How To Brighten Up A Basement Suite In 5 Moves

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bright basement suite

Basement suites are popular renter’s choices. If you’re living in one, or if you’re converting your own basement for tenants, here are some ways to brighten up the space that’s often plagued by gloom, especially during winter months.


Way back when I first moved out on my own, I rented a snug little basement suite with stylish exposed brick and a young family upstairs. Since it was the heart of summer when I moved in, the amount of natural light in the suite wasn’t top of mind.

As a few months passed and the days got shorter, I soon came to realize that the four small windows that were my only source of sunlight weren’t going to cut it as I began spending more time inside. My new home started to feel a bit like an underground dungeon (albeit with nice exposed brick) and I began to have strange thoughts about morphing into one of those blind cave fish.

Effects of natural light

Since not knowing whether its day or night without stepping outside your front door can be pretty taxing, I eventually moved, but I left my first rental with a real appreciation for natural light. Not only does it impact the ambiance of a room, it can make a huge difference in how big a room feels, and it can lower your energy bill by letting you turn your lights on less often.

If you’re looking for some ideas on how to quickly increase the natural light in your home – without investing in a SAD lamp – check out the below five tips that I wish I had known.

1. Hang mirrors opposite windows

Doing what they do best, mirrors offer ultimate light reflection for spaces of all sizes. Just by hanging up a couple of mirrors on a wall adjacent to or opposite your windows, you can inexpensively boost the amount of light coming in through your windows.  An added plus, they make it easier for you to check up on how your hair’s doing.

2. Rearrange furniture

Take a look at how you’ve set up your furniture and make sure that you’re not blocking any of your valuable light sources with a shelf or sofa. This includes the space directly in front of your windows and the areas close to the sides. If possible, it’s helpful to avoid bulky dark furniture that sucks light in. Another thing to consider is arranging your furniture so that you can easily relax where there’s the most light.

bright basement

3. Paint it… white

To help the light coming in through your windows bounce around your space, paint your rooms white or a close to white hue. This includes walls, ceilings, and the casing around your windows.

Along with making your space brighter, light walls will also help make it feel more spacious – especially welcome in small basement suites and studio apartments. Another suggestion is to use a matte paint instead of a glossy finish to avoid potential glare. You can introduce pops of color with accessories and artwork.

4. Swap out window hangings

Take a look at the fabric used for your window treatments, they might be blocking the outside world a little too well. Instead using heavyweight materials like velvet, Brocade, or upholstery fabric that will absorb light even when drawn open, use lighter fabrics like sheer cloth and linen.

Switching to lighter weight curtains will help give your space an airy feel, while still letting light pass through when closed (and still providing you with much needed privacy).

5. Get out the hedge clippers

Along with updates to your interior décor, it’s a good idea to check and see if natural light is being given a chance to properly make it through your windows. It’s possible that your windows are being obstructed on the outside by shrubbery or a tree that could be easily trimmed back.

Bigger moves

While neither of these would have worked for me as a renter in my basement suite, some other ideas for increasing natural light if you have a bigger budget and are more committed to your space include changing your solid front door to one with windows and installing a skylight.

Along with making your space look more inviting, increasing the amount of natural light in your home will make you feel better as well. I can say from experience that starting off the day with sun beams instead of a pitch black space is much nicer. With a few of the quick fixes above, you can really enhance your interiors.

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Kendra Reynolds

Kendra Reynolds is a staff writer at BuildDirect. A fan of quirky design, and the Oxford comma, her love of art knows no bounds.