Home Makeover: Lighten Up

cream bedroom
Is your home feeling drab and dark? Lighten it up with a few quick tricks. Take a cue from this home, which is light, bright, and oh-so-stylish, and you'll be on your way to a better, brighter home.

White Light

Polished but easy-going is the mantra of this home. In the living room, shades of white keep the look light, while nuances in the hues keep the look interesting. The wall color bears a blue undertone, which is picked up in the electric blue pillows. The coffee table, a salvaged door on a steel frame -- is a kid-friendly snack and craft station. Built-ins behind the sofa stow the TV for a streamlined look.

Lighten Up Trick: Neutral colors on walls and large furniture keep rooms from closing in.

Change and Reflect

What's this homeowner's trick to a fresh look? Remove everything from the mantel every few months, and put the decor in a different place.

Lighten Up Trick: Light-reflecting, room-expanding mirrors work almost anywhere. Bonus: Sculptural ones, like this bubble mirror, double as wall art.

Splash of Color

Colorful zigzag upholstery adds a bright and vibrant splash to the neutral color palette in this living room. The vibrant peacock hue used in the seating group by the fireplace is picked up here for continuity's sake, a must-know tactic for large, open rooms.

Lighten Up Trick: Nix the heavy window treatments if privacy and light control are non-issues. Be savvy and take advantage of any available natural light afforded to you.

Beauty of Balance

Built-ins in the sunroom create a light-filled office. This built-in desk and shelving unit provides space for a desktop computer, important files, and decoration.

Lighten Up Trick: Don't be blinded by light. In a room that's flooded in light, everything in the space will seem to recede if there isn't a good counterpoint. The contrast doesn't necessarily need to be strong, and it doesn't always have to be another color. In this space, nubby sisal carpeting and robin's-egg blue walls do the trick.

Elbow Room

The kitchen was enlarged during the renovation by taking over a small bathroom and hallway, allowing the family more room to maneuver and socialize. Skylights and French doors allow natural light, giving the room a warm and relaxed feel.

Lighten Up Trick: Where there's drab or dark, add a little white. Marble countertops and barstools offset gray kitchen cabinets.

Room to Room

The widened doorway between the dining room and living room maintains an open feeling between the two connected spaces.

Lighten Up Trick: Keep sight lines open by utilizing glass and clear accessories. Glass pendants don't obstruct the view from the kitchen into the dining room the way drum shades or metal pendants would.

Dining Blues

Grayish-blue walls distinguish the dining room from other parts of the home, but a judicious use of airy white connects it to the adjoining spaces. Warm wood finishes take the chill off the crisp white and steely blue.

Lighten Up Tip: If you want to use a dark color, but want to keep a look light, find ways to bridge the gap between the two extremes. Here, a barely blue ceiling subtly does the trick.

Calm Down

Creamy white walls and fabrics make this small master bedroom seem larger. Beaded board sets off the alcove, giving the bed and nightstands greater presence and brings subtle contrast to the room. In a space designed to be an oasis, gray-purple accents bring depth to the room without disturbing the peace.

Lighten Up Tip: For a softer look, opt for whites that have yellow or warm undertones.

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