Lighten Up: Tips For Basement Lighting

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My childhood bedroom is in the basement. My only source of natural light: narrow but long windows at the top of one wall that would bring in the morning light, but not much else. Basement lighting can be challenging, but it’s possible to improve light to even the darkest corners of your underground floor. Here are some tips and techniques to improve, multiply and bring light to basements.

1. Ditch the bulbs

There’s nothing more depressing than a lonely yellowy incandescent bulb lighting up a basement room. It makes the room feel dank, small and sometimes downright claustrophobic. If you still have that kind of lightbulb in your basement, it’s time to change.

Of course, there’s no need to go to the harsh, fluorescent tubes that will turn your basement into a morgue exam room. Instead, choose “soft white” bulbs that are warm enough to avoid the “exam room” effect but bright enough to banish lurking shadows.

2. Use lighter window coverings

It’s okay to want to protect your privacy with blinds, but make it easy to pull them up and let the light in. Getting ligther, diaphanous window coverings will give you some privacy while still letting light in during the day. Light window coverings are especially useful in a crafts room or basement reading room, because you need all the natural light you can get to focus on small letters or objects.

3. Add mirrors

Mirrors reflect and multiply light AND they make rooms look larger, which are all things you want for a basement room. Basement lighting gets easier when you add mirrors to reflect both natural and artificial light. Try decorative mosaic mirrors for a multifaceted reflection or old-fashioned standing mirrors for stately grace. Hey, you can even dust off that old mirror ball for a funky style in the basement living room!

4. Paint walls a light color

One of the best ways to ensure an enlightened basement is to avoid dark wall colors. White, eggshell and pastel shades will reflect both natural and artificial lighting and will open up rooms that can otherwise easily close up on themselves. Use neutral darks like grey or khaki parcimoniously as accent colors; brights and neons can also have a nice effect in a light room.

5. Experiment with lighting positions

Getting your artificial light from a bulb hanging from the middle of the ceiling might not be the best lighting scheme for a basement room. There are many new modern lighting rails and wall lighting that can change your perspective on lighting.

Try small led lights installed along the width of a wall near the ceiling, or use original hanging lighting for variety and visual interest. I absolutely love this original lighting concept for the way it stretches the light across. The mirrors reflect and add color. These box frames are modern, minimalist and visually interesting. I like these walls lamps for the stainless steel look and for their ability to be rotated to suit your lighting needs. Last but not least, this colorful upcycling project for old colanders strikes my imagination.

Your light doesn’t have to come from up high: light columns and low lamps can provide additional lighting when night comes or when the sun disappears from your basement windows.

6. Break down walls

That tip’s only for those ready to do a little renovation. If your basement is too claustrophobic, maybe it’s time to break down a few walls and make bigger rooms? Bigger rooms tend to let in more light (you’ll have more windows) and to add a sense of open space. Knocking down walls may not be the first solution, or the cheapest, but it’s certainly a good one if you’re thinking about completely redecorating the basement.

Let the light in!

I have fond memories of my childhood bedroom. As a teenager, I suppose I enjoyed the dark, private feeling I had when I retired to the security of my own space. But as an adult, I couldn’t stand living in a dark, shadowy room with barely any sunlight. Lighting up the basement will make it more welcoming and usable. Maybe you haven’t been in that crafts room in ages simply because it’s too dark in there?

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Anabelle Bernard Fournier

Anabelle is a freelance writer, writing teacher and blogger. She spends a lot of time at home, so she likes to make sure that it's cozy and nice, especially in her reading nook. In her free time, Anabelle knits, walks and learns how to write stories.