HomeTips & IdeasDecorating Ideas and How To'sHow to Decorate & Paint a Bright Room: 3 Case Studies

How to Decorate & Paint a Bright Room: 3 Case Studies

Posted on January 31, 2016 by KylieMawdsley

Ideas to Decorate a Bright, HIGH ENERGY Room

While most people WISH they had a light and bright room, especially when their room is overly dark, bright rooms present quite a few challenges when to decorating and choosing paint colours.


While one thing might be obvious, there’s another you may not have considered…

  • natural light
  • interior light
  • reflective interior finishes

Sherwin Williams Pure White, Cyberspace builtins, accent chairs in living room. Kylie M Interiors edesign, online paint color consulting, white trim in south facing room

That’s right! While natural light (in particular) is the most common contributor, REFLECTIVE INTERIOR FINISHES play a massive part in the overall effect. Here’s a list of some of the items that raise the energy in a room…

  • a cheerleader (hubby says that every room needs a few of these)
  • shiny countertops
  • shiny cabinets
  • glass cabinets or table tops
  • clear glass shades on lights
  • shiny metal finishes such as appliances (especially stainless steel)
  • decor with a high sheen either in colour or metal finish
  • mirrors
  • paint with extra sheen
  • shiny leather furniture
  • glossy wood or tile flooring
  • wood furniture with a gloss finish

For a room to feel BALANCED, whether you have an abundance of windows or several of the above items, it needs items that ADD energy and light and items that ABSORB energy and light (like me in a room vs Tim in a room – hehe).

Every room should have a BALANCE of items that add energy & absorb energy

White kitchen cabinets with white bevelled subway tile backsplash, navy blue le creuset accents. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consulting and blogger

Even though I LOVE the blue, a more matte finish teapot would help slow things down

If you have a room that has tons of natural light, you will want to balance that out. Why? Because a room that has TOO much energy bouncing around won’t feel restful as the light in the room will bounce from object to object without being absorbed. The room will only feel restful once the sun goes down.

What does slowing the energy down in a room DO? It makes it appear more calm and restful.

And funny enough, it’s easier to fix a dark room as the solutions can be a bit more obvious (starting with adequate lighting). Bright rooms are trickier because sometimes you don’t know something is wrong until you fix it. And once it’s fixed, not only will your room take a deep breath – so will you!


A great place to start adding balance to your space is with home decor…

  • canvas style artwork or wall hangings with low/no sheen (no glass)
  • accessories that have a matte or non-shiny finish – texture is GREAT
  • matte metal finishes (lighting/hardware)
  • low-sheen fabrics on toss cushions and drapes
  • non-shiny texture helps to absorb light
  • wood surfaces with a matte finish, ESPECIALLY horizontal surfaces (ie. coffee table)

When it comes to accessorizing a BRIGHT room, it’s good to follow the 80/20 rule – 80% low energy items and 20% high energy items

While the above ratio might not be the perfect representation of BALANCE, that particular combo helps give a bright room balance, when combined with natural light.


When it comes to choosing paint colours for a bright room (in particular, a lot of natural light), it can be a tricky balance between the type of paint colour you WANT versus the type of paint colour that won’t wash out with all of that lovely natural light.

Sherwin Williams Pure White, warm wood flooring, bamboo blinds, popular white paint colour, Kylie M Interiors Edesign

What does this mean?

I’ve found that MOST of my clients these days are pining for colours in the white, off-white or light end of things – colours with higher LRVs. HOWEVER, it’s these exact colours that wash out on walls that get gratuitous hits of natural light, ESPECIALLY in rooms with vaulted ceilings. When these colours get washed out, they lose their colour and depth and the contrast with trim work looks lower. This isn’t always a bad thing if you still love the colour, but it IS if it’s not the ‘look’ you were going for.

But sometimes what you want doesn’t suit the room you want it for. 

So where’s the happy medium? You want a colour that’s on the lighter end of things, but you also don’t want it to look washed-out in the natural light – I get it. It’s about knowing that NO MATTER WHICH COLOUR YOU CHOOSE, it’s going to look lighter in a bright room – even the DARKEST of colours will do this. This is why, when choosing colours for an overly bright room, I focus on one…thing…


If you’re not familiar with LRV, the gist is that EVERY paint colour has an LRV number. This number tells you how light or dark a paint colour is. And this is GAME-CHANGING stuff when it comes to choosing paint colours, so after you’re done here, I highly recommend you check THIS OUT.

Sherwin Williams On the Rocks, HIgh Reflective White bathroom, corner bathtub, white vanity, marble look quartz counterto, wainscoting, Kylie M Interiors, Jenna Christian

Sherwin Williams On the Rocks


If you’re NOT worried about your off-white or light depth paint colour washing out or want to EMBRACE your bright room with white walls – FILL YER LIL BOOTS. In fact, this is when adding balance with home decor, interior finishes and furnishings REALLY come into play!

As for those of you not sure what to do, I’ve always held onto the magical LRV number of 62 (approx) as a great place to START when choosing a paint colour for almost ANY room. Why? That is a blog post unto itself. As it relates to a bright room, in particular, I still think 62 is a great place to start your colour adventure (give or take a few points – let’s say 60-66).


A paint colour with an LRV of 62 is a ‘light depth paint colour’. It’s not on the high end of that range nor the low end – it’s more or less in the middle and includes some of THE MOST POPULAR paint colours (ie. Benjamin Moore Collingwood). These colours are popular for a reason – they work in the AVERAGE room.

Benjamin Moore Collingwood, popular warm gray paint color. Dining room dark wood furniture, oak floor. Kylie M Interiors edesign, online paint consulting (4)

While the above room itself isn’t overly bright, notice how Collingwood reacts where the natural light hits the wall directly.

In this next photo, Sherwin Williams Modern Gray gets a hit of light on the right (and DOES wash out a bit) but gains its depth back in the dining area, which is more of an ‘average’ light – there’s that magical LRV of 62 in ACTION…

Sherwin Williams Modern Gray with wood or lvt laminate floor with gray hues and violet. greige or taupe paint color. Kylie M Interiors Edesign

Will a colour in this range washout? HECK YES, but not nearly as much as a colour with a higher LRV.

Is there a chance you’ll need to bump down to 50-55? Yes, it just depends on how much washout you’re prepared to handle.

The darker a paint colour is, the more light it will absorb. While this can slow down the energy in a room, it can also WEIGH it down if it’s not done right!

Because while MANY of you want a light and bright room via PAINT COLOUR, there are those who want something a bit DARKER to bring more ambience and cosiness to their space – a look that’s achieved MUCH more easily with a darker paint colour (ie. LRV lower than 50).

You’ll be looking at my finished living room shortly, but before you do that, take a look at the BEFORE

BEFORE DOING REMODEL, open layout dark living room

This is a great example of a dark paint colour slowing down the energy in a room by reflecting less light. HOWEVER, the paint colour, combined with the sectional, flooring and lack of proper decor WEIGHED the room down and left it looking unbalanced and heavy.

What would help this dark and drab room without rewriting the whole thing?

  • a lighter area rug
  • a coffee table (glass or wood) with some sheen to it
  • toss cushions in a mix of patterns/depths as CONTRAST also adds energy to a space

But I still wouldn’t do artwork with GLASS on it or a mirror as it would bounce WAY too much light and just look abrasive.

The moral of the story is this…

  • If you don’t care if your off-white or light depth walls wash out or if your white walls look even whiter – PAINT AWAY, MY FUNNY FRIEND (we’re in the same club)!
  • If you’re hoping for an off-white or light depth colour but worry it will washout too much, an LRV of 62 is a great place to start and you can adjust from there as needed. This can be a great way to get as CLOSE as you can to the depth of colour you WANTED without having to go OVERLY dark (I find 55 is often a great balance).
  • If you’re wanting a DARKER colour on your walls, the darker you go, the more you’ll need to add BALANCE  in your home decor so that your room has CONTRAST via a nice blend of light, medium and dark tones, as well as some sheen.

At the end of the day, the sun WILL go down and you still need to love the depth of your paint colour!

Next, we’re going to break down a few BRIGHT rooms so you can see the above information in action!


This living room (which you just saw the BEFORE of) is painted in Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray, but a very LIGHTENED version. In this case, I’m not worried about the paint colour washing out as I love it whether it’s true to form or a whisper of its former self…

Living room, tall ceiling, vaulted, Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray best greige and White Dove. Sherwin Urbane Bronze painted stair railing. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, DIY Decorating, color ideas

And yes, ONE DAY I will have natural wood railings…one day

HOWEVER, being a considerably bright room, painted a colour with a HIGH LRV (which bounces more light around), I put careful thought into the FINISHES I used to bring the energy down…

  • all of my fabrics absorb light and add texture, including the sectional, toss cushions and area rug – NO SHINY LEATHER!
  • the wood on the coffee table and sofa table has a low gloss on it (light bounces MUCH more off horizontal surfaces, so this is an important detail) – NO GLASS
  • the oversized art is a canvas, and while it has a bit of sheen to it, it’s textured and not overpowering –  NO GLASS
  • aside from the vase and the glass on the framed photos, the home decor is LOW SHEEN, and in most cases, textured as well
  • I would NEVER put a mirror in this room as it would add way too much light reflection/energy – the TV is bad enough (on the other side)

The Best Paint Colours for a North-Facing Room


This next open-concept space is painted in Sherwin Williams Pure White, one of the more FOOL-PROOF whites on the market. HOWEVER, not only is this a bright room, we painted it white, which is THE MOST REFLECTIVE COLOUR.

But again, it’s all in the BALANCE of a space…

LG minuet white quartz with gray vein countertop, Pure White walls, white stools. Open layout kitchen and living room. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour consultant and blogger


  • countertop has a glossy sheen to it, as does the glass on the picture frames and the pendant lights
  • you’ll also see sheen via the stainless steel appliances and TV which are easy to forget in the equation!
  • EVERYTHING else is low sheen or matte – wood floor, area rug, furniture and the majority of the decor

What are some things that would throw this room off-whack?

  • a glossy finish on the wood floor
  • a mirror on the wall
  • glossy cabinets – satin is as shiny as you should go

The Best Paint Colours for a South-Facing Room


Funny enough, this is one of our old homes (for those who’ve been with me for a while, you KNOW how I feel about this home – insert wine, tears and twitching ‘here’).

This is another relatively bright space (but not OVERLY bright) that benefitted from some thoughtful balance…

Open concept kitchen, living, dining room, great room. Sherwin Williams Collonade Gray walls, Alabaster kitchen cabinets. rattan bar stools and transitional home decor. Kylie M Interiors Ed - Copy

I chose Sherwin Williams Colonnade Gray for the walls which has an LRV of 53 (light-medium depth). In a bright space, notice how it looks LIGHTER than you might expect, especially above the cabinets! Remember, ANY paint colour will lose some depth in natural light, it’s just a matter of what’s LEFT OVER.

  • the countertop and appliances are high sheens, as are the sofa table and cabinet hardware
  • the leather chair on the far right also has a bit of sheen to it, adding a bit of energy to that corner
  • if you were to look closely at the decor on the shelf to the left, you’d see an awesome 80/20 split of items that absorb light vs items that reflect light
  • EVERYTHING ELSE absorbs light and/or adds TEXTURE to the space, helping to slow down the energy

I hope you enjoyed this blog post! And while not EVERY home has a bright, high energy room, MOST homes have at least one LOW ENERGY room, so check out these tips and ideas for your low energy space.


How to Create a Timeless & Trend-Proof Home

The 12 Best WHOLE HOME Gray & Greige Paint Colours

5 Ideas to Update Your 90s Home

Should You Paint Your Wood Cabinets – A QUESTIONNAIRE

3 Ideas to Jazz Up A Small Bathroom


Check out my Online Color Consulting Services

edesign, virtual paint colour consulting. Kylie M Interiors Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams color expert. marketing (14)

Chat soon,

Kylie M Interiors Edecor and Edesign



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