Eight easy-to-implement secrets to add light to a dark room. Get the inexpensive tips and tricks to make your home feel instantly brighter!

No matter the age of your home, adding light can instantly make it feel cleaner, bigger and more updated. Instantly add value and create a cozy, light filled home with these simple techniques.

A soft wood dutch door in a white entryway, open to the outdoors
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I thrive on natural light. In the Midwest, winter tends to be gloomy. Sometimes we don’t see the sun for days. When we purchased our Tudor style home, it felt dark and dreary.

I implemented several designer tricks to make our home feel light, bright and airy.

Eight Ways to Add Light to a Room

1. Clean

Light Fixtures and Bulbs

Over time, glass is covered with dust and film. Cleaning them allows more light to filter through. Don’t forget to clean shades, too!


Windows can also develop a film in addition to dust and dirt that accumulates. Indoors, use a foam window spray for picture perfect windows. If professional window washing or the ability to flip your windows from indoors isn’t an option, use a window cleaner that attaches to your hose. It’s easy and effective.

2. Replace Light Bulbs


The amount of light emitted is measured in lumens. Higher lumens provide more light. Watts measure the amount of energy used. The higher the wattage, the more energy a bulb uses.

Light Color

The color of light is measured in Kelvins. The lower kelvins are more yellow while higher are more blue. I tend to prefer warm whites that are perfect for kitchens, baths, and living spaces and use softer whites in bedrooms and for ambient lighting.

Soft White 2700K to 3000K

Warm White 3000K to 4000K

Bright White 4000K to 5000K

Daylight 5000K to 6500K

Learn more about light bulbs in this detailed reference.

Enhance a room with a light fixture and a rug at the doorway, effectively adding light to the space.

3. Replace Doors

If you have a solid or stain glass store, consider replacing with a glass or partial glass door. We replaced the front door in both our primary and lake home, adding a significant amount of light. A dutch door not only lets in light, but fresh air, too!

A soft blue dutch door in a bright white room

4. Rethink Curtains and Blinds

How curtains are hung can make your window appear larger and prevent blocking natural light. Motorized Shades make it easy to consistently open your window coverings each day and provide privacy at night. As you can see below, they cover just the window frame and one additional inch when open.

Roman shades, while beautiful, often cover more than 1′ of light while open.

A little girl laying on a bed in a floral wallpapered bedroom, operating a motorized window shade.

5. Choose the Right Paint


Soft neutral paint colors, especially cream paint colors and warm whites will really lighten up a space. Light paint colors reflect light because they have a high Light Reflectance Value, also known as LRV. See all of my favorite paint colors detailed.


The higher the sheen, the more light the paint will reflect Flat is best for ceilings where you want to disguise imperfections. For walls, at minimum, use eggshell or satin. Semi-gloss and gloss will reflect even more light! Learn more about paint sheens here.

A marble countertop with paint swatches and small cans of open cream paint colors.

6. Add or Replace Light Fixtures


Shades diffuse, direct and reflect light. When selecting a light fixture, consider how a shade will effect your lighting.

A well-lit living room with a chandelier.


Light fixtures output varies. Refer to light bulb specifications for a light with proper output for your space.

Add a Light Without Electrical

Wireless light bulbs, plug-in picture lights and sconces and motion sensor bulbs have made adding a light fixture easier than ever!

A star shaped gold ceiling light in a closet.

7. Add Mirrors

Place mirrors strategically to reflect light from windows. They instantly increase natural light and give the illusion of more space, making your room feel larger.

A bedroom with a blue dresser and dated floral wallpaper.

8. Remove Screens and Storm Windows

Do you use your screens? If not, consider removing them, even if just seasonally. Test a window with and without a screen side by side and you’ll see the light.

When we moved into our current home, we removed both screens and blinds to allow light to filter in and provide a better view. The photos were taken with the same camera settings – you can see how overexposed the second photograph is!

Dark windows with screens and interior blinds.
Wood windows with a little girl eating breakfast at the table in a dining room.

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  1. Great post, Julie! Just wondering where your purchased the natural-looking rug in your entryway? Love it!

  2. Love all of these tips!! Our apartment doesn’t have many windows, but some of these are definitely doable for us. I also cringe at yellow lights…ew! 🙂

    1. Glad you enjoy them, Lindsay! While apartments can be tricky, it’s a fun challenge to work with what you have, isn’t it?

  3. we live in an old farmhouse built in the 70s by my inlaws when my hubby was only a year old. He’s 39 now. It’s horrible. Think: dark paneled walls, green shag carpet, dark kitchen cabinets, dark rim around every dark door. Horrible. We are slowly starting to modern-ize things. I love this post!

    1. Ah, but a farmhouse is bound to have beautiful bones, right? I’d love to see the progress! I still have nightmares about the shag green carpet we had when I was 4.

  4. These are fantastic tips, Julie! I’ve bookmarked this post to use a reference tool as my husband and I continue updating our Overland Park home. Thank you!

  5. Great post! When we first moved into our apartment my husband said, “It’s so dark in here!” So I just added lighting, lighting everywhere. These tips are more practical and I love how you showed pictures so we could see the big difference it made!
    Also I love your front door and the idea of a chandelier in a closet never occurred to me but it seems like it would feel luxurious!

    1. Hey, great post! Where did you get the woven natural fiber light fixture and seats at the base of your daughter’s bed?