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How to Light Up a Dark Room with No Natural Light

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When rooms go dark, our first resort may be to open up the windows and let the sunlight in.

But what would you do if you didn’t have natural light to turn to? How would you light up your room if there’s no real or immediate way of getting a smattering of the sun’s rays into your space?

We would turn to artificial lights, powered by electricity from the public grid or off-grid sources like batteries or solar. We’ll bathe the walls, floors, ceiling, and everything in between in bright light, and make the enclosed environment shine with the brightness of the day.

Unfortunately, illuminating such a space is not as easy as just fixing bulbs and powering them. If the lighting is done the wrong way, it’ll do little or nothing to improve visibility and comfort. Dark rooms tend to have a cavernous feel to them; with lighting that’s too dim, they may appear even more closed-in. And if the glow is too strong, it could give you a jarring feel.

In this article, we will be sharing the right kinds of lighting for a room with no natural lights, and other improvements to its setting that could help you make the most of whatever illumination you can provide it with.

Best Lighting Solution for a Room that has no Natural Light

1. Get a Light Source

As we have already mentioned, your first move would be to go for artificial light. But it’s not enough to fix just any old light and expect it to get your space lit up. Placement matters as well; you want to fix the lights in ways that let its shine disperse across the room.

Man looking at a dark room

You could install lights on the walls or ceilings. These tend to do a better job of spreading their illumination over wider areas. Because they’re fixed into a hole in the ceiling, recessed lights grant you good aerial coverage with an element of subtlety.

If you would like to provide lighting for particular spots, you could use table lamps or other semi-stationary lights. Adjustable work lamps will allow you to refocus the light on different points of the same general area, in case your task requires some movement within that space.

Bulbs with a high color rendition capability will bear out the colors of the fixtures in your room. They are ideal for the kind of setting we’re considering in this article. If you would like to get one of them, look for LED bulbs with CRI (Colour Rendering Index) of between 85 and 95 (sunlight has a CRI of about 100). We’ll have more on bulbs shortly.

2. Go for Cool-Toned Lighting

Many lighting experts prefer to use cool bright white light in rooms with very little or no natural illumination. This is because the hue provides a better approximation to bright daylight than most other colors, including warm yellow.

A cool tone could also make the room look more spacious- a counter-effect to dim lights’ space-diminishing tendencies.

Lighting for specific spots could be warmer than the general light. You can also use warmer shades for general lighting if white turns out to be too bright. But avoid darker hues like red, blue, or green. These will render your space uncomfortable.

3. Choose Bulbs with Adequate Lumen Levels

The brightness of lighting is measured in lumens. You will usually find the measure that a bulb can produce in its product description.

For the conditions we’re dealing with here, you could choose bulbs with a brightness of about 800 lumens. Task lighting won’t require this much brightness, so you could go with bulbs having a shine of between 500 and 800 lumens for that.

Consider using LED bulbs because they yield more brightness per unit of power consumed compared to halogen lights.

4. Paint the Walls White

White walls replicate the brightness of sunlight. They also let the light you’ve fixed reflect more broadly across the room. Walls painted over with duller or darker colors tend to absorb light. What’s more, they transform the walls into background surfaces and cause your eyes to focus on the objects you hang on them or the décor in front of them. It’s also a good way of complimenting or accentuating your white or cool lighting.

5. Deploy ‘Mysterious’ Lighting

Under-cabinet puck and string lights (or other kinds of hidden lighting) will provide a lit up ambiance that takes one’s attention away from the light source- because it’s not visible -and places it on the other objects in the room, like furniture and artworks.

Placing lights behind furniture or wall fittings is another way to go about achieving a sense of ‘mystery’ with lighting.

6. Use Decorations to Good Effect

Minimalist décor may be great for sun-lit spaces, but they may not work well for darker rooms. Settings with very little sunlight may present you with an opportunity to play with your interior designs.

Decorative fittings for lighting may be worth considering, especially if they are able to disperse light more effectively.

Be selective about the curtains you use. Don’t opt for dark, heavy curtains; they’ll absorb a lot of the light you’re trying to distribute throughout the room. Instead, use light curtains with milder hues, which take in only a small amount of the shine and lets the rest of the room have more of it.

A similar rule applies to floor decorations. Dark heavy rugs ‘behave’ just like dark heavy curtains- they suck in precious light and don’t let enough get around. Less heavy rugs with lighter colors could add a brilliant artistic touch to your space while allowing for more effective illumination.

Mirrors can do a great job of scattering the light across spaces, so you should have at least one in place.

7. Install Glossy Ceilings and Light Flooring

If your ceiling has a high gloss finish, it will reflect a lot more light throughout the room. It’s a brilliant solution if it comes with recessive cool white lighting. On the other hand, ceilings with a darker hue negate your efforts at lighting up the room, because they take away from the bright effect you’re working to achieve.

The same thing applies to floors. When they have a dark finish, they remove a considerable bit of brightness from the room. Wooden floors with a fine gloss finish are better, as are floors covered with smooth lighter-hued tiles.

8. Add a Touch of Nature

What better way to restore an outdoorsy feel to a space that’s totally closed off than to introduce plants and flowers?

Actually, this does more for you than just imitate nature. Plants can make your interior feel brighter (and ‘fuller’), especially when they come with pots that reflect the lights you’ve installed.  You may place them in positions that make them look more decorative, like center-tables.

Take care to use plants that can survive with less light than the sun gives. Examples of these would include Ivy, Staghorn Ferns, Dieffenbachia, and Philodendrons.

Final Words

Lighting a room with no natural light can be a challenging task. But it’s also an opportunity to showcase your design preferences, and defy the darkness in ingenious ways. What we’ve laid out here is just a guide. There’s plenty of scope within these points to get creative and grace your surroundings with your brand of beauty.