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Home Ec

Home Ec: 8 Ways to Brighten Up A Room

by Grace Bonney

One of the most challenging design issues can be finding ways to brighten up a space without breaking the bank. When you search for tips online, some of the most common results are, “Add windows!” or “Open up a wall!”, but that’s not an option for most of us, especially renters.

So today I decided to round up some DIY ways you can transform your room to make it feel lighter, brighter and more spacious. From using furniture with a lighter footprint to semi-sheer window treatments, mirrors, and closed storage, this list will help you transform your space on your budget and your terms. Even small changes like an extra mirror can have an impact, so try one out and see how it works for you! xo, grace

[UPDATE: I just heard the heartbreaking news about the events in South Carolina. I just wanted to say that all of us here at DS are appalled and are sending our love and thoughts to all the families affected by this tragedy.]

This post and the Home Ec section are brought to you by . Visit the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day  section featuring 20 DIYs, including seven from Design*Droits-Humains!

Home Ec: How to Brighten Up Your Room | Design*Droits-Humains
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MIRRORS: One of the fastest ways to brighten up any space on a dime is to work mirrors into the decor. If you're working with a truly tiny space (like this NYC jewel box apartment), using floor-to-ceiling mirrored tiles makes a big impact.
Home Ec: How to Brighten Up Your Room | Design*Droits-Humains
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If full-wall mirror tiles aren't an option, a simple standing or table mirror can work well if you position it to bounce the most light possible. Position it next to or across from the brightest light source in the room (a window, door or skylight) and let it reflect away! (Image from Rochelle's home tour)
Home Ec: How to Brighten Up Your Room | Design*Droits-Humains
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PAINT: Paint deserves a lifetime achievement award for all that it can do to transform a room. In the case of brightening up a room, a bright, neutral paint (white, tan, grey) on the walls and ceiling will immediately make things feel lighter and bigger.
Home Ec: How to Brighten Up Your Room | Design*Droits-Humains
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If you're painting things white, don't forget to echo the color when it comes to molding and furniture choices. White furniture, sinks, doors and other trim work will add extra brightness.
Home Ec: How to Brighten Up Your Room | Design*Droits-Humains
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CLOSED STORAGE: Open storage is a great design device when objects are edited well and ample space and light are available. But when you have a darker room with limited space, keeping things neatly tucked away in closed storage (like this fauxdenza in Kimi and Paul's home) can make a room feel more open and lighter.
Home Ec: How to Brighten Up Your Room | Design*Droits-Humains
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MINIMIZE WINDOW TREATMENTS: Heavy drapes and curtains will block light and distract from a clean, open view of whatever window and light you might have. So consider light-weight, neutral colored blinds, roller shades or semi-sheer shades to maintain privacy, but still let light in. (Photo from )
Home Ec: How to Brighten Up Your Room | Design*Droits-Humains
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TURN THE LIGHTS ON: Most rooms come with a single overhead light or the occasional table lamp, leaving many areas of the room in shade or complete darkness, especially at night. Make sure you use lights in all corners of the room, to enhance the feeling of space- and light. (And don't forget to use brighter bulbs with darker shades!) Photo from this Framed DIY Light Project on DS.
Home Ec: How to Brighten Up Your Room | Design*Droits-Humains
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CHOOSE NEUTRAL FURNITURE: Furniture has a lot of visual weight, so consider a neutral-colored sofa or chair when decorating if brightness is a concern. If you're concerned about stains and wear, you can choose a light grey or tan sofa, treated with a stain-protecting product. You can also have furniture upholstered in outdoor fabric so it's more durable. (Photo from Dorothee's home tour)
Home Ec: How to Brighten Up Your Room | Design*Droits-Humains
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TRANSPARENT MATERIALS: Just like lighter-colored furniture, the visual footprint of a piece affects brightness, too. Consider glass, lucite and acrylic tables, desks and side tables when possible - they allow light to pass through and create a lighter feel. (Photo from Kate and David's home)
Home Ec: How to Brighten Up Your Room | Design*Droits-Humains
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This coffee table from Bernadette's home tour is a great example of how clear furniture can lighten up a room.
Home Ec: How to Brighten Up Your Room | Design*Droits-Humains
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CONSIDER THE FLOOR: Whether you embrace a lighter rug, tiles, canvas floor cloth, or actually painting your floors, lightening up the floor will reflect light up and make your space feel airy and bright. (Photo from Emily's home tour)

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Comments

  • Great tips, I covet a lucite coffee table to lighten up my tiny living room. Our dining room in the home I grew up in was walled with mirror tiles, which made it seem much larger and brighter. But when we played cards at the table, boy did I learn to hold my cards close because of the cheating potential of those mirrors.:)

  • Emily Henderson [who I generally think does too many all-white rooms] had an excellent post recently on why painting a dark room without much natural light white is a bad idea. It was excellent and explained why my north facing living room was depressing and grim when it was white.

    • Julie

      It’s hard to find a one-size-fits-all rule for what does and doesn’t work, as most people’s spaces have varying degrees of light. But when it comes to BRIGHT, I trust in neutrals and a soft white any day. I’m someone who pretty much only paints things dark grey (it’s my go-to), but after living in so many tiny light-less apartment in NYC, white became my go-to.

      Grace

  • These are great tips! I was so excited to own my first home, and I knew the shaded lot was a compromise for my garden-loving self, but I didn’t consider how dark it made our house. I’ve been desperate to brighten things up for a long time. So…I would love to go with gray walls, but I’m worried it will clash with our warm wood floors (oak?) and make things seem grim. Thoughts?

    • Hi Cathleen- I’ve had great success with Benjamin Moore’s “Gray Owl.” It’s a lovely, light gray color that works just as well as white in many rooms.

  • I have been trying to figure out how to make my very dim apartment brighter. I really like the advice that you give about making sure that there are lights in all corners of the room and so I think that I will go out and get several lighting fixtures to put around the place. So far, all I have in the apartment are some overhead lights that don’t really give off much light and a string of lights in the living room, but I am excited to get more lights to make the place brighter.

  • Great tips, I covet a lucite coffee table to lighten up my tiny living room. Our dining room in the home I grew up in was walled with mirror tiles, which made it seem much larger and brighter.
    I love your post. Your are creative.
    Thanks for share.

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