how to fake a brighter room

Daylight Savings Time ended a few days ago (meaning it was time to “fall back”)  and now it’s dark at 4:30 everyday! Awesome!


This is a common issue I tackle with clients, but I’m also familiar with it from my own life. Our house was built in 1970, so it doesn’t exactly have palatial windows anyway, but this time of year it can get downright gloomy if we’re not careful. Mercifully, I’ve learned some tricks to help you (and, let’s be real, me) fake a brighter house until the sweet, sweet sun comes back in the spring.

Like this one! So much light!

Like this one! So much light!

1. Say no to white paint. Obviously, this only applies if you have a painting project on the horizon, but it’s important so I’m including it. Pale shades are the way to go in a dark room that you want to feel lighter. (If you’re going for cozy and dramatic then rock that dark green, but this post is about brightening things up.) That being said, you don’t want to go WHITE. It tends to look dingy and blah in a shadowy space, so make sure you choose something with a little pigment. A pale yellow will help mimic the look of sunlight, for example, and pale gray is as popular as ever.

2. Let there be light! Of the artificial variety, of course. First things first, if you’re still using those pesky incandescent bulbs with the yellowish glow, it’s time to swap those bad boys out for some LEDs. Not only will the newer bulbs use less electricity, but they look more like natural sunlight. If you’ve done that and the room still feels like a cave, it might be time to add an additional lamp or investigate some can lights for the ceiling.

3. Consider plants. They’ll trick your mind into thinking there MUST be more light than there actually is (because plants need what to survive?). Even if you toss a couple of shade-loving peace lilies or succulents on the shelf, your brain will go from plans, to life, to the sun. Golly, is it brighter in here? If you truly have a black thumb, some convincing faux greenery can help, too, but I’d try the real deal first.

Ashlee Raubach

Ashlee Raubach

4. Go easy on the window treatments. Not everybody wants to be a member of the Naked Windows Club, especially if you have neighbors, but in a dark room you don’t want 75 layers of material on them, either. We need to let that weak sunlight in! If you can, hang your curtain rods wide enough that you can scoot the curtains off the glass completely and only cover the trim. Avoid swags and valances that cover half the window. Skip the roller shades and go for honeycomb instead.

5. Mirrors are your friend. You know that old advice about a mirror making a small room seem larger? Ditto that for adding light. The best spot for a mirror, if you can, is perpendicular to your windows. Bounce that light around and enjoy your bright space!

Are you trapped in a small-windowed house, too? Anybody else dragging as we say goodbye to Daylight Savings Time? What are some tips you have to fake a brighter room?

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