10 lighting solutions for dark rooms to banish dark spaces

If your interiors are dull and dark, there are lighting solutions for dark rooms that you should explore. Naturally, not every room can benefit from an incredible amount of natural light, and many areas and even large parts of the house can be left without light. When a room lacks lighting, it not only looks dull, but also smaller and less inviting.

The good news is that by implementing clever design tricks and choosing the right light fixtures, you can create an efficient, functional, and even decorative lighting scheme in even the darkest of rooms. Whether it’s lighting ideas for your dining room, bedroom, kitchen or living room, take inspiration from these suggestions and brighten up your lifeless spaces.

Aditi is a home writer and editor with many years of experience. His articles, backed by insights from experts, offer suggestions to help readers make the best home design choices. For this article, she spoke to top interior designers and industry experts on how to lighten up a dark room.

10 smart lighting solutions for dark rooms

1. Explore wall washing and light layering

A dining room with a suspension and an LED light on the wall

(Image credit: Bloomint Design)

Multiple sources of ambient lighting can help create a wonderful layered lighting scheme in a room. Consider a good mix of ceiling, table and floor lights. If you want to go the green route, choose versatile, energy-efficient smart bulbs.

In addition to layering, think of other ways to use lighting pieces to enhance the aesthetics of a room while making it shine. Wall lighting is a way to not only highlight an architectural element, but also to artfully cast diffused light in a room.

“By ‘washing the walls’ you can accentuate the uneven texture of a wall tile,” says Reena Sotropa, founder of Reena Sotropa In House Design. (opens in a new tab). ‘This accent lighting in combination with recessed ceiling lights can take a space from brightly lit to a soft, relaxing spa at the flick of a switch. Recessed lights are very subtle in their appearance and can provide an extremely bright and even quality of light in a space that is the next best thing to natural light.

2. Choose fixtures with the right light output

A study table with a lighting piece above it

(Image credit: Bert Frank)

“Look at ceiling fixtures and lamps, and make sure the bulbs have maximum light output that’s comfortable and functional,” says Jennifer Morris, Founder of JMorris Design. (opens in a new tab). “A jump from 40 to 60 watts can make a big difference.”

A good way to determine this is to use the lumens method, where you determine the square footage of the room, work out the number of lights that will be needed to light the room, and multiply the two to get the total number of lumens. required.

Several online tools and calculators can help you determine how many lights you should have in a living room or bedroom, and what the right light intensity is needed.

3. Light up rooms with thin LED lights

a windowless bathroom with a led light strip

(Image credit: Luke Arthur Wells)

“Budget for recessed cove lighting or install a thin LED recessed light around the perimeter of the room to better illuminate it without overwhelming the space,” says Jennifer.

In this windowless bathroom, a strip of LED lights has been used in the corner of the shower enclosure where the two tile walls meet. It not only casts a flattering diffused light when using the shower, but gives a sensation of daylight crawling through a crack in the wall.

The best part of LED lighting ideas is their versatility, as they cover a wide range of light, from soft and warm to crisp and cool, and come in different design options. If strips aren’t your thing, consider LED signs, pucks, strings, cans, and bulbs, which make great uplighting, downlighting, accent lighting, and more.

4. Choose fixtures that don’t dull your light

A lamp by the bed

(Image credit: Studio Zung. Photo credit Adrian Gaut)

Make sure your room has unobstructed lighting with bulbs, pendants, and lamps made of clear glass or, in the case of lampshades, thin, unprinted fabrics.

“Being smart with your choice of materials for light sources is key to ensuring maximum light, so opt for glass, lighter, translucent fabrics, and mirror finishes to avoid scattering light from the light bulb,” says Emma Deterding, founder of Kelling Designs.

Also, make sure your lights are placed correctly. Make sure they are not behind a large wall, large plant, or in a hidden location. In the corners of the living room or a dark home office, it is best to choose a tall, oversized lamp that will illuminate the area and also the room.

A desk area with a table lamp

(Image credit: Ravi Vazirani)

“Generally, when you think of lighting, it’s good to think of layers of light that will create an evenly distributed glow throughout the space, making it look bigger, brighter, and more interesting,” says Kashi Shikunova , director of YAM Studios. (opens in a new tab). “Consider not just overhead lighting, but also vertical lighting like wall sconces and ambient accent lighting like table lamps or shelf lighting.”

“Think about corners, as they can make a space feel unbalanced. Add a floor lamp or a table lamp with a soft glow here and breathe new life into the space.

Also, choose to place lamps in unexpected places; a good dose of breaking the rules can change the way we live our homes and organize our lives. Add one in the bathroom next to the tub, place one on a kitchen counter, or keep one on the bench seat. Mix your style, add more light and create an eye-catching vignette.

6. Consider pendant lights that light up an entire room

A living room with a long light fixture

(Image credit: Confettibird and Tone Kroken. Photo credit Filippa Tredal)

“When choosing pendants, avoid using ones that point up or down, creating shadows that darken a room,” Kashi says. “Use pendant lights that illuminate the entire room, evenly illuminating the space.”

For a dining room lighting scheme or another kitchen island, consider adding several pendant lights above the table or counter to ensure the space is properly lit. In the hallway, hanging a series of identical light fixtures along the length of the space will create a classic look.

7. Install lights inside shelves

A hallway with light installed inside the storage wall

(Image credit: Bloomint Design)

Recessed lighting is often used as accent lighting rather than the sole source of light for a room. Indeed, they are discreet and go well with clean, contemporary or minimalist interiors. These fixtures are not ill-suited to any interior.

These can be used in the smallest spaces to the largest rooms, and tiny and easily hidden, they do the job of highlighting the specific area they are in. They are also very functional and are perfect for lighting kitchen cabinets, illuminating a shelf, or highlighting a sculpture.

“In the hallway or kitchen shelves, consider adding LEDs or spotlights hidden inside, which will eliminate shadows and make small units visually striking,” says Kashi. “Set each of these lights on a dimmer that will create different moods in the space depending on how it’s used.”

8. Add mirrors

A bedroom with two mirrors behind the bed

(Image credit: Kelling Designs)

We all know how a mirror makes a space look bigger and more open and adds dimension. But it also helps to amplify the light in the room, depending on where and how you position the mirror.

A key tip is to use mirrors to maximize light, whether you position them behind lamps or on the wall so they line up with your ceiling pendant light,” says Emma. “Not only will it make the room appear larger, but it will reflect light back into the room, brightening it massively.”

To maximize sunlight and make the most of the best views in town, place the mirror next to the window. When placing the mirror, try to place it at an angle that shows the best reflections when you are seated. Choose a beveled piece to maximize light from outside. You can also place it behind a lamppost to double its lighting.

One mirror mistake to avoid is hanging a mirror too high above a piece of furniture, so there’s a lot of dead space in the middle and no relationship between the two pieces. Be sure to position it about 10-12 inches above a sideboard or console table, then adjust it from there.

9. Try a high gloss paint

a hotel room with a glossy paint ceiling

(Image credit: The Hoxton, Shepherd’s Bush)

Glossy walls and ceilings have been all the rage in decorating for quite some time, and it’s a trend that seems to have lasted. This paint finish creates a reflective surface and is very durable. It subtly helps bounce light around the home and makes spaces look lively and welcoming.

“Light reflecting off walls and ceilings is a great way to brighten up the room, but be careful if the glare bothers your eyes,” says Jennifer. ‘Try a glossy paint on the ceiling or a reflective wall finish. Floors and large counter surfaces can provide plenty of light luminance to make a space look bright.

10. If you’re renovating, choose an open plan

An open space

(Image credit: Modscape photo John Madden)

If you are building your home or gutting the existing layout, consider an open living plan with connected spaces, so light and air can flow through the home, unrestricted. Daylight is the most wonderful magnifying glass of interior spaces. If you can bring more natural light into your home, it will have a big effect on maximizing the feeling of space.

Maybe add a skylight, or expand existing windows. Modern and efficient window treatments like roller shutters and shutters will ensure you receive daylight and plenty of privacy.

“When designing a low-light space, it’s important to allow light to flow as freely as possible through the space,” says Reena. “Hindering the flow of light creates shadowy corners that will result in a dark mood.”

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