7 Budget Projects to Make Your Living Room Feel Twice as Bright, Whether You Have a Little Time or a Lot

published Oct 30, 2019
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

With the sun-starved days of winter approaching the northern hemisphere, it’s more important than ever to keep your living space feeling bright. But as much as we all wish every dwelling were casually bathed in photoshoot-ready natural light, sometimes rental floor plans conspire against us and all we get is one north-facing window. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to brighten up your home that won’t break the bank. Here are seven of our best tips for improvements big and small.

If You Have a Little Time: Hang a Mirror

Mirrors are a classic go-to for adding light and space, and can be easily customized to suit your personal style. Go for a geometric option with this tutorial from The Things She Makes, keep an eye on your walls with help from A Beautiful Mess, or transform a favorite tray with I Heart Organizing’s tutorial.

If You Have More Time: Roll out a Colorful Custom Rug

Rugs can be great for bringing color into a space (see the rainbow-bright example above). But the bigger you go, the more expensive rugs can get—not great if you’re sticking to a budget. For a big impact project, try painting your own drop cloth area rug instead.

If You Have a Little Time: Add in Some Shine

Catch the light by adding in accessories with a little metallic sparkle—we love the the brass floor lamp above. Or, do a little of your own DIYing by gold leafing or spray painting tchotchkes you already have. Want a bigger project? Craft Thyme has a handy list of how to gold leaf anything—you can even gild the inside of a lampshade.

If You Have More Time: Do the Walls up in White

There’s a reason this advice is a perennial favorite of designers! Rather than living with dismal renter’s beige, choose a white with bright undertones that will put your space in the best light.

Credit: Sarita Relis Photography

If You Have a Little Time: Upgrade Your Light Bulbs

In addition to making sure your bulbs and light fixtures are clean and dust-free, switching to a brighter or different type of bulb will also add light in the most literal way and may end up saving you money on your electric bill, too.

If You Have More Time: Float Your Shelves

Opt for bracketed or floating shelves to help clear up floor real estate and utilize vertical space. For help, look to these plans from Rogue Engineer and Shanty 2 Chic. You can also try this corner brace trick from The Sweetest Digs for an easier mounting strategy. Just be careful not overfill them, which could make your space feel cluttered rather than spacious.

Credit: Minette Hand

If You Have a Little Time: Hang Sunny Artwork

Feel like you’re looking out even when all you have is inner wall space with some colorful art. You can use scrapbook paper, your own photos, or bring in the natural world with a framed leaf or sun print.