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15 BEST Ideas To Make A Dark Basement Brighter

These work! Here’s 15 great ways to make a dark basement look brighter. From QUICK & EASY DIYS to remodeling ideas to brighten up a basement.

How To Make A Dark Basement Brighter

Basements can be a real bummer if they feel like a dark dungeon. Especially when you’re family doesn’t even want to go down there.

But, there are tons of great ways to brighten up a basement and turn it into the comfy family retreat that it can be. In fact, most of these dark basement ideas are pretty cheap and easy for anyone to do!

Image of a dark basement for a post with 15 ways to make a dark basement feel brighter or ways to brighten a basement.
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If you have other dark spots in your house, be sure to check out my list of ways to brighten a dark bathroom. OK, let’s get started on my favorite ways to make a dark basement look brighter.

How To Make A Basement Brighter

1. Use Mirrors To Bounce Light Around The Room

You’ve probably heard this before, but it really works! Hanging a few well placed mirrors can brighten up a basement by reflecting more light around the room.

Before you hang the mirror, try holding them up in different parts of the room, during the day, to see where you get the most light reflected.

Having mirrors opposite windows or near light bulbs will help to reflect more light.

DIY hanging trash can inside cabinet door of a bathroom vanity.
Big mirrors like the mirror I have in my Master Bathroom add style and brighten a dark basement. See how I made that Easy DIY Cabinet Door Trash Can in a previous post.

2. Are Blinds And Curtains Blocking Your Light?

Basements typically don’t get much natural light. So, be sure you let as much in as possible by keeping curtains open and blinds drawn ALL the way UP during the day.

Blinds left down with the slats open will still block some light. So, pull them up, especially during dark winters.

And, if your curtains are hung so that they still partially block your windows when open, try hanging them wider to let as much light into your dark basement as possible.

Traditional home office with tons of design inspiration and DIY office remodeling projects.
If curtains or blinds partially block your windows during the day, try hanging them wider. See more of this office in 21 Cheap And Easy Ways To Make A Home Office Look Better!

3. Give Your Windows A Deep Clean, Inside and Outside

You might get a BIG boost in light in your dark basement by just cleaning the outside of your windows.

Every Spring, our windows are covered in a coating of green pollen. I’m always shocked by how much brighter every room in my house is once I clean those windows inside and out.

So, if you have lots of Spring pollen or dusty Summers, try cleaning your windows to let more light in. It’s a cheap and easy way to make basements brighter.

After image of a 2-story brick house painted white with Sherwin Williams Loxon XP.
It might sound like a pain, but it takes me just 1 or 2 hours to clean the windows outside my home. See more in 18 BIG Pros & Cons: Should You Paint a Brick House White.

4. Clear Anything Blocking Sunlight Outside The Windows

Once those windows are clean and the blinds and curtains are out of the way, check for anything blocking sunlight OUTSIDE the windows.

Overgrown bushes, trees, and landscaping can easily block the sunlight at your basement windows.

Try trimming bushes and trees, removing some plants, or moving plants around to have beautiful flower beds and lots of light in your basement, at the same time.

Turk's Cap in early October, in a Houston Texas yard - Zone 9.
See my picks for the 16 Best Perennials For Zone 9 in a previous post.

5. Install Bigger Ceiling Lights

Here’s a pretty cheap and easy way to make a dark basement feel brighter, if you are comfortable replacing your own light fixtures. Replace any 1-bulb ceiling light fixtures with 3-bulb lights.

I’ve been doing this with the dark hallway, bathrooms, and dark closets in my house. Adding 2 extra bulbs in any area is a GAME CHANGER when you want to make basements brighter.

Don’t forget that dark stairway in your basement too. Switch out all the ceiling lights you can with ceiling lights that have more bulbs. Check out the 3-Bulb Drum Light I installed in our closets on Amazon.

Image of a diy built in dresser in closet for a post about how to build a closet dresser and shelves for DIY small walk in closet built ins.
I LOVE how bright this closet is after replacing a 1-bulb ceiling light with a 3-bulb fixture. See more of this closet in 10 BEST TIPS for Building Beautiful DIY Small Walk In Closet Built Ins.

6. Don’t Forget Table Lamps and Task Lighting

Make sure that you spread some table lambs, floor lamps, and wall lights around the room too. Proper lighting is critical when you want to brighten a dark basement.

Try to put a nice-sized lamp near any seating in your basement. Skip the tiny lamps that don’t produce much light. Use daylight light bulbs to make the light feel more natural.

If you don’t want to wire in for wall lights, you can find BEAUTIFUL plug-in and battery-powered wall sconces now. So, you can literally put them anywhere!

See a GREAT, Budget-Friendly LED Plug-In or Wireless Wall Sconces On Amazon.

Image of a Framed Wallpaper Mural DIY for a post about how to frame a wallpaper mural with picture frame trim on a wall.
I spent SO MANY years feeling like the chair under that landscape mural didn’t have enough light for reading. When I finally bought a lamp for that table, it made reading and working there EASY.

7. Pick The Right Light Bulbs

Once you have enough lighting installed, you can make a basement brighter by switching to Daylight LED light bulbs. I’ve tried a bunch of different LED “colors”.

In my opinion, DAYLIGHT LED bulbs produce a nice, natural-daylight feeling in a room. I’ve tried the other colors. They range from a yellow-light to a bright blue light. I definitely prefer a white light bulb.

The white light from Daylight bulbs can really help when you want to make a basement brighter. These bulbs can really help to brighten up a basement without windows too!

Image of an organized closet with built ins for a post with 11 ways to make a dark closet feel brighter or how to brighten a closet.
Since Daylight bulbs produce a clean, white light, you get a brighter basement without any yellow or blue tint.

8. Are Your Lamp Shades Light Enough

One more tip when it comes to lighting a dark basement, pick light shades too. Dark lamp shades, dark glass, or dark drum light covers will block some of the light.

So, whenever possible pick clear glass, white glass, or light fabric shades. Darker versions may look great, but they will block some of the light when you’re trying to brighten up a basement.

Tile Feature Wall in a Bedroom. Interior and Furniture Design Inspiration Pictures from Model Homes and Local Stores.
Light shades let more light out. See more pics of my favorite Interior Design Ideas From Model Homes in a previous post.

9. Install An Exterior Door With Windows

Now, let’s talk about something a bit more expensive than the first 8 recommendations. If you are lucky enough to have a walk-out basement, can you install a door with a half or full window?

My parents have a walk-out basement with 2 full window French Doors. Those doors let SO MUCH light into that basement, it doesn’t even feel like you’re below ground level.

Before and after room makeover photos from a kitchen remodel.
We used to half a solid door in this kitchen. Switching to a full window door let a ton of extra light in. And, the view is nice too! See more in the 3 Best Ways To Clean White Kitchen Cabinets.

10. Try White Walls

I’m a HUGE FAN of the power of white walls. In fact, I’ve been slowly painting every room in my house white because I always think it improves every room I try it in.

White walls help to reflect light and they make it easier to see everything in the room. So, they’re a great background color that helps to make a dark basement look brighter.

Kids artwork displayed on a white wall in a boys bedroom with a space theme and blue solar system bedding!
When these walls were blue, the room felt a lot darker. I took this photo with no lights on and just 1 window lighting the room. Those white walls really do a lot to make this space themed bedroom brighter.

11. Switch From Flat To Eggshell Paint Sheen On The Ceiling

Using paint with a light sheen is also a nice, budget-friendly way to reflect light around a dark basement. I use Eggshell sheen on everything in my house, trim, walls, ceiling, doors, and everything else.

Eggshell is one of the lower sheens. But, it really reflects a lot of light and makes the room feel brighter without being so shiny that it highlights imperfections in the paint texture.

Image of Flat and Eggshell Ceiling Paint Finish. Text Says "Eggshell vs Flat".
I was midway through painting this ceiling with Eggshell sheen. You can see how much better that sheen is at reflecting light compared to the standard flat sheen.

12. Remove The Screen, If Possible

I’m lucky enough to have a nice big window above my kitchen sink. But, I hated that the screen was collecting bugs and blocking my view. So, I removed the screen in that window (and a few others).

Removing the screen instantly improved the view and LET MORE LIGHT in. I never opened these windows, anyway. It’s too humid and hot for that in Houston.

Getting rid of the screens also prevented the yearly build up of dead bugs and spiders that I get between the windows and screens

If you never open your basement windows, try removing the screens as a way to let more light into the room.

Image of a kitchen with white inset cabinets, Lusso Quartz, undermount sink, with a gas grill stove.
Removing this screen improved the view and the amount of light coming in. Check out my picks for 20 Trendy Kitchen Sinks in a previous post.

13. Remove Walls When Possible

If your basement is in need of a remodel anyway, try to redesign the layout in a way that keeps the windows in the rooms that need them.

Bedrooms and basement family rooms need windows a lot more than a basement home theater, bathroom, or closet.

Try to remove unnecessary walls, when possible. And, look at whether or not you can open up the stairway wall.

The stairs to my parents basement have the minimum amount of walls with 2 nice big windows halfway down the stairs that really help to brighten up a basement.

I am LOVING this Before and After Family Room Makeover Transformation! Check out the amazing pictures and budget friendly DIY projects.
Basement Family Rooms need windows more than a basement closet or Laundry Room would.

14. Lighten Up The Floors

Light flooring can also make a dark basement feel brighter. A light background makes it easier to see everything in a room, which tricks your brain into thinking the room is bright and open.

Light flooring is also a great background for a colorful area rug.

A cat in a white traditional foyer with board and batten.
Light flooring and walls in our 2 story foyer makes the whole room feel light, bright, and bigger!

15. Go For Bigger Basement Windows Or Basement Window Wells

And, last but not least, if you have the budget for it, install bigger windows or large basement window wells. You can even have window wells installed with glass covers to prevent drainage issues.

I LOVE a good basement window well. They look great and they let tons of light into your basement. I also like that basement well windows are larger, which makes them a more functional escape route.

Check out popular examples of Basement Window Wells on Amazon.

Image of a dark basement for a post with 15 ways to make a dark basement feel brighter or ways to brighten a basement.
Don’t forget to save or share this list of ways to brighten a dark basement.

That’s it for how to brighten up a basement. Now, here’s a few more posts that will help you DECORATE your home.

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Image of a Roku remote in front of a TV for a post with the 11 Best Reasons to cut the cord with cable tv. With tips for how to ditch cable and why you should.

Feeling inspired? Now you’ve seen this list of ways to make a dark basement look brighter, get to work. And, good luck!