How to Brighten a Room With Dark Furniture

Jayca Pike 06/05/2014

7 Inspiring Ways to Create a Light Space Around Dark Pieces

With Spring in full swing, and Summer wafting in through open windows, many of us with dark, dramatic furniture get a little heavy-hearted looking at the Pinterest boards full of white wicker and birch. What feels so rich and comforting in the colder months now seems dreary and stuffy.

Fear not, friends!  Here, we present nine ways to burnish those furnishings:

1. Literally Add Some Light

Light on cherry dining set

This gorgeous cherry wood dining set  is employing a few of our best tricks for lightening up — the pale flooring, white walls, and neutral beige upholstery all lift the room considerably. Our favorite part, though, is that light streaming in through an off-camera window. It brightens both the cherry wood and the entire feel of the room.

Similarly, if you’ve got a room with big windows that bring in a lot of light, consider making that the room the home of some of your darker pieces.

2. Use Contrasting Flooring

Light wood floors and dark furniture

Black chairs with metal accents, a black rug and black coffee table . . . sounds like a recipe for a dank college apartment, or the perfect place to add a framed velvet Elvis. But the addition of cool-toned, blonde wood flooring saves the day, and carries the light from the doors around the room. The white couch and walls don’t hurt, either.

3. Complimentary, pale furniture


Directly across from the heavy, dark couch we’re showing two airy, ivory chairs that echo the ivory pillows and rug. The couch melts into the dark walls, a perfect counterpoint instead of a bleak prospect.

Think about what you already own — in terms of light furniture with similar lines — that can balance your dark pieces.

4. Try a Colorful Rug


White, ivory and its various iterations aren’t the only ways to enliven a space with dark furniture — why not try an exuberant rug? In this instance, the playful turquoise pattern brings up the whole spirit of this predominantly grey and cocoa-colored room.

If a rug doesn’t seem to suit your style, try a playful quilt as a throw.

5. . . . Or Stick With White

white pattern rug with dark furniture

In a small space like this foyer, swirling flowers in neutral shades add to the traditional style of the dark dining set while creating movement that opens up the area.

6. Limitless Lighting


Other than the cabinets and refrigerator, this picture is comprised almost entirely of dark wood furniture, but you’d probably never notice. Look at all the light to balance it! Natural window light, a beautiful piece above the dining table, two above the kitchen island, plus more in the form of recessed lighting . . . sometimes the most obvious solution to a problem is just the one you need.

If you have a room of dark furniture and are lacking some of our other options for bringing it into the summer daylight, maybe try an extra lamp or pendant (or three).

7. Add Some Accents


Citrus accents inject energy and verve into this otherwise somber room. Art, throw pillows or throws, even drapery can all put some spring in the step of your space.

Accents are also one of the least pricey and most flexible decor statements available — changing those lime pillows for red ones come Christmastime is a lot less daunting than, say, changing out the chairs.


Dutchcrafters Dark Furniture Light Walls and Rug

You’ll notice that most of these examples use more than one trick to brighten/lighten/otherwise lift up a space. Above is a great, real-life example. This is our Trade Sales Manager’s bedroom (thanks Alicia! We love you!), outfitted (of course) with some of the DutchCrafters’ Caledonia Collection in brown maple.  It’s got a ton of lightness (is that an oxymoron?): Light flooring, natural light sources, extra artificial light, white walls, contrasting white upholstery and lively pattern (in the form of her bedspread). It’s a recipe for a sense of drama that doesn’t feel weighty or musty, but instead is visually arresting, and interesting.

Feel free to take these ideas and run with them — tear up some flooring or bring on the paint bucket! If running’s not your style, baby steps work, too — bring in a pastel chandelier over a dark dining area, or just a vibrant piece of art over a dark sofa.

Take a cue from the seasons and lighten up a bit:)

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  • Roberta Aguglia
    October 28, 2020 at 2:10 pm

    I have dark cherry wood 42” kitchen cabinets
    My floor is stone grayiish moss green color
    What color can you suggest for a dining table ?
    Does it have to be the same !

  • Beth Rice
    October 29, 2020 at 10:58 am

    Hi Roberta,
    Thank you for visiting Timber to Table. I am passing your email address to a furniture specialist who can assist you with your request.

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