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7 Renter-Friendly Ways to Brighten Up Your Home This Winter

A white blanket, a mirror on a wall, and a sleek side table

For many people, winter is a long, dreary time of year. Having to stay indoors, and the limited sunlight during the day can really take a toll on your physical and mental health. If your apartment is feeling a bit too dark and gloomy, we’ve found a few sweet renter-friendly ways to brighten up your space.

While the days are starting to get a bit longer, springtime is still quite a few weeks away. But that doesn’t mean you can’t warm up your home right now! These seven tips can help you transform a gloomy apartment into a bright, inviting space—no installations or permanent fixtures required.

Target the Space in Front of Windows

A mirrored tray and a gold tray table

Windows are the easiest way to brighten any space because you can utilize natural light. However, there are a few easy hacks you can use to maximize the amount of sunlight you get.

The first way to do this is by placing a mirrored tray on any table that sits in front of a window. Whenever sunlight hits the tray, it’ll bounce upward toward the ceiling, and add even more brightness to the room.

Hipiwe Vanity Makeup Mirror Tray

Bounce more light around the room.

You can also swap out your end tables for some that are mirrored to produce the same effect.

mDesign Round Metal & Mirror Accent Table

Several materials and neutral colors to match any décor.

Add More Wall Mirrors

A round mirror hanging on a wall

In addition to a mirrored tray or table, more wall mirrors can go a long way in brightening up a room, as well. Mirrors reflect and bounce any light in a room. This is why if you hang a few in the path of any sunlight coming through a window, they’ll reflect a lot of light.

However, you’ll notice an increase in light no matter where you hang a wall mirror. We like this option because it’s small and easy to hang without damaging the walls. It’s also available in three different sizes and features a chic, circular design.

LONGWIN Hanging Wall Circle Mirror

Get all three sizes and hang them in the path of the sunlight.

Light Up Dark Areas

Flood lights outside and a floor lamp inside

We often don’t realize how dark a space actually is until we let in some more light. If you can’t install new lighting in a room, try uplighting dark corners or hallways. Uplighting is when you point a light upward toward the ceiling. It not only makes a room look much brighter, but also creates the illusion of more space.

Uplighting looks best when it’s behind something, like a plant or piece of art. We like these LED spotlights because they create a cool “museum” effect and cast a soft glow on any dark corners.

SUNVIE LED Spotlight Set

Perfect for uplighting.

You can get a similar effect with a basic floor lamp, like this option from Brightech. It has two adjustable arms, so you can not only shine light up or down, but in any other direction, as well.

Brightech Sky Dome Double

It's adjustable, so you can light up the areas that need it most.

Rearrange Your Furniture

Sunlight streaming through a living room window.

The way you have your furniture arranged can also sometimes make a room look darker than it needs to be. Take a few moments one day to notice where sunlight spills across the room in the morning, afternoon, and at dusk.

If any of your furniture is directly blocking the path of the light and you can move it, do so! This will allow more sunlight to spread as far as possible across the room. Ideally, your furniture should be positioned lengthwise along the north and south sides of your home to avoid blocking any light.

Add Temporary Lighting

Curtains lights hanging on a wall and multicolored neon lights in a room
Twinkle Star/DAYBETTER

The easiest way to brighten any space is to simply add more light. You usually can’t install a new ceiling light if you’re renting, but there are many alternatives. Floor lamps can add a lot of light, but they’re also pretty bulky and difficult to move around.

For a soft, ambient glow, you can hang some curtain string lights on a wall. This is a great option for bedrooms, but it also works well in living rooms, reading nooks, or even on patios. They cast a warm glow that’s comforting and cozy on dark evenings.

Twinkle Star 300 LED Window Curtain

Add a soft, warm glow to any room.

If you prefer a cool, retro vibe, opt for some LED strip lights. These trendy, temporary lights can be hung on the cornice area of a wall, under cabinets, behind mirrors, or anywhere else you need a pop of light or color. They actually change colors, as well, which allows you to change the mood of your room with the press of a button.

DAYBETTER Led Strip Lights

Add a cool ambience and a pop of color to any room.

Add Light-Colored Accessories

A white blanket on a couch and a tan couch
TOONOW/Rose Home Fashion

You might absolutely love your emerald green couch or maroon throw blanket, but darkly colored accessories make an entire space feel darker. An easy fix is to swap out dark-colored accessories, like blankets and pillows, with lighter neutrals. You can just do so during those dark winter months, though, if you can’t bear to part with your fluffy dark-red throw.

This white faux fur option is perfect for winter and will instantly make your space feel brighter and more upbeat. The cozy material will also keep you warm on chilly nights.

Soft Fuzzy Faux Fur Throw Blanket

Will keep you warm and brighten any room.

If your furniture happens to be a dark color, you can also brighten things up in winter with a lighter-colored slipcover. This velvet option will keep you warm and cozy, too.

RHF Velvet-Sofa Slipcover

A temporary way to brighten up dark furniture in the winter.

Sheer Window Curtains

Sheer white curtains hanging in front of a window

We tend to keep our curtains closed more during the winter because we want to keep the heat inside and maintain our privacy. An easy way to allow more light in, though, is to hang some sheers behind your regular curtains. Then, on days that aren’t too cold, you can pull back your heavier drapes and allow some sunlight to stream through the sheers.

This set is well-rated, comes in a variety of sizes and colors, and will look beautiful in any apartment or home.

HLC.ME White Sheer Window Curtains

Allow some light to come in, while also maintaining your privacy.

If your place is feeling a little too dark and gloomy this winter, these helpful tips and home accents will help you brighten things up. Everything on our list is also renter-friendly, so you won’t have to worry about an angry landlord or -lady.

Anne Taylor Anne Taylor
Anne Taylor is a writer with a BA in Journalism and a passion for storytelling. Her work has been published on a variety of websites including Mental Floss and Well + Good, and she recently published her first novel, What it Takes to Lose. When she's not writing, Anne loves to travel (19 countries and counting), spend time outside, and play with her dog, Pepper. Read Full Bio »
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