By Tamara Gane
Do you have a room that seems dark, even in the middle of the day? Window placement, low ceilings, dark flooring and furniture pieces are common causes for this. It can even be a seasonal problem (for instance, in the Pacific Northwest, where the sky is gray and overcast for several months a year). If your house contains spaces blighted by excessive gray, read on for eight easy, inexpensive tips for decorating and brightening a dark space.
1. Decorate Your Room with Shiny Objects
Shiny objects reflect the light, and well, shine, instantly transforming your space into something brighter and more cheerful. To achieve this effect, simply place small metallic-hued items like vases, bowls, candlesticks, end tables and lamps strategically about the room. They need not be the same color, although they certainly can be. It’s entirely up to your aesthetic. The light will bounce off the shiny surfaces, immediately brightening your dark space.
(The trick here isn’t to go overboard, as too many shiny items can be garish. In smaller rooms, decorating your room with 5 or 6 shiny pieces is ideal. In larger spaces, you can increase the number.)
2. Use Light-Colored Throw Pillows on Dark Colored Furniture
Contrast is key to decorating and brightening your dark space. Something as simple and inexpensive as white throw pillows or blankets tossed against the back of dark chairs or sofas will instantly help your room seem lighter and brighter. You can also use this same technique on your dining room table with a white table runner. And the best part is that this is a quick fix that can be achieved for just a few dollars.
Mirrors are the perfect addition to a dark space. They reflect the light from windows, lamps and the other shiny objects you selected to decorate your room. Plus, you can hang them on a wall so they don’t take up much too space or make your room feel cluttered. Mirrors are even more beneficial in small areas, as they can make your space seem larger and more inviting.
4. Luminaries and Candles
The lighting from luminaries and candles (real or battery operated) add softness and dimension to your room by emitting pleasant, ambient light without being overly bright. Another benefit’s that while some people may choose to turn off overhead lighting and lamps when they watch television due to the glare, this isn’t necessary with the soft glow of candles and luminaries. You can enjoy these decorative light sources any time of the day, no matter what the activity.
5. Add an Accent Wall
Colors like gray and brown are amongst the most popular wall colors due to their stylishness and neutrality, but if your room suffers from being too dark in the first place, these colors may magnify and reinforce the issue. By adding an accent wall in a relaxing, inviting color such as robin blue, you can break up these dark colors and add depth and cheer to what otherwise might be a gloomy room.
6. Paint Your Cabinets White
White cabinets are stylish, crisp and clean. And they look beautiful with almost every type of décor, in both newer and classic homes. If your floors or countertops are dark or your kitchen lacks light, painting your cabinets white will update your kitchen and make your room seem, bigger, brighter, and lighter.
(If you want to paint your cabinets white but are unsure where to start, here is a great guide to get you going: “Transform Your Kitchen Cabinets.”)
7. Add an Area Rug
Once again, contrast is key, light colors or very bright ones installed across a dark floor will add brightness and cheer to your room.
8. Glass Tables
Glass, like shiny objects and mirrors, can reflect light, but perhaps more importantly, it fills a space in a far more delicate fashion than heavy materials like metal and wood, simply because it’s clear. This helps a room feel open and bright. Plus, because it has a surface manufactured to set things upon, you can place a shiny object like a bowl on top of it to get even more bang for your space and decorating buck.
Your home is your sanctuary, not a cave. Now that you’ve used these techniques to dispel the darkness, it finally feels like the bright and inviting space it’s meant to be.
Images used with permission, courtesy of Tamara Gane