Brighten Dark Rooms: 7 Simple Tips

My home is my refuge from the world. I like my living spaces to cheer me up. That means I need bright rooms that put a smile on my face. I know people who keep all their curtains closed all day. I don’t understand it. I’d feel like I was living in a cave. Although my house has lots of big windows, we also have lots of big trees, which is great for cooling the house during summer. But those trees block some of that natural light so I’ve used a few of these 11 simple tips to help brighten dark rooms.

Keep Window Treatments Simple. 

I’ve never been a fan of fussy window treatments so in my entry way I’ve simply hung white Roman shades to be used for privacy, when needed. Otherwise, the shades stay up and let in as much natural light as possible.

Simple Window Treatments with Roman Shades


And in my kitchen, I added valances of lace at the windows. The lace doesn’t block any light but adds a bit of softness.

Lace Valance in a Farmhouse Kitchen Window


Use Doors with Large Windows

My kitchen looks light and bright here, but when we moved here the kitchen was dark and gloomy. Dark green trim and yellow walls didn’t help to brighten this north-facing room surrounded by trees. My back door with its large window lets in as much light as possible.

Summer in a Farmhouse Kitchen. How to Brighten Dark Rooms.


Here’s the front door to my friend Suzy’s house at Worthing Court. Not only does her door have a large window, but flanking sidelights help brighten her entry way even more.

Front Door with Side Lights


Decorate with Light-Colored Fabrics

Julie Blanner uses soft, light-colored slip covers on her furniture to brighten dark rooms. No need to worry about errant spills since the slip covers can be removed and washed. The light colors help to balance the beautiful dark floors and ceiling beams.

Beautiful Family Room at Julie Blanner Blog


In my own family room, I paired a white sectional with pale gray walls. Pale blue pillows enhance the light and soft look, and once again I’ve kept my window treatments simple.

Farmhouse Style Family Room


Paint Cabinets White

Avoid dark cabinets and brighten dark rooms by painting cabinets white. My friend Laura at Duke Manor Farm did exactly that in her gorgeous kitchen. Before, her cabinets were dark yet pretty, making the room look smaller. Be sure to visit her kitchen transformation to see the before and after.

Kitchen Cabinets Painted White, from Duke Manor Farm


Sarah at Little Vintage Nest painted a dresser white and turned it into a beautiful bathroom vanity. The space is immediately lighter and brighter.

Painted Bathroom Vanity


Reflect Light with Mirrors

This corner of my dining room tends to be dark due to the position of the single window. Placing vintage mirrors near the corner on each wall helps to bounce the light around and is an easy way to brighten dark rooms or corners.

Vintage Mirrors in a Farmhouse Dining Room


On the other side of the room, a gallery wall of vintage mirrors directly reflects the light coming in through the window on the opposite wall.

Dining Buffet with Gallery Wall of Vintage Mirrors


Give Dark Wood a White Wash Treatment

I absolutely adore this white washed wall of barn wood that Debra created at Refresh Restyle. Leaving the wood unpainted would be pretty, but the white wash helps to brighten the room while the dark floors add a bit of drama.

White Washed Barn Wood Wall


Add Decorative Lighting

Lighting fixtures are an obvious choice to brighten dark rooms. As long as you’re going to add lights, be sure to choose something pretty that suits your budget and style. Chandeliers are popular and make a great choice.

Brighten Dark Rooms with Pretty Light FixturesPhoto by AM Dolce Vita

It’s fairly easy to brighten dark rooms with these 7 simple tips. Use a few or use them all. I do like darker, cozy rooms. They can be inviting and pretty, but I tend to opt for light and bright in my own home. What tips do you have for creating light and airy rooms?

Finally – I’m happy to announce that Janet is the winner of the Home Decor Cheat Sheets giveaway!  Janet, I sent you an email.

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  1. Jennifer,
    I couldn’t agree more with your opening paragraph. Brightness keeps me in a happy mood, and we too live in a home surrounded by trees. Thanks for the tips.

  2. Great tips!! I am in the process of repainting the rooms in our home, I am using a light grey (I love grey as a neutral!!!) my hubby would have every window blind closed and the curtains closed if I let him. I say let the sunshine in!!!