If you’re looking to brighten up a room that feels more like a cave (or even just a little on the dim side), try this mix of beginner tips and advanced ideas for bringing in more light and maximizing what you already have.
1. Start with white. When trying to brighten a dark space, many people look to mirrors to reflect light around a room. But that’s actually a bit of a design myth. The best way to scatter light is by using lots of white, because the non-hue doesn’t absorb any color. Instead, white sends as much light as possible bouncing indirectly back to other surfaces. So if it’s brightness you seek, the first thing you should do is paint your walls and ceiling white.
And if you really want to be aggressive, don’t stop with just the walls. Consider bringing in other white elements such as white art or frames, and white furniture, curtains and bedding.
2. Light the walls. Washing walls with light helps keep the edges bright, so even if you have lots of pot lights or ceiling lights, consider adding sconces with shades that aim light upward and downward. This powder room feels bright despite its lack of windows, thanks to the warm glow of a pair of sconces.
If you are adding lights (especially pot lights) to a ceiling, consider adding a few closer to the walls to cast light down onto the walls. This can highlight beautiful details such as traditional cabinetry or brick.
Undercabinet lighting creates a similar effect, adding a glow that comes from the edges and balances out the shadowing effect of bulky cabinetry. This can always be added after construction with LED strips or even battery-operated tap lights.
To brighten up a ceiling in a dim room such as a laundry room or den, try replacing a flush-mount ceiling light or a pendant with a semi-flush light that hangs just a little below the ceiling. This will diffuse the light across the ceiling to almost simulate the glowing effect of a skylight.
For an especially sophisticated approach, try using a picture light to brighten up a wall and make a focal point of a favorite art piece.
Table lamps work well on furniture to spread light across a wall, especially in classic drum shades with openings at the top and bottom.