The Best Ways to Fake a Bright Room (When You Don’t Have Enough Windows)

published Oct 29, 2015
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(Image credit: Liana Hayles Newton)

Wish you had a living room, bedroom, kitchen or some other room flooded with natural light…but you’re stuck dealing with a few dinky windows that just aren’t getting the job done? There are decorative elements you can add to your home that can help fake more natural light in your dark rooms; try one or more to fake the feel of a room flooded with natural light.

Before you start with the ideas below → Maximize as much natural light as you do have by cleaning your windows and, if you can, removing, trimming or adjusting any exterior vegetation that might be shading your home and preventing light from really coming in.

Work with the architecture you have

If you rent, this part can be a bit tough. But the basic premise is you want to use light paint colors like white or light grays to visually push walls and the ceiling away (making the room feel bigger) and blend any dramatic architectural details into the rest of the room with the same paint color so nothing feels like it’s sticking out or grabbing too much attention. What this will do is immediately give you a big, blank, brighter box to then start either maximizing the natural light you do have or faking it with other ideas.

Add gloss to horizontal surfaces

Though you can add gloss to vertical surfaces like walls, even with light colors that can feel a bit overwhelming in small spaces. A safer bet is adding gloss to horizontal surfaces. This can help bounce the light you do have around, but it can also just give the impression you have more light in the room than you do simply because of its reflective nature.

(Image credit: Sarita Relis Photography)

Skip mirrors, go for mirrored surfaces

You probably know by now that adding mirrors to the wall across from the natural light you do have will help add more light. But go even farther if you really want to fake a lot of natural light. Install a whole wall of mirror panels to maximize the amount of natural light being reflected.

Don’t let decor block the light you do have

You want to keep furniture on the low end near any of the windows you do have; blocking it with high backs or high arms just isn’t great when you’re struggling with a dark space. It’ll block the light you have coming in and cast shadows across the rest of your space, both bad ideas if you’re trying to create an illusion that you have a lot more light than you actually have.

Keep shadows away

Even if the natural light that you do have comes in a bit (like on one side), you want to keep shadows from accumulating in any one area or corner. This can be accomplished with artificial light (particularly using bulbs that more closely mimic the temperature of daylight). Using artificial light in this way will help boost the natural light you have, making it feel like there’s more of it.

Add big (shade-loving) plants

There are a few big plants that don’t mind it being shady where they live, but their very presence is life-giving and will make it feel like your room must have more light than it actually does. This illusion might help make it feel like your room has more natural light than it does.