Rooms feeling a bit dark and dingy? Luke Rix-Standing offers eight top tips on how to brighten them up…
Homes tend to feel pokier the more time you spend in them – and at a time of national claustrophobia, we could all benefit from a bit of a refresh.
Here’s how to make your home feel bright and breezy, without spending hours in showrooms or breaking the bank…
1. Let there be light
Often, the simplest way to brighten up a dwelling is to add more light. Use accent lighting (smaller, directed sources like lamps) to emphasise focal points, like desks and tables, and give a space a sense of texture and contrast.
Make sure the lights aren’t too concentrated, though – you’re going for layered illumination, not a spotlight from a police interrogation room.
Consider kitting out fixings with ‘white light’ bulbs, which serve up a cool, daytime feel compared to their cosier, yellower counterparts.
2. Leave your windows clear
Could you do more to maximise natural light? Placing a tall item of furniture next to a south-facing window is a classic design sin, and you don’t want hatstands or shelving units casting a swathe of shadow across a room that should be bathed in light.
If possible, keep your furnishings low-slung across the board. However cluttered your floor space, if most of the volume of a room is empty, it provides unbroken lines of light and sight. The higher the ceiling seems, the breezier and bigger the room will feel.
3. Add some plants
The positive effects of nature on the psyche has been studied time and again, and even a few paltry pot plants can help a room feel instantly fresher and more lively. Spending time around greenery has a regenerative effect, and indoor-appropriate options range from large-leafed peace lilies to low-maintenance succulents, palms and cacti.
If your fingers lack even a tinge of green however, there’s no shame in opting for faux options. Today’s synthetic flowers are far less cardboard-like than in years gone by.
4. Master the mirrors
Wall-mounted, full-length, or even dainty and decorative, mirrors will always brighten your abode, and a little strategic positioning can really optimise the ambience. A mirror opposite a door can visually double a room’s depth, lending any area the illusion of space, while a mirror opposite a window sends natural light bouncing from wall to wall.
For added glamour, you could even experiment with mirrored furniture.
5. Consider your colours
There’s nothing to say you can’t go for darker colours in small spaces, providing it’s done right. But generally speaking, lighter shades absorb light far less than darker ones, and a fairer palette leaves a room looking big, bright and breezy. Pale, natural woods, whitewashed window sills, a cream-coloured couch or on-trend pastel furnishings – anything that takes your fancy can play a part in this – but most important by far is your paint or wallpaper.
Dark walls can be elegant and attractive, but if it’s bright and airy you’re after, you might want to go for softer shades.
6. Give it a good clean
Which do you think looks brighter and cleaner: a surface coated in a layer of grey grime and dust, or a freshly cleaned surface sparkling in the morning sun?
The humble duster is perhaps your greatest ally in the battle against dinginess, and you won’t always be able to tell whether an area is poky until you’ve seen it after a good scrub.
7. ‘Wash’ your walls
No, not another way of telling you to get cleaning – by ‘wash’ your walls, we mean bathe them in horizontal splashes of light.
This is usually achieved by putting a lamp tight against the wall, so that light spills across the surface at an acute angle, giving the impression that the whole space is aglow.
Wall-washing can be as economical as it is attractive, and it’s better to bathe one area with a broad sheet of light than clutter it with a crowd of fixings.
8. Include at least a little contrast
It may sound counter-intuitive, but an entirely light space can start to feel cold and washed-out. Try to integrate some darker colours with slim, linear furnishings like chairs or picture frames, that adds definition to the overall look.
Contrast is your friend, and the light will shine all the brighter for the introduction of a little dark.