five top tips to lighten up your living space

If someone had told me a year ago that I’d be clearing out all my old vintage clutter and looking forward to clear surfaces, I would have laughed and called them nuts. But sure enough, here I am – in the midst of a complete house overhaul, and very much looking forward to waaaaaay less ‘stuff’ and dusting.

Our lounge has been a problem since day one; it has no windows apart from the French doors into the conservatory and even in the middle of the day in summer, it’s really REALLY dark. It’s also quite small, and the carpet is *sighs* brown – but all the negatives have meant I’ve stumbled along a few great tips to brighten the whole area up, so I thought I’d share them for any other renters stuck in small spaces.

1. Opt for White Walls
If you’re in a small, dark room, white is the obvious choice for walls – nothing adds light and space like a good crisp paint job. Do steer away from Pure Brilliant White, though, as you’ll end up needing sunglasses when you turn the lights on at night; we used an off white colour, and brands like Dulux have a massive range to choose from. They’ve also brought out a range called ‘Light and Space’, which consists of various whites, neutrals and the palest colours.

2. Keep Patterns to a Minimum
I learned this the hard way; when we first moved in, I had cushions, blankets, storage and a chair all with different patterns in this tiny space – sometimes we’d sit there in the evening, and it felt like the soft furnishings were closing in on us. Nothing makes a small room seem smaller than lots of busy prints – if you’re going to add them, keep it small and subtle, and don’t forget you can always add texture for interest instead.

3. Choose Neutrals
When you’re looking for larger items of furniture, such as a sofa, chairs or shelving, opting for neutrals is your best bet. I used to love vintage wooden furniture, but found that it just amplified how dark the room was and absorbed any light that did happen to creep in. We found that swapping it for white furniture (and painting our beloved wooden cabinet!) helped to open the whole space up – matching your furniture to the walls makes it kind of ‘blend in’ to the background, and makes the room seem bigger. Choose the lightest colour sofa possible (white and cream are obviously not good choices for anyone with children or pets!), and keep it plain – we went darker than I wanted, because we’re a family of spillers!

4. Add Mirrors
Mirrors are great, simply because they help you double the size of your room without really doing anything. Forget expensive builders and knocking down walls – hanging a couple of mirrors in the darkest areas will make the light bounce around and open the whole room up.

5. Keep Wall Art Simple
I used to be a fan of covering every single inch of our walls in embroidery hoops, prints, postcards and framed fabric, and it just made it seem like the room was trying to suffocate us! I’ve since learned that choosing one larger, statement print provides a good focal point without taking away the effect of a nice, clean wall.

1. Harper 3-Seater Sofa in Lemans Clay, £1,065, Furniture Village
2. Blanca Gomez Paris Print, £11.95, Amazon
3. Mountain Ceramic Coffee Mug, £20, The Future Kept
4. Woodlot Flora Candle, £25, Workshop Living
5. Artifical Plant, £20, IKEA
6. TV Bench in White, £69, IKEA
7. Multicoloured Stripes Rug, £15.99, Zara Home
8. Gilt Mirror by Derry’s, £91.99, Wayfair UK
9. Moss-Knit Blanket, £49.99, H&M Home
10. Linen Cushion Cover, £12.99, H&M Home

This is a collaborative post

1 Comment

  1. Lizzie Woodman
    September 8, 2015 / 12:56 pm

    Great tips! I am trying to brighten things up in our house at the moment too. Our playroom is painted a sage green, has brown furniture and a red sofa – and it's unbearably dark!

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