The words “light” and “airy” don’t just sound better when you’re describing a room, it feels better too. Insights from environmental psychology (that’s the study of how spaces and environments affect us) reveal that our spaces can dramatically affect our mood.
Even if this is your first time seeing the term environmental psychology, I doubt I have to convince you that light rooms feel better than dark ones. Dark rooms with their gloomy closed-off ambiance can leave you feeling gloomy and closed off. Their effects are felt even if you know nothing about environmental psychology.
For a brighter mood, here are some ideas to brighten your dark rooms.
1. Change your window treatment
Let the sun in by retiring your heavy drapes. Opt for sheer curtains or even bare windows. Sheers look more modern and can make most windows, look divine. As you sit before your windows having a cup of java while watching your sheer curtains dancing with the breeze, you’ll thank me for this tip.
2. Go lighter on the paint
Because walls surround you and take up so much of your living space, lighter walls will make you feel surrounded by a lighter vibe. Personally, I find white paint so soothing, that no matter what other colors I’ve tried in the past, within weeks I usually end up switching back to white. When I do, I immediately feel a monumental sense of relief. Now I know why. According to color psychology, white can be an intense and powerful color to use with your interior design. It can make a room appear bigger and more open, due to the reflection of light. Bigger and more open, that’s a feeling I crave.
3. Rearrange the furniture
Furniture placement plays a huge role in how your space feels. The placement of your sofa or other large furniture can open up your space by a lot. As can editing your rooms to remove furniture that you don’t use and don’t love. Both editing and rearranging your furniture can open up space and give you more room to move.
4. Change the legs on your furniture
One of the reasons Scandinavian and Mid-century styles are so enduring is that they make a room feel more spacious. A feature of these styles is that they are raised off the floor. Having legs on your furniture lets you see more floor space, which according to Feng Shui, also helps the energy in a room flow better. With a better flow, you feel lighter, right. Makes sense to me.
5. Add more lighting
Depending on your ceiling height and what direction your home faces, it may be poorly lit and hard to brighten superficially. Another issue is your light fixture. If yours have one or two bulbs only and they cast the light down, the room will not be very illuminated. In both cases, you want to consider changing out your light fixtures.
As a renter, you may be hesitant to put in the time and money or worry that the landlord won’t approve, but if you plan to live in a space for a year or more, it’s worth it all to let more light in by way of a new fixture. A different light fixture with multiple bulbs that spread light in a room, will immediately brighten your space.
Besides changing a ceiling fixture, you can add more light with lamps and mobile lighting. Think task lights, arching floor lamps, and lighting candles at night. These will bring in light from a few directions and sources.
Christine is a Life Strategist and Emotional Health Coach living in Los Angeles. She's big on meditation and believes in systems and routines, and in personalizing everything you do to help you get where you want to be.