How to Lighten a Living Room with Dark Furniture

It is no secret that bright colors make a room look more airy and open. But what if there is dark furniture? We all love dark furniture because it brings elegance and style into the room. Unfortunately, dark furniture can make a living room look smaller than it is. So, how to solve this issue?

There are many ways to brighten a living room with dark furniture without buying new furniture (which can be costly). Affordable and effective ways to lighten a space with dark furniture include decorative accents, gloss, lighting, and focusing on windows.

Don’t abandon lovely dark furniture; there are numerous decorative ideas for upgrading living rooms and dark furniture. Just imagine the living room with a dark couch and rug; pretty bold, right? Read on to find out more!

An image of a Stylish living room with a white sofa, white and brown pillows, and decors.

How Can I Bring Light into a Dark Living Room?

The homeowner must use savvy interior decorating to bring light into a dark living room. The most important thing is to bring light in every shape or form and then reflect it to enhance it.

There are great ideas on how to do this, and we will reveal them.

People find themselves in these two situations: either the living room doesn’t have windows, or they don’t bring enough light into the room. Here are a couple of ideas and solutions to try.

We encourage everyone to embrace the size of their living room and dark furniture. We can implement many design tips and tricks and completely redecorate the living room.

Dark furniture is very popular, and why would it be? It brings drama and sophistication into the room. The main problem is people usually choose dark furniture for small spaces. This is where the complication starts.

Having dark furniture in a big, open space is fantastic, but dark tones make it appear smaller in a small space.

Use different sources of light

This is a no-brainer, but we should focus on different lighting sources. This might seem super obvious, but it’s surprising how many people don’t add different light sources to the room.

Consider adding at least three more light sources if there is natural light in a dark living room.

  • Floor and table lamps are a great choice because we can move them around the room as needed.
  • Overhead lighting will bring not only that extra pizazz, but also the light from the ceiling can move in every possible direction. Consider chandeliers or pendants.
  • Candles are great for creating an atmosphere and will bring light into the room. Just be careful with them, as they are a fire hazard (they’re fire).
  • Hidden lighting usually hides in bookshelves, under cabinets, or between beams. It enhances other features in the living room and brings light.
  • Perimeter lighting will make sure that the corners and the walls are lit.

Reflect light with mirrors

If a room doesn’t have windows, mirrors are the best alternative. Mirrors can replicate the look of an additional window. They make the room look bigger and reflect light. They are an excellent choice to create an illusion of a bigger space.

Install a Skylight

Skylights are a big project, we know. But if we have that extra money in our budget, installing a skylight is a good option. The skylight’s natural light will immediately brighten the room, and it looks great!

Note: Smaller skylight kits are available at big-box home improvement stores. We recently installed one in our laundry room (to add more natural light), and it was pretty easy to do. It only took a few hours, and we love it! We plan to use these same kits to add light to a dark hallway and bathroom.

Use a high gloss décor

Believe it or not, high gloss décor will keep the room bright. Consider anything shiny or with a gloss finish, such as crystal bowls, coated vases, metallic paintings, and other fun decorations.

Accent the room with light or fun colors

Another way to make any room feel lighter (both color-wise and emotionally) is to add fun accent colors. This can mean pillows, rugs, or other decorations anywhere in the room.

Let color add a pop of life to the room, and it’ll help add light and color to any previously dark room, even if it’s got darker-colored furniture that absorbs the light.

Get creative with internal or transom windows

Internal and transom windows are not used enough in homes. Like skylights, they are a big project, but they are a phenomenal choice for getting light. We can use them in any room in our home; the best part is that they don’t affect privacy.

An image of a Living room interior that has a sofa on an empty dark wood wall.

How Do You Brighten a Room with Dark Wood?

We can brighten a room with dark wood furniture by adding and reflecting light. Do not shy away from dark wood furniture because there are ways to keep dark wood from taking over a space by adding and reflecting light, such as rugs, glossy decor, or light.

Dark wood is more imposing and bolder. The easiest way to avoid this is to provide light into the room. Try to put dark wood furniture in a room with windows and plenty of natural light. If that isn’t possible, try the abovementioned tips and tricks.

Pair the dark wood with light floors and walls. This way, we can get a great contrast. Also, try to keep the room minimalist. Don’t add too much décor; the room will look bright and airy with dark wood furniture.

Does Dark Furniture Make a Room Look Smaller?

Dark furniture makes a small room look smaller, so it is better to put it in a bigger room. If dark furniture is already in a small room, use mirrors and light to make the room look lighter and larger. 

Dark colors usually absorb light and create shadows, making a room look smaller. For this reason, dark furniture is better for large, spacious rooms. It will make the room more intimate and inviting.

Of course, if we have a small room, that doesn’t mean we can’t have dark furniture. There are many ways to implement dark furniture in smaller rooms using design tips and tricks.

Should the Furniture Be Darker or Lighter than the Walls?

Matching the furniture with wall color is an essential part of interior design. It is important to create a visual balance, but people can do whatever they want in their homes.

Usually, when decorating a home, the wall color comes first, then the furniture. For this reason, choosing the furniture color is much easier than repainting the walls.

The safest choice is to paint walls neutral regardless of the furniture color. Consider light cream or ivory if the standard white color is too dull for your taste.

We can achieve a visual balance better if we contrast our furniture with the wall color. For example, lighter furniture goes well with darker walls and vice versa.

An image of a Living room with a sofa, lamp and rack.

Ideas to Brighten a Living Room with Dark Furniture (List)

Check out our list of ideas and tips on brightening a living room with dark furniture. Let’s get creative!

  • Right wall color
  • More light
  • Put the dark furniture near a light source, lamps, or window
  • Contrast dark furniture with bright colored décor items
  • Mirrors
  • Light flooring
  • White patterned rugs
  • Add flowers
  • Colorful pillows
  • Light ceiling color

Key Takeaways and Next Steps

Hopefully, these decorating ideas will help us upgrade the interior design of our homes with dark furniture. Forget the option of buying new furniture because there are multiple ways dark furniture can make a living room bright and elegant.

Dark furniture never goes out of style. Be smart about any design decisions to make dark furniture work in a living room. Dark colors sometimes look dull and bleak, but if we incorporate them right into a home, they will look mysterious and atmospheric.

Consider our tips on brightening a room with dark furniture, and let us know how it went!


Learning from your own experience is important, but learning from others is also smart. These sources were used in this article and our research to be more informed as we DIY and decorate our homestead.

  • Dark Furniture Doesn’t Have to Make a Room Look Small | Louis Interiors. (n.d.).
  • Femia, K. (2021, November 19). How to Lighten Up Space Around Dark Furniture. The Homespun Hydrangea.
  • Galleries, I. F. (2020, December 3). Spring Trends You Can Use in Your Home. Interiors Furniture Galleries.
  • Simone, W. (2021, July 24). How To Brighten A Dark Room (Even If It Has No Windows). From House to Home.

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