Bright Basement | Reader Request

You know me---I love a decor challenge.  So when Kristine emailed me this:
"I'm moving into a basement room (which means very little natural lighting) in my house soon, and its kinda small, and I was wondering what colors you would use to brighten it up?"   She also went on to say that her bedspread is the super adorable Woodland Garden Duvet from Urban Outfitters and that her desk and bed are both white.

I'm no stranger to living in basement rooms.  My bedroom growing up was in the basement and only had one window.  That room had been painted yellow, hot pink, orange, and eventually a deep turquoise.  (I love my color!)  And then last fall I lived in a basement bedroom that I painted gray.  

Paint It Gray
So Kristine, bear with me as my advice might just shock you.  If you can, I highly recommend you paint the room gray.  Sherwin William's HGTV Anonymous is my favorite paint color ever.  It's a warm gray and utterly lovely.  Why paint it gray, you wonder?  Well, sometimes it's just better to embrace the lack of natural light than to fight against it.  Rather than paint the room a bright hue that only looks good in daylight, painting it in a warm gray seriously ups the cozy factor.  And the best reason: white and bright colors pop marvelously against a warm, deep gray.  Believe it or not, a darker color in a small room can actually make it feel larger than it really is.  (That's a bonus, right?!)

Bring in Color
So if you decide to go with the gray walls, or even if you stick to white... the next tip I have is to avoid wood-finish furniture.  Go for a mix of white and painted pieces.  Pull colors from your duvet and paint vintage furniture in those colors.  I love the idea of a vintage dresser painted Robin's Egg blue. Or a sweet nightstand painted cheery yellow.  Even an antique dining chair painted lime green!  All of these colors will stand out against beautiful gray walls.  (I'm reeeally pushing the gray. Haha.)

Eclectic Accessories
With accessories, continue the white and color theme.  If you're worried about gray walls making your basement room look like a cave... add lots of art!  Prints, posters, pictures all framed and arranged artfully on the wall will break up the expanse of gray and also add visual interest.  Also include some glitzy accessories that add some sparkle.  In a small, dark space mirrors are also a wise addition.  Hang a lovely antique mirror over your dresser.  And don't forget the floor!  Spruce it up with a vibrant rug.

Lots of Lamps
Last but certainly not least, add several lamps.  In a normal, upstairs bedroom with plenty of natural light, one lamp is fine.  But in a basement room, try to bring in as many lamps as you can without going overboard.  You see, the less you rely on overhead lighting the better.  A lamp on the nightstand, a desk lamp, and a tiny lamp on the dresser are much cozier than one overhead light.  

Okay, now for some inspiring photos to make my case:

This living room shows how to hang your artwork.  Oversized frames and white mats help to break up the expanse of gray and really pop against the darker color.  Love it.

Brooke Shields' living room is pretty much amazing, isn't it?  Again, the artwork really pops against the gray walls.  White chairs are crisp and bright.  The lime green lamp shade, yellow coffee table book, and red pillows stand out, too.  

I love getting inspiration from kids' rooms.  You'd never expect gray for a little girl's room right?  Well, this space proves that gray can make just as cute a room (if not cuter) than a pink or yellow.  Isn't it wonderful how the white, pink, and green stand out against the gray walls?

Another great example of how white and colors pop against gray.  

And yet another colorful kids room that proves once again that gray is the perfect neutral backdrop for a super colorful room.  Love that rug!

Here's a glimpse of my old basement room that was painted in Sherwin Williams HGTV Anonymous.  (I wish I woulda taken more pics of that room, but this is all I have...)  I loved how my cream furniture and colorful quilt stood out against the warm gray.  

Ok. So repeat after me.  Gray is not dreary.  Gray is not cave-y.  Gray is not sad.

Gray is lovely. Gray is cozy. Gray is the perfect backdrop for color.

But Kristine, if you really don't like the idea of gray for your bedroom... repeat all of the above steps with all of the color and just leave the walls a crisp white.  :)  That'll work, too.  Happy decorating!


Lauren Alyse said...

I am in love with these gray rooms, and am now thoroughly convinced that if I have a child, his or her room will be that color. I especially love the yellow, white, and green paired with it.

Chrystina said...

Want to know what would be an interesting post for you? Types of lighting - different wattages, different colors of light and energy efficient stuff, because a lot of how things appear depend on the light. I'm wondering what the best type of light would be to use in a basement room...