Nearly any interior designer will say that good lighting is a key aspect of a well-designed room. Without good natural and supplemental light sources, a room that would otherwise be bright, beautiful, and evocative can quickly become dull and unappealing.

If you're struggling to bring life into a shadowy, dim room, use these design tips from the best to make any interior better and brighter.

In some cases, brightening a room can be a simple as choosing sheer curtains and letting in a little more sunlight. However, some rooms are stubbornly dark and difficult to brighten. If you’re struggling to bring life into a shadowy, dim room, use these design tips from the best to make any interior better and brighter.

Use Mirrors to Your Advantage

Dark walls tend to absorb any light that might be entering a space through windows or from a lamp. While brighter and lighter colors do a better job of reflecting light around a space, for maximum reflectivity, hang mirrors. Shiny surfaces scatter light back into a room, making it appear both larger and brighter.

Decorate with Neutral Colors with Bright Accents

Using neutral and light colors will help a space feel airy, open, and bright. Lighter colors reflect sunlight, while bright accents will draw a viewer’s attention and eyes from element to element. This technique helps a room seem less bland. Elle
recommends using a bright accent rug to add a big block of color to a space without darkening a room through wall paint in a saturated hue.


According to House Beautiful, highlighting is the best way to make a room seem warm and bright without washing it in flat light from a single source. Choose important areas to brighten, such as a coffee table, reading chair, or entertainment area, and let less significant areas stay in softer shadows. Create a layered look by incorporating high light sources with lower lamps.

Embrace the DIY

It can be expensive to brighten a particularly dim space, but by getting creative with pendant lights, sconces, and more, you can avoid the costs of installing overhead lighting or a new window. While more than two billion fasteners are used annually in the U.S., it only takes a handful of screws and one battery-operated sconce to brighten an entire wall in your home. Thrift-store lampshades can be transformed with paint or buttons, and pendant lights can even be made from coffee cans. Stretch your creative muscles for new lighting sources that don’t break the bank, and that add unique personal flair to your space.

Use the Best Bulbs

Finally, sometimes a lighting problem is as simple as changing a bulb. Forty-watt bulbs are a thing of the past. Higher-watt LEDs use only 15% of the energy a standard halogen lights use, and they provide up to 85% more light output. Use bright lights where you need them, soft lights where appropriate, and do your research to know which bulb is best in each setting.

A little research and a little creative effort can go a long way in creating a unique style. To brighten your dimmest rooms, use reflective surfaces, bright colors, and creative lighting techniques to make any space glow.