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How Do I Brighten Up My Dark Living Room for Summer?

See how to make a dark-painted room feel fresh and bright in the summer months with these quick updates

Houzz UK and Ireland Editor.

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Dark-painted walls, from inky blues to smoky greys, are a popular sight on Houzz, and they’re a great way to create a welcoming, cocoon-like feel in a winter living room. But how to make these spaces work in the spring and summer, when the days are sunnier and the evenings lighter? Here are a few quick updates to freshen up your dark living room for the months ahead.

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Bring in bright artwork
If you want to introduce some fresh sorbet shades into your dark living room, a piece of artwork, be it a painting, print or poster, will do this in an instant. Here, an ice lolly print placed next to a dark-painted wall brings a sense of fun to the cool grey interior.

The beauty of artwork is that it can be moved around and updated easily, so be bold with your choice and pick something in tones you associate with summer.

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Alternate dark and light
By painting the chimney breast a deep colour in this room but keeping the alcoves either side white, the space has depth and interest, but also feels light and open. Adding in breezy white drapes at the window, a pale rug underfoot and silver-toned furniture helps to further lift this scheme and make it summer-ready.

To create a similar look in your living room, try to avoid dark-on-dark shades and alternate dark and light instead, breaking up the two tones and keeping them perfectly balanced.

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Add cheery colour to dark corners
This living room is undeniably dark and dramatic, but it stays the right side of gothic thanks to the cluster of bright, cheery accessories along the mantelpiece and the vase of sunshine yellow flowers sparkling out of the dark. In fact, the charcoal walls actually serve to magnify their impact by creating such a contrasting backdrop for them to shine against.

To create a similar effect and banish any hint of gloom, sort through your accessories, borrow some from other rooms if you need to, and create a bright display along a mantelpiece or in an alcove to bring life to shadowy corners. It’s also a good excuse to treat yourself to a large bunch of the brightest, most cheerful flowers you can find; go for height and volume to make the biggest impact.

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Reflect the light
Mirrors are your friend if you want to breathe freshness and light into a dark room. Whether you choose a cluster of small frames along the wall or just one large mirror, try to angle the glass to reflect the natural light coming in from windows and doorways. Hanging a pendant low in front of a mirror will help to magnify and scatter artificial light, too.

Shop for mirrors on Houzz now

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Draw in the sunshine
Using yellow colours at the window is a clever design trick that works to mimic the effect of sunshine in a gloomy space, so it’s worth trying out cheerful yellow blinds or curtains if you want to brighten up a dark-painted living room.

To magnify the effect, try picking up the yellow shade in accessories and artworks throughout the room, as shown here with the vase on the mantelpiece and the print behind the sofa.

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Fill a fireplace with flowers
A roaring fire is just the thing on a chilly winter’s night, and a dark-painted living room is the perfect space in which to snuggle up in front of the flames. Once the winter has turned into spring, though, an empty fireplace can be a little drab and dreary.

Turn your empty grate into a focal point instead by filling it with flowers. Fresh are always lovely, as they bring scent to a room as well as colour, but an artificial display could also work well, particularly if you don’t want to risk a floor-standing vase of water being swept over.

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Embrace fresh greenery
This room is rich in deep, dramatic colour, but it still feels fresh thanks to the inclusion of several leafy green plants dotted about. To brighten up your own living room, try bringing in a mix of indoor plants, from tall, floor-standing ones to smaller tabletop varieties – you might be surprised by how quickly they can bring life and vitality to a space.

Placing plants near a window also helps to connect the indoors and outdoors, drawing the eye out of the room to the view beyond.

How to not to kill your houseplants

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Keep the ceiling bright
If you want to have a dark-coloured wall in your living space, but don’t want to go all-out dramatic, this room is a great example of how to use deep colours sparingly to keep the space flexible to suit all seasons.

The dark feature wall here creates drama and would bring warmth to the open space in winter, but by keeping the other walls and ceiling white, the room still feels fresh and light and would work well in the spring and summer.

Tell us…
How would you brighten up a dark living room? Share your ideas in the Comments section.

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