How To: Add Light to a Dark Apartment

By: Janey Davies on Feb 23, 2012.

If you happen to live in an apartment that has little or no natural sunlight, or a house that is north facing or indeed anywhere where the windows are blocked by trees or other buildings, you’ll need to think about other ways to add light into the place. It can be quite depressing to walk into a room when it is sunny outside but dim and gloomy inside, despite it having great decor and style. So follow our step by step instructions to brighten up your darkest space and create the light.

Wall Colours

Don’t go mad with your walls, all you need are light, bright wall shades such as creamy yellows, soft apricots, light greys, pale greens or a powder blue. Pale walls work to reflect the light and bounce it around the room. It is natural to go for a white shade in this situation to instantly brighten up a room, but be careful as a very pure white in a very dark room will end up looking off grey or a ‘dirty’ colour. You’ll need to use a semi-gloss or glossy sheen, rather that a matt paint, that will reflect light rather than absorb it like a flat paint does. Pictures provided by Dulux.

Floor Coverings

Floors should be kept to light colours, as with walls, so cover any dark flooring with light-coloured rugs. Cover larger areas with a basic cream coloured carpet or if you prefer a wood flooring, refinish any darker wood floor with lighter wood finish. If the room in question is a smaller space, such as a bathroom or kitchen, retile any patterned tiling with plain white tiles and keep bathroom suites white also. You can add spots of colour with accessories such as towels or smaller cupboards. Avoid the current trends that may suggest darker floorings, instead, opt for classic lighter options such as bamboo and lighter woods similar to beech or cedar. Pictures provided by The Solid Wood Floor Company.

Furniture

Try to avoid dark wood furniture, but if you already own it, cover dark tables with a lighter coloured tablecloth and use pale throws over dark sofas and chairs. You can still add darker colours, but make sure they are only in small amounts and as accessories, such as a couple of cushions on the settee, or an ornament here and there. It is best to stay with light, brighter furniture, if you can. For dark furniture that is wooden, you could always paint it a lighter colour. This works best on a set of table and chairs, and as with the walls, go for pale colours in a semi gloss to reflect the light, nothing matt. Or you could consider a furniture swap or trade in. If you do swap, aim for sleek, thin lines that allow light to fall through the gaps. Nothing heavy or too solid. If you are buying new furniture and are looking for a large centre piece, a settee for example, choose a light, bright shade. Pictures provided by The Furniture Village.

 Mirrors

The more the merrier! Seriously. I have a very dark living room and in it are four large mirrors which capture the outside light and literally pull it indoors. It also reflects any artificial light you may have and throws it around the room. And the more you have, the more the light goes from mirror to mirror. You can even hang a mirror over a light source to maximise the light or place it across from the light source in your room for maximum brightness. If you think that having many mirrors are boring, then think about putting them in interesting frames if you want to do something a little bit different. Pictures provided by John Lewis.

Curtains and Drapes

Make sure all your windows are clean first of all, you’ll be surprised how much light this one action will bring in. One good tip is to always use window coverings that are not only light in colour but light in weight also. Using a sheer or lace curtain as a proper curtain works nicely in a dark room, so don’t use it to completely cover the whole window. Avoid heavy or bulky materials like velvet for your curtains or wood for your blinds. These cut out a lot of sunlight and blinds can not be fully opened anyway. Pictures provided by Dunelm Mill.

Lighting & Lamps

It makes perfect sense to add extra lamps in the room to compensate for the lack of natural daylight. Do not just stick to table lamps however, you can get some great floor lamps which you can place around the corners of the room to bring light into these regions. The floor lamp can then either point up towards the ceiling and brighten up half of that side of the room, or to the floor. Use your furniture to dot lamps around the room, wherever you feel there are dark patches. Collect different styles of lamps and remember that any lamp will look better in a pair, so put pairs together on a dresser, or at either end of a mantlepiece, or even on different shelves on a bookcase. A dark room will be especially dependent on lamps, even during the day, so be sure to have plenty and in differing styles. Picture provided by BHS and they have a sale event on right now.

Clear Away Clutter

You’ll be surprised how much clutter can make a room look dreary and gloomy. So clear out the clutter. Clutter can seriously weigh a room down and make it feel a little funereal. Get rid of all your old newspapers, letters, boxes and baskets full of rubbish and you’ll find that the room will automatically lighten up.

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