Q and A with Christine – How do I brighten up my room?

2 Key tips to brighten up your dark, dingy and gloomy room that interior designers won’t tell you!


“How do I brighten up my room?

My living room has very little natural light, it’s always grey and dark. It’s so uninviting.”


This is the question that I get asked a lot whenever I do one of my workshops whether live or online.


I totally get where this question comes from. After living as an expat in London from NYC for a year now, I have come to notice that London and most of the U.K. is grey most of the time of the year, except for those very short summer months.


Coming from the caribbean island of Aruba, I love me some bright, luminous, and sunny days.


But what can we do to brighten up our home and our days at home especially when it’s dark and grey?


There are two ways that we can go about this.


Colours that brighten up a dark room, especially your Living Room.

54fe512b52196-neutral-family-room-lorie-levine-z8uptm-xlnImage source: GoodHouse Keeping. Interior design by Lori Levine Interiors.
Photography by Peter Rymwid


What I’m about to tell you will even work if you have a north facing room that gets little light during the day.


1.   Brighten up your room with a colour that will neutralise the grey shadow cast on your walls  making your space look dark and dingy and unwelcoming.



Image source: Facemarse


The worst mistake to make is painting a room white thinking it will brighten up a dark room.  It will just make your dark room look gloomy and dingy.


Best paint colours for dark rooms



Image source: Facemarse


The best paint colours to use are the ones that have a yellow or red undertone.  Colours that are perceived as warmer.  They will neutralise the grey shadow that will cast off on your walls, making your room feel brighter and more luminous.


You need to choose a paint colour that is rich and saturated.


guest-bedroom_warm_rich_neutral colour for dark rooms

Image source: HouseBeautiful.  Interior designer Garrow Kedigian


“A light colour will never come to life in a dark room but a rich, deep colour can make a dim, somber space feel warm and luminous – even though it receives no natural light.” Donald Kaufman


Here are a selection of bright paint colour for dark rooms:


Paint and Paper Library

Pain and Paper Library_Paper I_Ivory I_Ivory II_Ivory III



Heritage Dulux

Heritage Dulux_Umber White_DH White_Roman White_Provincial White


Little Green Paint

Little Green Paint_Rusling_Creamerie_Stock_Lead White


Rita Konig (Eco friendly paint)

Rita König Colours_College White_Popcorn_Petal Cream_Old Pink



Sanderson_Paint for Dark room_Old Ivory_Moonsprite_Neutral_Birch White



Farrow and Ball



Colours to avoid for dark rooms:

1. Anything with a grey or green undertone

2.White Paint

3.Light colours

4.Muddy colours



2.  Since your room is  already dark why not go with the flow and create a warm and cozy space by painting your walls in a rich dark colour.

rich and saturated colour for dark rooms_colours for dark room

Image source: House and Garden UK. Photography: Simon Upton.  Interior Designer: Douglas Mackie

When you do decide to use  a dark rich and saturated paint colour, the key is to brighten the room up with sharp contrasting colours like you see on the image above, with glossy, and reflective surfaces.

paint colours for dark rooms_how to choose paint colours for a dark room

Image source: AD Interior Design: Consort Design  Photography: 


When I say dark colours I don’t mean muddy colours. I mean dark colour that has a vibrancy to it.


Dark blue interiors_colour for dark rooms

Image source: Fancy Cribs


Paint selection of rich dark colours for dark rooms:

Paint and Paper Library Paint


Rita Konig Paints


Little Green Paint


Farrow and Ball


If you do go the dark colour route paint it the glossiest or flattest paint finish that you can find.




With either option do not forget to address  your ceiling!!


Just don’t leave it white or paint it white!!!!!   Add some interest to it!


Here are some ceiling options for you:


1. Paint it the same colour as your wall

Dark room colours

Image source: Source unknown


2.Paint it a shade or two lighter than your wall.


Start painting a 3″ or 7 cm strip with the colour of the ceiling on your wall and bring it up to the ceiling to make your ceiling look taller.   This will blur the line where the wall meets the ceiling, and create an illusion of a higher ceiling.


3.Why not wallpaper your ceiling?

Choose something fun that you love and would not mind looking up too.


Image source: House Beautiful


wallpapered ceiling_dark rooms_blue lacquered walls

Image source: Archer & Buchanan



4.If you don’t want to wallpaper it paint it in a pattern.

Again what would you love to see when you look up?  Choose something fun or spunky that you love looking at that will go well with your decor.

Interior Design by Kelly Wearstler


Just don’t leave your ceiling bare, it is part of your room and you want it to look good.


You have permission to have fun with your ceiling and give your home that uniqueness that is uniquely you!
Have fun designing and decorating your home!!





“Christine Tse is a published New York City interior designer bringing fun, eclectic, and eye-catching interiors to London” 


P.S.  If you want your your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, hit me up for an on-line or in-person consultation.  We can get the colours for your dark, grey and gloomy space sorted out.


P.P.S.  I am on a mission to ban grey, dingy, and gloomy rooms from all homes in the city of London.  Follow me on Instagram here and use hashtags #stylingthecity, #nogreygloomyhomes and tag me on your home pictures.

4 Responses to Q and A with Christine – How do I brighten up my room?

  1. Douglas reid
    - June 1, 2018 Reply

    I love the photo,that you have of a living room and the colour of the walls ,the image source is called facemarse,it’s like a mustard colour and would love to no where I can purchase this from

    • Christine
      - June 4, 2018 Reply

      Hi Douglas,

      You can take a look at Benjamin Moore, Farrow and Ball, or Little Green paint.

      Cheers, Christine

  2. Janet Pascoe
    - April 5, 2019 Reply

    Can you explain what you mean by “muddy” colour please and give some examples

  3. Pingback: 30 Cute Neutral Living Room Colors that Inspire You - Home Inspiration and Home Decor Ideas

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