It’s 3pm on a Saturday afternoon and you’re sitting in the dark. Not by choice, mind you. You’re just in the unfortunate position of having a room that is lacking in the natural light department. It’s so dull and gloomy, you wouldn’t be surprised if you looked up and saw a bat dangling from the ceiling!

So, what can you do about it? If you’re not in a position to make some structural changes to your home, or add in some extra windows or a skylight, not to worry. There are still plenty of tips and techniques you can employ to brighten up any dark space.

#1. Lighter shades

It’s a well known fact: lighter colours reflect light, while darker shades absorb it. Choose a lighter paint colour or wallpaper for your room, to allow light to be reflected. White is a popular choice. You can paint your ceiling bright white to help your room look taller, too. If you have heavy wood beams, consider painting them. Although keep in mind that it’s hard to reverse this if you change your mind.

If white isn’t your thing, opt for a different colour in a lighter shade. Think wintry blues, champagne pinks or pale greens.

#2. Mirrors

Working with what light you do have is key when it comes to decorating a dark interior. That’s where mirrors come into play. Place a mirror opposite your window or other light source to reflect and maximise the natural light coming into the room. Other shiny surfaces will do the trick, too. Think glass coffee tables or sequinned accessories.

#3. No heavy furniture

Heavy furniture blocks light and makes a room feel smaller. Forgo chunky chairs and thick bookcases for lighter pieces, with thin frames and clean lines. Glass furniture is great because it isn’t heavy looking and it lets light pass through. If you have a few heavy pieces you don’t want to part with, don’t worry. Just make sure they are few and far between. Remember, when it comes to brightening a dull space, the minimalist look is your friend. A space that is cluttered with lots of knick knacks and heavy items will look dark and small.

#4. Window dressing

Choose your window accompaniments carefully. Thick, heavy curtains or blinds will obscure what light you do have, making your room appear even darker. Instead, opt for sheer or translucent curtains that let plenty of light through. Roman shades are also a great, minimalist choice. Also, if you have a solid door, why not replace it with a glass one to let more light in?

#5. Floor coverings

Dark carpets and hardwood floors draw the eye down and can make a room look and feel darker. Consider replacing dark flooring with a lighter alternative such as laminate flooring in materials such as maple, ash or pine. If you’re reluctant to change your flooring, or you’re a renter and can’t, an area rug will do the trick. You don’t have to go out and buy a white or cream rug to cover your floor. Unless you employ the ‘no shoes in the house’ rule, you’ll be fighting a losing battle. But choosing a rug in a lighter shade, or a patterned one with bright accents, you’ll help set a brighter tone for the space.

#6. Metallic accents

As we’ve already mentioned, light tends to bounce off reflective surfaces such as mirrors and glass, reflecting around the room and making it appear bigger and brighter. Going a step further, by adding metallic or mirrored accents to your decor, you can amplify the effect. Gold, silver, copper or rose gold work perfectly.

#7. Contrast colours

While using lighter colours is key to making a room look and feel lighter, using too much can mute the effect. Adding some contrast in the form of cleverly placed darker tones, will make the impact of the light colours stand out even more. Make the most of your accessories or soft furnishings to bring a sense of contrast. Think about black picture frames against a whilte wall, or forest green botanical prints. These darker colours will also help energise the room. Going minimalist doesn’t mean you can’t afford to be bold with your patterns, accessories and furnishing choices.

#8. Lighting

Finally, all the tricks and techniques in the design world won’t avoid the fact that eventually, you’ll have to turn on the lights. So, when that happens, it’s important to choose your lighting wisely. If you have lampshades, opt for lighter or sheer colours, rather than dark, heavy shades. Ceiling lights are rarely flattering, so why not spread out some different lower lighting options instead? How about some tasteful floor or table lamps? Sconces are great for lighting up some of those dark corners. Remember to choose brighter bulbs such as LED bulbs, as these also last longer, saving you money on your energy bills.

A brighter home can help boost your mood and is much more inviting than a cavelike space. Try some of these tips to help brighten up your dark rooms today.