The Home Stylist-Five Ways to Lighten Up Your Space

by Emily Clark
“Five Ways to Lighten Up Your Space”
One of the complaints I most often hear from people about their home is that it feels too dark and uninviting.  Whether it’s because of dark woodwork, too much heavy furniture or a lack of natural light, there are easy ways you can lighten up your space without making major changes.
Use mirrors and glass accents.
If you have a lot of dark elements in the room, adding pieces with reflective quality can instantly open up the space.  In a small space, for example, use a big, leaning mirror behind a sofa or a chair to give more depth to your room.  You can also bring in glass elements such as a coffee table, hurricane candle holders, etc. to give your space a lighter feel.
Layer white and cream textiles.
Simply adding white elements to your room can instantly soften things up.  Solid white or cream pillows, for example, will mix with almost any décor and can make a brown sofa suddenly not seem so “brown.”  Layer whites and creams–it’s okay to mix them–in different textures through pillows, throws and rugs.  Another trick is to hang tall, light curtain panels near the ceiling to frame your window.  This will brighten things up and add height to your space by drawing your eyes upward.
Mix it up.
While it’s tempting to take the easy route and buy a matching set of furniture, it can often make the room feel heavy and a bit uninteresting.  An easy solution is to replace one or two pieces with something in a completely different texture or finish.  If you have a matching set of wood accent tables, try replacing just the coffee table with an upholstered ottoman.  Add a small end table in a metallic finish.  Another easy fix is to paint one or two pieces from the set in a different color.  It’s okay to mix finishes and different wood tones.  This will give your home a more layered and interesting look.
Don’t rely on overhead lighting.
Lamps are an obvious way to lighten up your room, but how you use them can make all the difference.  It’s important to have enough lighting at the right places.  In general, I like to have at least three points of light in every room besides overhead lighting.  To create balance, try spreading your lamps around the room, instead of having them on just one wall.  If you don’t have floor outlets, run a small extension cord under an area rug, and add lamps in the middle of your room on a sofa table.
Add a light rug.
The floor is literally the foundation of your room and can play a big part in the overall feel of your space.  Add texture and lightness with a large area rug.  Even if you have carpeting or a darker rug already in place, it’s okay to layer smaller rugs right on top.  Shag or loop rugs can add some great texture to a space and are a more kid-friendly option if the thought of a light-colored rug scares you.