There are many ways to brighten a room, but one particular change makes a really big impact.
Remember back in the day, we were told that adding mirrors to a room will make the space appear brighter and larger. The funny part is..we fell for it! 🤣 Out came mirrors of all shapes and sizes, some with frames and some without, we added large galleries of mirrors and panels on our walls..remember those 12″ x 12″ stick on pieces? I remember going into homes and seeing entire rooms and walls of the 12″ x 12″ peel and stick tiles, particularly in dining rooms. Thankfully the trend died and we learned our lesson.
I’m not knocking mirrors in a room, we have many of them and they add a fabulous level of design to a space but I don’t feel they should be used with the intent of making a room feel lighter and larger.
There is one sure way to make any room feel lighter and brighter….simple white. The best way to scatter light around a room is by using white and using a lot of it! The non-hue does not absorb any color but instead white sends light indirectly bouncing back to other surfaces.
So if you want a very bright room, paint the walls and the ceiling white. Seems obvious right? I think the less obvious part of this equation is the ceiling. A popular design trend has been to paint ceilings a dark or contrary color to the walls. Even if you decide to add color to the wall, I recommend you paint the ceiling a nice crisp white.
The majority of our first floor is now painted, but not until recently did we tackle the ceilings. The main level of our home is painted in a very neutral color palette. The walls have a touch of color to add a smidge of warmth but not enough to feel heavy. With the exception of a few rooms (office, powder, family, and dining) the walls are very light colored.
Tackling the ceilings was a huge job, not one my hubs wanted to take on. I titled this post “One Simple Change” but the term “simple” is relative. For our home, this change was anything but simple. Cathedral ceilings, a two story foyer, and 10 – 12 foot ceilings throughout the home make the task of painting the ceilings a challenging one. We out -sourced this job for obvious reasons, even though my husband has painted many rooms in our home himself.
Over time, ceiling paints yellow due to everyday wear. Ceilings can also take on stains due to candle or cigarette smoke, cooking oils, and sunlight. We took a long hard look at our ceilings and realized they were in desperate need of new paint.
Can I tell you the difference painting the ceilings with a fresh coat of paint has made to our rooms? I mean WOW! Our rooms are so much brighter, lighter, and whiter now. Our sunroom is a good example. The cathedral ceiling had taken on an ugly yellow tint and was looking dingy.
Now the room is light and fresh looking and the walls appear brighter as well. There is more of a contrast between the ceiling and walls now just by adding a fresh coat of paint. Scroll back and look at the prior picture for comparison…see the difference?
The ceiling angles are also more defined and crisp.
I often get asked about our birdcage chandelier, you can find a similar one here, as ours is no longer available.
- If there is a lot of color going on in the room in terms of furniture, paint, decor, or upholstery, the best thing to do in this situation is to choose a white hue for the ceiling. If any other color is used, it likely won’t blend well with the rest of the room.
- While dark or light colors on the ceiling can often create sophisticated charm and enhance certain rooms, there are times when white is best. This is especially true when painting main living areas such as the family room or kitchen. In terms of simplicity in these areas, white will be the best choice.
- Choosing flat white paint if the ceiling is textured or has imperfections will help disguise any lumps or bumps on the ceiling. A color would actually enhance what you don’t want to bring attention to.
- In rooms that don’t get much light, white ceiling paint is best as it works to reflect more light into these darker spaces.
The crisp white color I always use is called “Right White” by Restoration Hardware. I use it on floor moldings, on wood columns, and now on our ceilings. It’s a warm white and works beautifully with RH furnishings.
My recommendation to brighten up a room for minimal cost – paint the ceiling white! If you can DIY it, that would be great…but for higher ceilings, please consider hiring a professional. My second recommendation in making a room brighter and lighter…change your light bulbs to LED – the difference is remarkable. A soft white bulb compared to a harsh yellow one makes all the difference to a space.
I’d love to hear your tips for brightening up a room, drop me a note in the comments section.
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