Brighten Up: Banishing Gloom From Your Rooms

By Kerrie Kelly, Zillow

Most people naturally gravitate toward sunny spots — curling up on the couch near a window, sitting at a desk in a sun-soaked office, or lounging near a table lamp to read a good book.

If your home isn’t naturally well-lit, a few design tricks can help you maneuver around your lack of light. Whether you want to drench your home in sun or add a few task-lighting fixtures, you can transform your space with these simple tips.


Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Nordic know-how

There’s a reason the Scandinavian interior design trend is so prominent. The all-white style has become increasingly popular thanks to a growing desire for light and bright spaces that are equal parts clutter-free and totally cozy.

Sprinkle in some Scandinavian elements with a single piece of bright white furniture, like a sofa or arm chair, and complement it with gray, navy, or black throw pillows.


Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Another great way to add Nordic design to your home is with white shelving against a bright white wall. The white-on-white look is inviting, and visually expands your home for a little extra breathing room.

Mirror, mirror on the wall

If you have a smaller space to work with, mirrors are a terrific solution. Because they reflect light so perfectly, mirrors are ideal for rooms that only have a small window, or little to no natural lighting.

Place one directly across from a window to bounce light all over the room. Hang a few small ones on the wall perpendicular to the window to reflect light in a more subtle way.

Add visual effects by hanging mirrors that have interesting frames, placing a cluster of mirrors together to form a design, or simply propping a tall framed mirror against the wall for extra impact.


Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Layered lighting

In rooms with fewer windows, like kitchens, the key to creating a bright ambiance is layering lighting. This key design concept applies to every room, but is especially effective in rooms that lack natural light.

Start by making sure you have appropriate ceiling lights with bright bulbs. Ceiling light will create the foundation for your layered lighting effect.

Next, choose accent lighting, like mini pendants or a table or floor lamp. Pendants in groups of three create beautiful flow, and table lights in pairs beside couches or beds add symmetry for a balanced aesthetic.

Finally, use task lighting. Task lighting is very important in areas like the bathroom and kitchen, because it’s the light you will use to get ready in the morning and to chop food — two tasks that require expert lighting.

Task lighting can be sconces on the sides of a mirror, or recessed lighting perched underneath cabinetry.


Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Fabric swap

Last but certainly not least, swap out your dark, heavy fabrics for light and airy styles instead. If you normally have heavy insulated curtains, change up your look with a few panels of sheer drapes for an instantly ethereal space.

If you have a dark or heavily patterned duvet, try out a light scallop design in white or French gray to freshen up your bedroom. Other items that can be swapped are lamp shades, pillows, throw blankets, area rugs, and upholstery covers.


Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

What are some of your favorite ways to banish gloom from your rooms?


Kerrie Kelly is a Northern California interior designer and the founder of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab. She is an award-winning interior designer, multimedia consultant and an author of two books: “Home Décor: A Sunset Design Guide” and “My Interior Design Kit,” with Pearson Professional and Career Education.

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