Lighten Up! 5 Ways to Bring Light into a Dark Room — Pretty Handy Girl

Lighten Up! 5 Ways to Bring Light into a Dark Room - Pretty Handy Girl

Lighten Up! 5 Ways to Bring Light into a Dark Room

On Monday I showed you my fireplace painting from white paint back to brick. This was only one step in our major living room renovation. I hope you will hop back again this week to see some of the other transformations we made to this room.

2. Lightening up a room in 5 steps (this post)

Years ago Pretty Handy Guy and I learned that the first thing you need to do to increase light in your room is to scrape the popcorn ceiling and repaint it using Valspars Ultra Bright Flat White Paint.

Photo courtesy of DIYNetwork.com

This always makes a dramatic difference in how much light is reflected (as opposed to being absorbed by the popcorn texture and dull builders white paint.)

Okay, so if you are thinking that I scraped the ceiling myself, think again.  I may be pretty handy – and there isnt much I cant do – but this is one job I choose NOT to do. I scraped our pantry ceiling and it was easy, but my neck hurt for days! Do yourself a favor and hire someone to scrape, spackle and sand for you if you have neck or shoulder issues like I do. Then you can prime and paint with a roller on an extension pole.

Ceiling scraped, spackled, sanded, primed, and painted with ultra white paint. Wow, that is bright white!

Just kidding. I didnt take a picture of the ceiling.

Most people know that adding a lighter color to a room increases the amount of light. Dark colors absorb light while lighter colors reflect them. (Remember the wisdom of not wearing black on a hot sunny day).

After much deliberation*, (because I liked the green color that was already there) I chose a lighter green for the walls. Wasabi Powder by Behr. But I had my favorite paint guys at Ace Hardware match the color in a Benjamin Moore Satin Aura Paint.

*When I deliberate, I bring home about 50 different swatches from many brands for each room I am trying to decide for. Then I put up a few at a time stuck in door jams, light switches, etc. I move them around on different walls at different times of the day. Then weed out the ones I dont like. I live with the colors for at least a week, taking time to narrow my choices down to three. Then I run to buy the little sample paint jars of the colors I chose or have the paint department at Lowes mix one ($3 for a sample of ANY color! Woot!)

At this point I am so gung-ho about painting that I grab my brush and paint big 3 x 1 patches of the finalists on all four walls right up against the white trim (so I have one edge against white not the existing wall color). But, If you arent quite ready to paint on your walls, you can paint your swatches on big pieces of poster board instead. Usually within a day I can decide on The One.

Since this was my first experience with Benjamin Moore Aura paint. I was shocked when the paint covered the deeper green with only one coat! Pretty Handy Guy and I are perfectionists about painting, so we have always used two coats on any room we paint. We both agreed that this time we couldnt see ANY spots showing through with this paint!

Legalese: Of course, your results may vary.

We have since painted the office from a dark sienna color

to a light stone color and definitely need the two coats.

One more thing about Aura paint, it really is super low odor. It is more expensive, but you dont have to use as much since it covers better, no roller marks, and hey, it is good for you and the environment!

The new color made a difference, but the biggest unexpected change in light happened when we widened this doorway:

This was a measly 4 feet opening from the kitchen to the living room.

I had been trying to convince Pretty Handy Guy for eons months that we really needed to open up the doorway. I wanted to be able to see what our two screaming boys were up to while struggling to pull dinner out of the oven. Or be able to participate in conversation with guests when they sat in the living room and I was busy in the kitchen.

I tried taping up cardboard to show him the new width. But, he just couldnt see the potential. Luckily, he finally gave in.

The next day, I hired a contractor to open up the doorway. This guy was worth his weight in gold, especially when he proposed a brilliant idea:

Why not add sconce lights to each side of the opening in the living room since I have to cut holes to move the wiring in your wall anyway? YES! I yelled. I could kiss that contractor. To this day, I still love those sconces and the light they add to the room. But, most of all, I loved the expression on Pretty Handy Guys face (sheer quizzical skepticism) when he heard sconces. I found out later that Pretty Handy Guy didnt have the same vision as I did:

Opening up that wall had an unexpected bonus. It allowed all the light from the kitchen bay window to spill into the living room. So, to recap, here are the light altering changes we made:

  1. Scrape Ceilings
  2. Repaint Ceilings Ultrabright White
  3. Repaint Walls Lighter Green
  4. Add Sconce Lights to both sides of the wall opening
  5. Open Doorway

And the results speak for themselves!


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