Instantly Brighten a Dark Room with These Easy Decorating Tricks

Our three simple solutions for brightening a dark room will have your space feeling sunnier in no time.

Lighting plays a major role in the atmosphere of a room (and can even affect your mood). But what can you do with a room that has few (or no) windows? Or a small space that feels dreary and cramped? These easy decorating ideas will help you instantly brighten a room without a major remodel. The best part? Each idea can be completed in a weekend for just a few dollars.

Bedroom with bedside lamps and wooden nightstands
Edmund Barr

1. Exchange Lightbulbs

If you're still using incandescent lightbulbs, consider replacing them with LED lightbulbs. These bulbs last longer and are energy-efficient. Many LED bulbs are also adjustable, so you can change their brightness depending on the time of day. Set your lights to a bright bluish hue in the morning to help you wake up, then switch to warm, yellow light in the evening to ease into your bedtime routine. Love the look of old-school lightbulbs? You don't have to give up your preferred style for the performance of LEDs. Today, LED bulbs come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes to fit with lamps and ceiling light fixtures that previously held incandescent bulbs.

various textured accents wood flooring bedroom
Kim Cornelison

2. Trade Curtains

If you have thick draperies, trade them for sheer curtains. These lightweight curtains allow more natural light to flow into a room. If privacy is a concern, layer sheers over traditional blinds or blackout window shades to maximize light during the day and create a cozy space at night. Sheer curtains are also a great option for dining rooms and living spaces where you want to capture as much natural light as possible.

mirror in hallway with table

3. Add a Mirror

A mirror bounces light around a room, making the area seem not only lighter and brighter, but bigger as well. If you're missing an artistic touch, choose a shapely mirror with a fun design. There are so many different styles of mirrors; take time to shop around and find one that matches your aesthetic. Hanging a mirror opposite a natural light source, like a door or window, will help fill your space with sunlight.

gallery wall with flatscreen tv above vintage Hollywood Regency credenza
David Tsay

4. Update Artwork

Changing up your art display is one of the easiest ways to brighten the look of a room. Thick white mats help lighten the look of otherwise colorful prints or photography. Hanging artwork framed behind reflective glass and mirrors on adjacent walls will also refract light.

neutral-colored living room with colorful accent pieces
Jonny Valiant

5. Pick a New Paint Color

Still want to make your room lighter or brighter? One of the biggest things to consider is paint color. "White walls, more than anything, bounce light around the room and disperse it," says stylist Brady Tolbert. A warm white paint color amplifies the natural light in any room. Before repainting, always test colors on the wall of the room you are painting so you can see how the color changes throughout the day. Consider a white finish on furnishings or cabinetry to help with the glow; a sisal area rug and a sofa slipcovered in ivory linen can brighten a room, too.

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