom look bigger. Plus, here are 7 ways to make your living room look more expensive.

1. Layer your lighting 

Floor lamps in living room

Floor lamps in living room (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Multiple sources of ambient lighting can really open up a dark space, especially if you don’t have much natural light. In addition to an overhead light fixture, add a stylish floor lamp and table lamps for additional lighting. This will also help to set a more relaxing and comfortable mood. Multiple lighting layers can make a real difference but avoid using heavy light fixtures like chandeliers or ornate, pendant lighting as they can overwhelm a dark room. If you want to be more creative, you can invest in the best smart light bulbs, which are versatile and energy efficient.

2. Mirrors near light sources 

Large mirror in bedroom

Large mirror in bedroom (Image credit: Shutterstock)

This is the oldest trick in the book, but mirrors can instantly brighten a dark room and make a space appear bigger. A general rule of thumb is to strategically place large mirrors near a light source or opposite a window to reflect and amplify natural lighting. If you can’t face a window, you can place table lamps or a floor lamp next to a mirror which can also have a similar effect. For best results use ambient or warm lighting instead of cool white, so it doesn’t have an overwhelming glare once reflected. If you don't have a mirror, any reflective surface such as stainless steel, glass and metallic accessories will do the job. 

3. Paint walls white 

White living room

White living room (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Another common tip is the use of white paint on your walls, baseboards and ceiling to brighten a dark room. White walls really open up a space, making it feel bigger, airy and bounce light around the room. Be sure to use vibrant white, rather than off-white tones, cream or beige paint. You can always add splashes of color here and there with soft furnishings, wall art and green plants so it doesn’t feel too clinical and bland.    

4. Transparent or glass tables 

Glass coffee table and vase

Glass coffee table and vase (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Transparent acrylic or glass tables are great for reflecting light in dark rooms. We usually tend to have heavy or large wooden tables that can dominate the space, making a room seem darker. You can also place glass or reflective vases and accessories around the room to reflect natural light.   

5. Streamline furniture 

Modern living room

Modern living room (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Similar to heavy-duty tables, oversized furniture can make your room feel darker than it is. Streamline your furniture by having lighter, slimmer and more contemporary pieces. What’s more, if you choose a sofa and chairs with open arms and exposed legs, this will allow light to filter under the furniture, making the room seem brighter. 

6. Light wood flooring or rug 

Light wood flooring

Light wood flooring (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Choose light wood flooring if you can, or a lightly colored rug to brighten a dark room and make it appear larger. However, if you can’t replace your flooring or need to know how to decorate a rental property without annoying your landlord, a lightly colored rug will do the trick. Not only will this be a bright focal point to the room, but will add some softness and texture to your floors. When selecting your rug size, opt for the largest size to fill out the room as much as possible, and colors such as white, ivory, or other warm hue combinations will be ideal.  

7. Blinds or light window treatments 

Window blinds in bedroom

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Heavy curtains or window drapes will only drown any light coming through, and make the space look even darker. Minimize your window treatments with sheer curtains or light blinds. In addition, choose light tones such as light grey or beige colors to brighten up the room. Our blinds vs. curtains guide goes over the pros and cons of each kind of window treatment.

You can also read our tips on how to make your guest room feel like a hotel room and 7 kitchen storage mistakes you're making right now

If you want to know more about setting up a smart home, check out our ultimate smart home guide for top tips. You don’t even have to spend a fortune either with the best cheap smart home devices and the best smart speakers for entertainment.  

Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!