Is your home surrounded by trees and large foliage, making it cool in the summer, but also leaving your rooms feeling dark and gloomy? Do you have a favorite, small room that suffers from having only one window? Perhaps you live in a downstairs apartment whose only windows are located above eye level.
Dark rooms like these are a decorator’s challenge, to be sure, but you don’t have to live with a dark and somber room. Afraid that brightening your room is going to be too expensive? Think again. Here are five, tried and true (and affordable) ways to lighten up any room:
1. Add greenery. A few plants or flowering bushes in pots add a bright and lively air to even the dingiest room. Stick with plants that thrive in limited light, such as spider plants, ferns, snake plants and flowering bromeliads. Combine these interesting shapes for a dramatic effect.
2. Reflect a bit. Mirrors trick the eye into thinking that a room is larger than it really is. Plus, they take a little light and magnify it ten-fold. Is your room narrow? Consider adding a floor-to-ceiling mirror at the end of the room. Most glass retailers will cut mirrors to order or you can also use mirrored tiles from a big box home improvement store. Is your decor more traditional? Scour estate and yard sales for a large mirror in a gilded frame for a more formal approach.
3. Paint it white. Though often mocked (unfairly, we think) as being suited only for apartment living, white walls add a fresh, bright look to any room and make the most of the light that you have. Paint is also one of the least expensive ways to redecorate. A gallon of white paint costs around $30, and even less if you wait for a good sale.
4. Control the clutter. We all have clutter. Those knick knacks that you collect on vacation, piles of books you intend to read, craft projects waited to be started. However, clutter makes a room seem more closed in and dark. Banish all but a few, well-chosen items to drawers or cabinets. Plus, be mindful of adding new items to your newly brightened room. Clutter can sneak up on you.
5. Limit the furniture. Dark, wooden furniture, while attractive, can darken a room and make it feel smaller than it actually is. Avoid over-furnishing your rooms. Instead, choose one exquisite piece to be the focal point and surround it with lighter-colored, less-substantial accent pieces. And, contrary to what your father might tell you, don’t be afraid to paint wooden furniture white or other light and bright colors. A garage sale chest of drawers or bookcase with a coat of ivory paint can become an attractive–and bright–place to store linens, books or hobby items.
Don’t resign yourself to living in a dark space. Brightening up a room doesn’t have to break your budget. Plan carefully, add a little paint, and limit the pieces you add to the room. Your dark dungeon will be transformed into a light and airy retreat in no time.
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Elli, a writer for your local security She was born and raised in Colorado and now enjoys skiing, playing tennis, and hiking in the mountains of Salt Lake City, Utah.