A repurposed basement can add a lot of value to your home, but because they typically don’t have big windows, they can be quite dark. Luckily there are some simple ways to brighten up a dark basement. Here are some ideas to inspire you.
Published February 2, 2018, Updated June 15, 2019, Updated August 3, 2022
For an easy way to fool your eyes and make a room look bigger, there’s nothing quite like a crisp, white painted wall to brighten a room — so why not go full-out and lighten up your entire basement apartment?
Shiny surfaces can make a small room look significantly bigger, so opt for glass doors to separate the rooms of your basement apartment, like this gorgeous version with dark brown frames.
Light Wood Flooring
When it comes to flooring, lighter is always better. A pale blond wood will go a long way towards making your room feel breezy and cheerful.
Trim Your Greenery
Most basements have narrow windows that are little more than slits, and if you’ve got trees or assorted greenery growing in front of them, they’ll ultimately block out all that natural light you’re craving. So, it’s time to get out those scissors to give them a little trim.
Scattering a variety of house plants throughout your living quarters will liven up the place and make your rooms feel bigger and brighter.
Use Different Light Sources
A single bulb in the middle of the ceiling is just plain depressing. Instead, use various light sources: the more, the better. Pot lights, task lights and table lamps strategically placed will supplement one another and light up every corner.
Mirrors reflect light. They also add the illusion of windows in your basement, making it feel more spacious. Add even more interest to any wall by making a collage of multiple mirrors, if you can.
Chandeliers or Fancy Light Fixtures
Add a crystal chandelier or a decorative light fixture like the one above in a playful West Vancouver home. Because it’s such a statement piece, it will draw the eyes up, creating the feeling of more space.
Shiny floors are another way to reflect light, especially coming from ceiling lights. Choose floor surfaces in polished wood, concrete or tile. Underfloor heating will prevent things from getting too cold during winter.
Paint it Light
Walls painted in light colours reflect light and help a room appear larger too. White is an obvious choice, but a light yellow will add warmth and lift your spirits.
A monochrome colour scheme where the floors and ceiling are the same colour as the walls will open up the space, while too much contrast will make the ceilings feel lower. The effect of spaciousness will be even greater if you choose light colours like white or grey.
When a room doesn’t have windows, an accent wall can create brightness and dimension. Choose light-reflecting, airy colours and patterns like the one seen in this children’s bedroom.
Many basements have exposed brickwork, but the colour of bricks can make the space look dark. Solve the problem by painting over the bricks in a light colour. This way you’ll have the brightness without losing the texture.
Place a large screen with cut-outs against the wall and install lights behind it. This will give the illusion of a window or even a door that leads outside, while adding another source of light and interest to the room.
Pictures of the Great Outdoors
A picture of a sunny landscape can trick your brain into thinking there’s more light in your basement. Enlarge your favourite photographs of beaches, green fields or a stunning little Tuscan town with its sunlit squares and be transported to an exotic location every time you enter your basement.
Bookshelves will make your basement feel cozier, but they can also brighten the room. The trick is to pick books with colourful or light-coloured spines rather than the old leather-bound volumes you’d find in a dusty antique bookstore.
A fireplace adds warmth but also light. Instead of going through the hassle of installing a wood-burning fireplace, which will need a chimney, get a gas or electric fireplace.
A large area rug can help create the illusion of space by tying the room together. Choose one with a high pile for texture and warmth like the rug in this dreamy basement apartment.
Fake a large window by hanging long, striking drapes that create the illusion of height. Hang them around a tiny window or be daring and hang them even where there is no window at all.