Let in the light with our inspirational ideas
When a room in your home doesn’t get much sunlight or has no windows at all (such as some bathrooms), it can feel gloomy and small. But it doesn't have to. We're here to help with both quick fixes and big design ideas, so that you can transform any dark space into one that's bright and airy.
Here are our top tips on getting more light into your home.
Tools & materials required
Walls, ceilings and floors
Lighten the walls
The first rule when brightening a space is to use pale colours throughout. They reflect light and so create the illusion of more space, while darker colours absorb the light, making the room appear duller and smaller. Choose colours like white, cream or yellow to make the room appear large, airy and tall. And follow the same colour scheme or patterns with your furniture and furnishings to create a seamless look.
When choosing colours for your walls, explore your options to see if they’ll work before decorating. It’s a common misconception that brilliant white rooms work in any light. White can actually make certain rooms look gloomy. If this is the case, look for warmer tones on the white scale like antique white. And remember that gloss or metallic paint and wallpapers look much lighter than a matt versions. Shiny finishes bounce light off them more easily than dull or flat ones, which (like dark colours) will absorb the light.
For whites and pale shades, we recommend the Dulux Light & Space range. These paints contain light-reflecting pigments that reflect up to twice as much light round the room compared to other options, making your space feel as bright as possible. Or if you want to mix a bit more colour with the brightness of white, take a look at the Dulux Natural Hints selection. These matt emulsions offer subtle shades of colour for your room and have colour guard protection to help maintain the finish you get when first painted.
Use dark colours sparingly
You don’t have to stick to light colours only when decorating a dark room – adding a few bolder elements as accents can actually make the room seem lighter by contrast. Accents are meant to be used as highlights rather than on large areas. If in doubt, stick to the 60-30-10 rule when choosing your colours.
In a dark room, light airy colours should make up 60% of your colour scheme. Your second colour is around 30% of your palette and adds warmth and interest. While the final 10% is the accent colour which can be darker and introduced as a feature wall in larger rooms or as accessories.
Refresh ceilings, coving and windows
It’s not just walls that may need a refresh – a fresh lick of paint on your ceilings can make a considerable difference to the space, making it feel tall and airy. Ceilings can discolour over time, especially if you smoke, have a fireplace or are a fan of burning candles and they are easily overlooked when decorating. Don’t be tempted to paint your ceiling a dark colour, as this will make your room feel enclosed and cave-like. We love the Dulux Magic White paints range - they apply as pink to help you spot the areas that you've covered, but dry as white.
And once you've opened the paint pot, refresh your wooden window frames, windowsills, skirting boards and coving. Paint them with a satin finish wood paint to accentuate the daylight coming in and reflect it into the rest of the room.
Don't forget the floor
Like walls, lightening up your floors can make a massive difference to a dark space. For complete overhauls, consider our paler laminate, real wood and vinyl flooring options. We love whitewashed effect laminates for that distressed look, while for something more classic we offer a range of lighter wood looks.
Kitchens and bathrooms work well with our white and pale tiles, while a tile's finish can also play a part. Our porcelain range includes satin finish for extra sparkle and marble ones polished with gloss are great for reflecting light around the room.
However, don’t feel as though you have to rip it all up and start again – there are lots of ways to brighten what you already have. If you've hard flooring, like solid wood or tiles, simply paint them a paler shade thanks to our floor and tile paints. They can be used on pre-painted surfaces, won’t flake over time and are resistant to impacts and scuffs. Or lighten a dark floor by adding a light-coloured rug - this breaks up the colour and makes it more of an accent than a feature.
Lighting, furnishings and accessories
Ditch heavy window furnishings
Dark curtains and blinds might feel warm and cosy in winter, but they also prevent all light from reaching your room. Why not adopt the hot trend for a bare window? This is really popular in contemporary styles and allows the maximum amount of daylight to get in.
Alternatively, if you want to keep something up for privacy’s sake, think about blinds or even shutters. Fit blinds above the window alcove so that they're completely out of the way when not in use and let in as much light as possible.
Prefer to stick with curtains? Replace heavy, opaque materials with lightweight or sheer fabrics and consider only having one curtain instead of two – a great option for rooms that are short on space. Again, keep the whole window free from fabric when they're not drawn by fitting the longest curtain pole or track you can sensibly fit. And whichever look you go for, keep your windowsills free from clutter so that absolutely nothing gets in the way of that sunlight.
Upgrade the lighting design
It may feel obvious, but improving your lighting will instantly brighten a room and there's plenty that you can do. From adding more lights to changing their positioning, updating your lamp shades to increasing the brightness of your light bulbs.
Start by looking at how many lights you have in your space as well as where they are placed. Could a lamp brighten that darkened corner? Or would a spotlight pointed towards it be a better option? Having lighting on multiple levels will create the illusion of depth and space, so do experiment with your design before you commit to anything to make sure you get the effect you want. Both floor and table lamps are great portable options, so if you fancy switching things up, they're easy to move for instant illumination wherever you need it.
If you don't want to change your lighting design, consider updating your lamp shade. One in a paler colour, thinner fabric or wider diameter will offer better coverage. While more contemporary designs such as those with cut-out patterns or multi-lamps also make more of a style statement. For a look that combines vintage chic with contemporary elegance, opt for a hand-blown glass lamp such as those in our Sylcone Retro range. These cut out the need for a lamp shade offering maximum light and design drama.
Another thing to consider is your light bulbs. You no longer need to look at the wattage of a bulb to understand how bright it is, it’s now all about lumens - the greater the number of lumens, the brighter the light. So why not up the number to increase the amount of artificial light in your space? And lastly, there's the colour temperature of your bulbs. Measured in Kelvins, this determines whether your room is bathed in gentle, warm light or one more dazzling and similar to natural light.
To help find the right light bulb for your space, check out our buying guide.
Pick up some pale or mirrored furniture
Pale surfaces aren't just for floors - furniture in light shades helps keep the look coordinated and roomy. Pick up pre-painted or upcycle an existing piece with our furniture paint. We even offer specialist renovation paints from V33 that can be used on everything from kitchen cabinets to some electrical appliances.
If you don't fancy a light colour, how's about a dazzling finish? Shiny and mirrored surfaces also help so look out for gloss and mirrored furniture. Our mirrored sliding wardrobe doors offer a timeless elegance and the reflected light is certain to brighten a bedroom without taking up any space.
Opt for open storage
Ditch the clutter and lighten your space with open storage. A hot trend that's becoming increasingly popular, this minimalist approach moves away from more traditional closed-off cupboards, wardrobes and bookcases to open shelving units, customisable storage furniture and wall shelves. The open edges of these pieces allow light to move through them and around the room and works best with little clutter (a great excuse for a clean up).
Our Mixxit storage cube furniture even makes great room dividers, providing some sense of separation without blocking the light. And with their range of soft storage boxes, they not only minimise on mess, but also add a pop of bold colour into your bright room.
Mirror, mirror on the wall
Create the illusion of more space by hanging mirrors in strategic spots. These will reflect light around the room and can become a real showstopper when done well. To find the best spot, hang the mirror wherever you’d usually hang wall art or picture frames. Or why not hang multiple mirrors together on a sunny wall for maximum impact?
If you've got a dark entrance hall but your landing gets a good amount of sunlight, create a picture wall of mirrors up the stairs to redirect some light down into the hallway. Or opt for arched mirrors to imitate the look of extra windows.
Play around with accessories
If you're unsure about introducing brighter or darker colours into your palette, use accessories to liven up the room. Soft furnishings, like cushions and throws, bring life and vibrancy to a room and these scattered splashes of colour can prevent a neutral space from becoming too sterile – a common issue when you’re trying to keep everything light and clean. They're great for adding subtle patterns and touchable textures - both of which bring interest into an otherwise neutral room. Plus, accessories allow you to experiment without having to commit. If, after a while, you don’t think they're working, try something else instead.
Try the metallic trend
Metallics are massively on-trend at the moment and are a great way of reflecting light into a room. From accessories like clocks, candlesticks and picture frames to lighting in brass, copper and steel finishes - there are plenty of ways to explore the style. It's even hot in paint and wallpaper - look for rich metallic shades or glitter effects for sparkle that makes the most of your space.
Doors and windows
Update the doors
While doors are essential for privacy, warmth and soundproofing, they can stop the flow of light through a home. Replace solid doors with glazed doors, or change double doors for internal French doors or bi-fold and trifold doors where possible. This new light creates a feeling of openness and is particularly effective if the door leads into a brighter room – you’ll benefit from the light moving into the darker space. But don’t worry if you aren’t in a position to change your doors – why not paint them a soft, fresh colour instead?
If you’re considering a bigger renovation project, think about widening doorways or knocking down unwanted walls to create larger rooms filled with light. Open spaces allow sunlight to flow through your home and can make a massive difference to how bright a room is.
Clear the view
Make sure that as much sunlight as possible is making it through your windows by noting if any nearby trees or shrubs are blocking your view. If they are, cut them back or remove them to increase the amount of light you’re getting in.
If you have some unwanted, extra foliage, tame it with our range of cutting and pruning garden hand tools - and don't forget the necessary safety gear like protective gloves and goggles. Not sure which tool is right for the job? Swot up with our handy buyer's guide.
Clean the windows
As the final, finishing touch give your windows a good scrub inside and out. Grime can really limit the amount of sunlight that gets in, so washing them down with some window cleaner may make a world of difference. For streak-free cleaning, invest in a window vacuum – they make it easier than ever to get a spotless result.