We could all stand to have a brighter living space. Letting the light in—whether it’s of the natural or fabricated variety—can work wonders on your psyche, whether it’s banishing depression, thanks to Vitamin D, or contributing to an overall more open and welcoming space. But the truth is: you can buy all the lamps in the world and your home still might not feel as bright as you’d like it to.
So, what should you do when you’re trying to give your space a literal glow-up? Whether it’s taking the time to arrange your furniture to amp up natural lighting or switching up your paint and wood options to make your rooms feel a little less dreary, you have options. Try these 20 easy tricks and make your home look brighter than it ever has. And for more general tips on sprucing up your home, don’t miss 30 Ways to Make Your Home Way More Awesome.
Rearrange your furniture.
How long has it been since you did some rearranging in your home? Before you start moving things, first, create a new floor plan that’s focused around the windows—you know: the part of your house that’s going to give you the best natural brightness. If you keep those spaces open and airy and avoid blocking them with bulky furniture, your home will instantly look more cheery. And while you’re in the process of rearranging, for help with knowing which furniture pieces you might just want to toss, don’t miss the 30 Ways Your Home Is Hopelessly Outdated.
Choose a basic wall color.
With literal millions of paint colors available, painting your walls white might seem a little boring. But here’s the thing: When it comes down to it, there’s no better color to lighten and brighten a room. While other colors can make your home feel more closed off, swapping in some white paint—or even freshening up existing white walls with new coats—instantly make your home feel fresh, airy, and inviting. And for more ideas on how to tidy up your home, bone up on these 30 Genius Home Storage Hacks That Will Clear Up So Much Space.
Put plants everywhere.
It’s amazing how far a little greenery goes in adding brightness to your space. Head to the greenhouse and bring home big, bold plants you can place all throughout your home, whether that’s monsteras, birds of paradise, dracaena, or fiddle leaf figs. (You can even grab live varieties on Amazon now so they’re delivered straight to your door fuss-free.) And if you don’t have a green thumb, that’s okay: There are plenty of faux options available that can brighten up the room, too. And for more ways to think green, don’t miss these 30 Easy Ways to Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly.
Get light-colored furniture.
A dark brown couch is definitely pretty, but it really puts a damper on any space. The next time you go furniture shopping, choose items that are lightly-colored. You don’t have go risk it with whites (wine stains are real!) which can get dirty quickly, but creams, beiges, and light grays will do the trick, too. And if you’re not in the market for new items at the moment, you can always revamp the old with some quality couch covers.
Get creative with the lighting.
When people think to brighten up their space in the most literal sense, they buy a lamp or two. But why not get a little creative? Instead of going the typical route, get the best of both worlds by adding an ultrasonic diffuser into your home that has the added bonus of a calming glow. This glass version from Saje Wellness allows you to turn on and off the LED light feature with the touch of your fingertips. Plus, it dispenses stress-reducing essential oil blends into the air as it purifies the room. You can’t go wrong with brightening up your abode and your mood, right?
Go wild with mirrors.
It might feel a little egotistical to hang mirrors all over your home, but they’re not for looking in (ostensibly). Their primary purpose? Bouncing light around the space. Even rooms that don’t have a lot of natural sunlight will feel brighter overall due to how much it reflects, adding a can’t-beat touch of brightness to even the darkest corners.
Get lighter curtains.
Instead of opting for thick curtains that hardly let any natural light through into your home, swap them for something more lightly-colored—and also something that’s nice and sheer. That way, even when you want some privacy and close your shades, you’ll be able to let through some happiness-inducing sunlight.
Get a statement rug.
When choosing a rug, the safe route is bringing home something that’s a light neutral color that will go with everything. One way to really brighten up a room, though, is to go bold. By picking a cheery pop of color—like in-your-face yellows, teals, oranges or even some softer pastels—you’ll instantly add some energy to the space. One rule, though: Just make sure it doesn’t clash with your other décor or brightness will be the least of your problems.
Shut off your ceiling lights, and turn on your lamps.
Any light is going to work wonders in brightening up a room, right? Well, not so much. While having a ceiling light in the center of the room can make the space feel more closed off, having properly-placed lamps will really add a pretty glow. “Ceiling lights make everything feel drab, heavy, and harsh. Instead, use multiple smaller lamps in darker places in the room to create a more open space,” says minimalist lifestyle blogger Jenny Mustard.
Invest in some metals.
Whether it’s gold, silver, copper, or rose gold, adding some metals into your home work similarly to how mirrors do. Instead of making your space feel dark and dingy like some materials can do, they bounce off light and add some brightness. Whether it’s with some statement furniture, wall décor, plant pots, or vases, you’ll be amazed at the difference a little shine can make.
Re-accessorize your couch.
You don’t have to make any big changes to give your home a brighter look and feel. Instead, head to your favorite home goods store and stock up on a new collection of throw pillows and blankets for your furniture, whether it’s your couch or your bed. Leave the dark colors behind and aim for lighter-colored neutrals and pops of metallics to make your room glow.
Get ahead of the rattan trend.
Rattan furniture has made a major comeback in recent months and is being used in everything from indoor swinging chairs to side tables. Since the wood is so lightly-colored, adding in a few pieces around your home instantly brightens things up. Plus, you’ll give your space a little bit of the airy boho trend while you’re at it.
Go crazy with candles.
Well, not too crazy; you don’t want to burn down your house, after all. But picking up a handful of candles to place in your living room, bathroom, bedroom, and other spaces that could use a nice glow come nighttime is the easiest—and best-smelling—way to brighten things up. They’re not expensive, either: Look online to get a pack of them on the cheap.
Open up your shelves.
Obviously there are some things you want tucked away in cabinets, but opting for open shelves instead can instantly take your room to the next level. The airy display will let you show off some of your most prized possessions, whether it’s your ever-growing ceramics collection in the kitchen or your most-read novels in the living room. And for ideas on how to arrange all the clutter you tend to collect on those shelves, check out 65 Genius Ways to Organize Your Life.
Put greenery in your bathroom.
Having plants in the main areas of your home will surely brighten things up, but don’t forget about those often ignored dark and drab places, too. Bathrooms—especially those without windows—can be tricky to change the overall vibe in. There is a hack, though: Adding in some low-light plants like pothos, spider plants, and snake plants do great in darker spaces. And funny enough, they all kind of share creepy names. Coincidence? Not likely.
Get new lightbulbs.
One tiny thing that makes a big difference in brightness is the type of light bulbs you’re using in your home. Instead of going for bulbs that give off a yellow-y glow that instantly makes your space look dreary, go for bright white LED options so what’s coming out of your lamps more closely resembles natural outdoor light.
Embrace negative space.
People love filling up their homes with anything and everything they can, but when it comes to brightening things up, your best bet is actually clearing things out. “Empty space in between or around things creates an interesting visual feature. It’s an excellent way to create a more open and light room,” says Mustard. “All of those places that are now empty and look like the perfect place to put something? Instead, leave them empty and let the space be visually peaceful.”
Clean your windows.
If you can’t even remember the last time you cleaned your windows, you’re not alone. Something as simple as giving them a scrub—both inside and outside—can seriously change the game when it comes to the amount of light being able to shine through. Instead of all that dirt and grime blocking out those rays, they’ll be crystal clear and better able to brighten up your home. And for more surfaces you might not be wiping down, check out the 20 Things in Your Home You Didn’t Realize You Should Be Cleaning.
Don’t use dark woods.
While dark wood features are undeniably classic and pretty—whether it’s your kitchen table or on your seating furniture—light woods are what really brighten the home. Instead of looking closed off with dark or stained options, opt for pieces made from something lighter, like oak, maple, ash, birch, or hickory. And if you’re brave enough, you can always go over dark cabinets with a fresh coat of white paint to totally transform your space.
Play with string lights of all varieties.
String lights aren’t just for Christmas trees. Pick up some tiny white lights and use them to give your home a magical glow by either draping them over your headboard, putting them in a shelf, or hanging them on a wall. And if that feels too teenie-bopper-y, don’t worry: There’s also the option of going with firefly string lights that use LEDs, which are so delicate that if it wasn’t for the glimmer, you’d barely know they were there.
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