As we lose daylight, maximizing sunlight while in an apartment becomes very important for fighting the winter blues— especially with so many of us spending more time indoors due to COVID-19. While it’s easy for the cloudier winter days to get us down, there are plenty of easy ways to freshen up décor and make some simple changes to bring warmth and sunlight into even the darkest rooms.

Here are tips for maximizing the natural brightness and light in your apartment using curtains, mirrors, window cleaning tips, and other household items.

1. Change Your Light Bulbs 

One of the easiest ways to make a room appear sunnier and brighter is to replace the light bulbs in the lamps and light fixtures. Light bulbs now come in a range of colors as well, from cool white to warm yellow, which can significantly impact the overall look and feel of a room. When replacing bulbs, try to opt for LED bulbs, which are more energy-efficient. Full-spectrum light bulbs are also designed to simulate daylight and can easily brighten up a room with soft light.

2. Remove Window Screens

Speak with your landlord or contact your building’s management company to confirm they are comfortable with you removing the screens on your windows. After receiving confirmation from them, remove the screens if you don’t plan on opening your windows in the winter. Screens tend to block a lot of natural light and removing them can greatly enhance the flow of light coming into the room.

3. Clean Your Windows

As with anything inside an apartment, dust and dirt accumulates on any surface it can reach—especially windows. To ensure your apartment is getting as much light as possible, try to clean the inside of your windows at least once a month to eliminate dust and dirt buildup. The cleaner your windows are, the more light can stream in.

4. Bring the Outdoors In

There are several low maintenance houseplants that can bring brightness and cheer to a room that doesn’t get enough sunlight. Spider plants, snake plants, succulents, and ferns are beautiful plants that don’t need tons of sunlight. In addition to enhancing the overall look and feel of the room, plants act as natural air purifiers, helping to keep your air clean.

5. Use Bright Furnishings & Décor 

You certainly do not need to buy new furniture, but if you do have plans to swap out some pieces of furniture for new pieces, consider buying lighter pieces in shades of cream, grey, white, ivory, and other neutral tones. While it certainly isn’t necessary to replace all of the furniture in your apartment, swapping out darker items with light, airy pieces can make a room appear significantly brighter.

If you don’t plan on buying new furniture soon, the same look can be achieved by putting a light-colored comforter cover on your bed or a light slipcover on your sofa and chairs. If you are trying to bring more brightness into a dining area, investing in a light-colored tablecloth or chair covers (such as these from IKEA) can help bring warmth and light to a room.

Adding shiny décor to a room helps light bounce off its reflective surface, bringing more brightness into a room. Opt for furnishings and décor that are clear or have a mirror-like surface to reflect light, such as incorporating decorative elements similar to this glass tray from CB2 or this reflective gold tray from West Elm on your coffee table or desk area. Try to eliminate bulky items as much as possible from the room. For example, replace a heavy bookcase with floating shelves to help light float through the area.

6. Incorporate Mirrors

Mirrors do wonders for bouncing light around the room. Place a mirror across from the window that receives the most natural light to help spread extra light around the room. A room shouldn’t be overwhelmed with mirrors, but adding a mirror or two makes a significant impact when trying to extend light throughout a room.

7. Change the Curtains

If you like to use curtains for privacy, try to opt for the lightest colors and sheerest fabric you can. The darker and heavier the curtains, the less light will be able to filter through.A living room with grey furniture with green and yellow highlights. A quote reads, "there are plenty of easy ways to freshen up décor and make some simple changes to bring warmth and sunlight into rooms."

8. Declutter the Windows

Windows tend to be a catch-all area for furniture, indoor plants, and other items. Windowsills are often used as bookshelves or to house décor, especially in smaller city apartments with limited space. When trying to maximize light, it is best to eliminate as many items from the window area to allow light to stream through unobstructed. The more space there is for light to filter through, the brighter and more open the area will feel.

9. Incorporate Light-Colored Art

If you have light-colored art in other rooms in your apartment, consider swapping those out to use in the room where you’re trying to maximize light. The brighter the artwork, the lighter the room will appear. If you’re able to put the art in a white frame, that will also help add another reflective space for light to play off of.

10. Get Creative with Light Décor 

You most likely have several neutral and bright-colored items in other rooms in your apartment, such as throw blankets, candles, art, pillows, rugs, and other decorative items. Take inventory in your apartment and try to swap out as many items as you can from other rooms before investing in new décor. If you want to buy new items, stores such as Home Goods, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, World Market, and Target are ideal for buying decorative items that don’t cost a fortune. Higher-quality pieces can often be purchased at West Elm, Pottery Barn, CB2, and other stores, but their items will often cost a bit more.

Key Takeaways about Brightening Your Apartment

Bringing light into an apartment is easier than it seems. Search for inspiration ideas on Pinterest, Instagram, and Houzz to see how interior designers and other design-savvy individuals are getting creative with incorporating light into their apartments.

Even the darkest rooms can mimic natural light with enough lamps and bright décor. If you are going to make major cosmetic upgrades to a room, always remember to speak with your landlord or property management company to ensure they are comfortable with you making changes. And, most importantly, don’t forget to have fun during the decorating process!

For more tips on how to decorate your apartment, set up a home gym, save money on your apartment utilities, and more, visit Draper and Kramer.

A living room interior with beige colored furniture and wooden elements.

While it’s easy for the cloudier winter days to get us down, there are plenty of easy ways to freshen up décor and make some simple changes to bring warmth and sunlight into even the darkest rooms.

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