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16 ways to make your home feel lighter

Brighten up a dark room or gloomy corner with these budget-friendly decor ideas

While knocking down walls or installing extra windows will let more light into your home, they’re – thankfully – not the only options when it comes to enlivening your space.

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In fact, from glossy paint to colourful accessories, there are hundreds of low-effort and low-cost ways to welcome more light into your home.

Read on to discover the best easy and budget-friendly decor tricks that will brighten up your home in no time!

How to make your home feel lighter

Create contrasts

Bloomingville homeware, from £17, Amara
Bloomingville homeware, from £17, Amara

A low-lit room can feature a couple of subtle deep tones, if you pair them carefully with other shades. Add a scattering of dark details alongside your main light hues to ensure the room remains bright. This laid-back living room, with its pale blue sofa and deep rust and navy accents, has the perfect balance.

Bring in metallics

Zuiver retro ceiling light in Metallic Gold, £199, Cuckooland

Shimmery silver and gold accessories will transform your room from a dark lair into a shining space. Metallic mirrors, light fittings and decorative pieces will reflect light around the room, which will make the area feel bigger, brighter and more luxurious.

Refresh with paint

Image credit: Next
Pastel shades will give a room interesting character whilst bouncing the light around. Image credit: Next

A compact, windowless room isn’t the place to experiment with a moody colour palette. The brighter the wall colour, the more light it will reflect, so opt for white, neutral or pastel shades to help bounce the reflection around the room. Check out our guide to using white paint if you’re not sure!

Switch up your flooring

Muniellos light oak wood-effect tiles, £34.95 per sq m, Walls and Floors
Muniellos light oak wood-effect tiles, £34.95 per sq m, Walls and Floors

To prevent the space feeling small and closed off, swap out dark flooring for a lighter alternative. If changing the entire floor is out of the question due to cost, an area rug makes for a quick and affordable fix.

Expert advice 

Although there has been a move towards bold colours, beige and neutral flooring remain at the heart of most homes. Using these tones in a small, dark room can help make the most of its natural light, ensuring the room feels airy and spacious while also adding elegance and sophistication. 

You should keep the overall look of your space simple with a considered blend of soft shades alongside a few pops of colour. The natural brightness offered by a white scheme can also help to evoke a sense of calm, which will last throughout the year. To achieve this effortlessly cool look, start with a plain base on walls and floors, then layer textures and shapes to add interest and warmth. – David Snazel, Hard Flooring Buyer at Carpetright

Maximise artificial lighting

Round woven blue bamboo laundry basket, £45; Luce gold glass and marble floor lamp, £135, both Oliver Bonas
Round woven blue bamboo laundry basket, £45; Luce gold glass and marble floor lamp, £135, both Oliver Bonas

If the dark room in question has no windows, then maximising artificial light is a must. Use warm white LED bulbs in tall standing lamps and manoeuvrable wall lights to bring as much brightness into the room as possible.

It’s best to avoid a central ceiling light, though, as this can make the room feel heavy; instead, use multiple lamps in the darkest places to open up the space and create a soothing glow.

Expert advice 

There are lots of well-known interior design tricks for making small spaces look larger – from huge mirrors on the walls to using paints and wallpaper to create optical illusions. Then there is lighting; a simple addition with game-changing effects. Use downlights in your kitchen or hallway to highlight dark corners and open up small spaces. By installing downlights, you can draw attention to feature elements that may be hidden in the shadows of overhanging cabinets or other kitchen appliances, plus they will open up a space and make it feel much larger and brighter. There are also clever ways to include LED strips along the top of walls or underneath overhead cabinets, which will throw light onto your ceiling or walls – this will reduce shadows and make the room feel bigger and brighter. – Rohan Blacker, founder of Pooky

Update your curtains

Wave Tahiti voile snow curtains, from £22.35, Curtains 2go
Wave Tahiti voile snow curtains, from £22.35, Curtains 2go

Do away with dark, heavy curtains that will suck up all of the natural light in the room and opt for sheer white or light-coloured voile window dressings.

Make the most of mirrors

Aurora glass wall mirror extra large, £225; Aurora glass wall mirror large, £135; Aurora grey curve full length wall mirror, £165, all Oliver Bonas

To make your space seem larger and brighter, bring in a couple of big mirrors. They will bounce light around the room, especially if hung opposite a window where natural light can stream through.

Choose bright wall art

Pink floral art print, from £15, Abstract House
Pink floral art print, from £15, Abstract House

Some bright wall decor, whether it’s posters or prints, can add fun and character to a room, as well as lighten the space.

When it comes to artwork in a dark room, minimalism is key. Avoid hanging too many pieces on the walls, as they will absorb the small amount of sunlight in the room.

Go with gloss finishes

Full gloss paint in French Gray, £64 for 2.5L, Farrow & Ball
Full gloss paint in French Gray, £64 for 2.5L, Farrow & Ball

To bring light into a dull room, consider painting the ceiling with a high-gloss finish. Glossy paint is highly reflective, but make sure you smooth over any imperfections on your ceiling first as this type of finish will shine a spotlight on them.

Bounce the light with tiles

Vena Biana flat gloss tiles, £18.65 per sq m, Walls and Floors
Vena Biana flat gloss tiles, £18.65 per sq m, Walls and Floors

Pastel or pale-coloured tiles are the way to go if you want to bring light to a dingy kitchen or bathroom. Tiles with a glossy finish are also a great choice, especially if you have directional spotlights as these will help to bounce light around the room.

Control your clutter

Chelwood reclaimed wood medium chest of drawers, £455, Modish Living
Chelwood reclaimed wood medium chest of drawers, £455, Modish Living

In a compact room, it’s best to scale back on unnecessary decorative accessories. Keep the room clear of clutter and either move items to a larger room or pack them away in a chest of drawers like this set from Modish Living.

If you’re looking for organisational ideas including everything from seagrass storage baskets to stylish filing cabinets, check out our storage ideas hub!

Add potted plants

Image credit: Oliver Bonas
Image credit: Oliver Bonas

Breathe new life into a dark and dingy room by strategically placing a mix of succulents and leafy plants. Look for varieties that prefer to be kept in low-light conditions to ensure they last. If you’re looking to bulk up your greenery, get started with our pick of the six best online stores to buy houseplants.

Commit to light furniture

Heather bar stool with backrest in Sage Green, £119 each, Cult Furniture
Heather bar stool with backrest in Sage Green, £119 each, Cult Furniture

As lovely as a dark wood table or chocolate-leather sofa is, it’s bound to put a dampener on an already dingy room. So, invest in light-coloured furniture or revamp some of your old pieces with new cushion covers or a lick of paint. We know that white furniture, especially when it comes to a dining or coffee table, can be a little risky (cue wine spills and messy fingerprints), so look out for pieces that feature a protective layer of lacquer or varnish to avoid stains.

Use pattern and colour

Image credit: Next
Image credit: Next

You don’t have to stick to pale block colours to create a light and bright room! Inject some interest with a few splashes of pattern – one or two small accessories such as cushions and throws will add depth to the overall look. Less is more with this, though, as you don’t want the room to look too crowded.

When it comes to fabrics, steer clear of heavy materials such as velvet, faux fur and wool, and choose light fabrics like cotton, linen and silk to help the space feel bright and breezy.

Embrace pale wood

HAY dining table in Oak, £1,339; HAY halftime chair in Chrome, £279, both Amara

A light-coloured wood will lift a dark room while simultaneously providing a warm, Scandi touch in your space. Look for pale oak, beech, American maple or ash furniture over darker woods like walnut or mahogany.

Roll out a rug

Image credit: Next
Image credit: Next

You may be tempted to choose a rug in a neutral shade, but this is one element where you want to bring some fun to the room with a cheerful pop of colour. Choose a splash of yellow or orange, or if it’s more in-keeping with your scheme, opt for a soft pastel shade – you’ll uplift the space instantly. And don’t forget our seven tips for decorating with rugs!

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Feeling inspired? Check out more home decor ideas!