Help! My house is too dark!

  • Written by Lisa Purdy, Rosa Mundi's
Light is an essential element of good interior design, but often overlooked.

This is a common problem among most of my clients. It affects both the functional and aesthetic elements of a home. But most homeowners feel that indeed their houses is too dark but don’t know how to bring more light into their homes.

While we all would love more natural light, that is difficult in our northwest climate, especially if our windows don’t have a southern orientation that brings in warmer light.

But we can dramatically increase light in our homes by combining three types of artificial light.

General Lighting:

Direct light from the ceiling is referred to as general light. Ceiling light can be from ceiling mounted fixtures or recessed flood lights. This type of light is effective in kitchens, dining rooms and hallways.

Task Lighting:

Lamps, track lights and recessed spot lights are all types of task lighting. Essential for reading, sewing, or office work, task lighting is necessary throughout the home.

Ambient/Accent Lighting:

This type of lighting creates a sense of warmth and coziness.

Uplights, eyeball recessed lights and sconces wash light across walls and surfaces indirectly. They don’t provide enough light for tasks but are important elements of a good lighting plan.

Ideally, every room should have a combination of all three elements of artificial light.

So if your house is too dark, try these lighting ideas:

• Make sure your entry is warm and inviting. If your foyer has a chandelier, consider adding a small lamp on an entry table as well.

• Add additional recessed flood lights to your hallways.

• In the dining room, hang your chandelier 30-36" above your table. Place it on a dimmer. Add two small recessed lights on each side of the chandelier, ensuring that they are not placed over any chairs. Place lamps on your sideboard.

• Add sconces on either side of the fireplace.

• Make sure that your lamps are at the right height: the bottom of the shade should be at eye-level. Remember to bring in floor lamps, too.

• Consider replacing some lampshades if your current shades are dark and don’t let enough light through.

• Experiment with different light bulbs; halogens give a white, bright light and work well on a dimmer.

Try these ideas for adding more light to your home. A combination of general, task and ambient lighting will make your house brighter and more welcoming.


For more information, read Lisa’s blog at

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