There are 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.

Learn how to instantly add value and create the cozy, light filled home of your dreams with these simple techniques!

A soft wood dutch door in a white entryway, open to the outdoors
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If you’re anything like me, you’re craving light, bright and sunshine-filled days at this time of year. In fact, that’s one of the reason we bought our lake house – I love summer so much that I want to capture it all year long.

One reason I didn’t immediately love our Tudor style St. Louis home is because it felt dark and a little dreary. I’m a girl who thrives on light, preferably natural.

I knew there would be simple ways to make changes, and some were so inexpensive! This guide is filled with simple, realistic ways to bring light into your home.

A wooden chest with a brass mirror above in the entryway of a light filled home


  • Get more comprehensive steps for a complete lighting plan in my complete step by step Lighting Design Guide.
  • The best tip of all? Add light anywhere (no electricity required) with wireless light bulbs. Control them from your phone! It really is that easy! 
  • We are big fans of cozy candle style bulb lighting. I tend to choose Brass Lighting and chandeliers and pendants with smaller, candle-inspired bulbs because I love the warm ambiance it creates.
  • Don’t skip the lamps! Table lamps can add such warm, cozy lighting to a room.
  • Sconces can be used anywhere. Consider them by your nightstand, by your kitchen sink, in hallways or bathrooms. There are wireless sconces now, too!
  • You’ll find that many light fixtures have a bulb requirement in the product specifications. This can vary wildly, so if you’re looking for a lot of light, be sure to choose a fixture that can hold a higher wattage bulb!
A white and bright bathroom with a window and two sconces

Eight Ways to Add Light to Rooms

By mid-winter, I seem to crave light and bright rooms with my whole heart. Without going to the expense of adding windows, here are seven ways to add light in a dark room!


First… try simply cleaning the fixtures and the bulbs themselves. It’s such a simple step, but one that’s easily overlooked in a rush to replace instead of working with what you have.

The few lights we didn’t need to replace in our last house were removed and cleaned.

It’s unbelievable how much the years of dust on bulbs and shades can reduce the amount of light that filters through.

A white bathroom with two mirrors and two gold sconces

Replace Light Bulbs

Are you using the maximum wattage? Are you using soft or bright white? All of these factors could add up to additional light.

In each home we’ve purchased, I’ve gone though the house to make all of the light bulbs cohesive. I cringe at yellow lights – give me a soft, warm white any day of the week!

A Light Bulb Moment

Adding light doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive! Check out my complete Light Bulb Guide for more tips on adding warm, but soft lighting to your home. You can also learn about turning a pull chain light fixture into a switch, wirelessly – just like we did with the fixture below!

A flush mount light fixture with a gold interior and large white light bulb.

Replace your Front Door

We replaced an etched glass and wood front door with a traditional nine light front door.

While the wood to glass ratio was higher, it allowed significantly more light, filtering to the foyer, dining room, living room and hearth room. It may have been the best $1,000 we spent at that house!

It’s amazing how much light we added with that simple change. I can see clearly now, the dark is gone! In both our lake cottage and our main home, we’ve updated the front door to a charming Dutch Door that lets in so much light – and fresh air, too!

A soft blue dutch door in a bright white room

Rethink Your Curtains and Blinds

Make the curtain rod extend well past the width of the window, so just an inch or so of the curtain hits the window.

This will work two-fold! First, the window will appear larger and it’s also not blocking any light. There are some incredible tips for hanging curtains in this: How to Make Curtains hang like Drapes.

Another option? Consider Motorized Shades to make it easy to consistently open your window coverings each day, yet provide complete privacy at night.

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

Choose the Right Paint

If you follow my blog, you know that I love soft neutral paint colors, especially cream paint colors and warm whites. Just one of the many reasons why they’re a favorite of mine is because they reflect light.

Use an eggshell or satin sheen (never ever flat) and you won’t believe the difference it makes – immediately! Click through for my complete guide to Paint Sheens.

Get the details for all of my favorite paint colors and learn about Light Reflectance Value in my comprehensive guide: What is LRV?

A warm white living room with a blue Dutch door and a brass chandelier

Add or Replace Light Fixtures

Not all light fixtures are created equal. Take into consideration how shades, glass covers and pendants shield the light when purchasing.

Some light fixtures will offer exponentially more output than others. It’s so important to look at the specifications in each light bulb description to choose the ones with the bet output.

The best news? So many light fixtures can be added wirelessly these days! Check out my guide to picture lights for inspiration.

Go Wireless

The best news? So many light fixtures can be added wirelessly these days! Check out my guide to picture lights for inspiration.

A star shaped gold ceiling light in a closet.

Add Mirrors

This simple but effective trip helps reflect so much light into a space. Add mirrors strategically to any room of your home, immediately doubling the light coming in from windows.

Learn more about rattan mirrors here.

An entryway with a wooden chest and a brass mirror hanging above

Remove Screens

Finally, here’s an option that especially applies to older homes. Do you use your screens? If you’re allergy intolerant or just don’t mind a few flies if you open the windows, remove your screens!

Test just one and you will see the light! The same applies to storm windows.

A throwback example below, from the time we moved into our current home: Screens and interior blinds were removed to add light (and provide a better view). 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.

Do you have any additional tips I missed? What have you done in your home to add lights to rooms? I’d love to hear from you!

rattan bar cart with blue and white art over

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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?