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With the arrival of spring comes a readiness for light, bright airy days – escape the long dark days of winter.  Our homes can reflect this change in mood by brightening up cave-like rooms with light.  There are many ways to lighten a dreary room without having to cut holes in walls and ceilings for windows and skylights. 

Wash the walls and ceilings with light

Washing walls and ceilings with light is to diffuse and reflect the available light, which not only works to brighten a room, but also makes it appear larger.  The trick here is to use reflected light without creating glare – reflection can be your best friend or you worst enemy, or sometimes both in the same space.

A single flush mount fixture in a room can actually intensify the cave-like feel of a room.  Instead of flush mount fixtures, choose pendant lights or semi-flush mounted fixtures that hang even a short distance from the ceiling – the distance will help diffuse light across the ceiling giving it a skylight-like glow.

If you’re able to add recessed lights to a dark space, add a few close to the walls so the walls are lit by the light.  Specialty trims are available that have partial openings to allow you to direct the angle of the light towards walls.

Track lights can also be added along the perimeter of the room, pointing their heads towards the walls to help diffuse light.  Adding wall lights with shades that direct light upward or downward will also keep the edges of the room bright and minimize shadowy corners.

Finally, use lamps.  Table lamps placed near walls, especially when they have the classic drum shades, will spray light both up and down the surface of the wall.  Torchier floor lamps placed near the back of the room will take over when daylight fades away from the ceiling. Stay away from lamp shades that are opaque, but instead choose a light material, such as linen, so the light filters through them.

Replace bulbs

A relatively simple and inexpensive way to brighten a dark room is to change your light bulbs.  Replacing warmer colored light bulbs with cooler ones (daylight-colored bulbs) will quickly brighten a room. 

Also, choose bulbs that offer higher lumens.  The number of lumens a bulb produces determines how bright that light bulb is.  Therefore, the higher the lumens of your bulb, the brighter the room will feel.  It is especially important to increase the lumens of your bulbs if you want it brighter but don’t want to change dark wall paint or furniture.

Capture more reflected light

Choose the best paint sheen.  Glossy paint sheens create glare and don’t reflect light equally, so, contrary to intuition, matte finishes are best at reflecting light in all directions. 

Also, choose light-colored paint for a dark room – close to white is best.  White doesn’t absorb any color, so it sends as much light as possible back into the room.  If it’s a shade of white, keeping the ceiling and the walls the same color will keep the edges of the room out of the spotlight, and instead shed the spotlight on the items in the room.

Adding mirrors opposite windows and metallic accessories to the room will also help capture reflected light.  Even the crystals on a crystal chandelier, especially if they’re faceted, reflect light from the bulbs and add that light to your room.

Don’t live in the dark

Even if the weather is yet unwilling to fully cooperate, you can still step out of dark, dreary spaces and into the light.

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