gloomy apartment decor

songbird2008June 27, 2010

My rental was built in 1973 and has the original dark brown wall-to-wall carpet. I'm not allowed to paint my walls anything but the original off-white provided by the complex. My place is dark, dark, dark, and I need more light. Most of my furniture are antiques - more brown - and I have only one east facing window in each bedroom and one set of sliders in the east-facing living room. There is a dark red balcony over my entry. The kitchen is windowless, but thank heaven they let me paint the dark brown cabinets high gloss white. Any suggestions that don't include keeping lamps on all the time which is very expensive and adds to the interior heat?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, a lot of mirror(s) will reflect whatever light there is all around if you're careful about placement. Have you considered moving - seriously? I know how awful it can be to not live in your idea of a nest!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2010 at 8:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You're dealing with nearly 40 year old carpet? I'd try to negotiate getting that changed--it can't be in very good shape and there's probably a lot of dirt trapped in and under it. And maybe they would put in a nice, neutral tan or beige color carpet.

The off-white walls are a good choice for a dark apartment; they do help to brighten the place up.

It sounds as if your apartment gets the morning light, but in the evening, when you are home from work, there is no direct sunlight and it feels dark and gloomy. Try an area rug over the brown carpet in a lighter, cheerful color. Bright, colorful throw pillows on the furniture. Can any of the furniture be reupholstered or refinished or slipcovered in a lighter color?

Then think shiny. Mirrors, crystal or metal lamps and candlesticks. Silver trays or bowls or other ornaments. Glass tabletops. Glass bowls or vases. Then make sure that some of the lights you turn on are reflected in these surfaces. And if your lampshades are dark or thick, consider replacing them with a lighter colored shade that will let more light through.

Switch out some of your light bulbs to the compact florescent type. They are cooler to run and use a lot less electricity.

Make sure that anything you have on your windows, curtains, shades, etc., can be opened up so that none of the window (or very little of the window) is covered. Then, if the floor plan allows, hang a mirror facing the window to reflect what light does come in.

Or if you are in a large complex, consider asking to move to an apartment with better light.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 8:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You said " thank heaven they let me paint the dark brown cabinets high gloss white. "

I hope you have that permission in writing.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 8:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

There used to be a commercial for a TV program on HGTV. The woman looked into the camera and said: Is your room dark? They make things for that. They are called lamps.

Seriously, compact florescent light bulbs use very little electricity and they produce very little heat. The trick with lighting is to have a few different types in a room. I had four table lamps, a pole lamp, and a light over a picture in a small living room. Get one fixture that shoots the light up on the ceiling so that it bounces around.

If you want more ideas, take some photos and post them on the Home Decorating forum.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 8:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for the suggestions. I could have had new carpets put in before renting, but I didn't have the extra $350 charge. Still don't. It takes a lot of worthwhile work to clean these floors. Luckily they were very thoroughly cleaned before I moved in. At my request the apartment manager agreed to paint my kitchen cabinets high gloss white before I moved in. What a difference! Yes, I really need to invest in some lamps that bounce more light off the ceiling. Thought I'd go for the broad spectrum lamps. Have any of you used them?

    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 8:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Full spectrum light bulbs are for people affected by SAD - seasonal affective disorder. And you have to sit directly in front of them for the effect. You don't that - you just need to generally brighten the room.

The light bulb in the second photo is a common 65 watt flood light. And the fixture was inexpensive - you can sometimes find them for sale on craigslist or at SalArmy, Goodwill, etc. All you need is to have the socket facing up and not obstructed.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 9:36AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You can use full spectrum bulbs, which run about $7 each but last for years (mine have anyway). Chromalux and Verilux are a couple names I've used. They make a room look more natural daylight vs yellow or green. There's always GE Reveal. Cheaper to try (they don't last as long). Effect is a little similar to full spectrum.

Don't discount the mirrors suggestion. I have a large L shaped lower level with only an east and west window at ground level. Dim and dreary in winter. I took some post-it notes on a sunny day and stuck them on the wall where the sunlight hit coming in from the east. (Watch how the sun moves, and where it hits the most.) Then I put a mirror there and it bounced light at an angle across the room. Put another post-it on that spot, hung another mirror there. Repeated. I ended up with 3 large mirrors down there that strategically bounce light around and across the room in a zig zag fashion. (One of them is a dressing mirror shape, hung horizontally or lengthwise above the TV, that bounces a lot of light.) Amazing difference, I have daylight bouncing into corners that have never seen the light of day. ;)

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 6:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You are right, moonshadow, I'm confusing broad spectrum (SAD lights) with full spectrum. Songbird probably doesn't need broad spectrum, but full spectrum would be fine.

But if she is going for low heat and low electricity usage, then compact florescent would seem to be a good choice. Except for the flood lights - I've seen the compact florescent floods and they are disappointing in their degree of brightness.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 8:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You need to move to a better place

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 3:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Mirrors are a great idea to open up and lighten a small dark space - have you considered trying a new bedding set? This can work wonders in any room.

Here is a link that might be useful: cabin bedding

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 3:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

gw: They've recently begun offering compact florescent in 'daylight'. Like these. I tried one of GE's, wasn't thrilled. But it was in a creamy>yellow bath in a different house, very low light. It cast a blue hue on the walls with two of them in the fixture. But I'm thinking the paint color factored in heavily. A regular one turned everything sort of green. So I put one of each (daylight + regular) in the fixture and got a close happy medium.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 7:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for your suggestions. I have mounted a mirror in my bedroom to reflect the window. And I painted my old tall 6-drawer dresser. It was dark brown and simply loomed in my 9X11 bedroom. I painted it almond with sage green panels on each drawer. I decoupaged a different bird on each green panel. I am a bird-watcher, and all the birds chosen have visited my feeder. It is amazing how much lighter my bedroom looks and feels. I also followed the rug suggestion. I found an inexpensive area "oriental" rug mostly light tan, cream, and brown. I put it in the dining area (farthest from the light source), and it really adds light to the area. I'm shopping for a new ceiling fixture, but haven't found what I both like and can afford. I bought a new lamp that fits its small table, but its base is slender antique bronze. My other lamp is a white ginger jar style but the lamp shades are the same style. I think I'll try painting the lamp base white. I tried those new energy efficient light bulbs, but they give very poor quality light. They are not even bright enough to read by. (old eyes) I'll buy some more incandescent bulbs and use them until the bulb police visit.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 7:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

get some full spectrum fluorescent lights. You can buy them online. They mimic the effect of sunlight.. are very bright, very white, and don't use much electricity.

here's a linky so I don't stinky...!468240%2Cn%3A495266%2Cn%3A322525011%2Cn%3A328866011%2Cn%3A328870011&bbn=328866011&sort=reviewrank_authority

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 5:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If you were trying the CFLs, I have always found them to be much less bright than incandescent bulbs. The package will say that the bulb is equivalent in brightness to a 60 incandescent, but it doesn't really seem that way. I've found that I have to buy bulbs that claim to be equivalent to a 75 or 100 watt incandescent bulb to get anywhere near the brightness that I want/need.

It's good to hear that you have made some changes and things are lightening up for you.

I have to admit that I was amazed to hear that your landlord would have made you pay to replace 30 year old carpeting. Around here, you pay if you damage the carpeting. The landlords replace it when it gets worn, maybe every 7-10 years, or when tenants change, depending on the landlord.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 8:43AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Apartment Owners from H**L
We live in the east in a gated apartment complex owned...
Need help with a doorway partition
I just moved into a studio apartment and I'm looking...
Finding apartment in Cary NC?
Hi, I am a single mom of two moving into Cary NC area...
Noisy neighbor - am I being oversensitive?
Live in a townhouse next to people with two small kids...
Help with reducing noise
I live in a second floor apartment with my 5 year old...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™