Lighten Up! Six Expert Tricks to Brighten a Dark Room

January 23, 2014 3

Lighten Up! Six Expert Tricks to Brighten a Dark Room


My husband and I toured our current apartment one night after work and signed the lease an hour later. Big mistake. When I walked into our son’s bedroom on move-in day, my heart sank. In the light of day, it was probably only slightly brighter than a cave.

Let’s face it: Not every room is going to be blessed with south-facing windows that bring in tons of natural light, and not everyone finds a den-like room as cozy and charming as my son did. But designing a well-lit room isn’t as easy as plugging in a few lamps (trust me).

For help, I called Anthony Faglione, master builder and owner of teamCIS. He specializes in high-end fashion and beauty retail stores, so creating the perfect lighting is practically part of his job description. Here are some his tried-and-true tips for brightening up a dark space.

Use LED lightbulbs. If you haven’t given much thought to your light bulbs, now’s the time to get started. Thanks to new advances, you can now control the color of light coming off of a bulb to get the just-right hue for your space. Faglione recommends using quality LED bulbs with a color temperature of 2500 to 3000 Kelvin. They’ll give you a soft, warm light that has the feel of an incandescent with an extra punch of white.

Brighten up the ceiling. Up-lighting, or bathing the ceiling in light, is a simple but pretty powerful way to illuminate a room and make it feel bigger. Use a wide spot to get the widest light beam possible.

Experiment with lamp placement. Where your lamps go can make a huge difference, so play around with location. Put them in a corner to uplight the ceiling or beside or behind a major piece of furniture (like a bed or sofa) to light a big chunk of a room. Keep task lighting near the work area or reading nook, since it’s designed to illuminate a specific area.

Add a dimmer. At first blush, this sounds counterproductive, but hear me out. Installing a dimmer can not only extend the life of your bulb, it also gives you complete control over how exactly much light is being given off at any time. Win win.

Paint the walls. Lighter colors tend to reflect light better, so it only makes sense to keep dark paint off of your walls. One exception: If there’s one window in a room, Faglione suggests painting the wall with the window a medium-dark color. It will contrast whatever light is coming in, giving it more of a visual pop.

Consider reflective accessories. Glass, lacquered and metal accessories, like bowls, vases and trays, can add some much-needed sparkle to a dim space. And don’t forget about mirrors–they can work wonders in a dim space. For maximum wattage, strategically hang one so it reflects a window or other light source.

 Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow

Do you have a secret tip to brighten a dark room? Share it in the comments!




Comments (3)

  1. It seems almost too obvious to mention, but a ceiling should NEVER be painted anything but white! Doesn’t matter what color the walls are, white goes on the ceiling–and any professional, whether a designer or a painter, will tell you that. There is even a dedicated paint color for it. It’s called “ceiling white.”

    Without a white ceiling, the whole room feels like it is closing in on you, no matter the height. Yes, you can paint a dormer or stray angled plane a different color for accent, but the main expanse should be white–in case you didn’t get the point…

    - Nancy
  2. Sarfati, that sounds amazing. (And in Paris! *sigh*)
    I have 2 dogs, so white furniture wouldn’t stay white for long in my house…

    - Amy Laskin
  3. I live in Paris FRANCE,
    To lighten our sitting room , we have white armchairs ( Charles Eames ) a white sofa , and a white round marble table
    on the wooden floor a white and black carpet
    this enhanced the light in the room

    not the sitting room looks lighten

    - sarfati

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