1 | Paint the Walls
Probably the most intuitive tip on this list, painting your walls a light color will immediately give any room a brighter atmosphere. Prevent any entering light from disappearing into dark blues, browns, or reds currently residing on your walls, and instead amplify that gleam with light yellow, gray, green, or white. Your ceiling, especially, should be painted a very light color.
2 | Hang a Mirror or Metallics
Naturally, the mirror’s reflective surface — or that of a mirrored statement piece — will bounce around light and add the appearance of openness. Metallic accents on wall-hangings or furniture will have a similar, though smaller, impact.
3 | Accent the Furniture
Dark furniture could be exacerbating the room’s lack of light, but reupholstery can be expensive and change the look of the chairs and couches that you so carefully picked out. Instead, opt to drape them with light-colored blankets and pillows, and choose a bright accent rug to bring it all together.
4 | ...Or Replace It
If you’re having a hard time making your bulky furniture appear lighter through accessories alone, it might be time to swap that heavy, solid-wood coffee table for something smaller and more airy, perhaps with a glass top. Replace cabinets with open shelving. Instead of a couch, try a loveseat and a chair to retain seating while spreading out the visual weight of the furniture.
5 | Add the Right Lighting
Don’t hold back when it comes to lamps — illuminate every dark corner and side table you see fit. But, choose your lampshades carefully. If they’re the traditional cone-shape, they’re directing light downward, which concentrates it on whatever surface it’s standing on and therefore not doing much to make the room feel brighter. Instead, look for cylindrical shades that allow the light to bounce off the ceiling and walls to add indirect light to the entire area.
While you’re handling your lamps, swap out dim incandescent bulbs with LEDs or CFLs that are far brighter with lower wattage (and they’ll help your energy bill, too).
6 | Declutter
Look around the room — are the walls lined with trinkets, books, and other decor? Sometimes simpler is better. Reduce a bookshelf to a small selection of your favorites, and display just those. Apply the same process all around the room, and you’ll have more breathing space in no time.
If these tips still leave you in the dark, there is one final option (short of adding windows and glass doors): Embrace the darkness and build yourself a cozy room, with deep colors on the walls and plenty of comforts. Either way, you should end up with a room that’s hard to leave.