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Make Any Room Brighter With These 8 Tips

Barbara Bellesi Zito
Updated November 29, 2021
well lit natural light living room
Photo: Pixel-Shot / Adobe Stock

More wattage isn't the only way to illuminate your space

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A brighter room is a bigger room—well, at least it can appear that way. But you don’t have to commit to a complete renovation to make your home feel more spacious. In fact, all it takes is some small tweaks, a little bit of your time, and a modest budget. Let’s shed some light on how to brighten up your space with these tips.

1. Minimize the Decor

Even if you keep everything neat and in its place, too much of anything can make a room look cluttered. “Less is more” is good advice for many things, and it absolutely applies to home decor, so don’t crowd shelves and surfaces. If you can’t bear to part with any of your things, put some in storage and rotate what you display.

2. Opt for White or Light Paint

white living room with dark furniture
Photo: denisismagilov / Adobe Stock

Save the darker colors for the furniture and flooring and stick to light paint colors for the walls to create a brighter look. There’s a reason why many ceilings are painted white—it allows for the light to bounce off it and illuminate the room.

This doesn’t mean you have to go with white or ecru for the walls, though; you can choose light or pastel colors like blue, green, or yellow. Whatever you choose, go with matte, not glossy, to better reflect the light.

3. Go Easy on the Furniture

living room with minimal furniture
Photo: Photographee.eu / Adobe Stock

Just as with decor, go minimal on furnishings. Choose furniture that’s necessary for the space and appropriate for the size of the room. For example, a huge sectional sofa might be awesome for movie night, but not when it takes up most of your little living room.

Opt instead for chairs and sofas with taller legs and open arms so light can peek through the openings, making the room feel more spacious. When possible, choose lighter woods and brighter fabrics for your furniture—dark furniture absorbs sunlight, while the lighter tones reflect it.

4. Use Lamps Strategically

bedroom with lamp on nightstand
Photo: beau / Adobe Stock

Don’t put all the pressure on your ceiling fixture. Even if all of the bulbs are at their maximum wattage, it might not be enough to illuminate all corners of a room. Arrange lamps in places that make sense for the space, like a lamp on your bedroom nightstand. You’ll have more light where you need it most!

5. Wash the Windows

light entering white living room
Photo: virtua73 / Adobe Stock

Dirty windows aren’t a good look ever, and they can even prevent sunlight from streaming into a room. Grab a rag and some glass cleaner and wipe down those panes to remove the dirt and dust, and you’ll see a difference on the next sunny day.

6. Trim Those Trees

light coming into living/ dining space
Photo: Pixel-Shot / Adobe Stock

Now that those windows are clean, take a peek outside to see if any foliage is covering up the view. While you don’t want to cut too far back on Mother Nature’s bounty, especially during the springtime, you do want to prune back any branches or leaves that are blocking the sun.

7. Opt for Lighter Window Dressings

living room with light curtains
Photo: Photographee.eu / Adobe Stock

Blackout curtains live up to their name, but that’s not ideal for small rooms. While this type of window dressing is great for conserving energy, maintaining privacy, and allowing you to sleep in on the weekends, they are a hefty presence even when wide open.

Lighter window dressings—both in color and in material will brighten up a room. If you want to keep out the cold in winter, consider blinds that let in the light when open, but will still keep out the dark and conserve energy when shut.

8. Shine on with Metallics and Mirrors

living room décor with fireplace
Photo: New Africa / Adobe Stock

Accents of silver and gold in your decor can add brightness to the space. Any light that comes in bounces off the surface for some sparkle, just as it does when you wear silver or gold jewelry.

Try hanging artwork with a metallic frame or place a gold or silver vase as a centerpiece on a table. Another trick is to hang a mirror—bonus points for a metallic frame—on a wall. Not only will the reflection make the room look bigger, but the light will bounce off the surface as well.

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