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 panelling, orange shag carpet and a faint musty smell would leave many homeowners hot to trot. However, these days homeowners are focusing 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!
Now: SAME room, SAME LIGHTING…but the right use of wall colour makes for a KILLER look!
See the full meal deal here
There are 2 ways to treat a dark room with paint colour…
#1 Use a light paint colour to brighten a dark space
Sure, this hallway is bright(ish), but DAMN it’s boring!
Seriously, THIS is the most important thing you will read in this WHOLE blog post…
You can have a dark space that appears ‘bright, light and fresh’ with the use of good lighting and a light paint colour – however, you will need the right furnishings to visually support it
If you don’t have nice/interesting furnishings, accessories or architecture to supplement that lack of personality and colour on your walls then you risk having a bright – but boooooring space (heaven forbid).
So, while this blog post is ABOUT light and bright paint colours, if you don’t have the right lighting, there is NO paint colour that will save you.
Which leads us to the 2nd way to treat a dark room…
#2 Use a colour that is a bit darker 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 colour.
This also works great if you don’t have the nicest furnishings as your wall colour might be the only ‘visual support and interest’ that your room has
You don’t have to paint your walls light and white to make a dark space feel good
Above, you can see how dark that back hallway is, but the reason it LOOKS GOOD, is because it has a wicked colour on it!
However, for those of you who say – ‘Bob, I’ll take what’s behind Door #1’ (oh I just dated myself) the most IMPORTANT thing to remember is that YOU NEED GOOD LIGHTING! If you really truly want a light and bright basement, a light paint colour alone won’t save you-you need good lighting. Light colours 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 COLOURS ALREADY!
The Best LIGHT paint Colours to Brighten a Dark Room
Whether you want to paint all of the walls the same, light colour or prefer a feature wall, these colours should get you well on your way! And I’ll only say it once more – you HAVE to have good interior lighting to use these colours, otherwise, I HIGHLY recommend you look at a more colourful option for your walls!
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 colour as I’ve got it!
SW Creamy SW 7012
See the entire room: Our Family Room: The Final Reveal
BM Navajo White OC 95
Navajo White is another light, creamy paint colour. Any cream colour will have a yellow base, and this is no exception, but the yellow is cut-back by neutral undertones to calm it down.
Read more: Benjamin Moore Best Cream Paint Colours
SW Big Chill SW 7648
Big Chill is a light gray, but it’s not too icy cold, it has a soft feeling to it with a slight stormy blue undertone.
Read more: Paint Colour Review of Big Chill
BM White Dove OC 17
White Dove is actually a white (almost off-white). It has warmth in it, but it’s tempered by a neutral base to slow it down.
Read more: Benjamin Moore 8 Best White Paint Colours
BM Moonshine 2140-60
Moonshine is a gorgeous light gray with a very passive green undertone, but it’s a green that LOVES to lean into blue a bit.
BM Blue Lace 1625
Blue Sky is a slightly fresh blend of blue with a touch of gray to calm it down.
And did you know?
- Yellow is the most ‘reflective’ colour in the spectrum and will reflect any artificial and natural light it is given making the colour itself (and the room) feel brighter. This is why cream or off-white are popular choices
- 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 ulti-matte and eggshell.
Read more: Benjamin Moore’s 9 Best Gray Paint Colours
Not sure which paint colour is best for YOUR dark room?
Check out my affordable E-Decorating and Colour Consulting Services!