Design Dilemma: Brightening Up A Dark Room | Home Design Find
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Design Dilemma: Brightening Up A Dark Room

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Have you ever spent time in a room so dark you needed to use lamps, even on a bright sunny day?  We have.  And it’s more than just a little depressing. Yes, on a cold wintry day,  a dark room can assume a veneer of coziness with intimate table lamps and a warm throw. But then the sun comes out and it’s still pitch black inside. Suddenly, darkness isn’t much fun anymore.

Is there anything you can do to brighten up a space — aside from the obvious of turning on a light? You bet.

1.) Stick with light, bright wall colors. Pale walls reflect light and bounce it around the room. Even just a small shift in shade can make a dramatic difference. So forgo the forest green or cool blue for a pale yellow, soft apricot or pale green. Even a brilliant orange can work in your favor. A pure white or cream is a natural choice, but note that pure whites in very dark rooms often appear gray or “dirty” which is NOT the effect you want. If your dark room has dark woodwork, paint it white, which will brighten a room signficantly.

2.) Stick with light, bright furniture. If you’ve got a dark room, a massive mahogany armoire will only make it seem darker. If you have dark wooden furniture, consider repainting it or trading it in for lighter furniture shades (birch or pine for example) with leaner silhouettes that allow light to pass through. When you’re buying large upholstered furniture pieces, opt for very bright and light colors — a white or yellow couch, for example.

3) Stick with light, bright floor colors. Yes, dark, ebony floors are trendy, but dark floors will only make a room seem that much darker. Reject trends in favor of lighter floor colors — bamboo for example, or even a light-colored smooth tile or coated concrete that will reflect light around the room.  

4.) Use mirrors. Yes, you’ve heard it before, but it works! Mirrors help throw light around a room. Instead of doing the 80s thing by mirroring a wall, opt for one large mirror in a special frame. Place it across from the light source in your room for maximum brightness. Think about an installation of mirrors in interesting frames if you want to do something other than one large mirror.

5.) Go as sheer as possible on drapes, or use window treatments that will disappear altogether. Cellular shades are a good choice for those who want coverage for privacy but a disappearing shade. Avoid bulky window treatments like wooden blinds that can never be fully opened to allow maximum light.

6.) Clear out clutter. Clutter can weigh a room down and make it feel gloomy. Toss the old papers, boxes and knick-knacks and a room automatically lightens up.

7.) When you buy lamps, be sure to add many types. A dark room is going to be dependent on lamps, even during the day. That means it should have a wide array of lighting choices, from task lighting to general overhead lighting to atmospheric lighting. Recessed lights and halogen lamps can go a long way to brightening a space.

8.) Consider a monochromatic color scheme. It will help open things up. 

9.) Warm up a dark room through texture. One way to remedy the coldness of a dark room is to choose warm colors as accents and to add lots texture — sisal carpeting , flokati throw rugs, mohair throws, velvet chairs. Opt for oranges, reds and yellows when you can, or warm greens and blues.

Image: From the film, “Dark Room.”

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One comment so far to “Design Dilemma: Brightening Up A Dark Room”
  1. Design Roundup: Top Design Links for May 19th Says:

    [...] if it is poorly lit?  Our friends over at HomeDesignFind has put together an editorial feature on Brightening Up A Dark Room, a must-read for any fan of design or full-time professional who wishes to get more out of the [...]

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