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Brightening a Dark Room

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Brightening a Dark Room
Besides adding more lighting, there are creative ways to lighten a dark room. This guide is about brightening a dark room.


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April 5, 2006

Our new apartment is nice - but dark - so I have been collecting mirrors of different kinds to arrange on the walls. I have 5 little ones grouped together in a narrow space and others of different sizes around the room to reflect the light, along with a large one on one wall. I also positioned light-colored pictures with glass to bounce back as much light as possible. I've gotten most of them in thrift shops, so it hasn't been too costly and it really makes a difference.


By Pam from L.A., CA

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
June 22, 2010

I am decorating on a budget and need some help. Can you help? I just moved, and my bedroom is so dark I don't really like for it to be that dark. The walls are paneling and the floor is hard wood.

I don't like wallpaper and I have painted panel walls before, but it just didn't look right. I have plenty of windows. Other than that, there are 5 light bulbs and a lamp that I have in my room.

How can I brighten my room, so it isn't so dark and gloomy? Any suggestions would help, thanks. Ideas that wouldn't cost a whole lot of money would be appreciated. The only thing I can think of is to sew some pretty curtains.

By Mary

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June 24, 20100 found this helpful

I like a lot of light too and can't bear dim rooms.

Try buying some uplights. Basically, it looks like a can with a light bulb at the bottom of it, with the top of the bulb facing the top of the can. It has a cord and you just plug it it a lightswitch.

What they do is add light to dark/dim corners of the room, or behind your bed. It's a very cool look. I light lamps and they either throw their light up or down. But uplights only throw their light up and it really brightens a room.

You can buy them online or at your local lamp store, Home Depot, places like that. Sometimes they're pretty expenses because the 'can' looks something like a sculpture. Unless they're going to be un-hidden, I wouldn't go for it, but that's just me being frugal.

Good luck.

I would agree with some of the suggestions posted; keep it light and airy. You might even consider painting the ceiling a color other than white to make the room look bigger. Maybe a pale yellow, but I don't know your other colors, like the colors of your walls. What color wood?

If you can try to use drapes to cover one focal wall of your room; I'd say the side of the room your bed is on. Ikea and other stores sell this inexpensive drapery rod that's like a wire and only made to hold up light fabrics. So you could choose a color of muslin, sheers - I like a full look to drapery and would use more panels, but weigh them first to see if your wire 'rod' can hold up the extra panels.

Make your drapes from ceiling to floor. You might want to try an fabric with a shimmer in it.

I'm not a lime green person,but if you are your room could look so dramatic. Pair it with a, maybe, hot pink for other color splashes. Purple and hot pink sounds cool.

I'm getting ready to experiment using clear or irredescent sparkles in ceiling paint to see if I'll get some kind of reflective luminosity going. I'm going to try it on my hallway. It doesn't have to be much.

Maybe you could paint your room trim a high gloss white or cream, depending on the colors you're using.

Good luck - you'll end up loving your room with all of these good ideas people sent in.

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June 24, 20100 found this helpful

You can also put a mirror, any size, behind a table lamp. We have a very dark living room. When the lamp was in front of our antique mirror, the room was a bit brighter. Buying energy*light bulbs is more expensive up front, but you can get brighter bulbs that put out more light, yet use less electricity. Keeping sheer curtains closed gives you some privacy, yet allows light in.

Hope something I've said helps!

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July 8, 20100 found this helpful

Paneling is so 70's! Cover it up! I would suggest a padded textured wallpaper that covers the grooves of the paneling. You paint over it after it goes up. Pick a light breezy color of paint. Add mirrors. I hate living in a dark dungeon!

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May 24, 20110 found this helpful

I am looking for ideas for how to lighten the room up. We are renting for the next 3 years. The house is really nice, but the living room has dark paneling which we can not paint over.

The wall that would have had windows was boarded-up and paneled over to build a studio apt next to it. Half of the room gets natural light from the dining room, kitchen, and bedroom doorways. The other end is so dark that we have to keep lights on all the time. Please help.

Also the house was built in 1920s and has very high ceilings, dark brown and orange carpet, which we might be able to change. Thank-you, any help would be appreciated.

By Terry

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May 26, 20110 found this helpful

The use of mirrors, as previously suggested, is excellent. I have also seen material used to cover a wall in a way it can be removed when no longer wanted. I would use some sort of trim to wrap at the top and bottom of the fabric then nail the trim to the wall. I would make the material long enough to cover the entire wall. Good Luck.

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May 27, 20110 found this helpful

Cover the darkest wall with white curtains. Put up a rod across the living room, and make the curtain as dense as possible - 3 mtrs fabric to one metre distance. I did this in my very old house because the paneling was antigue.

I found a large roll of white shirt cotten with a fine stripe at a professional yard sale (do not know what you call them in USA - something like Salvation Army). I have used those curtains many many times. Just wash 'em and move 'em where ever you go.

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May 29, 20110 found this helpful

If there is a way to put up a long curtain rod or hook and eye at each end of the wall then string wire across then find bright cheery material and make a hem at each end. Then put the "curtain" on the wire which will lighten up that wall.

Large mirrors will reflect any light you may have but that could be expensive.

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February 7, 20131 found this helpful

I painted my walls a royal blue color that I love, but my stuff is dark. How can I brighten it up a bit? I really like the color.

By Chris

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February 7, 20130 found this helpful

Mirrors are great, throws are wonderful and knickknacks like a vase that is a bright color can do wonders. If you can find any mirrors, you can lay them around, and mirrored accents are great too.

I like to have little framed art pictures lying around..and don't forget about the light bulbs. I like reveal light bulbs because they make a room brighter. I also like using christmas lights in a plastic jar or in a plastic square you can buy at a craft store. Any kind of string lights will brighten up a room. You can also do like I saw someone do on this site, and string lights by a fireplace to shine up on the artwork above it or just have them everywhere. I love light too~

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February 8, 20130 found this helpful

Brighten it up with light accents - framed etchings/prints, black and white drawings, posters, etc. (think of a blue willow plate with its contrast). You also might put in light shiny things -brass, glass - use a large mirror & have light/white curtains.

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February 8, 20130 found this helpful

A really great-looking light colored rug in the center of the room should help lighten it up. I love some of the amazing cream or white-colored rugs with a thick pile, and i think they look amazing in darker rooms.

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By 0 found this helpful
April 5, 2011

We are moving into an apartment that is very dungeon looking. What is a good way to brighten up the space? I don't want a white living room because I am doing my kitchen in bright white. Any suggestions on painting, lighting, or decor would be greatly appreciated.

By Miracle from Delpi, IN

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April 5, 20110 found this helpful

Use a trick they used in Colonial times: they would put mirrors behind candle sconces to magnify the light. Put mirrors behind table lamps and opposite windows to increase the light.

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April 5, 20110 found this helpful

Lived in a dark apartment for a while & what I did was to install mirrors of all shapes & sizes on the walls (from thriftshops & dollar stores!) They reflected whatever light there was & made the place brighter. Ditto with pictures framed in glass & other reflective surfaces.You can even "tune" the reflections by figuring out where the light does come in & reflecting it for maximum brightness.

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April 5, 20110 found this helpful

Besides the mirrors, use lighter colored fabric on curtains and area rug, etc. to help brighten the room or white lace drapery. Sparkly crystal, highly polished chrome, gold, silver or brass finishes on vases and planters would help to brighten the room too. Add some white or light pastel throw pillows on the sofa if the furniture is dark.

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June 22, 20100 found this helpful

Next week I am starting college. I still live at home, but my bedroom is my space, sort of like a much needed apartment. The room is quite small, but I can make it work, however, the walls are a dark red and the ceiling a dark blue. I like the ceiling, as it reminds me of a night sky, and the walls are great, but I want to liven it up a little more. I intend to add picture frames and bookshelves and stuff to the walls, but I was wondering what colors would possibly brighten up the room without making it look like a terrible rainbow has exploded.

Thanks for any help.
Andrea from Michigan


Brightening Up a Dark Room

Dark walls in a small room make it seem smaller. Try using neutral colors like beige. Don't use anything bright. You've got enough brightness in there. Use muted colors like yellow. Repainting the walls a neutral color would be my best suggestion. Feels like more space, and decorate using the dark red color for accessories if you wish. (09/02/2005)

By Joan in CT

Brightening Up a Dark Room

Think of Shabby chic. Repaint furniture white, as it reflects the light. Also, put mirrors close to the window to catch more light from outside. For your bed spread, well, again use white or creme. To add oriental flair add a Japanese paper rice folding screen. The idea is to reflect light and still fit with the existing colors (09/05/2005)

By Ginette

RE: Brightening Up a Dark Room

Brightening Up a Dark Room

When I was younger and living at home I got to paint my very small bedroom Emerald green! It really turned out great. We painted the ceiling white and the door and all the trim was white also. It brightened the room just enough so I still felt like I had my own little cubby hole to live in! Go to the paint store and compare colors you like up against the red paint strip color you have to work with! I think white and a little black, with those stick on stars for the ceiling! Good luck! (09/05/2005)

By Kay Neugebauer

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