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The 7 Best LIGHT Paint Colors for a Dark Room / Basement

Posted on July 5, 2019 by KylieMawdsley

How to Make a Dark Room Feel Lighter and Brighter With Paint

Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams

Back in the day, a dark basement with wood paneling, orange shag carpet and a faint musty smell would leave many homeowners hot to trot. These days, homeowners are focusing more on light, fresh and updated when it comes to their basements, family rooms and dark spaces.

In our last home, we didn’t have to worry about shag or anything when we bought it, however, the family room was definitely not a bright, welcoming space.

family fireplace with painted mantel, fireplace update idea

Now: SAME room, SAME LIGHTING, but the right use of wall color changed its vibe entirely…

Family room with Sherwin Williams Cyberspace, Creamy and Sherwin Williams Cyberspace with tv above, furniture layout and home decor. Kylie M Interior E-design

See the full meal deal here

Using a light paint color to brighten a dark space

Well, you can definitely TRY to make a dark room look brighter with a light paint color, but if you don’t have enough interior lighting – it won’t work. Why? Oh, I love getting a chance to say this…

If you don't have enough natural or artificial light there is no paint color that will make your room look brighter. Kylie M INteriors

E-design and online colour consultation by color expert and blogger Kylie M INteriors. Benjamin Moore Collingwood in a hallway with dark wood flooring and black metal railing

And it doesn’t end there…

You can have a dark space that appears ‘bright, light and fresh’ with the use of good lighting and a light paint color, however, you will need the right furnishings to visually support it or it will look boooooring

If you don’t have nice/interesting furnishings, accessories or architecture to supplement that lack of personality and color on your walls then you risk having a bright – but boring space (heaven forbid).

Which leads us to the second way to treat a dark room…

Using a dark paint color to give a dark room personality – even if the room won’t look that much brighter

That’s right, you can have a dark space that is still somewhat dark, but has ‘personality’ via the right paint color.

benjamin moore dior gray dark gray charcoal with purple undertone in bathroom with shiny porcelain gray flooring

This also works great if you don’t have the nicest furnishings as your wall color might be the only ‘visual support and interest’ that your room has 

And personally, I’d rather have an interesting and slightly dark space (that I would fix with good lighting and other tricks) than a boring bright one. So, what this really means is that…

You don’t have to paint your walls light and white to make a dark space feel good

Feature wall in hallway with Benjamin Moore Steel Wool, Sherwin Creamy, gallery wall. Kylie M E-design

Above, you can see how dark that back hallway is, but the reason it LOOKS GOOD, is because it has a wicked color on it!

Read more: The 10 Best DARK PAINT COLORS for a Dark Room

However, for those of you who say – ‘Bob, I’ll take what’s behind door #1’ (I just dated myself), the most IMPORTANT thing to remember is that YOU NEED GOOD LIGHTING! Light paint colors (or any paint color, really) will fall flat in a room without enough natural and/or artificial light to support them. So, if you don’t have pot lights or ceiling mount fixtures, invest in some floor and table lamps with white or off-white shades so you can amp up the volume!

So, blah blah blah – TO THE PAINT COLORS ALREADY!

The best light paint colours for dark room, basement, family room. Benjamin and Sherwin. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour consulting and advice blog

The Best LIGHT Paint Colors to Brighten a Dark Room

Whether you want to paint all the walls the same color or prefer accenting your light walls with a killer feature wall, these should get you well on your way!

BTW – I realize that all of these photos below aren’t necessarily dark rooms. However, I rely 100% on my E-design client’s photos, so sometimes I can only show you the color as I’ve got it! 

1. Sherwin Williams Creamy SW 7012

Creamy has a beautiful soft warmth to it, without turning obnoxiously yellow. If you were to take a more muted approach, you’d risk things looking a bit dingy and dirty if your lighting wasn’t adequate.

Sherwin Williams Creamy is a great paint color for home staging or selling. As shown in stairway with wood and metal railing by Kylie M Interiors E-design

Family room with photo gallery wall, gray sectional. Sherwin Williams Creamy and Benjamin Gray feature wall. Hemnes bookcases. Kylie M Interiors

If you like Creamy, you might also like SW Dover White or BM White Down.

2. Benjamin Moore Silver Marlin 2139-50

Silver Marlin has enough COLOR to help counteract a lack of light, whereas some grays will just fall flat and dull. Notice the LACK of artificial or natural light in this butlers pantry below, yet the paint color is still showing up to the party (it would come MORE to life with additional lighting). And while it isn’t a SUPER light color, it’s a happy medium between the lighter and darker ends of things.

Benjamin Moore Silver Marlin, blue, green paint colour. Butlers Pantry, wood floor. Kylie M Interiors E-design, online paint color expert blog

While the eating nook of this home (next) has BETTER light, it still isn’t an overly bright space and you can see how pretty Silver Marlin looks.

Benjamin Moore Silver Marlin, eating nook in farmhouse kitchen, blue green paint colour. Kylie M INteriors E-design online paint blog

If you like Silver Marlin, you might also like SW Comfort Gray or SW Rainwashed, but remember, they won’t necessarily LIGHTEN your space at this depth.

3. Sherwin Williams Tidewater SW 6477

Tidewater looks GORGEOUS in this next dining room. And while this room WOULD be considered bright, if like my client, you prefer to keep the blinds down, then it’s a great example of a darker room with a beautiful color on the walls.

Sherwin Williams Tidewater in dining room. Best blue paint colour. Kylie M INteriors Edesign, client photo

In a similar cool blue-green family, I also love SW Rainwashed and BM Palladian Blue.

Read more: The 8 BEST Blue-Green Paint Colors

4. BM Navajo White OC 95

Navajo White is a light, creamy paint color. Any cream color will have a yellow base, and this is no exception, but the yellow is cut-back by neutral undertones to calm it down.

living room south facing, Navajo White Benjamn Moore greige furniture. Before Kylie M E-design

If you like Navajo White, you might also like BM Windswept or SW Creamy (mentioned previously).

Read more: Benjamin Moore’s 5 Best Cream Paint Colors

5. BM White Dove OC 17

White Dove is actually a white (almost off-white) and has a warmth that’s tempered by a neutral base to slow it down.

Benjamin Moore White Dove is a great off-white paint color for home staging and selling. Shown in small bathroom with Kingsport Gray vanity

Read more: Benjamin Moore 8 Best White Paint Colors

I like White Dove as it has warmth, without too much yellow coming up (yellow is definitely one of the least favorite undertones with my E-Design clients).

If you like White Dove, you might also like SW Alabaster or BM Cloud White.

And don’t forget, CONTRAST is a fantastic way to add interest to a dark room, as shown in this stairwell landing as well as on the bathroom vanity (see the whole home HERE).

Feature wall in dark staircase using shiplap, art. Powder room with green vanity and walls in Sherwin Williams Pure White. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour consulting and advice blog

Read more: The 3 Best Warm White Paint Colors from Benjamin Moore

A few more popular warm whites include SW Pure White, BM Simply White and SW Alabaster.

The best paint colors for your room. Benjamin and Sherwin. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour consulting. Home Decorating and diiy ideas blogger.market

Click HERE or on the above image to see available packages!

Let’s take a quick break to talk about paint samples…

Undoubtedly, you’ll be heading out in the near future to grab paint samples – stop right there! I want you to check out SAMPLIZE. Samplize offers peel and stick paint samples that are more AFFORDABLE, EASIER and more ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY than traditional paint pots. Here are just a FEW reasons why I recommend Samplize to my clients…

  • Samples arrive ON YOUR DOORSTEP in 1-3 business days, depending on location
  • At $6.99, they’re more affordable than the samples pots/rollers/foam boards that are needing for traditional paint sampling
  • If you keep the samples on their white paper, you can move them around the room

Visit the SAMPLIZE website HERE

6. Sherwin Williams Silver Strand SW 7057

Silver Strand is a beautiful light blend of blue-green-gray that USUALLY favors blue over green.

South facing bedroom, Sherwin Williams Silver STrand paint colour review, gold accents, beige carpet. Kylie M INteriors E-design, virtual online paint consulting

While I wouldn’t mind seeing a WINK more color, it is a beauty.

7. Benjamin Moore Ballet White

I’ll admit, I’m always nervous about putting a greige paint color in a dark room because, without lighting, it can look dull and dirty. Ballet White is as close as I’d get to greige (and don’t get your hopes up, it’s not greige). It’s a cream with a beige-gray undertone that calms it down, so it’s soft and muted and loses a lot of the ‘cream’ that you’ve seen in some of the above colors. In this way, it NODS towards greige, without going all the way.

Bathroom vanity, travertine tile and countertop, espresso, dark wood, Benjamin Moore Ballet White cream. Kylie M INteriors Edesign, online paint color expert blog

Read more: Paint Color Review: Benjamin Moore Ballet White

Benjamin Moore Ballet White in living room with white trim and greige sofa. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consulting

And did you know?

  • Yellow is the most reflective color and will reflect any artificial and natural light it is given making the color itself (and the room) feel brighter. This is why cream and off-white are popular choices as they have a yellow undertone
  • A shiny paint finish will reflect more light (but shiny walls can be super horrendous – especially if your drywall isn’t 100% awesome), so stick with reasonable finishes like matte, flat and eggshell

Read more: How to Fix a Dark Room – And it Ain’t With Paint

Read more: Benjamin Moore’s 9 Best Gray Paint Colors

Not sure which paint color is best for YOUR dark room?

Check out my affordable E-Decorating and Color Consulting Services!

The best gray or grey paint colors for your room. Benjamin or Sherwin. Edesign, online paint colour services Kylie M Interiors. diy home decorating ideas blogger.market

 Chat soon,

Kylie M Interiors, decorating blog, e-design, online colour consulting expert. signature


The 10 Best DARK Colors for a Dark Room or Basement

4 Ideas: How to Make a Dark Room Look Brighter

How to Brighten a Low Energy or Dark Room with Sheen

Originally written in August 2017, updated mid-2019


  1. Love this post and all your “Best Paint Color” posts! Would you consider a post on the Best paint colors for rooms with wood/oak trim, doors, etc. I know, I know, the best answer is “paint them white!,” but that is sadly, not always an option. Some people’s husbands’ (raising hand!) won’t get on board (yet!) with the idea of painting all the wood in the house. Or, maybe with many small children in the house (raising hand again), painting all trim, windows, doors is too much of an investment of time and money for the time being. Would love some suggestions on how to make the most of the oak we’ve got!

  2. Kylie, I know you’ve heard it all before but I still want to thank you for the priceless work you share with the rest of the world. There are some great blogs out there for people like me (“home design/decor-challenged”) and yours is among the very best we can find – a real treasure! Some pros seem to cater mostly to prospective clients, leaving the rest of us (on a tight budget) in the dark. Meanwhile, you’ve chosen to offer ideas and advice on an equal opportunity bases.
    I assure you, the incredible talents you possess are not wasted when you kindly share them without a charge. No matter how much knowledge you disclose on your website, we’ll still need to hire a professional to achieve the results we strive for in our homes. That means we use bits and pieces of your expertise to make some improvements ourselves, but when we are ready (financially speaking) to hire, I tell you, you’ll be on top of the list! Thanks again. Please continue to be a star to the rest of us!

    1. Flavia…what a LOVELY comment to get. You know, I was having a long day today and I hopped into my comments to do some much needed catching up and your comment brought me to tears. Thank you…thank you….thank you…it was just what I needed.

      Hugs, Kylie

  3. Hi Kylie,

    We recently purchased a basement condo. And I was wondering if you suggest putting up the light fixtures and the lamps first OR painting the condo before installing the lights?

    Thank you for your help,

    1. Hi Sadia, thanks for asking! Unless you have a really good feel for paint colours and know how they could look in the end, I would recommend hanging the light fixtures first, this way you can see how they will work with your paint colour options. It can be challenging to choose paint colours without natural AND artificial lighting. If you’ve picked your colours already and have hired a professional painter, then they should be able to do a good job with work lights, but if it’s you painting, you might want the lighting in, so you can make sure your lines are neat and tidy 🙂

      Hope that helps!


      1. Kylie,
        I am looking to paint my upstairs bedroom! I have tried samples of light paints and they are too light. I have tried samples of darker paint and they don’t seem to show up. Would I be best to go with a really bold color or a lighter color? . Any suggestions you have would be helpful. My upstairs bedroom tends to get a lot of light during the day

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          Hi Dona, have you thought about doing a feature wall? This way you could add some personality to the room without committing on a larger scale. Or maybe you need something in the light/medium range that has a touch more colour in it (ie: a neutral with decent coloured undertones…)

          I hope that helps!

  4. Kylie,

    We recently took your advice and tried the Eider White in a basement space (even though you did warn of the taupe undertones). We had sampled it, and the taupe was coming out, but we were looking at a primed wall so decided to give it a chance. Needless to say it is coming out really taupe. Are there any tricks we can do to make it appear less taupe by what we put on the walls, around in the rooms? What would be a nice compliment color to paint an accent wall? This is in an open concept basement kitchen with white cabinets. Thanks for your help and post!

    1. I just gone done with eider white in the basement. And it is looking quite taupe. Since it is over a year, I am wondering how did you overcome the taupe.

      1. Post

        So, I’ve found that ‘taupe’ can mean different things to different people. Is it the subtle warm, almost purple tone you’re referring to?

  5. “A dark basement with wood panelling, orange shag carpet and a faint musty smell” is my current basement. We are currently trying to change that on a very limited budget. In your opinion, what is the best paint color for a playroom/office/family room? It is a long, rectangular room with a low, drop ceiling. The floor with eventually be replaced, but probably not right away.

    1. Hi Amanda, thank you for asking. While I do my best to answer ‘generic’ decorating/paint questions, when it comes to specific rooms/needs I direct my readers to my Online Consulting, this way I can look at photos and spend some quality time with you and your home! It sounds like you would be in the ‘Single Room Paint Colour’ Package which is $45. Here is the link if you are interested ? https://www.kylieminteriors.ca/online-decorating-design-services/


  6. Dear Kylie,
    my husband and I just bought an apartment and now I am spending every free minute trying to figure out what colour floors and walls I want. It turns out its really not that easy. Thats how I found your blog. Thanks for all the interesting information. I really liked the post about LIGHTING! : )
    Since my husband and I are German and we live in Germany, I unfortunately cannot buy all those pretty paint colours you are talking /writing about. I have to go to the hardware store and just pick the colours myself.
    Maybe you could give me some advice on what undertones I need to look for when it comes to picking paint colours for northern rooms, since the bedroom (150 sq feet) and the kitchen (130 sq feet) are on the northern side of the house. I was thinking of using light neutrals but now I have a problem with the darn undertone. Do I go with cool or warm undertones for the paint?
    Thank you so much!
    Greetings from Germany

    1. Hi Eva, thank you for your note! And Germany – now THAT is cool! So, you’ll want to look for neutrals that are on the warm side. The coolest I might go would be a greige, but you’ll find it will lean to the gray side. Beige will be a good place for you as will cream and brown! If you want a bit of colour, look for a neutral that has a warm green undertone as that means the green will have some yellow in it instead of blue.
      I hope that helps!

  7. Thank you very much for these valuable advices. I plan to use BM Navajo White and Hale Navy (accent wall) to deeply transform our dark basement. And of course, we will change our lighting for something more powerful. I am very excited but a little worried about the result. I hope that our basement will be more welcoming. Thanks again!

    1. Post

      Thank you for the note Manon, you’ve made some beautiful choices and will have a gorgeous contrast (which can make a darker, maybe boring basement a bit more inviting and fun!)

  8. Which color do you have in your family room accent wall & hallway ? I love the dark grey and would love to know what this one is! Thanks!

    1. Post
  9. Hi Kylie! I just discovered your blog post while searching for advice on paint colors for a dark room, and I’m so very glad I found you! I used both your SW Creamy suggestion for our living room and the SW Silver Strand for an office, guest bedroom (the “dark room”) and our master bedroom. Absolutely gorgeous colors …thank you thank you for sharing your wonderful knowledge of paint colors. I can’t wait to read more of your posts (and clearly have nothing but time these days), and just bought one of your E-books. I’m a big fan 🙂

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  10. Hi Kylie! I’m a painter by trade and reference your blog to my clients when choosing colours. I go back to your guide to greys more than I care to admit. Now when it comes to my own home I’m of course too picky. We’re moving into a small, narrow basement suite with fairly good natural lighting. I’m leaning towards BM Grey Owl but unsure if it’ll come off as dark. Any thoughts or suggestions? We like light grey with white trim and we’ll do a darker turquoise feature wall in the living room. Thank you!!

    1. Post

      Sweet, I LOVE to hear that Adam! So, with your explanation…I have to agree that Gray Owl can be a wink much. Moonshine is ‘approximately’ 25% lighter, with an LRV up at 68, whereas Gray Owl is 65. There’s also SW First Star which is 69, but it’s a bit cleaner looking than Gray Owl/Moonshine, so a bit COOLER looking.
      I hope that helps!

  11. Hi Kylie,
    I love your blog and your taste. Painter is coming next week and I still can’t pick my trim color that will go with Benjamin Moore Calming Cream. We have a tremendous amount of molding and trim. Do you have a suggestion what trim color would be best? I guess because there will be so much I don’t want it to be stark white but I would like a contrast between the trim and the walls.

    1. Post
  12. I know this is an older post but I just found it (I love your blog & IG)! I like the paint color in the pic of the hallway with dark floors and dark stair balusters. Can you share what color it is? We have a north-facing 2-story foyer and just upgraded floors from honey oak to darker stain (Jacobean). We are painting the other side of the house accessible beige but that looks too dark in the foyer. Thanks!

    1. Post

      Hey Courtney, THANK you! That’s Benjamin Moore Collingwood. Just be careful as warm colors (Accessible BEige) don’t LOVE being partnered with colors that are cooler and lighter than them – AB prefers cool colors that are at least the same depth…or darker. YOu can do lighter and WARMER, just not cooler. Collingwood is borderline, but if you don’t love it when you get a sample, DON’T go any lighter than it :).

  13. Hi I am trying to find paint for a dark room (our foyer) to look good with a very white trim. We have a lot of dark wood furniture with cream/wine/black decor with green plants. What LRV # color would go with a bright white trim? Thank you!

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