It’s a regular occurrence for one of my friends to text me with a decor dilemma. Last week’s was tips on making a dark north facing living room brighter and lighter.
My dining room is so dark too. It catches the rays of sunlight only in the height of summer and then it’s only for a matter of hours. In my case I’m happy for the dining room to be a little moody and atmospheric. It’s a rarely used room and I don’t need an excuse to buy another lamp or light another candle. My kitchen though is another story. The tips you’ll see below seem to be a rule of thumb if you’re looking to brighten up a dull space too.
Lighter Floor Covering
The main light sucker in my kitchen is the floor. I know if I changed it I would feel so much more love for the heart of the home. We have neither the time, budget or inclination to do it though so for now I’ll wait patiently for a kitchen reno in a few years time.
Anyway when I changed the floor covering in the living room at the cottage we used to own it was a game changer. It was like someone had turned the lights on with some super charged high watt bulbs. For a similar effect you could try a large light rug instead but bear in mind while this can make a room much cosier, the extra bulk can also make it appear smaller. It’s complicated this lark.
Pull the Curtains Back
As mentioned in our guide with Laura Ashely, pull those curtains high and wide and let as much light in as possible. Or alternatively leave those window panes uncovered for maximum light access.
Clear the Clutter
When I added a few shelves to my extremely dark kitchen in my old house, it was surprising how much more open and airy the space seemed for clearing back the workspace. Who knew moving your spices could have such an impact?
Add Mirrors and Reflective Accents
We all know this one, but do consider the positioning so that the mirror reflects back a light source. If you can go for two then offset them slightly to bounce around the light. Continue to let that light hop around with clear or reflective accents such as metallic candle holders, glass vases or metal hardware. If you can make a horizontal surface or two reflective or high gloss then you’re on to a winner too. If in doubt just add a metallic tray.
I often read that transparent furniture is good for making spaces seem more airy, however I think I am yet to see this in anyone’s house, other than the Ghost replica chair I used to have in my old cottage I’m not too sure where one goes to get clear furniture so perhaps it’s easier to stick to well proportioned pieces instead. If they have legs so they can flash off wall space behind them then that’s even better. Wall mounted is often proclaimed to be the best option for making a space seem airier, and choose lighter versions over darker if you’re short on space.
Add A Variety of Light Sources
One way we did add lots more light to our kitchen was by the very obvious option of adding more light sources. We repositioning the pendant lights to a more sensible place, added nine halogens and then added under cabinet lights. In the rest of the rooms I do favour three or four ambient or task light sources in addition to the ‘big light’. The lamp in the image below is a beauty from Dunelm.
Paint It Light
Again this is something we all know, painting surfaces a lighter shade can make rooms brighter. Cooler shades with undertones of blue and green can make a space seem bigger, and painting the walls and ceilings the same shade (for more of a seamless flow) is also effective for making spaces seem bigger and brighter, though some would say paint the ceiling a lighter shade than the walls to have an effect of ‘lifting up’ the ceiling and making it appear higher.
Sometimes though you’ve juat got to go with what you’ve got. In my very first house I painted the bathroom a sexy shade of Dulux Night Jewels 2 – it had no natural light and was the size of a postage stamp. No amount of white paint was going to make it look lighter or more spacious. Queen of the Dark Side Abigail Ahern would have been proud.
What are your tips for making rooms seem more spacious and brighter? Any dark rooms you’re struggling with?