Did you know that the lighting in your home affects your productivity, diet, and mood? It’s true. Studies have proven that energy, concentration levels, healthy food cravings, and overall happiness increase in spaces abundant in natural lighting. While homes with large south-facing windows and maximum sun exposure is preferred, they can be hard to come by. So what do you do if your apartment or house doesn’t have the light you desire? There are plenty of tricks that will make the most of the light you already have and compensate for the light that you don’t.
Change the Color of Your Walls
The very first — and possibly most important — thing that will add light to a dark space is the right paint color: White. Painting a room white creates visual brightness as it scatters the light, rather than absorbing it. Here’s a tip: Avoid an unappealing glare by choosing a matte paint. Its soft finish will help diffuse the light.
Remember that all white paints are not created equal! Don’t make the mistake of buying the first can of white paint you see. In darker spaces with flourescent lighting, it’s best to choose a white with a subtle undertone of green or grey. When these shades of white are exposed to the warmer artificial light, they stay bright and true.
When painting the walls with a matte, white paint, resist the temptation to cut corners by skipping the ceiling. This may seem like an insignificant detail that requires a lot of extra time and effort, but it will make all the difference. All the light in your room bounces off the ceiling so it alone has the power to add significant brightness to a dark space. Professionals recommend doing this even if the ceiling already appears to be white. Paint can dull and dirty over time so starting fresh is essential!
Add Artificial Lighting
To bring in the maximum amount of artificial light to a dark space, make changes to the installation lighting in the room. For maximum effect, introduce wall sconces. We suggest selecting ones that angle up toward the ceiling so their light will reflect and diffuse throughout the rest of the room. When installing can lights, place them along the edges of the ceiling so they illuminate the walls, making the room appear as light as possible.
While not all rentals will allow for a change in installation lighting, there are some other adjustments you can implement that will brighten up your space. First, always use the highest wattage of light bulb in all lighting fixtures. This includes overhead lighting, sconces, and lamps. For recessed lights, opt for LED bulbs as they put out the most light and cut down on energy costs.
In addition, avoid heavy and dark lamp shades that block the light before it even extends into the room. For optimal results, use white or light drum style lampshades. Because these shades have an open top and bottom, they put out more light than the typical empire shade.
Choose Decor That Enhances Lighting
To make the most of any light a room has, whether natural or artificial, integrate a mirror or two into your decorating. All reflective surfaces bounce around light, creating the illusion of more light sources than there actually are. To make the most of this trick, place a mirror on a wall that doesn’t have a window, glass door, lamp, etc. The reflection of another light source will brighten that previously darkened area. While mirrors are naturally the most effective at achieving this, you may also choose to integrate other reflective surfaces into your decor such as a glass or mirrored coffee table. Small metallic home accents such as vases or pillows will really complete the effect and add small pops of light.
When choosing your furniture and window treatments, remember that less is more. Heavily fabriced accents in deep tones will drag down an already dark space. Opt for roman shades and modern, streamlined sofas, and chairs to avoid added visual weight.
If the room you are styling has a dark floor that you are unable to change, this can be easily remedied with a light rug. While a solid, white rug may be the most obvious choice, consider introducing some other vibrant tones by selecting a light rug with a large, playful pattern. This is a great way to add some personality to your space, just be sure that white is still the primary color.
The final key to giving a space a light, bright, airy feel is by eliminating clutter. Unnecessary decor is guaranteed to visually weigh down a room, no matter how much light it receives. Go through your belongings that you don’t use on a regular basis and either organize them, store them, or get rid of them. Having fewer things on bookshelves and other surfaces will make your room appear more spacious and — yes, you guessed it — brighter.
If decorating isn’t your forté, consider hiring an interior design professional. Just make sure to make room in your budget to brighten your home!
Story by Haley Keiser. haleyskieser (at) gmail.com