Lighten Up: 5 Ways to Bring Light into Dark Rooms

This time of year encourages many of us to retreat into our houses, where we can curl up with a good book and a steaming cup of hot tea. Even with the good fortune of sunny days, it's hard not to notice the waning daylight hours. Lightening up the inside of your home can go a long way towards giving the heart of winter a warm, cheery glow.

Ranging from quick and easy DIY to full-blown home improvement projects, here are a few ideas to brighten up dark rooms:

Hang Mirrors

Any interior decorator knows their fair share of smoke-and-mirror tricks. One of these is to hang actual mirrors in cramped areas to create the illusion of a much larger space. 

This same technique works to add light where there was none before. Hang mirrors on walls opposite windows or light fixtures for the best results.

Install Solar Tube Lights

Solar tube lights, or tubular skylights, reflect sunlight into your home. Compared to artificial lights, solar tubes provide natural light-which his is great if you're prone to the wintertime blues. And because they do not require electricity, these skylights save you on energy costs. Solar tube lights offer better heat retention than traditional windows or skylights, which means additional savings on your monthly heating bills. While installation is a bit more involved than tossing up a mirror here or there, solar tube lights can be placed relatively quickly and easily, without compromising the structural integrity of your home.

Replace Interior Doors

Most interior doors are made of wood. This prevents the light in one room from carrying over into the next. Replacing wooden doors with glass ones, especially if doorways are widened to fit French doors, will multiply the amount of light in your home. Frosted glass is a good choice if privacy is a concern.

Change Your Color Palette

If your home privileges deep or grey tones, consider repainting your walls in ivory or pastel colors. Mint, sky, and buttercream are all excellent options for rooms that lack natural light. Keeping this in mind when purchasing furnishings and accessories can help, too. Oak, maple, pine and other light-colored woods will brighten a room much more so than mahogany or walnut. This same principle applies to upholstery and area rugs.

Take Down Unnecessary Walls

Just like wooden doors, interior walls block light from penetrating the shadowy corners of your home. Removing walls may sound a bit extreme, but creating a more open floor plan will brighten things up if the above suggestions fail to do the trick.

It goes without saying, however, that a project of this scale requires more planning and experience than your average handyman can offer. Locate a skilled contractor if you plan to go this route. Doing so will ensure that you don't find yourself in a sticky situation with building code inspectors.