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Edition 09

How to brighten a dull room

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If you’ve ever had a home on the Kenyan real estate market, your agent likely told you to turn on all the lights and pull back the window treatments whenever the house was shown. This is because a room that is light and bright is naturally attractive, inviting and welcoming, writes Rose ANDARO.

On the other hand, a room with small windows can seem dark and inhospitable. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Creative use of lighting, colour choices, use of mirrors and other accessories, such as a metal wall hanging décor with reflective qualities, can make even a naturally dark room seem cheerful, bright and appealing.

Lighten and brighten

First, be sure that your windows are being used to their greatest advantage. Keep your windows clean and use sheer, light hued window treatments that let natural light into the room. If privacy and light control are issues, shade or blinds can be used below sheers and drawn when needed; or heavier outer curtain panels can be open for daylight and drawn for privacy.

Accentuate natural light with artificial lighting; choose soft white incandescent bulbs for the most natural glow. Recessed lighting is a subtle way to add overhead lighting and still keep the scheme streamlined and clean; track lighting installed on ceilings or high on a wall can direct light where it is needed, to highlight a seating area or striking canvas art. Wall sconces are an excellent way to bring light to a corner or entry where natural light is at a minimum. Directing lighting upward toward a light coloured ceiling will make the room seem brighter.

Use table lamps and floor lamps for added ambiance and task lighting throughout the room. Lamps will have greater impact and provide more even lighting in a room if they are all arranged at approximately the same height.

Importance of colour

Colour can make a room feel darker or lighter. Light pastels and neutrals reflect light and make the space feel lighter; continue the light colour right up onto the ceiling. Light toned flooring, carpets and area rugs will also make the space feel brighter. Dark upholstery absorbs light. Add contrast with a few dark woods and medium tone fabrics, but choose light reflecting fabrics in pale colours for toss pillows, window treatments and brightly coloured accents that liven up the space.

Select bright and open accents

Choose accents in reflective materials such as crystal, glass and metal to reflect light. Glass topped tables reflect more light than wood, and polished surfaces are more reflective than furniture and accents with dull rough finishes. Accents and wall décor metal in silver and chrome are more reflective than brass or bronze. All this reflection helps keep light brightly bouncing throughout the room.

Glass tiles behind the fireplace or a mirror above the mantle are another way to add brilliance and flickering light. Long vertical mirrors flanking the mantle add windows of light; sconces set into the mirrors or lamps placed below will intensify the effect.

Create colour echoes with accents and repeat bright colours from table tops, to mantle top, to the walls, and in pillows and window treatments. Wall art with bright colours and open style metal art in repeated hues will add contrast to pale neutral walls without making the space feel closed in and dark.