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Easy Ways to Brighten up a Space on a Budget

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Home Improvements on a Budget

A drab and dark room is a widely unappealing space for a number of reasons. It’s difficult to maintain an upbeat energy in a poorly lit room when you’re entertaining guests, trying to work in your home office, or when you’re trying to relax and read a good book. Further, a dark room will only get darker as the day progresses - come evening, there’s a chance your space will look like nighttime, turning the space into a bit of an almost unuseable, confined space.

But don’t fret - there’s light at the end of the tunnel. In this post, we’ll discuss a number of great ways to frugally spruce up your space by bringing light and energy back into your home or apartment - without breaking the bank.



While choosing the right colour for a room can be tricky at the best of times, when increasing light is the motivation behind your changes, it’s a lot easier than expected. Simply put, choose lighter, brighter colours.

A crisp, warm, creamy white with a hint of yellow or gold can easily boost the brightness of a dark space by allowing any available natural light to do its thing by reflecting and bouncing light elsewhere in the room. But, don’t paint it a brightwhite; when rooms lack access to natural light, white paint can often accentuate a cold and shabby feeling. For white paint to work its bright and cheery magic, the room must have ample access to natural light.

Better considerations can include pale blues, for their timelessness and ability to work with dark wood flooring and furniture; light greens, for their ability to energize and revitalize dark spaces; and lavender, for its versatility and ability to pair well with grey, black, and white hues. Even chocolate brown can help to bring warmth and a touch of light to a dark room, especially when balanced with white trim, and a bright flooring or area rug. As for what paint to choose; go for an eggshellfinish, rather than a traditional interior flat. Eggshell helps to reflect some light and gives your walls just the right amount of sheen to bring them to life. Eggshell also stands up to abuse well, is more durable, and is easier to clean that conventional flat or matte paints.

Floors & Ceilings

Painting the ceiling white is a great way to boost the brightness and height of any room. Coupled in a room that’s receives lots of natural light and has a fresh coat of paint allows the room to feel open and airy. A white ceiling is a good choice for the ceiling if you don’t want to redo it every few years - it’s a classic choice and pairs well with just about any type of decor and furniture.

If you’ve got hardwood, concrete, or linoleum floors, there’s a way to paint them to brighten up your space without having to invest in new carpeting, or entirely new flooring to accomplish the same goal. Painting floors white is a great way to freshen up a dark room - but the same rule applies as with walls - only paint a floor white if the room has enough access to natural light. As for what kind of paint to use? Choose a glossy paint finish or varnish/seal them afterwards to develop that illustrious ‘shine.’ And get creative - who says you have to just cover the floor up? Try a pattern, design, or an artistic approach to the the floor that helps to boost energy and brightness.


Add a Mirror

Mirrors are excellent ways to help maximize perceived space, while bouncing any available light around the room to increase brightness. Consider a large mirror with a slim frame, to help it feel less bulky and foreboding.

Minimize Accessories

Ask yourself how much stuff is in the room in the first place. Minimizing the amount of trinkets, brick-a-brack, and art you have on the wall will help to keep problem areas feeling bright and will ensure that lines of sight and kept clean and open. Instead, increase the number of throw pillows on your couch, instead. Utilizing colourful, and patterned pillows in place of mantelpieces, coffee table accents and rows of books, the pillows help to brighten up an existing dark couch.

Change Up Your Furniture


Like room design, minimalism is a great way to increase the lines of sight and transparency of dark rooms. Bulky furniture can make an already dark room feel heavier, and less breathable than that of postmodern styled furniture. Investing in more simply, and minimally designed coffee tables, end tables, sofas, and chairs helps you to create a more open space, allowing that fresh coat of paint to beam through the clutter, or standing on their own.


When you’re considering new furniture to help brighten up your space, woods can present an issue. Most woods are prepped and sold in darker colours which can bring the room down - but - when coupled with a new paint job, new flooring via an area rug or painting, dark woods create a beautiful contrast that boosts the effect of your brightened walls, ceiling and floors.

Austere glass, and metal finishes like stainless steel, brushed aluminum, even copper can help to bring a sense of cleanliness and freshness that can contribute to brightening up a room as well.


This is a balancing act - furniture and wall colour have to compliment each other in such as way that they look like the belong together, while at the same time, juxtaposition and contrast can emphasize our brightening efforts.

Instead of revamping everything in the room, consider adding a sleek new chair that boasts an eye-popping colour to help ramp up the level of chic-ness in the space, and give some life to the room.

If you’ve painted your walls a fresh and light green colour, consider how a light coloured sofa set would dissolve into the background. A grey or charcoal fabric sofa as an alternative brings a bit of life to the room instead of a traditional black leather couch, while impacting the room with a nice colour contrast. The same could be said for area rugs - when you’re trying to brighten up a dark floor, consider how a colourful rug will help you hide stains and general wear-and-tear better than a cream or white rug, while still providing some light on the ground. Throw pillows are another great way to bring the brightening power of colour to your existing furniture - bring in a plethora of colourful pillows to help distract the eye from dark upholstery.

Lighting Hacks


The cheapest and fastest way to boost the light in any room is to ramp up the lumens your current lighting gives off. Old yellow incandescent bulbs can be dim, and in dark rooms it can seem as if they’re not even on in the first place. Replace all of the bulbs in the house with bright white LED bulbs.

They give off an immensely brighter light than their old-school counterparts and produce 95% of their energyinto light, while 5% is wasted on heat. Incandescent bulbs, by comparison, only convert 10% of their energy into light while 90% is wasted on heat. Plus, your energy bill will thank you each month.

Natural Light

Nothing compares to the brightening powers of the sun. Natural light and a view of the outside are paramount to brightening up any space, so assessing your window situation to boost the amount of light that penetrates the room is key to keeping things frugal.

Change your window coverings, drapes and even blinds to a semi-transparent replacement, and don’t shy away from opening them up in the first place. Ensure that that drapes or curtains aren’t dark colours that add a gloomy border around your windows - swap them for white, grey, or lace alternatives that let light flow through. 

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