Congratulations, you scored a great place in New York! Lucky for you if you’ve got high ceilings, arching entryways, park-facing views, and an expanse of floor space. But what if your place is but a shadow of that ideal—literally? What if your apartment is dark? Barring loads of money for renovations, you can’t change the building-next-door views, nor the less-than-colossal ceilings, nor the size of the living space. Fortunately, there are tricks of the trade when it comes to brightening your space. Though you may have rooms without views and with dark interiors, there are things you can do to banish the drab and dreary and invite in more light. Here are a few ideas…
The word on windows
First things first, clean them. This may seem obvious, but give those windows a deep clean of all the dirt, dust, and splatters, and you’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes in the brightness of your home. Next, keep them free of clutter: lose the dark, heavy curtains (opt for translucent shades), and keep them clear of any obstructions (no putting your favorite pottery pieces on the sills). The point is to let in as much natural light as possible. White, matte walls help to brighten the room, and a white, gloss-finished ceiling will reflect light and throw it around the space.
Brighten with mirrors and metallics.
Take the light you have and double it with mirrors. Mirrors not only reflect light, but they add depth and dimension—like having two rooms in one. Shiny silver or gold accents, art, and accessories have the same effect. So hang a large mirror across from any window, arrange an array of small mirrors in a dark space, and opt for glass, metal, or mirrored tables and lamps.
Did someone mention lamps?
Now we get to the heart of the issue: the actual lighting to make your space lighter and brighter. Here is where you can be the most strategic, where you should make your lighting work its best and brightest for you. Think variety, think big, think practical.
- Think Variety: A mix of light sources throws light around the room and creates mood lighting when needed. Lamps on end tables, an arc light over your favorite reading spot, a floor lamp aiming upward (which brightens the ceiling when daylight fades), a string of white lights across the wall—all of these sources add light, interest, and mood to your home.
- Think Big: Got a room that seriously needs light? Try a chandelier or statement fixture. This draws the eye up, opens up the space and makes it seem larger, gives the light that’s needed, and adds impact to the room. But make sure it’s not the only fixture there—remember to highlight all of the space with supplemental lighting around the room.
- Think Practical: In spots where needed, get as much light from your fixtures as possible by losing the lampshades in favor of glass sconces and wire pendants. In the bathroom, choose sconces with bare bulbs and hang them close to the mirror. In the bedroom, choose incandescent bulbs with soft, yellow light, which promotes relaxation and sleep. Where mood counts, keep the lampshades and nightlights. And no matter what your lighting situation might be, dinner by simple candlelight is always a good idea.
Now in addition to scoring a great place in the city, you made it bright where needed, cozy where wanted, and an altogether inviting place to call home.