One of the most challenging design issues can be finding ways to brighten up a space without breaking the bank. When you search for tips online, some of the most common results are, “Add windows!” or “Open up a wall!”, but that’s not an option for most of us, especially renters.
So today I decided to round up some DIY ways you can transform your room to make it feel lighter, brighter and more spacious. From using furniture with a lighter footprint to semi-sheer window treatments, mirrors, and closed storage, this list will help you transform your space on your budget and your terms. Even small changes like an extra mirror can have an impact, so try one out and see how it works for you!
UPDATE: I just heard the heartbreaking news about the events in South Carolina. I just wanted to say that all of us here at DS are appalled and are sending our love and thoughts to all the families affected by this tragedy.]
This post and the Home Ec section are brought to you by Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day. Visit the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Home-Grown Inspiration section featuring 20 DIYs, including seven from Design*Sponge!
MIRRORS: One of the fastest ways to brighten up any space on a dime is to work mirrors into the decor. If you're working with a truly tiny space (like
this NYC jewel box apartment
), using floor-to-ceiling mirrored tiles makes a big impact.
If full-wall mirror tiles aren't an option, a simple standing or table mirror can work well if you position it to bounce the most light possible. Position it next to or across from the brightest light source in the room (a window, door or skylight) and let it reflect away! (Image from
Rochelle's home tour
PAINT: Paint deserves a lifetime achievement award for all that it can do to transform a room. In the case of brightening up a room, a bright, neutral paint (white, tan, grey) on the walls and ceiling will immediately make things feel lighter and bigger.
If you're painting things white, don't forget to echo the color when it comes to molding and furniture choices. White furniture, sinks, doors and other trim work will add extra brightness.
CLOSED STORAGE: Open storage is a great design device when objects are edited well and ample space and light are available. But when you have a darker room with limited space, keeping things neatly tucked away in closed storage (like this fauxdenza in
Kimi and Paul's home
) can make a room feel more open and lighter.
MINIMIZE WINDOW TREATMENTS: Heavy drapes and curtains will block light and distract from a clean, open view of whatever window and light you might have. So consider light-weight, neutral colored blinds, roller shades or semi-sheer shades to maintain privacy, but still let light in. (Photo from
Joanna Goddard's home makeover
TURN THE LIGHTS ON: Most rooms come with a single overhead light or the occasional table lamp, leaving many areas of the room in shade or complete darkness, especially at night. Make sure you use lights in all corners of the room, to enhance the feeling of space- and light. (And don't forget to use brighter bulbs with darker shades!) Photo from
this Framed DIY Light Project
CHOOSE NEUTRAL FURNITURE: Furniture has a lot of visual weight, so consider a neutral-colored sofa or chair when decorating if brightness is a concern. If you're concerned about stains and wear, you can choose a light grey or tan sofa, treated with a stain-protecting product. You can also have furniture upholstered in outdoor fabric so it's more durable. (Photo from
Dorothee's home tour
TRANSPARENT MATERIALS: Just like lighter-colored furniture, the visual footprint of a piece affects brightness, too. Consider glass, lucite and acrylic tables, desks and side tables when possible - they allow light to pass through and create a lighter feel. (Photo from
Kate and David's home
CONSIDER THE FLOOR: Whether you embrace a lighter rug, tiles, canvas floor cloth, or actually painting your floors, lightening up the floor will reflect light up and make your space feel airy and bright. (Photo from
Emily's home tour