So you want to change the look of your room, maybe brighten things up a bit, but you do not want to paint. Or perhaps you want to paint, but you have chosen a really strong color and are worried that the result will be too dark. Fear not, you can alter the color story in your space without picking up a paintbrush. There are a lot of ways to brighten a room without sacrificing the color you want or going anywhere near a bucket of paint.

Window Treatments 

Adding some light window treatments is a great way to brighten up a dark room. If it suits the style of the room, opt for long curtains that go all the way to the floor. If shutters or blinds are more suitable, go with white ones. Another option is solar shades, which are like roller shades, but they do not have slats or veins, and when pulled down, a sheet of semitransparent material covers the window. These shades can be effective for letting in natural light while also blocking harmful UV rays and heat. Whatever you decide, window treatments can take up a large expanse of visual space and can significantly alter the mood of the room.


When it comes to bright or bold wall colors, a little can go a long way. Consider adding wainscoting to the bottom half of the wall. You can use white if it works in your space, or you can paint another light but complementary color. The top half of the wall will still be dominant and provide you with plenty of your favorite color.

If the idea of wainscoting is too much, consider adding a white chair rail around the room (at about one third the height of the room) then add some other molding to the bottom half of the wall. For instance, use white molding to create squares or rectangles. Just that little bit of white can really pop against the dark color.


The color of the floor has a huge impact on the room. To help brighten a dark room go with light floors. Light stains also work well in high-traffic areas and are better at masking scratches. If you already have dark wood or stone, use an area rug to brighten things up.


Like the floors, the color of the furniture can have a very big impact on the overall tone of the room. If you have dark walls opt for light furniture. If this isn’t a possibility, pick up some light accent pillows and throws and place them on the furniture.

Art and Mirrors 

Using art is a great way to lighten a dark space. Choose pieces that are light in color or try framing pieces in white frames and use a large white mat. You can add a bunch more sunlight to your room by allowing it to bounce off reflective surfaces. Consider hanging a large mirror directly across from the largest window in your room.

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