How To Brighten a Dark Apartment (Simple Tricks that work)

Whether you’ve signed a month to month or a year lease, your apartment is yours and you want to feel comfortable in it.

But, there’s something wrong with it: It’s too dark and feels like a cave.

Check out some easy ways to brighten your dark apartment

Increase Your Natural Lighting 

Increasing the natural lighting in your apartment is the most cost-effective way to brighten your apartment.

There are a few ways to improve the natural lighting in your dark apartment. 

Enhancing your natural lighting is just as simple as choosing the direction your apartment faces.

A south-facing apartment will get more natural light than a north-facing apartment.

Keep in mind though, a south-facing apartment will also be much hotter during the summer months which may affect your electric bill

Also, consider clearing up spaces surrounding all windows.

The mistake many people make is they place plants and other bulky items on window sills.

If you must have decorations on your window sills, make sure they’re small and allow light to come through. 

Open your windows and balcony doors to allow sunlight to shine through.

Unfiltered light is the strongest form of bright light, so be mindful of any furnishings that are susceptible to damage from UV rays.

Another way to improve natural light is to keep your windows clean. Even a thin layer of dust or dirt can substantially decrease the amount of natural light.

Clean the inside and outside of your windows once a year to remove debris from storms and hard water build-up from sprinklers. 

If your apartment is located in a basement, you may have smaller windows. Location and window size can limit your options when trying to enhance your natural light.  

Use Alternate Lighting Sources 

Before you upgrade a lamp fixture or install a new one, always check your lease agreement.

You don’t want to violate your lease because you installed an unapproved lighting source in the apartment or used flamed candles that are against the rules. 

Never try to electrically wire something yourself unless you know how to safely do so. Also, consider fire danger during the placement of any lamp or lights. 

Always follow the manufacturer’s safety recommendations when placing your alternative light source, and use safety common sense such as avoiding placing an electrical light source next to water or overloading extension cords. 


Lamps provide a variety of affordable and aesthetically pleasing lighting options.

Standing lamps increase the light in the room by adding light from above, while table lamps create a more intimate lighting ideal for reading or doing tasks. 

Standing Lamp

The type of lampshade on your lamp affects how light reflects into a room.

Translucent lamp shades allow light to diffuse through the shade and into the room, while opaque lamps focus light in one direction. 

If you want to brighten your dark apartment, choose lamps with white, translucent lampshades to increase light.

Avoid lamps with opaque, dark-colored shades. 

Use bright, energy-efficient light bulbs in your lamp.

A combination of a bright bulb and translucent lampshade will do wonders in brightening a room. 

Wall Sconces 

Wall sconces are another popular lighting source and are ideal in any room of an apartment.

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Just like standing floor lamps, they reflect light from a higher area, lighting more space. 

If you have a small apartment, such as a studio, wall sconces are space-efficient and won’t take up valuable floor space.   

Dark corners are typically hard to brighten. A wall sconce’s shape can help brighten awkward shaped corners. 

Before you install a wall sconce, check out some installation tips to ensure you’re getting the best light. 

Not only are wall sconces a great space saving light feature but they are easy to adjust and can direct light where you want it. 

Non-hardwired sconces that don’t require a threaded electrical line are ideal for apartments and there are plenty of options online or in big box stores and there are many options available in most hardware stores. 

Flameless Candles 

Flameless candles offer glowing, calm lighting.

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While they sometimes may not be effective in increasing the amount of light in your apartment, they provide a soothing ambiance for relaxation. 

Dark bathrooms and living rooms are a great place for flameless candles, but you can experiment with them in other spaces to see how they brighten up unusually dark spaces. 

To increase their light output, place a few flameless candles together in a cluster to heighten their glow.

Some flameless candles have light output adjustments to allow you to control the brightness. 

Brighten and Captivate with String Lights 

String lights are a fun and popular way to lighten a dark living space.

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While these smaller lights might not greatly improve the quality of light, they provide ambience and can brighten some areas. 

The best way to brighten your apartment with string lights is to hang them in the middle of the ceiling. They also work well along the perimeter of the room or under cabinets. 

If you have a dark kitchen, string the lights under the cabinets or directly over the dinner table to brighten up your kitchen space. 

Need to brighten the dark edges of a room? String the lights along the ceiling’s edges.

A lot of creativity can make string lights an effective tool in brightening a dark apartment. 

By using string lights, you can add some personality to your dark apartment. 

Check Your Furnishings 

Did you know that your furnishings make your apartment appear darker?

Dark-colored couches, tables, bookcases, and décor darken the surroundings. To brighten your living space, get light and bright-colored furniture. 

Furniture that affects the brightness of the apartment includes large pieces, such as couches and sofas. Bulky pieces of furniture, like closed-end bookcases, block light. 

Keep bulky pieces of furniture away from windows to increase natural light flow. Also, use light-colored window coverings that are easy to open and adjust. 

If you have a north-facing apartment, consider warm colors for your furnishings, such as yellows, oranges, and reds. Avoid blues, black, and grays. 

Use Mirrors

Add mirrors to reflect natural and unnatural light throughout the room. Hang your mirrors near windows and other light sources.

Sconces and light strings work wonders when placed next to a mirror. 

Use mirrors to direct light into dark spaces and corners by placing them adjacent to your lighting source. 

A simple adjustment to a mirror affects the way it reflects the surrounding light, so experiment with the angles of your mirrors. 

Minimize Wall Clutter

Wall space is important in brightening a dark apartment. When that space is covered, light cannot reflect off the wall.

As with furniture blocking light, the same is true for pictures. 

Too many pictures on the wall can absorb light, making your apartment darker. Space pictures so they’re not cluttering the wall. 

One or two pictures per wall is ideal. If you have a lot of pictures you would like to enjoy, consider placing them on other pieces of furniture to keep the walls clear. 

Use Light Paint 

If your lease permits, paint the walls a lighter color. It doesn’t make sense to have a navy blue accent wall in a dark basement apartment. 

Colors such as yellows, pastels, and bright white add light to dark spaces.

But, remember, even a dingy shade of white can darken a room. Avoid dark colors that absorb light. Dark colors can make great accents but use them minimally.   

Avoid painting dark accent walls, as these tend to absorb light than reflect it.

If you must have an accent wall in your apartment, use light or pastel colors. 

Brighten Walls With Statement Pieces

If you can’t paint your walls, a brightly colored piece of artwork or a wall hanging can brighten up darker areas on your walls. 

Be strategic about placement and choose colors that are vivid and complimentary to the rest of the colors in your apartment.

Decorate with big pieces sparingly to avoid a cluttered look.

Change Your Carpeting or Flooring

Carpet color can also affect the brightness of your living space. If you’re in a rented apartment, chances are you can’t pull out the carpeting and replace it. 

Consider getting a large area rug.

Choose light or bright, festive colors. Place floor lamps or sconces over the rug to enhance the rug’s brightness. 

Area rugs are expensive, but there are affordable options. Consider checking prices during sales, such as during a Memorial Day or Labor Day Sale. 

Also read: How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Carpet in an Apartment?

What Fits Best in Your Apartment 

The options to brighten your dark apartment are abundant.

Experiment with a variety of lighting sources and furnishings to see what works and what doesn’t. 

By using a variety of light sources, mirrors, bright furnishings, and colors, you can brighten up your dark apartment.

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